What if?: May 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Killer in Me

I always thought a person turned blue as you choke them to death. Turns out that red is the color of death. At least it's the color of death by strangulation. It's inspiring listening to the gurgle in thier throat. It's exhilarating seeing them attempt to beg for mercy when all they can do is gasp for air. I never thought death could be so much fun.

My victim is just some random guy. He never did anything to me. Nor I to him. That is until the moment I siezed his throat for all I was worth. The tenacity of a pitbull in a human package. Scrawny little runt that I am, I sure have a grip that's to die for. Ha, I just made a funny.

His eyes are getting bloodshot and starting to bulge ever so slightly out of his head. All he wants is precious oxygen. Wrong place, wrong time there buddy. Sorry for your luck. I don't speak these words. I let the silence cover us like a blanket. It feeds his fear you see. You can hardly tell his eyes were a gorgeous shade of green anymore. They are red, bloodshot and bulging out of thier sockets.

His nose is flaring from it's futile attempts to take in the air that sustains life. It's a cute nose, I wonder if he's had plastic surgury. His lips, thin and wide, are turning a nice shade of purple. I suppose maybe blue is next. All I know is that I feel godlike. I hold this man's life in my hands. Do I let go? Do I squeeze harder and end it quickly? Do I continue on this way and explore the dying mind? I can almost read his mind you know. His body language tells me all I need to know.

At first he flailed about like a chicken with it's head cut off. Good think I'm a little taller than he is. I picked him right off his feet. He couldn't be more than twenty one. I remember twenty one. He might weigh in the neighborhood of one hundred forty pounds. I could be wrong there. I'm no scale. His hair is in a ponytail and for a moment I thought I would use irony and strangle him with his own hair. That would have been worth a laugh. His five foot six inch frame yields to my every whim now. No fight left in him at this point. His feet claw at my shins, more than likely looking for some perch with which to mount a defense. Fat chance of that happening though. We are in the middle of a mostly unused allyway. Sorry for your luck pal.

All of a sudden he goes limp in my hands. I don't dare let go. He has probably passed out from the lack of oxygen. Better to hold my grip for a few more minutes. It's at this point I realize that I am sexually aroused. And here I thought the pervert gene missed me. I want him to die right now so that I may go home with his image fresh in my mind. I want to go home and think of this moment and masterbate. Pretty sick don't you think?

After ten more minutes of holding him, I declare him dead. I leave his limp body in the alley. It was discovered by police at five in the morning after some good citizen called them. Turns out the guy had a wife and four kids. Damn breeder. I should research my next victim. Next victim has a nice ring to it.

Person Place and Song

Write a short piece of fiction, about 1000 words. It may be a complete short piece or the start of a longer story, but it begins as follows:

"The first time I (or Name) heard Specific Song Title by Specific Artist or Group, I (or Name) was down/up/over at Place and we were doing Action."

The object of the exercise is to begin a story simply and specifically. Nothing grand, just close evidence that may lead to somewhere.

I hope we're not fizzling out here kids, we started off with a bang!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Old School

I had already cut my tags. LOL. Eh, it's more challenging anyway.


"So there I am, hastily apologizing to my guests while hauling her into the kitchen when Janie then says to me, 'But mommy, you told me those pads were napkins and were for a special time of the month,'"

"Oh my God! That is hilarious."

"Laura, you should have seen my face when I walked into the dining room."

"That'll teach you not to glaze over the facts of life Courtney."

"Yeah, well come talk to me when Emily is six and digging through the bottom of your linen closet. Can I have a fry?"

"Of course; like I need them to begin with."

"I'm glad we did this. We haven't had a chance to talk…"

"…in ages I know. This is something I did need."

"Well let's not wait that long to do it again, ok?"

"Sure. It's just hard… it's hard to get out, you know?"


"You want some more wine before I finish this off?"

"Wow the bottle's empty already?"

"Yeah, should we order another?"

"You should take it easy Laura, you have to drive home."

"Ah see, if I have too much to drink, I can just go home with you. Then I won't have to go back to my house."


"Laura honey what's going on?"

"Nothing, really. I'm just being silly."

"You're not just being silly. You've had three-quarters of a bottle of wine, and are only half-joking about not wanting to go home. Come to think of it, you've avoided talking about yourself and Steve all night. Talk to me; it's me, Courtney."

"Once when I was a student intern, I remember being at home and sitting up in my bed, suddenly realizing I had mixed someone's medicine wrong. I had given them less---not more, but still… the feeling you get when you've made a mistake…you know?"

"I'm not sure I follow you."

"Have you ever felt that Court? Like you just woke up and realized you've made a mistake?"

"Like the, 'I have a test today and I didn't study plus I'm wearing no pants' feeling?"

"Sort of, yeah."

"You can come over tonight if you want Laura; no excuses needed. We can just hang out more, and talk if you need to."

"No. No, it's ok, I have to go home. Running away doesn't solve anything."

"It's not running away, it's just a slumber party."

"You're so cute Courtney. Seriously. Let's just make a pact to meet up more, ok?"

"Ok, but promise to call me tomorrow?"


"I mean it. If you don't I'll hunt you down!"

"Okay, okay!"

"Waiter, can we have the check please?"

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mortal Coils ~ by Irrelephant

Mortal Coils

"So, didja bring the case?"

"My god, Vince, are you stupid or something? Keep your fucking voice down and get away from my desk! I'll meet you at the cooler."

"Sheesh, you don' t hav'ta be such a jerk about it."

"Leave, before I carry you out by your asshole."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Hold on, damnit, I'm coming. I swear, you are such a nit sometime. Here, get a cup, at least try and act like you're doing something."

"I never could get used to all this spy stuff. I mean, really George, why can't we just behave like normal people?"

"Vince, you are a mook. You've always been a mook. You always will be a mook. We are not normal people, not anymore. And nobody can find out what's in that case. If they did, my God, I'd hate to think of what it would be like."

"Wow, that would be quite a party, wouldn't it? I mean, if everyone..."

"Hi, Paula. Pretty dress. Sheesh, why don't you just tell everyone that we're standing here discussing the contents of my briefcase? Damnit Vince, why are you so thick? How the hell did I get mixed up with someone as thick as you?"

"You didn't have a choice, remember?

"Oh yes, all too well, thank you. Yeah, that's it, laugh it up. Christ on a crutch. The one time I bring someone home from work it had to be you. The one night they decided was the night to intervene you had to be in the car with me. Damnit. Damnit it all to Hell."

"So, didja bring it?"

"Uhm, let's see. I brought my lunch, remembered my fountain pen, my glasses, my tie, watch, wallet, no wait, what did I forget? My briefcase? With that...that THING in it. Christ Vince, do you think I'm stupid? Once a month for three years, like clockwork, yeah I fuckin' well remembered. It's under my desk."

"Same time as always?"

"Yes, my incredibly thick friend. Same time as always. I'll even be in the same car as last time. Damnit, YES same time as always."

"Yeah yeah, okay George, just making sure."

"Go on, I'll see you down there. My God, who would have thought it. Fucking eternal life, shared with a moron. Yeah, sorry man, didn't mean to throw it at you, didn't see you standing there. Sorry. Damn, got your shirt all wet too. I'm sorry."

"Sheesh. Eternal life, and I gotta spend it with that guy. What a ripoff."



Wow that was hard to do. I hadn't realised until I really started imagining the characters of Vince and George and their meeting at the water cooler how difficult it would be to try and fully develop a scene between any four people (I'm counting Paula because of her untimely interruption and the unnamed fourth character at the end, even though we never 'hear' them) and their actions without putting in anything but their speech. And trying to let each of the mains have their own voice, their own vocal mannerisms, without sliding into anything that smacked of stilted plot-development...I'm still sweating. And so desperate I was to include a third and fourth person, just to keep it in that sort of crowded office setting. Then I was trying to work into the story too much of THEM, what they looked like, their chance meeting, the fact that Vince was tall and lanky while George was stout, what they were wearing, all that simply wouldn't fit. It was an interesting time trying to pare it all down to the bare bones, to make it fit the assignment, and still try to get what I most like in my stories-- twin doses of whimsy and menace.

I found myself doing a poor imitation of William Gibson; trying to let YOU see what your imagination wanted to see, while not describing anything at all. Paula's 'pretty' dress, the briefcase, what was IN the briefcase, the wet shirt. Tough stuff to do.

Bonus points to anyone who can positively identify the four characters. *S* ~Irrelephant

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Demon Lover

Demon Lover

“I can hear her.”

“Don’t! Don’t listen!”

“I can’t help it...”

“Stop! Think about something else.”

‘What else is there? What is there in the world that can compare…”

“Don’t. You remember what happened the last time.”

“Brrrr…yes, yes, you’re right. Hey! Now you’re listening, aren’t you?”


“Yes, you are.”


If I can’t go to her, neither will you.”

You’ll stop me?”

“I will.”

Come to me.

“We could both…”

“Only one can go at a time. You know that. And neither of us is going this time.”


“We don’t belong…”

“That terrifying place…”

“Those cold eyes…”

“Her mouth…”

“Her mouth.”


“No, this is no good. We need to leave. Get out of earshot. Let’s go.”

“Why do we always find ourselves here?”

“Stupidity. Masochism. I said, let’s go already!”


Come to me now.

“Yes! I’m coming!”

“Damn you!”

“I’m already damned! Oooff! Let me go!”

“You’re…not…going…to her!”

“I love her!”

“You can’t love her! Besides, she’s…an abomination.”

“Thanks. You’re right. I—ungh!”

“And besides, she’s mine!”

“Get the fuck back here!”


“Stupid fucker. She wants me. Me!”


“That’s right. See you later.”

At last.

“The cold…I always forget about the cold…”

I’ll warm you.

“No. Please…”.


“How could I…could I beat him like that…for you…”

You do what I bid. So does he. For the winner the spoils.

“Stop…stop touching me…your skin is so cold…did I really say I loved you?”

Hmmm hmmm...

“I could crush you…end it here.”

Be a hero? You’ll do nothing of the sort.

“No…no, I won’t…”

Now back with you. I’ve had my fill. See you next time. Or your friend.

“You’re still here.”

“I was worried about you.”

“Your face has healed nicely.”

“Always does.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Couldn’t be helped. Are you cold?”

“Yes! Freezing. I always forget.”

“So do I. Your lips are blue.”

“Her mouth…”

“Her mouth.”

“I hate witches… the way they summon us, play with us…and Earth is so cold…”

“Come on. We’ll warm you up by the lake.”

I wrote this one a while ago, with vague, misleading descriptions. It was a challenge to depict the physical fighting only using dialogue, as well as the final scene.
Does it work?


I didn't quite follow the rules...
I used no tags at all.
Well here goes:

"The doors are closing. The doors are closing. Please step away from the doors."

"God I hate that."

"Hate what?"

"That voice. I hear it every goddamn morning all damn morning."

"I kinda like her."

"Like her? You don't even know her. How can you say you like her?"

"We are now leaving the station."

"And why the hell does she have to say that - it's not like we can't see we are leaving the station."

"It's how she says things. Kinda forceful, yet pleasant. I like that."

"You like the forceful type? What are you saying? You like to be controlled?"

"Naah. All I am saying is that she just has a pleasant voice."

"But don't you ever get sick of it? The same damn message over and over again. I mean come on it must grate on you."


"Oh, what? No problem."

"What happened?"

"She just stepped on my foot."



"She said sorry. Don't hear that very often these days. When was the last time you said sorry?"

"I don't know. Don't keep track."

"I don't think I've ever heard you say sorry."

"Why are you on my ass now?"

"You have never said sorry to me."

"Look, let's not get into this here."

"Why not here? It's not as if we ever talk at home."

"Look, sometimes I just like some peace and quiet at home - is that so hard to understand?"

"Excuse me sir, this is my stop."

"What the hell? Did we wake up in the twilight zone? What is with everyone being so polite?"

"Maybe they know."

"They can't possibly know."

"You know sometimes you speak out loud when we are talking."

"How would you know?"

"They way people react. The way they look at you."

"Well they can't see you, you're dead."

"Why do you keep bringing that up? I know that and you know that. You know if you keep saying that out loud they might just lock you up."

"Oh shut up and go away."

"What?! Who the hell do you think you are mister? Telling an old lady to shut up. Hmmpf."

"Dammit, I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to him."


"Never mind. This is my stop - have a fantastic life."

Monday, May 08, 2006


[Crap. I'm late. I had intended to post this Friday at lunch, but last week was crazy. This didn't turn out quite the way I had intended, but I guess it will make it that much easier to critique. I still owe most of you comments, and I will try to get to those this week. - Paul]

“Damn,” he said, and died.

“That’s an understatement,” said the teenage boy kneeling next to the dead man. The boy hung his head, exhausted. There was a dull ringing in his ears, and blood on his hands. He tried to wipe the blood off on his pants, but he only succeeded in spreading the dark blotches, like leprous sores. He jerked away from himself, repulsed by the vision, but succeeded only in scooting backwards. He looked around. The living room appeared alien to him. He felt like he was on stage after the final act of Hamlet. Where was the applause? Was this really his home? Nothing made sense anymore.

His gaze was finally pulled to the shotgun lying on the floor by the hearth. How did that get out here? he thought. He glanced back at the stranger lying dead on the floor next to him. The boy remembered seeing the man before. He was watching me at school, thought the boy, He remembered the uneasy feeling that prickled his spine when he noticed the man’s focused attention. But why was he here now?

The doorbell had rung. The disjointed memories began to return. And then his parents were shouting. There had been another voice, a desperate voice, and it had come from inside the house. Something is wrong, the boy remembered thinking, then he had slipped out of his room into the hall.

There was a man in the living room, and he was shouting at the boy’s parents. His father was trying to get the man to leave, but the man resisted. The boy’s mother was threatening to call the police. The boy could hear the fear in her voice. He slipped into his parents’ room. The shotgun was behind the door.

The boy remembered the sudden silence when he strode into the living room with the gun, demanding that the stranger get the hell out of his house. The boy was shocked by the sadness in the man’s eyes, a sorrowful longing that hit the boy like a wave.

“But I’m your real father.” The man had implored.

“This isn’t Star Wars, you freak!” the boy had shouted back. But the man suddenly raised his hand and took a step towards the boy. And the gun had gone off.

The man took the blast in the gut. He was knocked backwards and landed hard on his butt. He sat in the middle of the room like a stuffed doll, legs spread out in front of him. He didn’t move. He just sat there, while gravity patiently disemboweled him. I don’t remember taking off the safety, thought the boy. I don’t remember pulling the trigger. But I do remember what he said.

“What have you done?” The words from his mother struck the boy as if she had slapped his face. On the periphery of his consciousness he began to process the implications of this man’s presence and the meaning of his words. His father advanced towards him to take away the gun.

“Is it true?” screamed the boy, rage saturating his vision as he began to understand exactly what he might have done.

The gun had fired again. “Is it?” screamed the boy at his mother. Through her sobbing she confessed the truth to the boy she had called son.

The gun had fired a third time. “How many fucking shells are in this damn thing?” he had shouted in dismay, pulling the trigger repeatedly. The clicking of the empty gun answered him with a hollow laugh. He had flung the spent weapon away, and collapsed to his knees at the side of the dying stranger.

The boy looked away from the gun. His former parents sat awkwardly together on the couch, staring blankly at the vacuous commercials playing on the television. “Damn,” said the boy, echoing the stranger’s last word. What a moment to realize your parents really weren’t your parents.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Idea for next writing assignment

I sent this via email to Giovanna and she said go for it...

Write a piece with only dialogue. No narrative. Either in play format, as in Name: Line,

or Name said, "Line".

The purpose is to use the dialogue only to convey the story elements, the setting, the tone, the arc, etc.

I think 750 word limit should apply.

I am not a task master but I think by a week from this Thursday is a good goal.

Have fun.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Tragical Comedy

Sent by irrelephant. :) He's a super over-achiever and used three sentences. :p They've been italicized.

I am in awe that you took on the Skinny McAdams line. ROFL.

He looked at his watch. 6:30. With disgust, he exhaled audibly. He had missed the train. 'Oh yes, that's just great,' Ron thought to himself. 'Keep the number one rising star in the television industry waiting.' Not being the sort of guy to start weeping over upended dairy products, Ron Peck, top advertising agent, was already spinning on his heel. He burst out of the train station like a man on a mission, because he was--he had to get to a land-line phone to get a word in to "Skinny" Kenny McAdams, the star's personal assistant, get the meeting rescheduled. With fresh ideas bursting in his head Ron stepped off the curb and into the path of a speeding beer truck. He died instantly, not knowing what hit him.

A small crowd of gawkers had gathered around the still-cooling body. The paramedics had nothing to do but stand around and pass a cigarette hand to hand. A hard-faced state trooper had already taken statements, and was sitting sullenly in his car, waiting for orders. Mary pulled away from the fringe of the crowd. She had been through far too much today--her lawyer had called to tell her that not only was her divorce case going badly but their vacation together in the Galapagos Islands had to be put on hold, as his wife was coming home unexpectedly from the Brixton All-Women's Bridge Tourney. Mary walked a fair distance away from the scene and hailed a taxi, eager to be away.

"Fourth and Main," she mumbled to the cabby, a slender black man with a tumble of oily black dreadlocks hanging out of a huge red rubberband. "Twenty bucks more if you get me there in fifteen minutes." The driver nodded amiably to her, turned the radio to a Carribean-music station and wheeled the cab into traffic, eliciting honks of outrage from behind. The cab stank of old cigarettes and hair oil, but Mary took little notice of it. She was lost in her own past, mumbling to herself. Her thoughts came around as they often did in times of crisis to a young man, her one-time lover in high school, and their breakup. Her lips moved, softly uttering "Oh, Skinny Kenny," just as the cab was torn in half by the onrushing 11:15 freight train to Mannheim. The cabdriver was thrown clear of the car; his dream to outrun the train to the crossing still burning hot in his mind. And he did beat the train, if hairs were to be split--it was the back half of the cab that hadn't made it across, was still being shoved, screeching and rolling down the track, pushed by the relentless engine. Strangely enough, her last thoughts were of her and Kenny, and the life together she had thrown away. Mary knew she should have worn underwear that day; Kenny didn't like women going commando, and when he found out he coldly returned her class ring.

The cab driver, driven to a state of near-madness by the accident and his guilt in the slaying of that strange woman, could only utter the last words he heard from her, over and over, a mantra driving him on, making his shaking legs propel him up the middle of the street, his left arm hanging nerveless, half of his dreadlocks torn from his head. "Skinny Kenny...Skinny Kenny...Skinny Kenny..." Blood spattered on the ground from numerous cuts, but he was like a man possessed. He knew he had to get to the bar, he had to find the fat man and tell him.
At The Buck Stops Here Tavern and Grill, twenty faces turned as one to to take in the apparition that loomed in the doorway--a young black man, clothing torn, covered in blood, his head lolling on his neck, a car's rear view mirror still miraculously grasped in his hand. A gasp ran around the room but it wasn't enough to stop everyone from hearing the words that hissed from the cab driver's mouth. "Skinny Kenny." As though those words were the only thing binding his soul to his body, the man collapsed to the ground, dead.

The fat man at the end of the bar knew something was wrong, bad wrong, when he heard his name from that dying ghoul's mouth--Ron needed him. He shoved and pressed his bulk out of the tavern and onto the street, trying to sprint his three-hundred pound bulk up the street toward his apartment, his phone, and the only thing that gave his life meaning anymore--his dog, Vienna, the star, his only hope. Pasty-face and gasping hotly, the fat man thrust his pudgy legs one in front of the other, up to his building's door, across the lobby, up the stairs, sweat darkening his shirt and pouring down his blotched face. As "Skinny" Kenny McAdams hauled his corpulent body to the top the stairs, the pain raced through his left arm like a shot of boiling heroin. Stumbling forward, he barely made it inside his apartment before he fell over and died. It was only when the paramedics rolled his corpse over that the true tragedy was revealed: Underneath lay the lifeless body of Vienna, the lovable star of the SouperPup dog food commercials.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Disjointed: My entry in the opening/closing sentence exersize

Woke up in a strange room again and it took me awhile to realize it wasn't mine. These blackouts were beginning to become very frightning. No clue where I was. No clue what I had done. Waking up confused on an increasingly regular basis. This was no way to live.

I rose from the stranger's bed, anxious to discover where I was. The room was dark and smelled of old cigarette smoke. I fumbled around until I found the light switch. Let there be light. As my eyes adjusted to the harsh florescent lighting, I discovered that I was in a gorgeous apartment. Maybe I had gotten lucky. Fat chance of that. Wishful thinking.

I crossed the room so I could look out the window. What I saw there almost put my on my ass. New York City? How in the hell did I make it from sunny Florida to NYC? I guess it was possible since I didn't even know what day it was. This was starting to get a little scary. Scary enough that I needed to pee. If only I could find the bathroom.

Once found, I entered the bathroom. It was musty smelling. Something of a metallic quality to the smell. It was also filthy. Dark brown stains on the floor, on the wall, and even some on the ceiling. Might as well shower while I'm here. I opened the shower curtain to find a decaying human body, at least I figure it was human. Did I do this?

I ran out the door and down the stairs. Into the nightlife of NYC. How did I get here? Who was that person in the tub? Did I kill them or were they already dead when I got there? Why was I blacking out like that? What day was it? The last day I remember was November sixteenth. I asked someone the date. She said it was January twentieth. January fucking twentieth! Had I really lost two months of my life?

I must have walked for hours and hours. Somehow my walk brought me to Queens. I was hungry and tired. I didn't know when I had eaten last. I found the closest diner type place and sat at a table. After a couple minutes, a gorgeous waitress sauntered over to my table.

"Joseph, how have you been? Will you be having the usual?"

"Yeah, sure."

My heart was pounding in my chest. I knew this woman? How? Who was she? This was really beginning to freak me the fuck out. Hell, I didn't even know what my usual was. In my confusion I started to draw on a napkin. I didn't even look at what I was doing, I just drew.

She brought me my food. Three eggs sunny side up, a double order of bacon, sausage, hash browns and toast. In other words, heart attack on a plate. She sat down oppsite me and lit a cigarette.

"It's my break, hope you don't mind. You haven't been around in a couple weeks, I've been worried. I hope you didn't forget that we have a date next week. That new show on Broadway."

"Yeah sure. I remember. I don't remember which day though. How have you been?"

"I'm doing. Same old, same old. You know the routine."

"Yeah. Work and more work."

"Speaking of work, time for me to get back to it. See you next Tuesday hon."

She snuffed out her cigarette and disappeared into the kitchen. I finished my food and left a twenty on the table. I left the diner and walked back toward Manhatten. I had no clue at all how I got here. I just knew I wanted to get out. I didn't want that body coming back to haunt me. At least not in the sense that I'd be arrested and jailed. I figure I'll carry it with me forever.

I hit the train station and bought a ticket for sunny Florida. Home. I wanted to get home. I boarded the train and took my seat. Beside me was a nice older gentleman talking about grandchildren in South Carolina. I fell asleep. Sleep was nice. I dreamed of NYC and killing that poor girl. It was all so vivid. The way her head broke open like a ripe melon when I hit it with the telephone. The way she smelled before I even touched her. The way she begged for her life as I was bearing down on her, holding her still so I could see and smell the fear. I felt so alive in that moment. Somewhere in my dream I could hear the steady clack clacking of the train. At some point it stopped, but I kept on dreaming. Dreaming of Moya the waitress watching as I beat and cut her sister. My unconsious mind giving me the details I had forgotten. Closure.

I woke up in a strange room again and it took me awhile to realize it wasn't mine.

Started and finished between classes. Not my best work at all. However, I do like that I found a way to use the same sentence to start and finish the piece.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Can't seem to think of a title...

...which is unusual for me. Let me know if you have any ideas. -- Nancy Dancehall

“See you later,” she said, but what I heard was the damning finality of “goodbye.”

She’d been the only sober one at the party, and yet she was the center of it. I couldn’t stop watching her move her hands while she talked, bracelets jangling up and down her arms. Her bare feet never stayed still, but danced under the long translucent skirt. She laughed at everything. I thought at first it was an act, but it was genuine. Everything and everyone truly delighted her. I’d never seen such a woman.

She approached me. Later she said it was because I looked like I wasn’t having any fun, and she wanted to change that.

The first time we made love and I approached climax, she pushed my face away from her neck.
“I want to hear you the way the room does,” she gasped.

The first thing that bothered me after she moved in was the number of times her vast and intrusive family called. Aurora was always on the phone solving one crisis after another, all with that laugh, those dancing hands. How could someone be perpetually happy, especially in the face of everyone else’s troubles?
I asked her one day.
“How can I not be happy?” she shrugged. “Life is good. You need to remember that!” She kissed me on the nose before sweeping off to one class or another. “See you later!”
Never goodbye. That word wasn’t in Aurora’s vocabulary.

My friends were jealous.
“She takes up great handfuls of life and flings it into the air,” one of them said.
She’s dangerous, because not only can you fall in love with her, you can really like her.” “Aurora’s perfect,” said another.
I’d thought so too once, before I lived with her. With that perpetual cheeriness.

She worried about her mother’s lupus, I know, but it never showed. Aurora propped up everyone else. One day her mom called and I answered. Aurora was in the other room, but her mom wanted to talk to me first.
“I can tell Aurora needs support now.”
“She’s fine,” I answered.
“I know. She’s always fine. But trust me, Aurora doesn’t know how to ask for support. She keeps giving. Sometimes you have to just give it back.”
“I support her.”
“Of course you do.”
“You don’t have to tell me about supporting her,” I said.
“Of course not. Is she there?”
“No. I’ll tell her you called.”
“Who was that?” Aurora asked, coming into the room. She was smiling, completely guileless, innocent. Happy.
“That was your father. Your mom just…died.”
The light went out of her eyes while her smile froze. A little noise came from her, and I watched her expression collapse into grief, like a bridge under too much weight. She sank to the floor, sobbing.
I stood watching her. The words had come out of my mouth before I thought about them. I wished I’d just backhanded her instead.
The phone rang again. She leapt up before I could stop her.
“Jeeeennnnnny,” she cried into the receiver. “Mom…Mom’s gone…”
I took a deep breath.
“Mike just said dad called and told him…” she turned her face to me. “What do you mean…?”
Her face changed. Her tears stopped.
“Mike’s got a weird sense of humor,” she told her sister. “I’ll call you back.”
“I…I’m sorry,” I said. “I…I…I don’t know why I—”
“You. Cunt.”
I didn’t know that was in her vocabulary.

She left everything behind. Thought it was tainted, I guess. Unimportant.

I’ve kept it all; books, clothes, shoes, makeup. She traveled light. Everything fits into twelve cardboard boxes.

Four and a half years later, I saw her on the street. I couldn’t help but stare. She seemed perfect, absolutely perfect, sipping on her iced tea in the neighborhood café.

A submission via e-mail

I received an impressive piece from blogger Irrelephant in response to the headline exercise. Don't be shy readers and lurkers. Make sure you let your comments all hang out now. ;-)
Paul, I'm leaving your notes off for now, I think it's more fun to read the story on its own without your explanation. I'll post my thoughts later after I let this settle, but you are quite the master of the metaphor!

Oh and if you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out Daniel's story below.

Reed's Chance to Let It All Hang Out

Reed's hand stole around his back like a thief, slipped gently around the hidden blade, fingers crept around the worn leather-wrapped handle and squeezed, squeezed as a lover does his mate's hand. His footsteps echoed dully around the alley as the sun cast it's yellow rectangle at the mouth of the alley. Occasionally an errant shaft of light would slip through broken windows as he walked, but this far down they seemed to lose their enthusiasm, so that by the time they reached the garbage cans and empty boxes and trash they sulked, hid, were ashamed of their brightness and strove to hide it. He walked on, barely noticing the shafts of light, his pace regular, relaxed. He strolled, at his ease, his long legs shortening the distance easily, his hand tucked casually into his jean's waistband, a dark-haired youth out for a lazy afternoon's walk.

The end of the alley loomed in front of him, a tall canyon formed by a pair of looming buildings. They both stood empty, their exposed flanks dark and wet like horses that had been run too long, too far, their every surface spattered with mud, garbage, and the flickering green bodies of flies. The way out, the light at the end of Reed's tunnel was bright, filled with light and energy and motion, vastly unlike the dark, barely quiescent alley; the street was a golden spaniel leaping in the sun, a ribald counterpoint to the alley's bare-ribbed piebald mongrel sleeping the heat of the day away.

The length and height of the alley magnified the noises of the cars moving up and down Main St., the shush of their tires a constant background counterpoint to the flashes of colour they revealed. They dazzled his eyes, each colour as sharp as a shard of broken glass, strobing their steely glare in his eyes as each candy-losenge shape darted by the thin opening; flicker flashes in his eyes, instants caught forever in his mind: a child nursing at a red sippy-cup, a bored teenage girl resting her head against the glass window, an elderly man in a suit purposely hunched over the wheel, headed to some vitally important encounter. One after the other, a solid wall of profusion, noise, colour, chrome and glass. Movement, aimless purpose, engine noises rattling broken glass like monkeys at their cage bars.

His old canvas All Stars were quiet on the rough concrete of the pavement, each footfall swallowed up into the cathedral-heights, buried by the echoes from the street. He didn't even pause as he walked through stagnant water, old newspapers, small white morsels of pigeon filth; his step was unhurried but purposeful--he knew where he was going. He was headed to the end of the alley, there to be framed between the looming buildings, their broken glass windows watched like eyesockets in soot-greyed skulls, the rustle of pigeon wings their only reponse to his presence. And it was there for him when he arrived, framed in light, the goal so long sought, the sun making of him a young god, striking highlights off his dark hair, off his bright blue eyes. Now he would have his chance, and no one, not a soul who saw him in that triumphal moment would ever forget him. All eyes turned toward him in that frozen instant.

Tires squealed regret on the pavement as he raised the blade.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Walking Bare

Woke up in a strange room again and it took me a while to remember it wasn't mine. Not that in my life I have often woken up in strange rooms to make the occurrence common place, but as of late it had been happening all too frequently. Just another night spent in a stranger's bed. Just another day drifting from town to town following the Lewis and Clark trail. I had set out on this journey with a grand plan in mind to retrace the steps of great explorers as they sought a route West to appease their president. But now I had lost my way. Cast my lot down the path of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Let me explain.

It started out as a friendly conversation in a bar at the end of a long hike. The advantage I had over Lewis and Clark is that there were always bars at the end of my day.

She was taller than me. Dark hair. Ivory skin set off by ocean blue eyes. She got me talking about myself. She got me thinking about me and her and what we might do later. Never dawned on me that she would want something for our evening. I was too naive to figure that out. I was shocked that she would accept money for the deed. But that soon gave way to titillation at the thought of that body and that skin and those eyes . . . for a night.

Money was not a problem. Since I sold my business, I had been looking for new challenges. That is why I took up this walk and took a break from the family. And then took a wrong turn.

She was the first, but not the last. Every new town I stopped in, I looked up the locals. It was easy with wireless connection and a laptop to find beauty. It became intoxication. A natural high. I justified it to myself in that my wild oats had to be sown sometime and now was that time. No one would know.

And now I find myself traveling in an odyssey, tempted in every town. Waking when it suited me. But this morning something was different. Something pervaded my sleep.

I rolled out of bed. She had left sometime in the night - so it was not her. Naked I walked over to the window. There struggling beyond the pane was a black-capped chickadee. Its claw had become trapped in the metal runner upon which the sliding window glided open. I reached to open the window to set the bird free, but I stopped. It was tattered and worn. And it dawned on me at that moment that it would soon draw its last breath. I just stood there hand frozen to the clasp as it rhythmically, almost in a coital cadence, rattled against the window. The tapping on the window grew louder, then stopped altogether.