Sticky Notes

“Good luck with that!” Tiffany softly giggled to herself.

“I’m serious. I insist you clean up your room.”

“Mom. I’m 38. You don’t have that kind of leverage any more.”

“You’re living in MY house under MY roof. You’ll do as I say.”

“Yeah, but mom, I took over the payments six years ago. It’s really MY house and yeah. I have to go to work.”

“Tiffany! I’m your mother! Come back here! Listen to me when I’m talking to you!”

Tiffany was relieved to hear the front door open and close followed by footsteps in the hall. “Thank goodness,” she thought.

“Hi Mrs. Baumgarten.”

“Who are you?”

“Jenny? Your nurse? Remember? I come every day, Mrs. Baumgarten. Have you had your breakfast yet?”

Tiffany’s mother shook her head and looked around Tiffany’s room in confusion. It wasn’t messy. It was as neat as a pin. She shrugged and followed Jenny to the kitchen.

“Jenny, can we have a word?” Tiffany passing the kitchen on her way out.


“She just had an episode.”

“I thought she might have. She gets that lost look in her eyes afterwards, sort of ‘What was that?'”

“If you need me I’m only a text away.”

“We’re going to sit down after breakfast and write sticky notes to ourself to help us with the day.”

“I love that. I come home and see everything mom did while I was gone.”

“It keeps her on track. Don’t worry, Tiffany. Have a good day.”

“You too, Jenny, and thank you.”

“No worries. Remember, you pay me!” Jenny smiled and gave Tiffany a quick hug.

“Yeah, I know, but…”

“I know.”

“Bye mom!”

“Bye honey! Have a good day!”


The cars sped around the track that had been part of an airfield only a year before.  The fans — mostly young girls in tweed skirts, heavy sweaters and warm shawls pulled tight across their shivering shoulders — cheered from the sidelines. Men in cuffed trousers and brown brogans with heavy socks, bent over their stopwatches. In the announcer’s box — a wooden affair, quickly cobbled together out of old boxes and scrap wood after the war and painted the high gloss gray left over from painting runways — a man with a microphone called the names of the three drivers closest to the finish line.

“In third place, but coming up quickly, is Denis O’Callahan from Donegal. In second, driving hard to overtake the first place driver, is Paddy O’Murphy from Coleraine. In first place and fighting to hold his position, is Seamus Kennedy from Galway. With only seconds left — oh, an upset, O’Murphy has overtaken Kennedy, and he’s, he’s, HE’S WON, FOLKS! The first place trophy goes to Paddy O’Murphy of Coleraine! We’re going down to talk to him now. Mr. O’Murphy, congratulations on your win. For a time it was looking like you’d be taking second place.”

“I don’t take second place. It’s not in me blood, second place.”

“Automobile racing is a dangerous game. There were a few close calls this afternoon. Tell me somethin’.”


“You survived that godawful war, so why are ye’ riskin’ yer life out here on the track?”

“Och, dat’s easy. I race for duh trill of it, dontcha’ know?”

Satori of Pit Bull

“I think so, too. Roger. You were right. I’m not interested in anything, not here, anyway. I don’t know why. I mean we have a great place to live, good jobs, you’re a good looking guy, we’re pretty much free to do what we want…”

“Uh, I didn’t mean that talk.”

“WHAT talk, then?”

“Jasmine, I saw the green flash.”

“Comic books again, Roger?” Jasmine suddenly knew why she was so bored with this man.

“It was amazing. Miraculous, I didn’t even think it really existed.”

“Of course it doesn’t exist. He’s a comic book character. You are such a CHILD. If I wanted kids, I’d have some.” Jasmine stood up from the bed, looked into the contents of her suitcase, decided there were stores everywhere and she had money. Why was she packing ANYTHING? OH well. She closed it carefully, making sure it was latched. She didn’t want her dramatic exit to turn into a comedic movie scene where the lid popped open and lingerie spilled everywhere. “Roger, I’m leaving. I don’t know if I’m leaving for good or not, but, yeah, this isn’t making me happy.”

“Wait, Jasmine, what I learned is that NOTHING makes us happy. We’re either happy or we’re not. You know what? A bum, a homeless fucking bum, on the beach who’s got NOTHING, offered to share his beer with me. He said I looked ‘forlorn’.”

“So? Were you?”

“Well, yeah. Trev and Candace were, I dunno, and then you didn’t want to go with me, that was, I dunno. I took a walk and kept meeting weirdos. I ended up sitting on the sand with a pit bull and a teenager waiting for the green flash.”

“A pit bull and a teenager?”

“Yeah. Sweet dog.”

“OK, well, you know, it’s been real, Roger, but…” She walked down the hallway to the foyer pausing to take a look around at their “home.”

“If you leave, we’ll have to sell this place.” Roger thought for a moment. What would be so bad about that?

“We can talk about the details later, babe.”

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know right now. I’ll be in touch.” The door closed behind her and Roger found himself in their barn of a house. Its decorative touches, the vaulted ceiling, the giant fireplace they never used, the wallpaper frieze of undulating patterns that had once so enchanted Jasmine all seemed like silly adornment on a world that didn’t need adornment, a world that had a green flash.

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Part 2: Something about Cake

Part 3: Connectivity Issues

Part 4: Crowd Control

Part 5: THAT Sentence

THAT Sentence

Jasmine got up from the bed. In a way, Roger was right. She never did want to do anything. She wondered when life had become so B-O-R-I-N-G. She tried calling him again. There was the ring. What was he doing? Hanging out in the front yard? What a weirdo!

She looked at herself in the mirror. “I still have it going on,” she thought. “What am I doing? Maybe mother was right.” She sat down at her dressing table and brushed out her long, black hair.

“Mixed race marriage? Big problem. Live with first.”

“Oh mother,” she’d said. “You’re ideas are old-fashioned.”

“You come different worlds. How you communicate?”

“I came from San Francisco. He came from San Jose. How are those ‘different worlds’?”

“I come from China. You raised Chinese way.”

“Oh Mother.” Why did she talk like that? She had a PhD from Stanford, for the love of God. She was a brilliant woman. Why had she never learned proper English?

Jasmine was tired of being “different.” The truth was, she was neither Chinese nor American. She was some Amy Tan creation. “Joy-Luck Club my ass,” she thought when that book had been assigned in some college English class. “I’ll tell you about the Joy-Luck Club.”

She got the suitcase down from the top shelf of the closet and flopped it on the bed. She began pulling outfits from the closet and putting them into the suitcase. She couldn’t take everything, but enough to get away somewhere and think things over.

Could her mother be right? Was it some cultural thing that lurked behind everything, or did she really just find Roger boring as hell?

She tried calling again. This time he picked up.

“What the fuck have been doing in the front yard for the past two hours?” were the first words out of her mouth.

“I lost my phone,” he said, coming in the front door. “We need to talk.”

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Part 2: Something about Cake

Part 3: Connectivity Issues

Part 4: Crowd Control

Crowd Control

“Dude, are you doing better? You looked so forlorn when you came by here a little while ago. Want some Fosters?” The oil-drum homeless guy reached out to Roger with a paper bag, top turned down around a large can of beer.

“Are you kidding?”

“No, dude. It’s decent beer. I was in Australia once. Shoulda’ stayed. Had a woman and everything. You hoping to see the Green flash?”


“Perfect conditions for it. Clear sky, bright sun, I dunno, we might get lucky. You wanna’ buy some shrooms?”

“No, I don’t want to buy some shrooms.”

“Just thought I’d ask.”

Roger shuddered, and decided to head further down the beach without taking his eyes off the horizon. He found a place to sit on the sand and looked toward the west. To his right a small group of dread-locked nouveau hippies was dancing in a circle around a drummer. Marijuana smoke wafted toward him.

“I wonder what happened to my god-damned phone?” he muttered, more loudly than he realized.

“Material things are ties. They anchor us to desire,” said a young man in a saffron robe passing by. His head was shaved, his feet were bare. He stood in front of Roger, blocking his view of the sun.

“Could you get out of the way? I want to see the green flash?”

“Oh, sorry dude,” said the young man. “Namaste!”

“No privacy anywhere any more,” said Roger.

“It’s a public beach, dude, what do you expect?” The kid with the skateboard and pit bull sat down beside him. “You trying to see the green flash?” The dog licked Roger’s ear.


About the Green Flash

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Part 2: Something about Cake

Part 3: Connectivity Issues

Connectivity Issues

“I’ll have grilled mahi tacos, two of them. Candace?”


“Roger? Roger? Earth to Roger. Come in, Roger.”

“I’m going home. Sorry guys.” Roger got up from the bar stool, left twenty bucks on the table and was out the door. His first thought was to go home, see what was up with Jasmine, but somehow he couldn’t make himself get in his car.

“I guess I need to think,” he said aloud. “Walk on the beach or something.””

“What, buddy?” a voice came out from behind an old oil drum put on the beach for trash.

“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea, either. So many homeless guys here now. Winter.”

He turned up Newport. Trev and Candace waved as he went by. “So embarrassing. First my girl doesn’t show up with me, now, I dunno. What’s the point of love anyway?” he said to himself. He looked around. All the same buildings, many with new paint, new names. “Everything changes all the god-damned time.”

He fumbled around in his pocket for his phone. He’d call her, see if she wanted to meet him down here, walk on the beach. He had his wallet, keys, yeah, they were where they were supposed to be, no phone. “Where’s my fucking phone?” he said aloud.

“Hey, go down on the beach with the rest of the crazies why don’t you?” said a teenager on a skateboard being pulled by a pit bull.

“Who’s crazy?” he yelled back. “I’d like to see your folks’ dental bill when that dog pulls you into a lamp post!”

He fumbled around in his pocket some more. “Must be in my car,” he muttered, and headed back down Newport to the parking lot at the end of the street by the beach, by the bar, by the bums. As he passed South Beach Bar and Grill, Trevor and Candace waved again. He flipped them the bird.

What was left of day seemed to funnel into one small red spot on the horizon. Roger stood a moment and watched, “What if,” he thought, “it’s real? What if there really is a green flash?”

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Part 2: Something about Cake


Something about Cake

“Where’s old Jazz?”

“Home. She didn’t want to come. I don’t know what’s up with that woman. She never wants to do anything.”

“With you.”


“She probably wants to do stuff, just not with you.”

“You’re an asshole.”

“Just sayin’.”

“I hate that ‘Just sayin’ bullshit. Does that mean that somehow you said it but you don’t mean it or it doesn’t mean anything? What IS that?”

“Take it easy, Roger. I really was just saying something’s wrong when your old lady doesn’t want to hang with you. I’m sorry, dude, if I spoke outta turn or something.”

“No, it’s all right Trev. You just touched a nerve.”

“Are you guys, uh, you know, uh…”

“What, dude? For the love of God! Just say it?”

“How’s the sex?”

“WHAT sex?”


“‘Ah’ fucking what?”

“I don’t know, man, but you know what they say.”

“I don’t know what they say, and I don’t know who ‘they’ are. What are you getting at?”

“When the sex goes, the whole thing goes. ‘Sex is the frosting on the cake,’ as my mom used to say.”

“What does that mean?

“It holds the layers together, if you get my drift.”

“Jesus. Who’s the bigger idiot, you or your mom?”

“Just sayin’.”

“So you think Jasmine met someone?”

“I have no idea. But she never… Oh, there’s my baby now.” Trev stood up as his girlfriend reached their table.

“Where’s Jasmine?”

“Didn’t feel like coming.”

“Well, that’s a drag. Why not? Is she sick?”

“Sick of me, I guess.”

“Dude,” said Trev putting arm around his pal. “You don’t know that. You have to talk to her. But you know what they say, and it’s true about love, too, you win some and you lose some.”

Part 1: Allergic to Life

Allergic to Life

“I don’t want to go. I’m allergic.”

“Allergic to what?”

“You know.”

“You mean everything you don’t want to do? That’s what you’re allergic to, Jasmine.”

“Why are you so mean?”

“I’m not mean. I just wish you were interested in something.”

“OK, well, I’m allergic to stuff I’m not interested in.”

“What ARE you interested in?”

“I don’t know. All week I have to work and then on the weekend, I don’t know.”

“You don’t want to do anything. Are you allergic to your JOB?”

“Oh, Roger. Leave me alone.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Roger got up off the bed and left the bedroom. The next thing Jasmine heard was the front door slamming.

Jasmine picked up her phone and pushed the button leading to Roger’s phone. She heard it ring in the front yard, but Roger didn’t answer.

…and THEN

“Hey, Loretta? Chief Mendez here. We got ourselves a situation. Git Chuck Roberts at Public Works on the horn and tell him there’s a gas emergency on Second Avenue, 432 Second Avenue. Broken gas line. Thanks, doll. Over.”

The Chief put the radio handset back in the car. “Little Timmy, I want you to go to the neighbors on both sides of this house and tell them to get out now.”

“Hey, Chief, it can’t be that bad.”

“I hope it ain’t that bad. Just do it.”

Little Timmy took off, bewildered at the strange shape this day had taken.

“Ma’am,” he began to the elderly woman who answered the door. “The chief and I would like you to leave your house immediately. There’s an emergency in the house next door.” He motioned with his head.

“You bet your ass there’s an emergency with the house next door,” said the woman. “But why should I go?”

“Something to do with the gas line.”

“Where am I supposed to go?”

“I don’t know. Away.”

“How long?”

“I don’t know. I guess till we fix it or the whole damned thing explodes.”

“Little Timmy, you were always kind of stupid.”

Something in the woman’s voice awakened a dark memory in Little Timmy’s mind. Ah, his second grade teacher. “Mrs. Sanchez?”

“I’m surprised you remember.”

“How could I forget? In any case, you have to go.”

“Little Timmy!” yelled Chief Mendez. “This is no time for conversation! Tell that woman she has to get out!”

“Chief, it’s Mrs. Sanchez. She won’t go.”

“I can’t go. I got this walker and my husband’s chair bound and on oxygen. You’d just better fix it, Little Timmy.” She slammed the door.

“Tell her at least to turn off her gas.”

Little Timmy pounded on the door.

“Chief says turn off your gas,” he said to a red faced Mrs. Sanchez.

“I heard him.”

“But it doesn’t mean your house won’t blow up.”

“It reduces the risk.”

“If that empty house blows up, your house could blow up, too, or burn down.”

“I’ll take that risk. Now c’mon Little Timmy, take this wrench and go turn off my gas. The turn off is right there, right by the meter. I think you can do that. The guy who reads that meter is no brighter than you.”

“God I hate that woman,” said Little Timmy under his breath, turning the lever to off.

Chief Mendez had better luck with the people in the house on the other side. They stood across the street on a neighbor’s lawn. Pretty soon the service truck from the city utilities showed up.

“Hey Chuck,” said Chief Mendez. “It’s the gas line in that empty house. Little Timmy shot it.”


“Don’t ask.”

“Well, I turned off the gas on this end of town. Let’s go see what we got. How did you find the leak?”

“Smelled like skunk. We went down to the basement with two traps and then I heard the hissing and remembered. Natural gas has that skunk stuff in it, right?”


“Well, in a place where we have skunks, you might want to come up with something less common. We’d’ve found it sooner.”

“Well, you found it and that’s the main thing. Let’s get the gas off to this house so’s these other people can cook supper. I think Mrs. Sanchez lives in that house, right?” Chuck pointed at the house next door.

“Yeah, she does.”

“I don’t want Mrs. Sanchez calling me about her gas not being on. I don’t want Mrs. Sanchez calling me at all.”

“You had her too?” asked Little Timmy.

“Second grade.”

“Is it always like this Chief?” asked Little Timmy as they drove away.

“No. Not usually. Don’t usually have an assistant who almost shoots off his foot and then causes a gas leak. Don’t usually have some kind of damned boa constrictor in the bathroom. Usually it’s just the random car break in, crack house or domestic dispute. But those can go sideways, too.”

“I don’t think I’m cut out for this, Chief. I almost caused a disaster.”

“Little Timmy, you ARE a disaster.” The chief grinned at the boy, but saw Little Timmy was really about to cry. “C’mon, son. We all mess up. The important thing is not to let it get out of hand. You want a cup of coffee? I understand that coffee shop downtown isn’t giving people food poisoning any more.”


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:Tender Reunion

Part 4: Run!!!


“Just skunks — wait, skunks? In the basement? Why didn’t we smell them before?”

“Maybe they just arrived.”

“That’s all this place needs on top of being ugly as sin, haunted and the long-term domicile of a dog-eating snake.” Chief Mendez sighed.

“What’ll we do?”

“We’re not just cops, Little Timmy. We’re animal control. I guess we’d better get a couple traps and head for the basement.”

“I hate this house.”

“With reason, Little Timmy. With reason.” The Chief patted his assistant on the back. “It’s all in a day’s work.”

The two men went out to the police car, opened the trunk, and retrieved a couple of foldable wild-animal traps.

“It’s not like they’re hard to catch. The thing is, you catch ’em and you have to carry them somewhere. Last time I transported a skunk my wife wouldn’t come near me.”

“That’s bad, Chief.”

“Had to sleep in the spare room. It was months before she finally let me back in our bedroom.”

“Skunk is hard to shake, that’s for sure.”

“You know how to bait these?”

“Sardines. We got sardines?”

“Sardines. That’s a good idea. All we have is peanut butter, but it’ll work.”

Chief Mendez and Little Timmy Ortiz unfolded the traps, set the bait and headed slowly and silently down the steps to the basement.

“How’d they get in?” asked Little Timmy looking around.

“Shhhh,” said Chief Mendez his ear cocked in the direction of the water heater.

“I’m just saying we need to put the traps near their entry point.”

“Timmy, listen, we need to get upstairs as fast as we can and outside this God-forsaken house.”


“You hit the gas line when you fired your gun.”


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:Tender Reunion