Tag Archives: writing

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


Corndog Angel


inspired by a true event.  thanks, Doug for your creative, compassionate heart!

“Corndog Angel” – David Wilson-Burns © 2010

This wasn’t the most extravagant corporate party I’d attended, but it was no small event either.  We were entertained and amused by a live, tiki-carving, alternative surfer band.  We were perplexed and somewhat titillated by a gaggle of  seventies-inspired rollerskating girls.  Beer and wine were flowing freely.  And food…the food was everywhere; more food than we could possibly consume that night.

There were tables and tables of chinese food, chili dogs, mexican food, fresh fruit, and my personal favorite, corndogs; hundreds , possibly thousands, of piping hot corndogs stacked up in massive heated metal pans.  It was a little nippy that night, so the corndogs also had a very pleasant warming effect.  We drank beer and filled our guts until we were loud, laughing, and stuffed.

The party, however, was not exactly taking off the way we were.  It’s difficult to throw thousands of software developers and database administrators together with weird surf rock and beautiful skating girls and prevent them from spending the entire time carefully documenting everything with their iPhones.  No one danced and many were too shy (and too busy documenting) to even speak to each other.  So, we decided to make our exit.

That’s when my buddy Doug was struck by a bolt of inspiration.  He picked up a couple of paper baskets and boldly shoveled a pile of corndogs into them.

“Hey guys!  Let’s give out corndogs on the street!”

Yes!  Why should we let all of this good food go to waste when the streets of San Francisco are full of hungry people?  I decided to follow suit.  I admit that I felt a little anxious about it.  What if someone questioned me?  Is it rude to take so much food and then just leave?   I cautiously eyed the corndog tray and the two servers who were working the buffet.  Would they stop me?  Even after half a dozen beers, I hadn’t lost my rule-follower mentality.

But it was time to leave and I wanted this to happen.  I  grabbed two paper baskets, just as Doug had done, and scooped up about ten huge corndogs and walked away.  When we got to the street, I began looking for people who might be hungry.  We were loud and bold as we made our way to our favorite little pub on Powell.   It wasn’t long before we came upon a man sitting on the sidewalk leaning up against a building.  He held out a cup,  his head hung, and his spirit low.  I was first up.  I squatted down and held out the basket.  I spoke softly and cheerfully, “Hey.  Wanna corndog?”  He looked up at me and laughed with a street-roughened voice.  “Thanks!”  he replied and grabbed one from the top.

We moved on up the street with our little gang, handing out corndogs as we walked.  I wondered how someone who might not be homeless might react if I offered one.  I mean, a corndog’s a corndog, no matter who you are and what your circumstances may be.  A guy on a skateboard stopped beside me at the cross walk.  I uncovered my pile of corny gold and held it out to him, “Dude!  Wanna corndog?”

“No way!  Are you serious?  For free?”

“Hell yeah! Take one!  They’re still warm!”

“Right on!  That’s awesome!”

He grabbed one and skated off with the changing light.

As we turned onto Powell, I only had one dog left.  The five of us were nearing the zenith of our evening revelry, which we would most certainly reach after a few hot irish coffees at the pub.  I nearly tripped over a man sitting on the street corner.  He was very nearly invisible.  He wasn’t speaking, playing drums, holding a cup or a sign.  He had a blanket around him.  He was holding himself, trying to keep warm in the chilly night.  It would only get colder.  I squatted down as I had done before.  I uncovered the last corndog.

It had been fun and games up till this point.  Weren’t we clever, and oh so compassionate, handing out corndogs that would get a hungry man through only a few hours on the cold, hard street.   Yes, we felt great.  And it truly did lift our eyes to some of the harsher realities of this city that we were being given only the best of.  But this was real now.  This was a real man, with a real problem, on a real street.  We would soon be in a warm, friendly place and would make new friends and have a few laughs, then we would crash in warm, comfortable, luxury hotel room beds for the night.  But he wouldn’t, he would be sitting right here where he was right now, alone, cold, and hungry.

I picked up the corn dog by its stick and spoke to him through the haze of beer and joviality, “Hey, brother.  Have a corndog.”

Something happened in that moment.  Maybe it was just a trick of the street lights, maybe it was the beer.  But I wasn’t the only one who saw it.  The man lifted his head slowly until his eyes met mine, nothing but a corndog between us.  His face melted into a smile.  His eyes glistened.  There was something happening in that moment that cannot be described.  There was a light or an energy…a glow.  It wasn’t coming from me.  It emanated between us, in our brief contact.  I don’t remember if he spoke, but his eyes expressed his gratitude as he accepted my humble gift, a warm corndog.

“Dude!  You were like the corndog angel or something.  That was weird!  Did you see that?!” exclaimed one of my buddies with a tinge of awe in his slurred state.

No, I thought, I’m not the angel here.  I thought of a story that I’d heard recently in church.  A guest preacher, Shane Claiborne,  spoke of a woman who lived on the street who said,

“I used to shine!!

I used to SHINE!!!!

but it’s a COLD

dark

world.”

For just a moment, on a cold, dark, night on the streets of San Francisco, I wondered if I had seen an angel, who’s light was all but extinguished by our cold, dark, world.


When we gave a shit


Sometimes I long for the days when my feces had no monetary value.   When it just was what it was:  shit, crap, waste.  But nothing is waste anymore.   At first I was all for it.  I mean, what could be greener than energy that comes from human waste?  They promised it would revolutionize the world.  And it did.  It totally did.

At first, it was just the animals.  Nothing new there.  We’ve found ways to exploit animals since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden.  But when the methanol companies learned that it was far easier to gather and manage human waste than animal waste, the human animal became the focus of exploitation.

When the methanol companies began doing business with city sanitation departments, our utility bills began to shrink.  As more and more cities began to use methane energy in their grids, our energy bills began shrinking as well.  My jaw dropped the first time I actually received a check instead of a bill.  The game was changing, that much was clear.  Suddenly, my shit didn’t stink so bad; in fact, it was smelling sweeter every day.

Then one day, I compared numbers with a friend at work.  His check was much larger than mine.  He was just as surprised as I was.  Neither of us had read the fine print that came with the checks we were receiving.  What we learned changed our lives.   The amount of money we received from the energy company was based on the kilowatts per hour that our homes were generating for the city.  Each house’s main sewage drain pipe had been fitted with a meter that could measure the quantity and quality of fecal material leaving the house; quality being measured by the level of methanogens in the feces.

My friend, being a Catholic, had five children.  I only had two.  His household was producing a higher quantity of feces than mine.  This meant that to compete with my friend’s household, we would need to produce more feces and more methane potency in our feces.

We, as a nation, were now being paid money to eat more, eat poorly, and have more children.  And now, I can’t even afford to do anything else.   The prices are just too good.  I’ve been working full-time at the methanol plant for six months now.   It’s not so bad.  At least our collection cubes are private, not like the ones in India.   It’s comfortable.   Mine even has a video gaming system and I can watch all the movies and shows I want.  The food doesn’t taste too bad either.  I just miss being a teacher some days.  It was a hard job, but at the end of the day, I felt like I’d given something valuable.  It’s funny, I used to get a little burned out and say, “Today, I just don’t give a shit!”   And now, no one would ever even consider just giving a shit….not with today’s prices.


Tree House Ghost


Most are so subtle that you never know they’re around.  It really depends, I believe, on just how much they know they’re around.  Not unlike the living, ghosts  fall on a continuum of self-awareness, and most are not self-aware enough for their presence to even be noticed.  But others, well, they’re a different story altogether.

I first noticed Henry when I was home alone on a day off.    It was a pleasant enough day in late October.  The air had not yet turned cold, so I was sitting up in my children’s tree house enjoying a warm breeze, listening to the wind chimes that hung from a lower branch.  The tree house, I was told, was built by the original owners of the house in the 1920s.  Because of its height, I felt nervous about it even when my children were big enough to use proper caution.   And because of that, I took pains to build some safe guards into the structure to prevent accidents.   I quite enjoyed climbing up into this treehouse and looking out over my backyard and some of the surrounding yards and enjoying a warm breeze as I was doing on this particular day.

The first odd occurrence centered around the wind chimes.   I would feel the breeze, and then hear the chimes.    I got an odd feeling.  It took me a moment to realize why I felt odd.  The breeze came, but the chimes did not.  Again, the breeze came, and the chimes did not.  I leaned out over the safety rail that I had built, and saw the chimes hanging from the branch, completely still, while the branch swayed in the breeze.

This puzzled me greatly.  I climbed down the ladder to where the old chimes had been hung many years before, and I touched them.  They tingled just as I expected them to.  I waited for a few seconds for another breeze.  When it came, the chimes rang just as they should.  I dismissed it as an anomaly that I would eventually understand as having a very simple explanation.

For the next few days, I payed closer attention to the breezes and the chimes, hoping that something obvious would eventually jump out at me.  But it wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t understand the mystery of the chimes until something else unusual occurred.

Just a few days from Halloween.  I climbed back up to the tree house for a little escape time.  I needed a break.  I leaned back against the tree trunk in the middle of the tree house.  I must have fallen asleep, because one moment it was broad daylight, and the next it was dusk.   I opened my eyes for a moment and then let them close again.  They were so heavy.  A breeze blew through the tree and I heard the chimes…and something else.

The voice was light, like the breeze itself but with words.  The words did not register at first, they came into focus over a few repetitions.  Something about the chimes.  Then I heard it directly in my right ear.

“The chimes make me feel bad.”

My body jolted awake like in a dream where you are falling.  And for a few seconds I had an overpowering feeling of vertigo.  In a moment of intuition I asked “Did you hear the chimes when you fell?”

At that moment the chimes stopped.

That evening, I pulled out the abstract that came with the deed, which I had only skimmed.   I began scanning each page for the word ‘death’.  If a death had occurred in my backyard, it might be recorded.  My eyes rested on the phrase “accidental death”.   Next to it was the phrase “owner (Phillip Grandville) eight-year-old son, Henry Grandville,  fell from tree house in backyard, October 31st, 1928.”

Henry was aware.

I took down the chimes that night.

I still visit the tree house, but I never put the chimes back up.  I know that Henry is still around because I hear his voice sometimes in the breeze.  He also says the same thing.

“Be careful.”


Polka Seduction


It had been a slow year, as usual, for Karl.  Dating was never easy for him, but Oktoberfest and the promise of new possibilities had arrived again.   This was his only truly viable dating angle and he was determined to make it work this year.

This year he had actually taken lessons at the Bavarian Haus restaurant and dance hall.  His polka was strong, and his waltz was good enough.  He had also taken a little time the week before to design a t-shirt, which said “I Polka! (Just ask!)”.  This would eliminate some of the awkwardness he had struggled with the passed two years in getting these women to dance with him.  After all,  the plan would only work if he could get these women to dance.  The t-shirt also marked a change in his wardrobe strategy, which had in previous years been to dress in lederhosen.   The problem with wearing the traditional polka dancing attire, was that he was too often mistaken as a member of the band or an event staffer, which diminished the effect he was hoping to achieve.

It was a particularly rainy festival which insured that the people would be gathering under the tents where the polka bands typically played.  A band was playing, and no one was dancing; exactly the scenario he was looking for.  He would be looking for the oldest polka dancing women he could find.  They usually came wearing some sort of polka dancing attire, so they were easy to spot.  This year, if all went as planned, he would not have to drink as much beer in order to gain the courage to ask one of them to dance, because they would be asking him to dance.  He wouldn’t be as unstable on his feet so he would not be as likely to cause an injury to anybody. 

“It had to work this year.  It would work!” thought Karl as he found the most prominent table he could find up near the dance floor.

Karl wasn’t a smooth talker.  He could barely talk to women at all.  He didn’t handle his alcohol well, so bars were problematic.  He wasn’t ugly, but he wasn’t exactly handsome either.  At best, he was adorably goofy.  He just needed to boost his adorability by a few notches and he was in! Or so he hoped.

He began to scan the edges of the dance floor, looking for that perfect, older polka gal.  His coat was off, and his custom t-shirt text was positioned squarely across his chest.  It wasn’t a minute before he saw her.  Got one! She was weaving slowly through the crowd on the other side of the dance floor, bending her aged knees to the music as she walked.  She was wearing a make-shift polka skirt with fake suspenders sewn (or hot-glued) onto her blouse.

Oh yeah.  She’s good to go,” thought Karl.  All that was left was for her to see his shirt and the his polka seduction plan would be on.  It would just take one, and then the line would form.  He’d seen it happen before, a dozen 75-year-old women clamoring to dance with the one or two guys under the tent who would polka with them.  And then, he arrived.  The only possible foil to Karl’s plan he had come from out of nowhere.  And before he knew it, he had snatched his polka maiden.  Snatched her!

He was at least eighty-years-old (45-years Karl’s senior) and he was horrid! He could barely lift his feet off the ground, but he polka’d nonetheless.  He swept the old lady out on to the floor and they polka’d; polka’d right passed his table without even giving him a look.  He would have to act fast.  The line would be forming soon!

He took a swig of beer for courage and jumped up out of his seat.  The others would be here soon.  They needed to see him before the song was over.  He decided his best bet was to stand up near the bandstand and move subtly (but deftly!) to the music. Oom pa Oom pa Oom pa! He would let those polka grannies know that he was a serious player here!

He took his place as the ‘B’ section for the song began to  signal the last return of the main tune.  He smiled and moved up and down to the beat.  Stay on beat!  Stay on beat!  Smile!  YOU CAN DO IT!

Their eyes locked.  She was headed his way.  And she was glorious. Her white hair was formed into a perfect ball-shaped perm.  She wore a blue checked polka dress with white ruffles peaking out from beneath.   Her orthopedic polka shoes never missed a beat as she wove her way thr0ugh the crowd to  him.  This was just as he had envisioned it.

She never said a word.  She smiled at him behind her thick eye-glasses as he held out a hand to her.  She moved like a dream.  They danced a full circle around the floor before the next song began, and then they danced straight through the next song while the line began to form.  It was just him, the old guy and a line of elderly woman to polka while the rest of the crowd drank beer and cheered the band on.

And now it was time to put his plan into action.  She had to be out there somewhere, watching, smiling, seeing him transform from goofy into adorable. She would be around his age.  She would be moved in some way by his willingness to polka with these women.  She would see the smiles on their faces as he bounced and spun around the floor.  She would imagine what a sweet guy he must be to want to brighten these lonely, older women with the gift of polka…and she would want to meet him.  Yes,  This was Karl’s plan, to seduce a woman with his polka.

He danced and spun and was the life of the polka floor.  He danced with some women two or three times.  Sweat poured from his brow and his smile became brighter and brighter.  He was beginning to enjoy himself.  He was beginning to forget something.  His joyous dancing was contagious.  As he danced, more folks began to join in.   Oktoberfest was taking off in a way that hadn’t for years in this town.  Instead of the band playing while everyone drank the beer and gorged themselves on bratwurst and potato pancakes and applesauce, they danced the polka and the waltz and the even the schottishe.  The band played louder and faster until the whole crowd was worked into a polka frenzy.  He was a polka God, and this was his heaven.

Karl went home alone that night.  His plan had not work as he had hoped.  The woman that he had hoped to leave with never materialized.  Instead, he spent the evening lost in a sea of polka, German beer, and good will.  He came hoping to seduce, but instead he was seduced…seduced by Oktoberfest.

“Maybe next year” he thought, as he dozed off to sleep, the rain continuing to fall, and the polka beat lingering in his head.

Prost!!!!


Accidental Slit


It truly had been a crappy week for Daniel, but not that bad.  Not bad enough to slit his wrist, just bad enough to joke about slitting his wrist.  He and Ashley had fought about cigarettes.  Daniel, a nearly forty-year-old man, had never tried cigarettes until this week.  She couldn’t believe that he would go this long without cigarettes and then suddenly decided to give them a whirl, as if it were some flavor of ice cream he just had never gotten around to trying.

In addition, he had been randomly selected for a timekeeping audit at work.  Although his audit was perfect, the possibilities had kept him up at night.  All the things he could have said and done wrong!  He could have been fired.  He could have gotten his boss fired.  He could have messed up the contract.  It could have gone very poorly, and this was enough for Daniel.  This was enough for him to have made a few off-handed comments about wanting to go home and kill himself.  He had meant it to be funny, but nobody laughed….just an uncomfortable chuckle or two.

After dinner and a glass of red wine, Daniel and Ashley had managed to lay the cigarette matter to rest.  He assured her that he would not smoke anymore and that he had only done it to look cool.

“Are you being serious here?  You do it why?”

“It just seemed cool.”

“Cool?  What are you?  15?  You did it because all the cool kids are doing it?  Are you SERIOUS?”  Ashley never ceased to be astounded by Daniel’s lack of  maturity in certain facets of his life.  “You want to be cool?  Try finishing the tile bathroom floor!  That will make you COOL in my eyes.”  Her face broke in to a smile and she couldn’t suppress a giggle.

“You silly, silly man.”

He kissed her on the cheek and climbed the stairs to the hall bathroom that lacked just one row of tiles; just eight more tiles, and he would be ready for the grout.  Eight tiles which would need to be cut to fit the last row up against the wall.  He began his methodical process by gathering all of the resources he would need:  trowel, thinset, tilecutter, tile spacers, right angle, and tape measure.  He fastened his knee pads, got down on the floor, and began measuring for the cuts, marking each tile as he went.    After he had cut each tile to the exact measurements he had made, he spread the mortar.  When he was completely satisfied with the evenness of the mortar, he began placing the tiles  into their precise places with spacers.  But as he lifted the last tile, he accidentally dragged the jagged edge of the cut end across his left wrist.

Feeling the pain from the cut, he looked down at his wrist to survey the damage.  He had made a perfect, razor straight, slit in his wrist and he was bleeding very steadily.  For a moment he just stared at it, frozen, not knowing what to do.  Then he looked up.  Ashley was also staring at him, also frozen.

Remembering back to his Boy Scout days, he quickly raised his arm to slow the bleeding while Ashley just continued to stare.

“Ash! Get the medical gauze and tape from the kitchen cabinet.  Oh, and, it was just an accident.  Sharp tile. No worries, but hurry”

“Sure it was.  Was my dinner really that bad?”

“Ha ha…please?  Bleeding here!”

The next day, Daniel showed up with a wrapped left wrist.  The first person to notice was Kimberly, who had heard his suicide comments from the day before.  She immediately grabbed his arm and dragged him into a conference room.

For a moment, she just looked him.  She didn’t say a word.  Then her face broke into a kind of a motherly expression.  She glanced down at his wrist and then back at his face, and then he understood.

“Oh, Daniel, ” she said as she began to reach out to him.

He laughed his stiff, nervous laugh.  “No, no, no!  Ha ha no!”  He held up his wrist.  “No, this was an accident!”

“Shhh shhh shh”  she comforted. “We all make mistakes, Daniel,”  she said as she held him close to her and began patting his back.  “I’m just glad you didn’t go through with it!”


Non-lesbian Sweethearts


“God!  Don’t sit so close!” she whispers.

“Oh my God, Megan, what’s your problem?  Are you really going to make a big deal out of this again?”

Megan gets up and moves two seats away from Ashley,  takes a quick look around, and leans over so that no one can hear.

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t want anyone to think we’re…” and  she mouths “Lesbians!!”

“I’m sorry, Megan, but that’s really retarded of you.  This place is going to be totally packed for Valentine’s Day, and who cares?”

For a moment their eyes lock, an internal battle of wills is raging.  Exasperated and defeated once again, Megan moves to the seat right next to Ashley.  “Fine!  You freakin lesbian!  I suppose you want to make out, too?”

“As if!” replies Ashley, “I mean, whatever, you’re my best friend, and this is like our little tradition, or whatever.   I thinks it’s kind of cool, and you know it kind of hurts my feelings that you don’t like to sit by me.”

Ashley looks ahead at the screen and settles in to watch the coming attractions.  The matter is settled.  She is left to ponder the absurdity of this annual dispute.

Megan and Ashley had been going out for dinner and  a movie on Valentine’s Day since high school.  No guy had or would ever change that as far as they were concerned.  Theirs was a friendship to last a lifetime, and it started on a Valentine’s Day.

Senior year, Valentine’s Day, movie theater.  Megan and Ashley ran in different crowds.   Megan was a cheerleader and liked to hang out with the jocks.  Ashley was on the debate team and ran with the more academic crowd.  Both beautiful, both popular, both had dates on Valentine’s day;  Megan with the captain of the football team and Ashley with the former captain of the debate team (she was the captain this year).  And BOTH had been stood up.

Both stood  in the cold in front of the theater, leaving messages on their dates’ voicemails.  And then both girls, stood cursing the boys.

Then Megan, really just speaking to herself, said “What a fucking asshole!  He doesn’t even pick me up for the freakin date?!  And then he doesn’t fucking show?  Are you serious?”

Ashley, hearing Megan as clear as the cold February air, responded to her, “Oh my God, what an asshole!”  And friendship is born.

“I KNOW!!!  Fuck them!  We should totally see this movie together, I mean…unless…”

“Yeah, no, I’m pretty sure he’s not coming.”

“My treat!” proclaimed Megan with an air of triumph, “I’m totally going to take you out on a Valentine’s date.  Let’s get dinner and then see this stupid movie!”

Ashley loved Megan for that.  She’d never been stood up, and she was listing all the possible reasons why a boy would treat her this way.

Ashley had never really hung out with the cheerleader type before.  Their friendship was just as unlikely as it was for them to have been stood up on Valentine’s day together,  but she liked this girl.  They shared a bond now.

“Deal!” Ashley agreed, and she sealed it with a handshake.

“Ok, but no goodnight kiss,” kidded, Megan, pulling her hand away.

They formed a pact that night.  And now, ten years later, here they sit, waiting for another Valentine’s Day movie.

“So, how did Cooper handle not being able to take you out?” asks Megan.

“He was a little hurt, but he never had a choice in the matter.  I told him that you were my non-lesbian sweetheart  and that if he had a problem with that, then he was going to have a problem with ME.”

And with that, Megan grabs  Ashley’s hand, kisses it, and even holds it for nearly half of movie preview.


Dude, you’re in a cult


At what point do you realize you’re in a cult?

Oh, it depends on the person, I suppose.  Me?  It took years to realize it fully.  No one goes out looking for a cult to sign up for.  It’s something that always starts out seeming completely normal; a meditation class, for example.   Just learning how to quiet the mind right?  Why should that involve an “initiation” to advance to the next level of instruction?  You might casually ask yourself this question, but you do it anyway.

Why should I not be allowed to share information about what we do at the higher “levels” of meditation class?  Oh that’s simple,  it might confuse other meditation students who aren’t on that level yet.

One year you’re learning how to quiet your mind, the next year you might be trying to summon the presence of an invisible ancient Indian guru into your living room.   The next year you might be spending hours each day trying to mentally manifest a  large sum of money.  The next year, you might be attempting to speak with the dead.

Do you worship the “teacher”?  Do you believe that you are attaining magical powers?

Do you read books like Harry Potter and say, “Ok, I see how that could work.”?

No, you don’t.  You really don’t see how it could work.  Dude, you’re in a cult.  And that’s cool,  just admit to yourself, man…you’re in a freakin cult.


In the wings


“Hey there, sugar.  You ready?”

“Yeah.  Scene’s almost over”

I didn’t have to look to know that it was Trevor, not just because of his perfume and his seductive whisper, but because we had shared this moment in the wings for the last two weeks.  He was right in my ear, and his body was so close to mine in the darkness of the heavy stage curtains that I could feel heat emanating from it.

“I love you in this,” whispered Trevor, gesturing delicately toward my costume as I turned halfway around to see him…and to get a little space.

“Ha…yeah…thanks.”

His voice truly was silky and sweet, but not in a way I could really enjoy.   Was he about to come on to me?  Or was he just teasing me?  Or maybe testing the waters.  He hadn’t spoken much to me during rehearsals or during the performances.  But here in the wings, he spoke to me as if I were the object of his desire.

“You a sweet thing.  So yuuuuung and buff.  I bet the ladies all love you,”  he simpered.

“I guess.  Actually, this is the best I’ve done all month, Trev.”  We shared a soft chuckle and a smile

“Boy, if you liked boys I would show you a LOT better then this.”  He cocked his head slightly and grinned broadly at me.

Trevor was an exceptionally handsome (some would even say beautiful) muscular,  black man, with a powerful, virile bass-baritone voice.  He could shake the room with his singing, but in the wings, he was just as soft and feminine as a man could be.  It really was the most affection I’d received in a few weeks.  And in my own way, I appreciated the attention.  But what can a straight man do to convey appreciation for affection from a gay man?  I wanted him to know that he was something special, too, but being young and inexperienced, I didn’t know how to do this for fear of giving him the wrong idea.

“Ok, here comes  my cue.  Wish me luck?”

“Honey, you don’t need luck.  You just go out there and do what you do!”  And he gave me a playful pat on the ass as I turned to head for my second act, stage left entrance.

“Dammit Trevor!”


Prime Time


“Where the hell are you, Brian?!!!!”

Brian pauses, checks his watch.  Tick, Tick, Tick.  Now.

“I’m 24 miles south of Dallas on I-35.”

Gary’s voices  rises to panic mode.

“WHAT THE FUCK!!!  You are due here in 10 minutes.  10 FUCKING MINUTES!  Turn your ass around now!”

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, Now.

“I’m SO SORRY, Gary.  You know about my disability. I’m doing the best I can.  I’ll be there as soon as possible.”

“Well it’s not good enough, Brian.  The client will be here any minute and we are counting on your presentation.”

The conversation is over.  Brian, continues watching the mile markers and exit signs.  422, exit 421A…Come on…almost there…420. He glances at his watch, 10:15.  gonna make it this time…I’ve GOT to!  420 10:16… 419 10:17…ohhh that’s a prime..418…Exit sign for 417!!! oooooooohhhhh!  10:18…10:18…exit 417….ohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! 10:19 and exit 417 PRIMES!!!!!  Yes….EXIT NOW!!!!

“Yeah Gary?  It’s Brian.”

“Of course it’s BRIAN, you dumb fuck!  Where the fuck are you now?”

“I did it, Gary!  I exited the interstate.  I did it!!”

“You what?!  You called me to tell me you just exited?!!  HOLY FUCK!  Get back on the road and get back here!”

“Ok, boss.”

Next prime time, 10:23.  And I’m still at the prime mile marker!   BONUS!!