There’s a new story of mine up over at Flash Fiction Offensive today. It’s called Goodtime and I hope you like it.
The Valentine’s issue of Yellow Mama is out today including my new story “Bedroom Eyes.” It’s short and dark and I hope you like it. In noir, a happy ending is just a point of view.
You can read it here:
Mickey lit a fresh smoke; “Why do I have to do it, huh? I wanna stay in here where it’s warm!”
Spider snatched the cigarette out of his brother’s hand and took a drag. “I already told you; you’re the one in the suit ’cause you’re so damned big. Them big-foots are supposed to be eight feet tall! Anyways, don’t you want to get Momma that nightgown for her birthday?”
Mickey thought hard for a few seconds then smiled and nodded. “A’right. I’ll do it.”
Spider slapped him on the back. “There you go. Now put on the mask and get over there behind that tree like I told you.”
Mickey popped the door and got out into the cold. The snow was coming down heavy now but at least there wasn’t any wind and the gorilla suit was pretty warm. He pulled on the rubber mask then stumbled off toward a stand of scrub. Spider got out and moved around the other side so the truck wouldn’t be in the way. He tapped his cell phone a couple of times then he held it up and out in front of himself, camera pointed at the bushes.
“Now!” Spider yelled, and hit the record button.
Mickey took a step from behind the brush and almost fell. The falling snow was already matted on the suit and melting, the wet polyester fur looked ragged and mangy. Mickey waved his arms and walked towards Spider. He was trying to shout something but it was lost in the mask.
Spider kept moving back and recording as Mickey tried to come closer. After a few more seconds of this he turned off the camera and went back to where Mickey was still staggering and shouting in the snow.
“Helluva job! You looked great, just like the real thing!”
Mickey just kept shouting. Spider pulled the mask up and off his brother’s head.
“I’m stuck! Dammit, I’m stuck! Get this thing off of me! I gotta pee!”
Spider laughed and turned Mickey around. He found the zipper and tugged it down to Mickey’s shoulders then got out of the way as he brother tried to strip out of the suit while he ran back behind the bushes.
Moments later, Mickey came back. He was walking slower this time and smiling. The suit was hanging half off at his waist but he didn’t seem to notice the cold.
“Thanks Spider. That was a close one.”
Spider slapped him on the back and gave him a cigarette. “No problem Mickey-Boy. Let’s get home and get out of this damned snow.”
The next morning Spider stole the newspaper off of ol’ lady Quintana’s porch. He found the address he wanted in the masthead and headed downtown to the newspaper office. A security guard listened to his story and led Spider into a conference room off the lobby. He put his feet up on the table and waited while the guard went off to find a reporter with enough time to listen.
A few minutes later, a little guy in blue jeans and an un-tucked dress shirt came in with a laptop in one hand and a diet coke in the other. “I heard you’ve got something to show me?”
Spider smiled and patted his phone. “Yup, got it right here. First things first, is that reward still good?”
The reporter laughed and settled into a chair across from Spider, “Ten thousand dollars for authenticated footage of Bigfoot? Yep, no-one’s claimed it yet. You must have one hell of a video.”
Spider nodded once and sat up straight in his chair like he was big-time. “You just better get ready to go get the check book.” He pushed play and tilted his phone for the man to see as a video started to run.
Instead of Mickey in the monkey suit, it was Spider himself. He was standing in front of a bathroom mirror bare-ass naked and flexing his long gangly arms. His dangling, flaccid penis bounced up and down in rhythm with the flexing. Spider pouted and blew a kiss at the mirror then turned around and flexed again while he held the phone over his shoulder. This time his ass-cheeks rippled; first one, then the other. Back and forth. The video ran for a good ten or fifteen seconds of this then finally ended.
The reporter eyeballed Spider up and down like he was wearing x-ray specs then stood up, grabbed his laptop, and laughed all the way out of the room. The security guard nabbed Spider by the shoulder and walked him out the front door. He could hear the old man laughing at him under his breath.
Outside, Spider fiddled with the phone trying to find the right file. He took that damned video for Gloria; he sent it and then deleted it before Momma could find it, just like always. But, if this one was still on the phone…?
His phone chirped, and a message popped up on the screen. It was Gloria, “I watched your video you dick. I’m done with your body shaming, a hairy bush is healthy! We’re through, asshole!”
“Shit!” Spider threw the phone at the side of the building where it exploded into black glass confetti. The front doors hissed open and Spider turned and ran like hell from the security guard who sounded like he was still laughing.
It’s been almost a year since my dad passed away. I finally wrote about it.
I’d been waiting and hoping, back months ago when eating would have done some good. Waiting, hoping, wanting more than anything to see some fight. The fire I remembered, the temper, the stubborn persistence and foolish pride that kept my old man running headfirst into the same walls over and over again his whole damn life. It was the first time I’d ever seen him beat. Oh shit, that was the worst part of it all, worse than anything to come. Worse than the sight of him in that box, worse than how heavy that box was as we carried it up that hill. Seeing him beat was worse than seeing him dead.
I’m not proud of it but I was angry. “DON’T GIVE UP!” I wanted to just scream it over and over until it sunk in. “What the hell am I supposed to do without you?” Damn I was selfish, making the whole thing about me.
But the end was still yet to come, and for now there he was; down to palliative care- no treatment- no iv fluids- no blood- just pain meds and a visiting nurse. Just him and the leukemia getting a good chance to get to know each other. But like a proto-typical contrary Newman; when the doctors finally gave up, he finally got a whiff of hope. “I think I might be getting a little better.”
“Hey that’s great! You eat a little something?”
He always hated that question, all the pressure to eat, like it was his fault that the cancer stole his appetite and made him sick all the time. He hated that question but this time he was proud to answer. “Yup, yer momma made up some of that pudding, and I had a few bites of the mashed potatoes and gravy.”
“Wow, that’s a lot for you. You sound a little stronger.” I wasn’t just saying it, I believed it. I wanted so much to believe it.
“Yep, your sisters comin’ over later, gonna take me for a ride in my chariot.” His chariot was his wheelchair. It was the middle of the winter, but he had to try to get out every day so my sister rigged up a sleeping bag in the chair and put his oxygen on the back and took him for as long of a walk as he could handle. “I love the way that cold air feels on my face.” He swallowed and it sounded like he was choking on eggshells; dry and crackly. “Well, I gotta let you go boy. I’m getting a little winded. You want to talk to your momma?” He didn’t wait for an answer, he handed her the phone.
“Hey Pollywog, how are you today?”
“Fair to middling, sounds like the old man’s doing pretty good though.”
Her tone didn’t agree, “yeah.” I could hear her moving in the background, like she usually did on the phone, moving where he couldn’t hear her. “I heard what he was saying on the phone, Paul. Don’t get your hopes up, the hospice nurse warned us about this.”
Well, it was too damned late, my hopes were already up and now my stomach was down on the top of my shoes.
“what do you mean?”
“The nurse told your sister and I, this happens a lot. The pain meds and everything, they can make someone feel stronger for a little while. They often think they’re getting better. She called it a false spring.”
“Aww shit.” She could tell I had bought it, and I could tell she was hurting too. We all wanted to believe it was real but none of us were going to tell the old man that it wasn’t.
“Well, I’m damned glad to hear him sound a little better, even if it’s temporary. I love you momma.” She said she loved me too and that was the end of the call. A week or so later, it was the end of our false spring. It was a clear day in February when we put him in the ground, warmer than it should have been, drier than it should have been, and a lying sun laughing at us up in the sky.
It was another false spring. They never last.
I have a new story up today in issue 47 of Yellow Mama. It’s called “Friday Night at Seventh and Mission” and it’s one of my favorites. You can read it here: Yellow Mama (Oops! Sorry for the dead link. Should work now.)
I’ve got a new story up today over at Out Of The Gutter/TFFO. It’s flash fiction so it doesn’t take long to read and it’s short enough to limit your risk of infection 😉
I hope you enjoy it, you can read it here: