Friday, June 25, 2010


Since I'm on vacation this week, I am not posting a new story. Sorry about that...

I will post a nice, new, shiny story and return to normal programming next week. Promise.

In the meantime, feel free to read "The Day My Hands Fell Off," a story published a couple years ago at the now (sadly) defunct Dog Vs. Sandwich.


Friday, June 18, 2010


… and the beach fell away …

When Charlie woke up, the room spun around him. He held his hand to his head and looked to the window. A shadow crossed the light – it was in the shape of a child, then a woman, and then it was gone. He heard something that sounded like laughter.

… the ocean receded …

The tractor whirred across a field of cotton. Charlie steered the machine forward and watched a column of dust rise in his wake. Something ran in front of him. His heart skipped a beat. He tried to steer the machine away from the object. He could almost hear a voice over the roar of engine. Something like a scream. He became aware of the scent of exhaust and felt suddenly ill.

… the stars fell to the earth and burned …

It was impossible to see through a veil of tissues and gauze. He hurt all over. The pain became all he knew. The never-ending aches overwhelmed his perception of the world. Every now and then he heard a voice, a whisper in his ear. More often than not, the voice sounded accusing and cold.

… but the stars were not real, the sea was not real, not even the beach was real …

Charlie sat in the wheelchair and looked out his window. The world rolled by as a parade of pickup trucks and automobiles. Sometimes he would see families pull up and park outside his window. It was never his family. They never visited. Not once.

… “It’s all about context. Without it, you mean nothing.” …

There were words on his page. He wrote them, he knew. They were in his handwriting, but he didn’t remember writing them. Charlie read them again and again and wondered what they meant? In the end, he gave up. They could mean anything. Or nothing. Images invoke feelings, sensations, and the impressions sometimes tell stories. Sometimes. Not this time. Or maybe he just didn’t like the story they told?

… the ocean, the beach, and the stars disappeared leaving behind a parade of cars which were pulled and pushed by endless unseen tides while circling a void …

Charlie can still smell the exhaust. He can still see blood stains splattered across white flecks of cotton. He almost remembers, but knows he will never understand. He touches his head where it hurts and notes the circular scars on his temples.

… “It’s all about context.” …

“I mean nothing,” he said.

… and the beach fell away …

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Empty Road

A man lay splayed out against the asphalt. A thin but widening circle of pooling blood crowned his head. His face was pale and white. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead and trailed down his grizzled face. His breathing came quick and fast. He spoke, and I leaned down to hear his broken whispers.

“The sky is a ball and I am bouncing it on my knee. We play four square with the sun and dodgeball, too. I love dodgeball. If I catch the ball you’re out. You’re out. But who are you?

“And where’s Goldie? She was around here somewhere. Oh, yeah, she chased a squirrel across the road. That car hit her Momma, and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You told me I should never let her off the leash.”

He wept and sobbed.

I tried to calm him. “Shh. It’s okay.”

His wild eyes turned in frantic circles. Lids fluttered.

“What’s that? Not the dark. I’m scared of the dark. Can’t you leave the door open, Dad?”

At this point, he shuddered. Tears fell down my face as I listened to him ramble. I just wanted to comfort him any way I could. This was all my fault. “It’s okay. Shh. I’ll leave the door open. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” I hoped he didn’t hear the emotional uncertainty in my breaking voice.

“Tell Brian that I forgive him. It’s okay. I never loved her anyway.

“Ooh. What’s that? There’s so much here. So much light. So much of everything. So much. Too much, almost. There is beauty in the not here, and the not here is there, it is really there. Whatever it is.”

He stopped and looked at me with a sudden and forceful clarity. “I forgive you.”

I thought about the dull thud when I hit him, and how quickly I had sobered up as I pulled my car over. I knew the police would be here soon, but I would not run. Tears streamed down my face, and I sobbed. “Thank you,“ I told him. “Thank you.” And for the first time in a long time I knew something close to peace, but it hovered beneath an oppressive veil of grief and guilt, yet he forgave me again.

“I forgive you.”

“Thank you.”

His eyes glazed over.

“Where’s the train? Where’s the train? I hold out the butter and it melts.”

I reached down to him and felt his burning wet forehead. He looked at me one more time, one last time – there was clarity in his eyes for just the briefest of moments – and then he looked through me towards the hills and the rising sun behind them. It may have just been his muscles finally relaxing once he gave up, but I thought I saw him smile.

I also thought I heard the faintest of whispers: “Beautiful.”

Distant sirens echoed through the hills. They sounded empty. They sounded unreal, as if from another world.

I reached out a trembling hand to close the dead man’s eyes. I closed my own eyes and prayed while his cooling blood congealed.

... Beautiful ....

Friday, June 4, 2010

His Dreaming

He molded me out of clay. Small fingers pressed down to make eyes. A lump of pink approximated a nose (not that it was any good for smelling, of course – it was purely decorative, just like the rest of me). He called me Geronimo and pressed me down onto the top of His television. The elongated balls of blue which served as my feet and presented an extremely vague resemblance to stitched moccasins were mushed flat at the bottom so that I could stand. From this perch I stood and watched Him as He slept beneath the glow of his nightlight. I held my toothpick spear at the ready in case any intruder should slink in the window or barge through His locked bedroom door.

I didn’t do much, but it was enough. I served my purpose, I protected Him while He dreamed, and this made me feel content in my way. At least it did most of the time.

In fact, I quite liked my existence at night. I watched Him sleep, noted how His eyes darted when He dreamed, and sometimes I could peer inside His mind and follow His nocturnal adventures. We drifted down the Mississippi together in a splendid canoe. He came up with so many adventures, so many stories, so many characters, and He did it all without any apparent conscious effort. He left me in awe.

Nighttime was my time. Dreamtime was my time.

Daytime, on the other hand, was something to dread. It was so lonely. The toys sat sprawled about, unmoving. They were lifeless without Him, and so was I. Sometimes The Mother would come in and make up the bed or vacuum the rug, but she never played with us. Sometimes she organized the toys. Sometimes she threw some of the broken toys out. Sometimes I feared her. I was just a useless lump of clay. I could be garbage.

But she left me alone. Sometimes she even smiled at me. I knew how ugly I was, I could see my reflection, but I guess she saw some part of my creator in me and that made me beautiful through her eyes. I was an extension of Him, and this comforted me during the long days.

I would watch the sunlight slant across the room and move slowly, ever so slowly, while He was gone to school. The days crept by while the nights flew past in a blurry haze, and time went on this way until one day He didn’t return.

I waited and watched His bed. I watched the toys. I watched the windows. I saw red and blue flashing lights at one point. I watched the door. There were muffled questions being asked of The Mother by strange authoritative male voices just outside the room.

Time went on and no one entered the room. We were alone. We were without Him. We grew dusty. The nights were long without His dreaming. I mourned the loss of my purpose. I mourned my failure – my spear remained in place, unused. Without the sun slanting into the room, I did not even have a way to mark time. The nights seemingly stretched on into infinities before the morning sun finally appeared to light the windows.

Days passed. Nights passed. The room remained still and lifeless.

Months passed.

One day The Mother entered the room with garbage bags. She wept as she shoved everything into the bags. All the toys, all the clothes – they were all removed. I grew scared, not knowing what my future might bring. The toothpick spear trembled in my hand.

The room grew empty except for the furniture and except for me. I remained as time crawled onwards, and every day brought more sorrow and more trepidation. The future was unknown. The past was gone and I couldn’t change anything. My toothpick spear, my all-important weapon, had been useless to stop whatever had happened. I had been helpless to protect my maker. A fit of terror seized me when I realized my purpose would remain forever unfulfilled. My spear would forever be unused.

Then one day, The Mother noticed me. She stopped. She smiled. A tear fell on her face and she lifted me up. She caressed me with tender fingers. I thought about how His fingerprints were embedded all over me, and I felt something like hope.

She carried me to her bedroom and placed me on her nightstand. She placed a glass jar over me, and there I stood.

From time to time she looks at me. Sometimes she cries, sometimes she smiles, but I always feel wanted, perhaps even needed. I have a purpose. Yet the toothpick in my hand remains unused; a painful reminder of all that I could not stop. I forever mourn the loss of His dreaming.