2. Lem's MelodyThe Mission's security gate wouldn't open all the way. Some crackhead spent an hour slamming himself into it when Sister Constance wouldn't let him in after dawn, so now the rail was bent. Lem had to turn the rolling bag sideways to fit it through the door.2. Lem's Melody in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The battered TV shrieked at Lem from its cage on the wall. Some stupid show about college kids scaring themselves looking for ghosts in abandoned mental hospitals. The day room - Lem never got tired of the irony - was mostly empty, except for Melvin in the corner mumbling to himself, Sister Constance glaring from her desk behind smudged, bullet-proof glass, and a girl.
It was the girl that caught his attention. Couldn't be more than fifteen-sixteen, and she turned her head to the floor as Lem studied her. Her hair was purple on one side, orange on the other, with roots showing muddy blonde. Pale as milk, except for the bruises, and there were a lot of those. One knee bobbed up and down, causing one of her worn-out Converse sneakers
Sounds Like MauveWhat had finally driven her over the edge, Dr. Schwartz recorded, was that she couldn't hear the grapes.Sounds Like Mauve in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Certainly they tasted fine, at least Marian made the same happy sounds she always made when she plopped a seedless red into her mouth and squeezed it with her teeth. The anomaly occurred when they opened her visor.
"Dr. Schwartz?" It was one of the new nurses. "Dr. Schwartz, Marian's parents are here. They said you called?"
"What? Yes, yes, I did call them." Schwartz sighed, tapped a few more notes and slid the stylus back into the sheathe on the side of his tablet. "How is she?"
"Asleep. The sedatives have taken hold."
"Good. I'm going to bring Marian's parents in to see her. I would appreciate it if you could remove her restraints for a bit, just until they leave. Would that be a problem?"
"Of course not, doctor. I'll take care of it."
Schwartz shook her father's hand with a tight grip, looking the man in the eye. He set his other hand reassuringly on her mother's shoulder, saying
4. Lem's DebtsAfter the girl had put away a cup or two of warmed-over pig blood, and Lem felt comfortable that she wouldn't run off, he left Melody at the table and went in search of Sister Constance.4. Lem's Debts in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
She was in the day room, handing out clean blankets as they trickled in. Lem nodded at the ones he knew. There was Pryor, always first in line. He looked at Lem with his good eye on the non-burned half of his face. Next was Sketch. He traded a drawing to the Sister for the blanket. She held it up to the light. A perfect rendering of St. Mark's Cathedral lit up at night, right down to the rivets on the door and the security camera above it.
"It's beautiful, dear."
Sketch shuffled off. Buttercup followed. She'd been another one of Old Hitchcock's ducklings, just like Lem had been. The old man had found her gnawing on an usher behind the Galaxy Bijou during a midnight showing of The Princess Bride. He took her in, calmed her down, and almost convinced her that all it took was blood. Sometimes she s
Prima NoctaIt doesn't happen how you think it does.Prima Nocta in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
You're probably strung out, ducked into the wrong alley to hit the pipe. It waited there, watching you, biding time until you were good and fucked before ripping a new hole in your throat. Maybe your thigh if it's in a rush. You spray out all over the wall, all over yourself, all over it. You just see yellow eyes, fucking foot-long tongue lapping you up, and then nothing.
But then, something. Maybe you smell dogshit, old take-out containers, dried-out tampons and whatever else people threw away along with you. You reach up and around, wipe the maggots off your face. You find a door up there, push it open. Daylight. It feels like a blowtorch on your hand, and you smell your skin bubbling away as the lid falls closed.
No, you didn't smell it. You tasted it. Tasted your skin burning, just like you're tasting this dumpster and the filth you're swimming in.
Maybe you sleep.
Maybe you wake up just in time to hear the truck grab hold of your roac
Two Paths 40: Darkest BeforeThey all hear it. From far above in the echoing gloom of the catacombs, a metallic report, deep and final. It cascades down to their ears like a funeral bell.Two Paths 40: Darkest Before in Fantasy More Like This
Portcullis, Elene hisses. Her breath hovers in the frigid air.
Yes, Davos says. Theyve locked the catacomb entrance from the Cathedral. That gate is ancient; I had no idea it still worked.
Trapped? The question is Gregors, and comes out in a squeak.
Elene glances at Sister Katriana, who clutches the last torch like a sacred offering. The mute nun signs with a shaking hand, The catacombs empty into caverns far below the city, where the dead were piled during the plague.
Where do the caverns lead? Elene says, dreading the answer. Katriana only shrugs.
Nowhere to go but down, then, Davos mutters. He and Gregor carry the Imperceptors plain coffin between them as the small group navigates the jagged, twisting paths of Elsagrods ancie
Local FlavorHe entered the station and found the deputy cleaning vomit off his uniform.Local Flavor in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"I'm Deputy Carl Cushing," the deputy said, tossing the paper towel into a garbage can and offering his hand. "You're the G-Man, I reckon?"
"Yes, I'm Special Agent Devereux. Is Sheriff Caleb here?"
"He's up to Ferryville with a coupla other deputies. I'm to attend to you 'til he gets back." Cushing was looking with dismay at his ruined tie.
Devereux frowned. "Ferryville? I phoned ahead with instructions to wait..."
"Yeah. Instructions. Look, Special Agent, I know you've got all these protocols and whatnot back in Washington, but things work different 'round here.”
Devereux sighed, pulled his cigarettes from his jacket, and lit up. "What happened to you?"
The deputy breathed a curse at his shirt. "Damn kid lost his lunch on me."
"Kid up from Ferryville. Trucker saw him walking the side of the road a few miles outside of town, then called us."
"Kid was covered in blood, walking down the r
the Chandler's Around the WayThe hose slipped out again. Chan cursed, and shoved it back into the incision he'd made, adjusted his mask, and bent over the pump. He yanked the cord, and the pump started to life with a cough of biodiesel. It bounced on the sand as it grumbled away. Chan kept one hand on it and held the hose in place with the other.the Chandler's Around the Way in Short Stories More Like This
If fucking Fathers would spend the bone on a new one, I wouldn't be all night at this, Chan grumbled. He ached for a smoke, but didn't have the hands to spare. Plenty of hands here, he thought as he glanced at the riverbank. Some of them even had a pulse.
"Hey," he said to whoever was closest.
It was a sunbather. A walker who drew enough bone to slot time on the beach without having to fight for it. She had each arm draped around a man, both of them tattooed in the same place with the same sigil. Chan was jealous. Someday he'd have his own numbers, but they'd be women. All of them. He was old-fashioned like that.
The walker answered without raising her sungl
9: Lem's Walk HomeThey were like that for a long time, facing each other over the library's computers, faces ghostly in front of the monitors. Silent conversation, just the clickety-click of fingers on keys. Lem's were faster, but Melody was catching on quick.9: Lem's Walk Home in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
Together, they got Melody set up with accounts on a few sites that were safe places for their kind, or as safe as things got in their world, online or off. Not for the first time, Lem reflected how the same lessons applied in both cases.
Don't share details, he cautioned her. You never really know who you're talking to, and there are people out there who know how to act like us, and will use whatever you tell them to find us.
Why? she typed.
He sent her a Web address. Here. Take a look at this, but don't print anything out. You can use my password for now until we can get you one.
She read for a while, her expression both amazed and incredulous.
What are "sweeps?"
Hunters. People who want us dead.
Sew RomanticThere was a mad tailor called Gord.Sew Romantic in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Who was by his true love ignored.
When he failed to woo her,
He ran needle and thread through her,
And thus she gave silent accord.
22. Lem's DealHe bent down to enter the room between two strands of police tape pulled across the doorway. On the floor were chalk drawings where five bodies had been. Those were the Sweeps, the hunters that Pryor had killed. One was a cop.22. Lem's Deal in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
The denim blanket that Lem and Pryor had slept under was gone, probably in the same evidence locker as the hunters' crossbows and raincoats.
Something else was missing. There wasn't a sixth chalk outline, but Lem knew where it should be. He stood in the spot where Pryor left his victim, several dark stains where drops of blood had fallen on the dust-strewn floor. There were no evidence markers. Either the crime-scene people had missed the blood, or were told to ignore it. Lem had long suspected some kind of connection between the Sweeps and the cops, and this little episode had erased his doubt.
Lem dropped to all fours, and touched his tongue to the dried blood. Even a week later, he could still pull the methamphetamine taste from it, the vigor of youth, the alc
Fast DrumMock it, Knock it -Fast Drum in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
Will we stop it?
Boot it, Shoot it -
Who will lose it?
Crave it, Pave it -
Can we save it?
Spit it, Hit it -
Will we quit it?
Trials, Wilds -
Who walks a mile?
Out there, In here -
Which is more dear?
He say, She say -
Who hears the baybay?
One way, Done way,
Why not more ways?
It's time to see
If we'll be free.
Late Night LamentLate Night Lament in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
One recent night I decided to walk, read and watch three movies.
Why not? I couldn't write and had the popcorn and hours to myself.
Spent most of the time on a Will-Smith-movie-night. Watched
"Enemy-of-the-State" when my daughter called, blithely
interrupting though she hates that if I do, only to say,
"Hey, Mom! You get to see Will Smith naked now! Woohoo!"
Dear child, I watched it for Hackman though I have nothing
against Will Smith. It was Will-Smith-movie-night,
but I like Gene Hackman too, maybe more if I kept score.
About this flick she was wrong, Will just stripped to his underwear,
not disappointing, Hackman's great, though younger stars tend to 'share.'
Then I watched "I, Robot" and you know? I've seen all these films before.
But daughter's right about this one, Will's nude in the shower,
fair sci-fi stuff, a good line first by Asimov, with lots of
'bot action and more-than-enough of the fine-buff-stuff.
Then a walk in the dark for me, sli
Mirage ReduxMirage Redux in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It's the Summer Powwow, and I feel like a little kid let loose in a toy store.
Other women put silverwork, beaded belts and more in booths that circle the empty dance area.
Under canvas-rigged shade, chairs are saved for Indian elders.
My chair's in full sun, but I don't care.
I prepared for that with sunblock. It's hot and though I'm kind-of Cheyenne, it's a very small part. The outside of me is quite fair, though in the winter my hair is dark. I'd be sunburnt in seconds since today I wore a halter top and shorts.
The master of ceremonies is just like the M.C.s all powwows seem to have.
He tries the microphone.
"Testing!" he shouts. "One, two, three! Testing! Heya, everybody! Gonna be great day, early birds! We got four drums com
Another Take The human I live with calls me "Tommy Gun." Or "Kitty." Sometimes "Cat." Yeah "cat," but I'm really an alien. Though we got here first and are highly evolved, humans insist on calling us all these names. I think it's because they're unable to call us what we call each other. They can't hear us talk most of the time. We usually use what humans call "telepathy," except in extreme cases. We try other ways to talk to humans. Use "meow" umpteen ways and you'll see how hard it is.Another Take in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I like my human. She's a beautiful girl calls herself "Mimi" when she's on stage. Yeah "Mimi," and she's definitely human. She's a belly dancer and an excellent one. She can enchant a room full of old humans without even a drum, without even taking off any of her very many veils. She sort of undulates, like a wonderful snake might. But snakes I can eat. Mimi is way bigger than me, plus I want her to live. I won't kill her. She feeds me so I won't bring a dead sn
Freak FireSam was at the wheel of his new Dodge Ram when he saw red dust at home. That dust shouldn't be there.Freak Fire in Short Stories More Like This
He turned both truck and new horse trailer over a cattle guard and drove closer.
Sam expected the corral to be ready for his prize quarterhorse, Taut. A spiral of red dirt over it sure didn't look good.
Past the prairie-dog town, Sam saw another column of not-dust on the right.
It looked too damn near property Sam and Jonnie both owned since Old Grandma died.
It was a white column, not red, and it looked like somebody left a campfire burning near Granite Canyon.
Plus it looked like heckuva lot more fire than any campfire should ever be.
Sam sighed. It was just like Jonnie to leave distress flares all over the darn sky whether Sam was home or not. Jonnie was Sam's lazy little brother. Maybe Sam didn't spend enough time with him, though Jonnie was grown.
Old Grandma died early on, after mostly sitting still as a rock and chewing tobacco, spitting it off the front porch. She always dresse
We're Gonna Try AgainSpring's seeds of new growthWe're Gonna Try Again in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
Burst from Winter's scattered mulch.
Leaves love Fall's children.
Stages of LifeYouthStages of Life in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
We watch our laughter
float like bubbles to the sky
and cloak our issues.
when children get sick and fall
and stays when they rise.
We look back and forth
with hope we're left alone now
and see we won't be.
What a Former Deadhead Did The short memoirs and many ticket stubs of a former traveling Deadhead.What a Former Deadhead Did in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
After the first concert I saw (and barely remember) which included the soon-deceased Pigpen and a lightshow, the old oil-slick-trick kind of lightshow, I kept a scrapbook. That book is my keeper of The Grateful Dead, who are no longer extant.
List of tickets (and more)...
1. University of New Mexico, "Homecoming," N.M., 10/7/77, note price $7.50.
2. Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO., 8/30/78
3. Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO., 8/31/78
4. Indianapolis Convention Center, 12/7/79
5. Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, 12/9/79
6. Memorial Hall, Kansas City, 12/10/79
6. Backstage Pass to the above
Mama's Jewell - Two The train crept north to San Francisco.Mama's Jewell - Two in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
The dang thing stopped too much at small towns with few lights, nowhere to go and nothing interesting to see.
Jewell grew tired of watching people get on and off the coloreds-only car and fell asleep again. She dreamt about trains.
She missed Alda and Nettie, Grandma and her cousin TJ so much, there they were, just like they were with her.
When TJ and Jewell were real young, they walked the train tracks once to the slaughterhouse for pigs' feet. They saw a strange-looking white man walk toward them. He staggered a little and fiddled with his pants. He yelled, "Hey, little girls! Come over here and see what I got for you, sweetmeats!" Jewell got ready to protect TJ, TJ was so tiny. Still, the unusual sight made them stand like they were hypnotized, frozen again in Jewell's dream.
Crow Girls and Literature We decided Juliet should finally reach literary heaven, but Romeo--oh hell no. Maybe heaven and hell are unfortunate words to choose, but here's the deal with those two characters. First, we studied Juliet's literary life carefully and yeah, she kills herself, said to be a big no-no, but she's really veryvery young and she knows better, she says so in one act, way before she unfurls that red-scarf-fakeblood at the end, seen on hundreds of theater stages a few thousand times a year.Crow Girls and Literature in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Romeo though, he's a bad boy throughandthrough. He's madly in love with one girl at the beginning of a single party, then madly in love with another by the end of the same party. What nonsense! He kills a few guys before he kills himself, then kills himself because he thinks little Juliet is dead. That girl is lying there veryvery much alive! Why doesn't he make sure she's dead? He even talktalks about how alive she looks. What a hotheaded go