The patient

Heck said: “She came in two days ago. Pretty bad shape. Some kind of accident, but that’s all I know. She was in ICU until yesterday. You picked a hell of a day to dial in sick.”

I shrugged. “It’s a hospital, Heck. Things happen. I’m sorry for her, but I’m the janitor. I doubt I was missed.”

He corrected me. “Maintenance engineer.”

Eight-fifty an hour? I don’t think so.” Continue reading “The patient”

The men of lower Anglin Street

Cal was….”

a clown, a philosopher, a vapor with teeth. He was a stuntman who asked you to perform the stunt first. He was fabric made from sticks and gossamer. He could make a person think hard, drink hard, and laugh hard. He could change the color of things. A chameleon? That’s too simple. He never blended in with anything. He was plaid on a white background. And me, I was the white background. Continue reading “The men of lower Anglin Street”

Strings

Did I ever tell you about Cal?” I said. “I’m sure I did. This wouldn’t matter if I didn’t tell you about him. He changed me. I would have been a different kind of man. I don’t know what that means, but I wouldn’t be here. In this room, anyway. Or maybe I wouldn’t be here at all. And maybe you wouldn’t be here. I don’t know how it works, all these strings that move around and get tangled and affect other people’s strings. It’s complicated. And it’s really not. I don’t know. But I do know that Cal had a whole ball of knotted strings that moved mine around. Continue reading “Strings”

Pete’s

Pete’s was a squat box of yellow bricks and twitchy neon. The door was always open in the summer, and you could smell the dry tobacco and the yeasty drinks that stained the bar. Depending on the time of day, you could hear the thump of the juke playing old honky-tonk. If you walked by on your way to anyplace else, the darkness grabbed your attention; daylight made it too bright to see anything inside. You couldn’t pick out any one shape. Everything was a smudge, or a trick of the shadows. You’d hear loose voices in the background, or mushy coughs, and the brattle of glass and ice.

Sometimes Dad would take me into Pete’s if he couldn’t find a babysitter. Continue reading “Pete’s”

Accept

grace

Accept those faded moments,
forego those brightly tinctured dreams.
So many more filled with greater beauty,
but none that radiated such purpose.

Fifty-seven years – An excerpt

ordinaryhandsomeii

Fifty-seven years ago I killed a boy. Tonight, Euart Monroe walked into my room with a Mossberg 510 and a stained hobo mattress and fired a shot into my belly. It should have killed me right off, but he didn’t want that. He wanted me to know who pulled the trigger.

I could taste the backsplash in my mouth, dripping bile and bowel, and it tasted like bits of wet cabbage.

Calm yourself, Jimmy, she oftentimes said.

Arlene. I can still smell your hair, and it smells like black tea.

Calm yourself….

The clock says 2:45. One more morning added to the four dozen years since she passed. Continue reading “Fifty-seven years – An excerpt”

The burnings

Corn

The fires started slow, he said. Not impulsive. Probably sat on a nearby stump and threw branches into the flames. Watched. Smoked himself a few cigarettes, and then drove off when the smoke overtook. They were old properties, he said.

Then Sheriff Dunn leaned on the door frame, looked through the screen for a good while, then folded his arms. “I’m sorry for your loss, Charlotte,” he said. “Jeremiah was a good man. Kept to himself, kept a good clean life.”

He did, I said.

Son of a bitch was probably hiding in the corn. Man like that… well, you never know.” Continue reading “The burnings”

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