Happy Ending

She wrapped the shawl around her cold shoulders and went out into the fog. The yellow street lights made piss poor progress in that wet darkness, but it didn’t matter. She knew her way. “Either he’s there or he isn’t. If he isn’t, I’ll go home. If he is, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

It occurred to her that this was no choice at all.

“Wow,” she thought. “I’ve been pacing the floor this whole evening and THAT’S the best I can come up with?”

She knew herself. She wouldn’t raise her voice. She wouldn’t complain. She wouldn’t drag him home. She wouldn’t lock him out. She wouldn’t do anything, so what was the point of this?

“I saw him at the Purple Breasted Pigeon with Carla,” said her co-worker, Lucy, just two days before. “They were clearly not ‘just friends’ if you get my drift.”

“Why are you telling me?”

“We women have to stick together. It’s us against them.”

“If it’s ‘us against them’ why are we with ‘them’ in the first place?” The thought crossed her mind. She didn’t think of her marriage as an adversarial relationship, just sometimes a crappy one.

“I guess,” she’d said to Lucy. “I don’t know why it’s like that, though.”

“The nature of the beast,” Lucy said, nodding wisely, “the nature of the beast.”

Beast,”  she thought as she made her way through the fog. “Beast,” she said aloud to the empty street. Ahead she could see purple neon reflected on fog. It was a neighborhood bar, after all, and she was almost there. She heard music. She thought of their dating days, hers and Lamont’s, and how often they would go out dancing and how they never did anymore. “What happens to love?” she asked the vague and heavy air. “Maybe it’s the nature of the beast.”

She turned around. There was no reason to go inside looking for her husband and her friend. She would only look foolish, a step down from merely feeling foolish. Soon she was home, a three-story 1950s apartment building near the park. She and Lamont loved it when they first saw it, couldn’t believe their luck. She opened the front door, went upstairs to their apartment and unlocked the door. Lamont stood in the kitchen chopping onions.

“Where have you been, honey? I’ve been worried. Visibility is crap tonight. It took me over an hour to get home from work. There were crashes everywhere. Hey, did Carla tell you the news? I ran into her a couple nights ago when I was passing the Purple. Remember when I couldn’t get any close parking? She and her dude are moving to Oregon! He got that job he wanted. I bought her a drink. Anyway, I thought I’d make us some chili. Sound good?”



The Date

So then he said, “Do you have a photo of yourself when you were young, 16? 17?

I said, ‘Yes, but it’s nothing special.”

“Of course it’s special. There is a lot in a photo.”

I don’t know why he asks; I jump to a conclusion and get pissed off.

Alfred Lord Tennisball echoes, “That which we are we are,” and I know how much more THIS somewhat worn carapace is than that juvenescent carapace was. For one thing, THIS carapace, and the heart and mind it carries around, was quite expensive; the price was my whole life so far.

It is gold; it is worth so much more than all that shining possibility; it is the fruition of that shining possibility with possibility not yet dead inside it. Given a choice, I’d choose this carapace over that terrified wavering phantom.

I think of offering a choice, a picture or a future, but I already know the mindlessness of most conversation and that the meaning I ascribe is not always (not even often) right. I continue to sit, to listen, to smile, but the retreat is accomplished. I am not there any longer. I’ve lost interest.

“I don’t know what this relationship is going to be, still not yet,” he goes on, “but the moment of our meeting was something that never happened to me before.”

That, I think was possibly the pinnacle. I’m bored. I think, maybe it’s true that men don’t fall in love with a woman; they fall in love with themselves reflected in the love a woman feels for THEM, or, as trophies, the value the beauty of a woman lends to their value.

My mother’s echo, “let him feel you need him. Don’t be so smart all the time. Get a sexy nightie.” I am sitting with this man here and castrating him; I don’t like that I do this, but I hate  what he represents, what he IS. I won’t repeat this.

He talks to me about Kathryn Tate, how six years ago she was his instructor, and now she’s all cold and professional and old and “getting fat” he says. Who doesn’t? You will, too, I think.

“She’s lost her fire,” he adds.

Perhaps you drowned it, I think. Or you insist that she burn with yours; maybe she has her own. I look up to see myself floating beside this building, up about two stories, watching.

My dog lies here on the sidewalk beside me, my hope, my love, my gift from God; my never boring companion and friend, a challenge to my mind, the preserver of my soul. Ahhh, yes! There is no need for this bitterness.

Angry? Yes. Will I overcome it, get over it? I probably won’t. I know that, too. Too many kicks, too many fists, too much time alone, ignored and cheated on, too many remarks about my ugliness, my fatness, my lack of desirability.

You can believe it after a while, or, not believing it, still become tired of it and unwilling to risk it all again, and again, and again, especially at 50 which is where I sit here tonight. Or nearly — 49 years 4 1/2 months — 50!

I never imagined it would be like this absurdity; blue-jeaned, Doctor Martened, tattooed, socks with goats and a hairy gray dog, wild gray hair and bifocals — graduated lenses, if you please!

Downtown, with such a strange past, walking between fancy people, (like I was once, like I was raised to be) going to plays and restaurants, looking for a Chinese restaurant and fried rice.

My dog takes a shit on Market and Fifth and I’m proud of her candor. I watch skinny-hipped big boobed blonds and their rich fortyish balding boyfriends; a man drives past in a newer Rolls than my ex-friend Martin drove.

He blocks the intersection so my dog and I have to walk around him. I wonder about the homeless people but not much and not long; my stomach churns at the thought of what my brother might be doing.

I ask a Maitre’d of a fancy Italian restaurant where I might find a Chinese restaurant; my date —a fine artist—earns his bread in a parking garage. His life is chaos. I’m looking for dinner for him somewhere on the streets; wonder why he didn’t think of Ralph’s.

I like the walk, my dog likes the walk; horses go by and their drivers comment on my dog. “She’s beautiful,” they say, “I have an Aussie, too.”

“She’s only half,” I answer. I am proud of the Malamute in her as I’m proud of the Swede in me; indomitable snow people, my dog and I, drive on.

“Really! Well, that’s a beautiful mix!”

“Yes,” I say, “it is.” At Ralph’s I tie up my dog and go in; buy three apples, a banana, crackers — having returned to the parking lot kiosk to offer my suggestion that Jorge give up on fried rice and ask, “What can I get you at the store?”

“Why didn’t I think of that?” he says.

Because, I think, maybe you haven’t traveled alone with very little money in your pocket, a middle-aged woman in Italy, invisible in restaurants but hungry, all the same. My god, I like myself, I like my life, this whimsical peripatetic existence. I’ll cling to it as long as possible.

Jorge wants to mean something to me, but he doesn’t. I don’t know why; part of it is the gold ring on the third finger of his left hand. He has never mentioned a wife; I have never asked him.

He talks about all the things he and I are going to do; but I don’t believe any of it. I don’t believe we will ride mountain bikes, or go to the beach to drink wine, or go to Italy together to run after trains and look at frescoes.

I realize that where once I believed a man, a lover, was the vehicle through which I would experience life, I now see a man, a lover, as an obstruction. None of them were vehicles; they were all obstructions.

Who am I? What am I that it took so long to see these things? Walking down 2nd with my small bag of groceries and my gray animal, I run into a young woman with her own dog.
Dogs make people friendly, make them warm and unafraid. We pet each others dogs and chat for a minute or two.

“I am still an indistinct shape on the horizon of your life,” Jorge said once. “I have not taken you over yet; I have not become the sky.”

I thought, “Thanks for the warning,” even as I appreciated the poetry. I reach the parking garage and hand him the bag. Jorge talks about this and that and asks, “Why won’t you participate in the reading next week?”

I want to say, “I don’t have anything to say in front of everyone and I don’t want to.”

He says, “I won’t ask you why.”

I say, “You just did.” I use my brain to keep him away. I feel it zap him like a bug zapper whenever he gets too close.

Two horse drawn carriages cross the intersection and I try to muffle with my mind the sounds of the cars and Jorge’s voice to imagine being Goethe with this sound outside the window with no cars, no Jorge. I want the momentary time-transport of the clopping hooves.

“What? I’m sorry.”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Maybe it does. I got caught up in a daydream.”

Things get busier in the garage and I sit in the cold night and worry about my dog’s arthritis. I haven’t connected with Jorge at all. I don’t mind. I just want to go home.

Tongues of desire have licked at me fleetingly around Jorge, but nothing sustained, nothing driven. I have no means of sexual expression, I think. The children around Chernobyl are not allowed to go to the forests, nor will their children, or their grandchildren; the radioactivity lingers long and dangerous.

Their fathers talk to them of hunting mushrooms, but it will only be a fable by the time people can go mushroom hunting again.



Hot Potato

“What happened? I thought he was the man of your dreams!”


“Last week he was ‘the one’. You were imagining lots of green-haired little kids with him.”



“You know what? It’s just, I don’t know. I’m just not seeing Lamont any more. ‘Why’ really doesn’t matter. What matters is I got out of it before it got icky. Let’s drop the subject.”

“But you’re still sad.”

“Well, yeah. One hopes, right?” She stirred her Italian soda with her straw, mixing the raspberry syrup with the soda water before taking a long drink.

Trey nodded.

Rain hit the window, incandescent drops of reflected streetlights. The door opened, the Pakistani camel bells hanging from the door handle confirming what the blast of cold, damp air had already conveyed. Trey looked up, happy Mattie’s back was to the door.

Lamont swept in with a tall brunette, her absurdly toned midriff bared, her flowing Indian sari-silk skirt hanging on her hips. “I get it, now,” thought Trey, looking thoughtfully at Mattie who was pretty, but never the pretty that could make an entrance like that. The woman with Lamont was traffic-stopping-stunning. No wonder Lamont had dropped Mattie. “Mattie is saving face saying she dropped the guy. I see the whole story.”

Lamont and the woman stepped up to the counter and ordered. Trey saw the strong line of the woman’s back. His heart skipped a beat as she tossed her head and the swath of long brown hair wafted across the top of her skirt. “Jesus,” he said out-loud. Mattie looked up, followed his gaze, and saw Lamont and the woman.

“Poor guy,” she said. “Now that I’ve dropped him, he has to go for coffee with his bitch of a sister.”


Good Prompt from Long Ago

Two years ago there was a thing here on WordPress that was called the “Weekly Prompt” which were often quite sophisticated writing projects. I just re-read one of the stories I wrote for one of them (two years ago today) and I liked it a lot. I’m sharing it 🙂

Weekly Writing Challenge: Three Ways to Go Gonzo: You’re in a street-side café in San Diego, California. The couple seated at the next table is breaking up.

“If you’re going to ‘Go Gonzo’ like your dumb blogging site instructs, you have to find some novel you like and type it over a gazillion times until you find your own style. God forbid it’s War and Peace.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” I said. “If I type someone elses’ novel over and over, I’m going to be really good at writing that novel.”
“I agree. It doesn’t. Still, I don’t think Capote would’ve called Hunter Thompson a typist.”
“He was definitely a writer, though he did have a typewriter.” I thought I was funny, but Peter didn’t.
“People make a lot of noise about his drug use, don’t they?”
“So dumb. It was the times. Remember your frantic phone searches back in the day for ‘Vitamin Q’?”
“You’re one to talk, Mr. Amyl Nitrate.”
“Oh yeah.” I laughed at the memory of us in a cavernous black-walled disco passing around a bottle of RUSH. “Oh and the movies!”
“Yeah, I think a lot of young people know Hunter Thompson through Johnny Depp and maybe some English teacher.”
“That’s a laugh, isn’t it? English teachers?”
“Fuck you.” We were, both of us, English teachers.
“Hey, there’s an Edith Wharton novel in progress. Look at those two.” The couple beside us was clearly in the throes of a late morning break up.
“Oh man, I’d never go back to that, would you?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“Not a chance in hell.” Peter shuddered. Our young love had had enough drama for twenty people.
“Yeah, and they’re always saying, ‘You’d like to be young again, wouldn’t you?’”
“A lot of people would. You sure as hell would prefer walking without a cane, but…”
“Shhh. This is good.”

“If I have to explain it, you’ll never understand it.”
“Right. Yeah, I get that. If I understood you and all your deep and meaningful ideas and your precious fucking soul, we wouldn’t be breaking up right now, right? This is all because I don’t understand you. Look, I fucking understand you. I fucking understand that this is only scene one in this stupid ass drama you’re always staging. Once a month, at least. I could schedule it. Well, you know what?”
“I do understand you, and you’re just NOT all that interesting. Hot, yes. Interesting? No.”

Brakes squealed. Glass shattered against a light post. A woman screamed. The white-noise of predictable urban traffic came literally to a screeching halt. Only one car was in motion and it was the one that should not have been. A white Nissan.

“Did you see that?”
“Can’t you pay attention to me for once?”
“I think that guy’s been killed.” Mark dug around in his back pocket and pulled out a Bic pen. He spread his left hand, palm flat, scribbled for a second or two, then wrote.
“What are you doing?”

Peter was already running to the corner. I called 911. “Yeah. A cyclist. Hit. No. The driver left. Backed away from the light post he hit and took off down 6th. No I don’t know if it was a he. It could’ve been a she. We need an ambulance here, sweet-cheeks. Not some PC gender awareness interrogation. White Nissan. I didn’t get the plate number. Vanity plates, but no, I didn’t see it completely. There’s a heart.”

Passersby formed a circle around the body, each person hoping that what they saw on the street between head and helmet was not brains, but it was brains. Peter returned to our table, clearly shaken. “My god,” he said. “Is it so difficult to look out your car window and see a cyclist about to make a LEGAL turn? Did you get the plate number?” I shook my head.
“Vanity plates. A heart. That’s all I saw.”

Sirens screamed all around. The ambulance finally arrived. EMTs pushed the circle of protectors away from the body and lifted it onto a stretcher. Some of the spectators were so shaken they had to be helped back to the sidewalk, safe from the random horror show of life. The ambulance pulled away, no sirens, no lights. Death was no one’s emergency. Fire fighters attached a hose to the hydrant and blasted the brains down the storm drain below the painted a blue dolphin and the words “We live downstream.”

“That’s what you don’t understand,” Mark said, sighing, looking at his hand. “Any minute, any day, any time that could be me or you with our brains splattered on 6th and University, circled by strangers, and some old fag calling 911.”
“It’s not nice to call people fags, Mark.”
“OK look, honey. I was making a point. That guy’s dead. He got up this morning, god knows what happened between here and then — maybe he had a fight with his girlfriend, too, or given the neighborhood…”
“There you go again, gay-bashing.”
“I’m NOT fucking gay-bashing. Why do you keep changing the subject? Wait, I get it. You can’t handle the truth. That’s it.” Mark — the young man — turned around to us and said, “You guys are gay, right? You’re a couple, right?”
“Yes,” said Peter. “Going on — what? Thirty-five years.”
“There, Jessica. They are fags.”
“That’s right, sweetie,” I called out over Peter’s now bald head. “We’re fags.” I looked at Peter. God he’d been a beautiful young man, this great love of my life.

When the police came by asking questions, the young man — Mark — showed his hand. “This is the license plate.”
“Seriously? Do Me <3?”
“What was the make and model of the car?”
“Nissan. Sentra. Maybe two years old. White.”
“Anything else you remember?”
As the police talked to her boyfriend, the events seemed to finally register in Jessica’s self-absorbed little brain and she began to cry. Mark reached for her hand, leaned forward and whispered in her ear. They stood and prepared to go.
“Sorry for bashing on you guys,” said Mark. “She can be hard to talk to sometimes.” He shook our hands.

“No worries,” said Peter.

pants1As they walked away I wondered how this smart young guy could take that girl seriously. She was wearing sweatpants with the word “Juicy” silk-screened in glitter across her ass. Peter and I sat together for a few more hours then decided it was time to go to Whole Foods. Peter helped me up from my chair.
“C’mon, cowboy,” he said.



You Will Do Your Laundry


Daily Prompt Life Line You’re on a long flight, and a palm reader sitting next to you insists she he read your palm. You hesitate, but agree. What does she tell you?

“C’mon. First time free.”

“No. I don’t want to know my future. I have to live it no matter what it is. Leave me alone. Go molest someone else.”

“How? I’m stuck in this middle seat. I can’t get OUT to molest anyone else. El Porko Snoro there isn’t about to wake up. I wonder what he took before the flight?”

“If you’re any kind of psychic at all you already KNOW what he took. Besides, it’s unkind to make fun of extremely obese people on drugs. Have you know social awareness at ALL?”

“I’m interested in facts, like what your palm will tell me about your future. C’mon, babe, let me read your palm.”

“BABE??? I know your type. You’re NOT a palm reader, you’re a skanky guy who’s hitting on me, and I’M trapped in a window seat. What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? With you and that curvy, sleeping gentleman between me and the aisle?”

“Lemme see your palm.”

“No. You’re just looking for an excuse to hold my hand.”

“What of it? What’s wrong with that? Maybe we’ll end up making beautiful music together.”

“That’s not going to happen. All right, here, but you’re no more fortune teller than I’m a passenger pigeon.”

“See? I told you. Here, on your life line, it says plain as DAY that you’ll go on a journey and meet a handsome stranger and look, here, you’ll live happily ever after.”

“Handsome? That lets you out. Give me back my hand.” Tricia reached up and pressed the button for the stewardess.

“Can I help you with something?”

“Yeah, hi, I’d like to switch seats. This guy is harassing me.”

“I don’t think I can switch your seat, miss. This plane is full. I’m so sorry. Sir, you need to keep your hands to yourself, and if someone says they don’t want to talk to you, you must respect that, understand? If you’d like something to read, I can bring you magazines or you can watch our in-flight movie which is starting in about fifteen minutes. Do you understand?”

“Understood.” The palm reader slunk down in his seat.

Tricia poked her earbuds into her ears, folded her arms across her chest and faced the window for the rest of the flight.

“I knew it would turn out like this,” Dude muttered under his breath. “I just knew it.”

If It Ain’t Broke…

Daily Prompt Everything Changes Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.

The trees were mostly bare by late November and Lamont — well into his 80s but still a kid at heart — loved the crunch of dried autumn and kicking up the leaves, watching them caught by the wind. “Isn’t it pretty?” he said to Toots who was walking along beside him. Toots was his wife of fifty-seven years.

They’d never had much. They lived in a double-wide on the outskirts of town, down about a quarter mile from the pawnshop, but as they say, money don’t by happiness. They were very happy. Toots kept the double-wide spotless, the garden grew better than other gardens around because it was tended by both of them with love — and passion. They needed the food they grew. They’d raised their sons and seen them off, one to war, one to college, but the boys had found their lives far away and seldom came home any more. “There’s nothing for the kids to do,” they said.

Toots responded, once, with “You both found plenty to do here.”

But her sons said, “Times’ve changed.” Toots couldn’t dispute that.

Lamont’s brain wasn’t quite right. He’d been in the war, you see, a mechanic with the Air Corps, and one morning, while he was stationed in Saipan, he was hit in the head by a propeller . He explained it to everyone this way;  “Damned thing wouldn’t start, so I reached up to give it a spin and the damned thing knocked me silly and took off.” After that, he was only able to do the simplest mechanical jobs so he worked at a local garage, changing oil and fixing flat tires.

Toots? Well, she fell in love with Lamont when they were in high school and he was a bright and shining young man, full of promise and dreams. When he came back, damaged as he was, she loved him still.

On summer evenings they sat on the deck Lamont had made in front of the trailer and held hands. In winter they sat looking out the picture window of their living room and held hands.

“You’ve thrown your life away on that man,” said Toots’ mother. “You could have had someone with at least a whole brain.”

Toots just looked at her mother and shook her head. “Love’s not like that, mom.”

So there they were that late November day, the sun bright in the cloudless sky, a breeze blew behind them, gusting once in a while, lifting the leaves above their heads. Lamont put his around his wife. She snuggled close to him and laid her head on his shoulder.

They kicked up the dry leaves like two little kids. A gust came up behind them and Lamont laughed, “The wind is playing with us, Toots!”

“What’s that?”

In front of them, mixed with the golden leaves of the cottonwood trees lining the sidewalk in front of the elementary school, was something green, regular shaped, paper.

“I’ll catch it!” said Lamont and, old as he was, he took off after the piece of paper. “Might be some kid’s homework.” He caught up to it just as it was pushed by the wind against the rough bark of the tree. “Got it! O my lord!”

“What, sweetie? Did the kid get a good grade?”

“No. It’s $10,000. I never heard of a $10,000 bill.”

“It can’t be real.”

“Looks real.”

“Let’s take it to the bank.”

“Good idea.”

The bank was around the corner. They walked up to the teller and handed her the bill. “We want to know if this is real.”

“I doubt it. I never saw one before.”

“Is there any way you can check?”

“I’ll ask the manager.” She took the bill and went to the back of the bank to the small glass-walled office where her manager worked. The manager waved at them through the window. Everyone in town knew Lamont and Toots.

“It’s real,” said the manager. “They didn’t make many of these. No one used them. Hardly surprising. Who can go around spending $10,000? Who’d carry it in their wallet?”

“What do we do? They said they found it.”

“I don’t know.” The manager shook her head. It wasn’t like a check that could be traced to the person. It was just money, like a lost dollar bill. Nothing more. Godnose if anyone needed $10,000 it was Lamont and Toots. “I think we invoke the law of finders-keepers.”

The bank teller smiled. “I’ll see if they want to open an account with it.”

“It’s yours,” she told the old couple. “Do you want to open an account?”

“You mean we have $10,000, just like that?” Toots looked at the teller wide-eyed and bewildered.

“Yes. Just like that.” The teller smiled.

“What should we do with it?” Lamont turned to his wife. “That’s more money than I ever saw at once.” There was no joy in Lamont’s voice; just confusion.

“We should give it to someone who needs it,” answered Toots.

“I think so too,” agreed Lamont.

Vela Constellation: Scientists Discover Closest Earth-Sized Planet Outside Solar System

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ripped from the Headlines!.” Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article. 

“Listen to this, Trish. ‘Vela Constellation: Scientists Discover Closest Earth-Sized Planet Outside Solar System’ That’s it, Babe. I’m outta’ here.”
“Vela, in the constellation Vela, there’s a planet, it’s hotter than Earth but so the fuck what? GJ 1132b. What kind of name is that?”
“A NASA name. I wish you wouldn’t use that kind of language in front of the dog. Is it inhabited?”
“It will be. I’ve shoveled my last driveway. Pulled snow off my last roof. No more pet-safe ice-melter for me, or Joker here, right boy?” He ruffled the ears of the aged golden retriever who was always by his side. “Space, baby. I’m going into space. I was just waiting…”
“For WHAT?”
“A planet in a different solar system — hell, that won’t even BE a “sol”ar system. Who knows what they name their salient star! Wa-HOOO! C’mon boy, let’s get that rocket rolling”
“Rockets that roll don’t make it to other constellations, sweetheart. Could you reach up there and get the big platter down?”
“What do you need the platter for?”
“Thanksgiving? Two weeks?”
“Oh man, I KNEW there was a reason I wanted out of here. Who all is coming?”
“Your sister, her husband, their grown kids, their little kids, same-ol’ same-‘ol.”
“But WHY? I’d be a helluva lot more thankful if they DIDN’T come.”
“It’s YOUR family.”
“Not my fault, babe.”
“What would you rather do, besides go into space and live on a hot planet? We have hot planets in our solar system. You could go to Venus or, uh, Mercury.”
“Too crowded.”
“How? The only planet in our system with people on it is this one.”
“Right? Crowded. I’m going out to the garage and get to work on the ship. C’mon Joker.” The old dog slowly rose, his lopsided motion revealing the painful arthritis in his left hip.
“Joker should stay in here where it’s warm. Poor old guy.”
“I don’t think he wants to, do you boy?” Curtis reached down to scratch his dog under the chin. In that very moment, Joker collapsed on the kitchen floor. “Trish? Trish?”
“I’m right here, what happened.”
“I don’t know.” Tears streamed down Curtis’ cheeks as he felt the old dog’s neck to find a pulse. “He’s dead. Just like that. Right here.”
Trish went to the pantry and got a large trash bag. “What is that for? Are you putting Joker in the TRASH?”
“No Curtis, no, but any minute now his bowels and bladder are going to realize he’s gone. It’s pretty messy when that happens.” She gently placed Joker’s lower quarters inside the trash bag. “I think you should call the vet.”
“Why? Joker’s dead. What is the vet going to do with a dead dog?” Tears and snot mingled at the end of Curtis’ nose.
“Here babe,” Trish handed him a dish towel.
“Now I REALLY don’t want those idiots in my house for Thanksgiving.” Curtis wiped his face. “I’d better go dig a hole.”
“I’ll help.”

In the end, the dog was wrapped in the trashbag and carefully carried out to the wildflower garden in back where Curtis and Trish had dug the hole. It was Joker’s favorite garden because it attracted the most butterflies. Joker had always loved chasing butterflies, and it was a lovely sight to watch him.

“I’m sorry, honey. I know that dog was your best friend.” Trish wrapped her arm around her husband’s waist. He wrapped his around her shoulder.
“There’s only one thing to do now,” he said.
“What’s that? Get to work on the rocket?”
“Hell no. What would that trip be without Joker by my side? We need to go to the shelter. I think there is another dog waiting for us. Remember how we got Joker?”
Trish thought back. Well, of course. That had to be. “Captain was hit by the car and that night, Joker showed up at our front door. We weren’t even ever going to have another dog.”
“Nope. We weren’t.”

Curtis left the space ship behind and he and Trish headed down to the shelter where a goofy, wiggly brown and white bull terrier girl with a huge grin showed an obvious preference for Curtis over every human in the world. “I’m naming her Star,” said Curtis.


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “An Odd Trio.” Today, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel.

“What? I’m in the kitchen. Quit yelling. You think this is the Greyhound station or something and you’re the station master?”
“Ha ha. Where’s my towel?”
“What towel?”
“My Transformers towel. My beach towel. I got swim today.”
“I have no idea, Lamont. It might be in the dryer. I did a big load of towels yesterday and I haven’t had time to take them out and fold them. Hey, tell you what. You take them out and fold them.”
“No time, Mom.”
“No TIME? What’s so precious about YOUR time that you can’t help me?”
“Well, you know, carpe the diem and all that. I’m only young once.”
“Right. Well, if it’s not in there, I don’t know where it is. You might want to check your school locker.”
Lamont dug around in the dryer and quickly found the brightly colored beach towel. “Got it, Mom.”
“Would it kill you to fold the other towels for me? I have to get to work.”
“It’s bad enough I have to be a latchkey kid without doing your work for you.”
“If you end up raising a kid on your own someday, you’ll find out just how fun it is.”
“Oh mom,” he said, giving her a hug. “I love you, mom.”
“I love you too, sweetie. I don’t know what I’d do without you. Careful on your bike, OK? I’ll see you when I get home from work.”

“Lamont, dude, what’s up with you and that stupid ass towel? I mean, dude, this isn’t eleMENTary school.”
“I like Transformers.”
“Yeah, well, those are like TOYS. For KIDS.”
“You played Transformers. I bet you still do.”
Jackson’s face turned bright red.
“Yeah, well, there you go. My dad bought me this towel.” Lamont put his hand on the towel as it if were a pet cat or some other soft and precious thing.
“I’m sorry, dude. I didn’t know. You might want to keep it safe, then, not wear it out. Stuff doesn’t last forever.”
“I don’t care. Even when it’s old and worn out, I’m going to like it.”
“Did you ride your bike to school? You want to ride back to my house after school? We can watch Beavis and Butthead.”
“My mom won’t let me watch Beavis and Butthead.”
“She says it teaches me to be crude and disrespectful.”
“Too late.”
“Heh heh, heh heh, cool…”
“That sucks, heh heh heh, heh heh.”
The boys collapse into stupid boy giggling until the coach comes in and asks them if they’re going to spend all day there.

When the last bell rings, Lamont pushes his bike home and Jackson walks along beside him to Lamont’s house. On the kitchen counter is a note, “Hi Honey. I’ll be home about 5:30. Go ahead and fix yourself a bowl of soup if you’re hungry. If Jackson is there with you, DON’T watch Beavis and Butthead. Watch something else. Jackson’s mother called me last week and screamed at me for thirty minutes about how evil that program is and what a bad influence. Personally, I agree with their music critiques, but it is pretty violent and it does exalt stupidity.”

“Your mom writes to you like THAT?”
“Wow. So what do you want to do?”
“You want some soup?”
“Me neither. You want to play Transformers?”

The boys high-five and head upstairs. It’s true that Lamont does have the biggest Transformers collection probably on the planet.

Warning: Jackson’s mom is right. Enjoy this clip at your own risk.

Here’s the story I wrote last time this prompt came around. I like it! 🙂

Blessed Oblivion

Daily Prompt What a Twist! Tell us a story — fiction or non-fiction — with a twist we can’t see coming.

The night was dark, not in the least surprising, and the leaves, shunted about by the wind, spun like small dervishes outside her window. However, since no one saw this, it never really happened. Tricia slept, dreaming of the beginnings of a migraine. “I’ll shake it off,” she thought in her sleep and because it was a dream, she did just that, and slept on. A line of red began to show across the cloud-streaked horizon, and still she slept.


As the red tinged the sky, Tom was unlocking the door to his sprawling studio apartment overlooking the park, after yet another night of debauchery and remorse. “This has to stop,” he thought, again, as he tottered into the bathroom. He turned on the cold water and splashed some on his face. “I ain’t livin’ long like this,” he thought, looking in the mirror.


There was frost on the grass in the morning and snow was still a distinct possibility, but for now it seemed spring had come in earnest. The red light of the rising sun painted the faraway snow-peaks pink. Remembering Homer, *ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς, Annie said softly as she stretched and smiled. “Summer sheets. I hope it’s not too soon,” she thought. *Rosy-fingered dawn


Don was up before light, worried about death. He’d had one small heart attack and was on meds now and taking better care of himself, but he’d also developed anxiety over his funeral. As night retreated, Don was typing furiously on the local community Facebook page, writing his rant about the Catholic church. “I need to plan my funeral,” he wrote. “The Catholic church used to be $150 to rent the basement for an event. Now it’s $250. The church is greedy.” Did he anticipate the backlash and the trolling that would ensue? Among the chain of comments, was, “The church is corrupt. What about all the child molestation the church is paying for to the tune of $2 million?” Here? In this small town? The Parish of St. Joseph the Worker? All followed by a long litany of misspelled factual information from the secretary of the parish explaining the costs of repairs and maintenance in an economy where everyone — including God — struggles to make ends meet.


When it was over, these four last moments and many others, hurled into infinity by the red flame of apocalyptic justice, sped into the interminable memory of the universe.