It’s Cool

This is the fifth in a series of short stories written to music. It’s Cool was written while listening to Devo’s album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

This is Jimmy. Jimmy is in the ninth grade. He’s one of those kids that just kind of does everything right. Very few people particularly like him, but no one really hates him either. It’s an agonizing shade of grey.

Jimmy has perfect A’s, takes all the advanced courses, and has never been truly in trouble. Yet at this very moment Jimmy is walking to detention.

Why? Why is Jimmy going to detention? Did he get in trouble? No, of course not! I just told you he’s never been in trouble.

To answer this question we have to travel back two years and enter the life of Ali Najjar, an extremely persecuted man, who after many years of extreme ass kissing landed himself a TV show on one of the major networks. The moment in question happened before his television show, Metropolis, first aired.

Metropolis was an introspective look into the lives of citizens all across the country. It was an ambitious project that Ali Najjar hoped would display the impressive emotional ties held between people despite geographic connections. Everyone is a person and everyone can love everyone. He thought it was an important message, now of all times.

He had just been told that his show wasn’t being received well by test audiences. Ali Najjar Ahad could have told them what them that, they didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars testing. The test audiences thought it was slow, boring, and they didn’t get the point. They didn’t think the characters were interesting enough.

They were wrong. At least, Najjar thought so.

Cutting to the point: Ali Najjar had a choice. They were going to gut the show, replace the actors and bring in new writers, and they were giving him the opportunity to stay on and shepherd the show through the transition and beyond. Salvage the wreck said the memo. The day before, Ali Najjar was simply happy to have his work considered for publication on a platform that went out to millions of people every day. In fact he was astonished that it could ever be picked up at all more than anything. However on that day two years before Jimmy stormed down the halls of Kingsley High to the fear filled detention room, Ali Najjar found himself furious.

And there was nothing he could do. He held no sway over these executives. He didn’t have any past work to point to – to say see! My vision works. If you show people something real they will respond to it. These executives had never learned that so they would only have Ali Najjar’s word against theirs. Theirs won.

So Ali Najjar stepped away from the project. He couldn’t take a part in bastardizing his own creation. The executives came in and hired some white guy to come in and fix everything up for a mass audience. The show launched with a new cast and a reworked script. It wasn’t the show Ali Najjar had dreamed up. He couldn’t bring himself to watch it.

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that they changed one of the leads from a black codeine addict to a hunky white guy named Jimmy who worked at a bar. I know.

So let’s flash back to present time, just a few hours before our Jimmy was marching through the halls with such determination that if a hall monitor saw him they probably wouldn’t stop him or ask him what he was doing out of class because they’d think: wow he’s so determined; I wish I’d have ever been that determined in my life because then I wouldn’t be here monitoring halls at a shitty high school.

Here: Nancy Thatcher, a peer of our ninth grade hero Jimmy, wrote a note to her friend Sarah Krauchevick. We’ll get to the note in a second. First you should know that Nancy Thatcher and Sarah Krauchevick were 100% hot. Like date twelfth graders even if it’s not such a good idea kind of hot. The whole ninth grade knew it. Jimmy knew it. Jimmy had even known Nancy since like fourth grade or something. She’d always been in his sights so to speak.

So what did Nancy Thatcher, established babe, write to Sarah Krauchevick? Well. They were both avid viewers of the television program Metropolis. They loved its fast pace, easy to understand plot and of course it’s endless supply of hunky guys.

They were talking about it when second period Geometry started, and would have kept talking, but Mr. Cunningham yelled at them to shut up. He wasn’t at school to make friends. So Sarah, completely used to that sort of thing, tore some paper from her math notebook and wrote: who’s your favorite?

Nancy of course wrote the only answer imaginable at this point: Jimmy. After all everyone knew Jimmy was the hunkiest of the hunks on Metropolis, even Ali Najjar would have to agree if he ever worked up the courage to watch an episode of the show that had his name plastered over every opening credits sequence. Nancy finished the note off by dotting the eye with a little heart that she even filled in with a little anime sparkle. Who knows. Maybe that’s what did it.

Either way, Sarah left that little note on her desk because it didn’t mean anything. It was just one dumb piece of paper with one dumb piece of one dumb conversation. Sarah had thousands of dumb conversations to get her through the day. She didn’t have time to remember one of her dumb friends opinions on a TV show that was in truth not an opinion because lets face it: Jimmy was every teenage girls favorite.

Jimmy, on the way out of second period Geometry found the paper, thinking he would recycle it. That is until he read what was on that shred of paper.


Duh. Heart. Jimmy. Jimmy knew who passed that note, and suddenly the world was like a crystal ball. He could see his future. His future was Nancy. Man she’d probably been in to him since fourth grade and he just hadn’t noticed it. All those other guys she’d “dated” or whatever were just like practice cause she didn’t want to mess up with him. Maybe he should have done that? No… she probably had enough practice for the two of them.

The next passing period Jimmy hunted through the halls for her, but he didn’t know which class she had. Instead he found Sarah. She said that Nancy was in detention.

So there we are. That’s the answer. End. Goodbye. Oh. Fine, I guess that’s not really an end is it.

OK so here’s where we stand: Jimmy marching towards detention totally and utterly ready to declare his love in front of everyone. Nancy, the damsel in distress, chewing peach gum and trying to hide the earbud in her left ear.

Got it? Good cause here we go.

Jimmy slammed the detention room door open. Ms. Newton, the detention room…person sat behind her desk with a scowl on her face. She had one of those big, big, BIG crooked noses that made it so you couldn’t really look at the rest of the persons face. It was like it was all nose. She turned her nose to Jimmy and demanded to know what he wanted.

Jimmy had never been here before, and never heard Ms. Newton’s voice. It was cacklish like a witch on an old early morning cartoon. Behind her the phrase, the witch is watching, was written in black on her whiteboard. This was followed by a series of no’s. No moving tables. No talking. No cellphones. No happy thoughts.

There were four rows of eight or so seats about half full of students. He didn’t know any of them. That is, except for Nancy. Her graceful brown locks were hiding her face, as she rested her head on her hand. This place was destroying her! The rest of the denizens looked mostly bored, and pouty.

The extreme divisiveness of the room made Jimmy chuckle. In fact it emboldened him to do what he was here to do. This place was a joke. Jimmy, head high, announced his love for Nancy.

A few people looked up. She wasn’t one of them. Maybe he wasn’t loud enough. He was starting to draw some interest though which meant he was doing good.

Ms. Newton asked again who sent him, and called him a wise ass. Jimmy met her gaze. He’d just moments before convinced himself that he was a man of action.

Just then: a screech. The screech of metal rubbing, un-cohesively against tile. The sound was short, but loud. It’s frequency was exact, piercing.

Jimmy was so in his own zen like state he would have hardly noticed the distraction if not for what it did to Ms. Newton. The sound seemed to catalyze some biomagical reaction in her that started a transformation.

Jimmy watched as Ms. Newton’s nose extended even larger than he thought was possible. It widened and darkened. That’s when Jimmy began to notice that the rest of Ms. Newton was changing as well. Her entire body was growing in size, and to a dark red color. Scales protruded from her skin, as her frame extended to the ceiling. With a roar the roof bust open, while Jimmy deftly dodged the oncoming debris.

Where before had stood Ms. Newton now stood a forty five foot tall red dragon. It roared up into the sky, and made a show of it’s fiery breath.

Jimmy rolled his eyes and drew his trusty rangers sword. He leapt thirty feet into the air and met Ms. Newton’s red nose in the air. It snapped at him, but he was able to use his small size to his advantage. Jimmy grabbed a hold of Ms. Newton’s gums and swung up to the dragon’s crown. He summoned all of his might for a mighty swing just as Ms. Newton rocketed into the air.

Jimmy flattened against Ms. Newton’s scaly brow. He held onto a mighty horn as Ms. Newton rose higher and higher into the atmosphere. Jimmy thinking he’d had enough, slowly rose to his feet and brought his sword up.

He slammed his sword down into Ms. Newton’s skull with a satisfying thunk. The beast roared and fell to the ground. Surely the whole world heard the crack as Ms. Newton fell to the ground.

From the rubble and dust our hero rose, his head held high. He took his fair maiden’s hand and lead her out of the dungeon. It was out of pure awe of his might that the rest of the room stood stock still.

“Jimmy,” said Nancy. “What the hell are you doing? You know they’re going to like suspend you for ever or expel you or whatever.”

“Whatever,” said Jimmy trying to mean it. “I mean. I just had to come get you.”


“The note,” said Jimmy smiling. “I’m your fave.”


Jimmy handed the note over to Nancy nervously.

“Jimmy. I was talking about the Metropolis character. You know. The hunk.”

“So it wasn’t. Um.”

“Sorry. Um. I guess I’ll go back in there. I don’t want to get any more detention. Thanks though. I mean that was pretty cool.”

Jimmy nodded weakly. His legs started to shake as he realized what he’d done. His legs gave way and he backed into one of the security guards. The fight had gone out of Jimmy.

A couple of days later when Jimmy returned from his suspension he was known around the school. No one had ever taken it to Ms. Newton like that before even though everyone had always wanted to. He was suddenly the baddest, ballsiest kid around. Nancy even came back and asked him on a date.

After the rush of being popular wore off Jimmy found he really didn’t like his new status. He didn’t like who he had to be to hang around the sorts of people who suddenly wanted to be around him. He didn’t like putting up an act so he slowly tried to go back to his old life. Turns out he actually liked being ignored by most everyone. By the end of it he couldn’t remember what had gotten into him in the first place. Nancy sucked. Like at everything, but especially being a decent human.

Ali Najjar eventually sat down with one of those executives who’d stolen his show. This one turned out to be the guy who argued for his show to get picked up in the first place. He said that the script had really spoken to him, but that there was no denying that it would never work on a network. Ali Najjar wanted to yell at him and ask why he’d optioned it in the first place then, but the executive seemed like a was trying to be nice so he held his tongue.

The executive said that he was starting up a new cable station as a subset of the network and he wanted Ali Najjar to create a new show for it. He promised full creative control.

Basically art is dead and things that you think are going to be good aren’t most of the time. But, eh, whatever. It’s cool.


THANKS TO Ms. Mareavment for the note.

This Old Town

This is the fourth in a series of short stories written to music. This Old Town was written while listening to The Flying Burrito Brothers’ album The Gilded Palace of Sin.

“Jill…this town is freaking killing me.”

Jill sighed through the phone.

“You don’t have to stay,” she said.

“But I’m so close to a discovery,” said Sarah. “Like one that actually might mean something.”

“I’m just saying,” said Jill. “You know I’d come down if it wasn’t for work.”

“I know.”

Now it was Sarah’s turn to sigh.

“Hey I watched that episode of Louie last night with the fat girl.”

“Oh yeah?”

Sarah leaned back and reached for her glass of wine.

“Yeah that actress really like. Really made it… I don’t know.”

“Yeah, I got you. They got it right.”

“Yeah that’s definitely one of the best episodes ever,” said Jill.

“Oh oooh. Just wait till you get to the rest of the season.”

“Fuck me. God dammnit. I wanna go watch those right now.”

Sarah drank deeply.

“How’s the weather over there,” said Sarah.

“Its, uh. Cold. Why?”

“Sounds nice.”

“Just hurry up with that dig, OK?”

Jill hung up first. Sarah stared at Jill’s contact picture on her phone before it blinked away.

She put the phone away and moved to the cardboard box sitting on her floor. Dirt was rubbed into the carpet around it. She hoped the landlord wouldn’t mind. He was a weird one.

She opened the box, and pulled out a bubble wrapped rock. She stared at it, turning it over and over in her hand. There was something to this rock. On the surface it wasn’t anything special, but this rock was older than human civilization. And it had writing on it. Not english or any other language Sarah knew about, but it was definitely writing. If there hadn’t been repeating characters Sarah might have discounted it as some lucky scratches, but they weren’t. Someone had put them there.

The box was full of them, all alike and all different. She wanted to find all she could before someone else found out about her dig site.

The etchings were feint. She dragged her finger across the indentations. She looked at the clock. Unsurprisingly, two hours had passed since she’d opened the box. It had only felt like four minutes. Exactly four minutes.

Sarah careful wrapped the rock back up and it in it’s container. She fell back into her bed. It was stiff, and springy. She hated it. And the blankets were that weird shinny smooth fabric that always felt a little cold. She wanted something soft and fuzzy.

She had trouble falling asleep, again.



Sarah’s jeep bumped along the canyon landscape to her dig site. It was four in the morning.

The horizon here was endless. If there was one thing about this place that was nice it was the horizon. Golden cascades of rock. It made you believe anything was possible. Plus you could always see someone coming.

This early in the morning there was no one else out. Not in town. Not out here.

She’d started leaving this early for two reasons. One, it was nice and cool out, and the light was still good. Two, there were no people out. That was the main reason. If she left at any reasonable time, she was accosted by locals at every turn. Gerry was always asking her to come to bingo night. Sarah didn’t know how many ways she could say no.

There was one boy, named Alex who walked around barefoot in a speedo, and she had been the first person to tell him that he was weird. And now she got crap for it everywhere she went. It was like Alex was some sort of local hero for being a complete freak bag.

And the dogs. God dammit those dogs. They were everywhere. Everywhere. On top of houses, in the gas station, in the gas station bathroom, in and around the post office and how could she forget the dog that came out of the dry cleaner in a smart looking suit. Someone laughed and said Ol’ Gerry’s dog was doing it again. Seriously. What the fuck.

She parked above the pit and went around to the trunk to find her things. She pulled out her toolbox, and the big hammer that wouldn’t fit in said toolbox. She couldn’t risk any more dynamite blasts, so she had to go old fashioned.

She stopped at the crest of the pit. She heard herself squeak in response to what her eyes saw. It wasn’t possible.

Soot covered a good portion of the previously rock red pit. Disgusting, awful, jagged, black holes dotted her dig site like pimples. It had been pristine last night when she left. As pristine as a dig site can be anyway.

I hate this place, thought Sarah. She almost turned back there. She almost went home, but that same rage compelled her to stay. Obviously there was something here. Someone didn’t want her to find it.

She hopped into the pit and opened her toolkit. She started brushing at one of the damaged areas. The black soot was charred into the rock itself. She went around and checked each sabotaged spot. Nothing too bad seemed to have happened. Then again, the blasts could have destroyed any number of priceless artifacts revealing the history of mankind and she’d have no real way of knowing.

She suddenly doubted whether or not she’d remembered to lock her door. Alvin, the man who’s guest room she’d rented was the only other one with a key, but he wasn’t the mischievous type. But if someone had done this, that meant someone was gunning for her, and was watching her.

“Hey there, Miss.”

Sarah jumped, and turned. A man in a cowboy hat stood ten feet above her at the top of the hole. The sun was directly behind him, making him nothing more than a dark outline of a body.

“Hello?” she called.


“Yes?” It was five in the morning. What the hell was anyone doing out here?

“Just came to check up on ya, out here.”

She recognized his voice now. It was Sherif Sparks. That would explain the hat too.

“Hey, do you know who would have done this? I mean someone just came and vandalized my dig site.”

“Boy, well I know I sure am sorry to hear that.” He said it like a game show host. “Boy I don’t even know what I would do if something like that happened to me.”

“That’s because you’re not an archeologist.”

“That I am not. That I am not!”

“So. Do you have any ideas?”

“Not a one! Well. I do have one idea, since you asked.”

Sarah waited, but it appeared he needed some prompting.

“Such as?”

“I recommend you going to Gerry’s bingo night! Best damn time you’ll find round these parts.”

Sarah laughed and waited for the Sherif to laugh along. After a few moments it became clear that he wasn’t going.

“Wait,” said Sarah, the smile dropping from her face. “That’s your idea?”

“Yes sir, and if you think me telling you about bingo night is a hoot just wait till you get there. Boy almighty some of the things I see there aught to send people to the penitentiary. And I should know!”

This time he chuckled. Sarah shook her head. Whatever. She didn’t need these people. She could do this herself.

“I’m going to go back to digging,” said Sarah.

“Have a good day,” said the dark figure.

She moved back to the ground and started removing her tools. When she looked back up he was still there, watching her. She stared back. It was starting to creep her out, the absolute motionlessness of his stance. And of course she couldn’t get over the fact that she couldn’t make out his face. It was like a staring contest except she couldn’t see his eyes. Eventually she figured it would be better to just ignore him.

She went about her work and at some point he left. She didn’t hear him go, and to think of it she hadn’t heard him come either.

Continue reading

I Wonder

This is the third in a series of short stories written to music. I Wonder was written while listening to Doldrums’ album Lesser Evil.

“I wonder.”

“Who was that?”

“Jeff. He’s worried about Lizzy.”

“I’ve got it under control… I saw someone get picked up today… Only it looked like he was trying to get out.”

“And this was today too?”

“Yeah. Today.”

“Why the rush?”

“It just came to me. It was like… I don’t know, a lightning bolt or whatever.”

“So… you want me to look at it right now?”


“OK. But I don’t get why you want me.”


She watched as the two girls disappeared into the woods. The tall one was wearing pink booty shorts. They were both wearing designer wear. Not the kind of stuff you wear on a hike. The one with brown hair lead the way. They were going off the path. She was sure they knew what they were doing.

She smirked as she considered what they might be up to. The woods aren’t a bad spot. She kept walking. She had thick legs. It was steep. She had one of those backpacks with a straw so she could always keep sucking when she got thirsty.

She wasn’t too thirsty. She wanted to get to the top. That’s why she was here. Smoke something with that view? Why not. It was a good thing this was a long drive from the city. Guppies would be here otherwise. Took something special to get out here. And she wanted peace.

She rounded the corner. There were some pretty big rocks up at the top. She hopped up on one, and pulled out her stash.

The trees fell all the way down to the water. It was like a painting, but big enough to make life feel right. Plus it was alive. It was breathing. With her. Some bird was circling overhead. It was big enough She could feel it’s shadow over her every now and then.

Typical clouds crowded in. It was a party by the river. A party of clouds ready to throw their guts up after a long night. Somehow they still found the urge to party. She knew that feeling.

She finally broke her gaze. There was someone else here. There had been for a while. He was sitting up on a rock too. He had on one of those safari hats that cover your neck. Why. It’s Oregon. Cargo shorts and a black t-shirt with some indie band’s bad logo completed the man. She wrote it all down in her notebook. It was a good detail.

She met his eyes. He drank from his water bottle. He came over. Why. Oh. He wants some.

There was enough room on the rock for two. And the view. It was triangles on his shirt. He touched her hand when She passed the torch along. Something about it shocked her. The length. The warmth of his skin maybe. She didn’t want anything. He asked if She was sure.

When he kissed her it was sudden. There was something rough on his tongue that melded into her and became a part of her. She wanted to push away. She didn’t want to be rude. She didn’t want anything. This time she was sure, and her mouth tasted funny.

She told him to keep it, and hopped off the rock. He didn’t protest. Free is free. She didn’t feel like saying goodbye, so she didn’t. She didn’t know him. That would be it. He watched her as She left. She could feel his eyes. Like hot bullets.

She walked on down the mountain. By now the clouds were getting darker. She picked up the pace when they turned red. The mountain is not a place to be when it rains blood.

She broke the tree line, and the parking lot was small. Her car was somehow far away. Like her legs forgot was space was. They found it underneath her of all places. It was paved.

She opened her car door and watched:

A man slid back into the passengers side of a blue Hundai. She saw the locks go down, synchronized to some hidden beat, through the windows. The car slid backwards at an alarming rate while it’s passengers stared forwards. The driver’s head twitched in a small, winding pattern.

She looked down at her arm. The sweat was running up her arm. It was coming for her.


Lizzy climbed up the rock wall hand over hand. Her ponytail swung behind her in the breeze. She clenched her muscles and hauled herself up. She should have clipped her nails before she left this morning, shouldn’t she have?

She sat up on the ledge, and snacked on an energy bar. Her butt was warm on this soft dirt that padded the ground up there. She lay down and looked up at the blue sky above her. Motherfucker didn’t know what he were missing.

No homework was worth missing this. Carlos. Carlos needed to get his priorities straight. This was nature. This was the world. Didn’t he want to spend time with her? If he was too busy to go on a hike, where would he be when one of their kids needed to be picked up from day care?

Fuck don’t think about kids. Definitely don’t do that. That’s not good for anybody.

Lizzy watched as a couple of hikers, neckbeards probably, made their way up the slow way. The boring way. Her way was awesome! She stood up and tried to get excited.

Lizzy sighed. That idiot, Carlos. He shoulda been here.

Lizzy turned away from the ledge and peered into the forest. It was mysterious up here. She had no idea where the hiking trail was. She could probably do anything she wanted up here, and no one would bother her. Her mind drifted.

This was one of the most beautiful spots in the world and all she could think about was Carlos. This. This right here sucked.

She wandered into the woods. The sound of water compelled her forwards. There was a stream bubbling low to the ground. A small bank let her stand by the water. She could feel that the ground, the air, everything was cooler here. She dipped her hand in the water to get a drink, but something snapped across the bank.

She looked up in time to see a boar charging from across the river bank. Lizzy screamed and fell backwards into mud. The mud sucked at her body, reaching around her neck. Her eyes were wide. There was no one around. Neckbeards wouldn’t save her. She had no idea where the trail was. And now the mud was sucking her in.

The beasts feet dug into Lizzy’s legs, and she wished she would have worn pants. The boar reared up and bit her in the arm. Two fangs sunk into Lizzy’s skin and through her flesh meeting bone. Blood bubbled to meet the air, turning it a dark red. She felt the rough tongue of the beast as it lapped up the red paint of her life.

No one would find her. No one knew she was gone except for Carlos. No one knew where to look. No one would care to. The beast on her chest breathed heavily. It was already on to other things.

The mud ate Lizzy up.


“I don’t get it.”

“Uh huh.”

“Yeah, like what’s it about.”

“Um. I don’t know. Regret, I guess?”


“But that’s the end.”

“I could always go somewhere else with it.”

“I just mean, like there’s nothing more.”

“There’s always more.”


She woke up and her arm was caked in the stuff. Red, dried on blood. Just one arm. Just the right one.

She sat up. She was in her bed and everything. Where was the rest of the blood? Where was the wound? She ran her fingers over the bloody area. There was no pain. No cuts. Nothing.

She got up and washed her hand off in the sink. Her hair looked nice. She admired it’s sheen. The red paint formed up with the water. Good pals.

It had to be paint. She must have painted something. Sometimes you forget what happens when it’s late. She got dressed and went to live in the living room. One of her chairs was broken. Last night?

One message on her phone.

Hey. Sorry I couldn’t make it out yesterday. You went without me, anyway, huh? Well I’m sure you made a time of it…I’ll…talk with you later I guess, it said.

Whatever, Jeff.

She turned on her computer. She made a cup of tea while she waited for it to load. She bobbed the bag up. Plastic boats in bathtubs were as pretty. She lost track of time.

She opened up her word processor. No one else used it. It was hers. She was going to start writing. She realized she hadn’t checked twitter.

When the fuck is Starbucks going to quit with this shit. @Gatorteen844

I still can’t believe about Richard Simmons.” @Simmons_Ralf

Fuck. @tinkerballer

The. @tinkerballer

In. @tinkerballer

Mini Album Review. The Doldrums – Lesser Evil. Three stars.

Definitely worth a listen. @CannonballMusix

What. @tinkerballer

Actually never mind that pizza place is really good. @Scubamans

That was a first. @Gatorteen844

Two teen girls found dead in the Gorge this morning. @Oregonian

Are you shitting me! @Gatorteen844

Anyone ever notice how the musics relly good in Scoot Pilgrim? @tinkerballer

She stopped her hand. Hovered over that link. B had retweeted that. What in the fuck was right. She glanced down at her arm and for a second she thought the blood. The paint. Was it back? It wasn’t. She clicked on the link after two more minutes of motionless denial and fear. It was irrational. She couldn’t. They couldn’t. It wasn’t.

It was. Some guy drew a black three. He wanted a red king. Flushes and such. Shitty draw. He found two dead girls in the woods up by Angel’s Rest. There was a picture of the two girls. Sure enough. Tall one. Brown haired one.

She stood up and stepped away from the computer. It was bright out. She thought she might start crying. Why. You didn’t know them.

The blood. The sky.

A dog barked loudly up in her brain. It told her to eat flesh and slithering worms crawled out of it’s eyes. They cried and reached for the sky.

It was pure white up in the sky now. Her fingers were shaking. She saw the blood dripping from them. Her phone was in her hand.

There was something big in her mouth. It wanted out. It was pushing her.



“…Jesus. What is it.” Janice chuckled harmlessly.

“I think I did it,” She said.

She was still laughing.

“Is this like a thing? Did I forget about something?”

“No! I killed them. I killed those girls. It was their blood. It was their blood Janice. I should have fucking tasted it. That’s the only way to know.”

Laughter on the other side. Different this time.

Still. This wasn’t going anywhere.

“Hello, Portland Police department what can I help you with.”

“I fucking did it. I fucking killed those fucking cute little girls. I shoved it down their gut.”

“…Please stay on the line.”

They were scared. Not nearly scared enough. Not to understand her. Not to get it. This was a thing. Janice was right.

“Please stop screaming. A squad car is on their way. You’re going to be OK.”

“I killed them! I killed them! Send someone.”

“Someone is on their way. I’d like you to stay on the line for me.”

“I don’t remember it. I just know I did it. The sky was red.”

“Just hold one youre ok. Just remain calm.”

Fuck. Fuck. It’s real. It happened.

She ran to the sink and slammed her fists against the drain. Bring it back. Bring it back. I want it. I want it.

Her fingernails dug into the stopper.

A roar started in the floor and erupted through her body. The great cat vibrated next to her body while she blinked. It’s skin fell off into a heap. She was standing on it. She fell to her knees.

The hair dryer was on the ground with her. Hair dryers have cords.


“Since you asked, it needs more work.”


“Well I mean it’s not.”

“No… I got it.”

“Come on. Just come back to it. You look tired. You just need a good nights sleep.”

“I wonder.”

Music Soaked: His Perfect, Little Life

This is the second in a series of short stories written to music. His Perfect, Little Life was written while listening to Leadbelly’s Absolutely the Best.

Clark’s life was perfect. A harsh sun beat down on Clark’s face just the way he liked. A soothing breeze kept him feeling cool under the sun’s blanket. His beautiful wife brought him a ice cold glass of tea.

A sea of golden crop rolled out like a red carpet in front of Clark’s home. He owned all that he could see. Small, insignificant bodies moved about through his fields. Picking. Planting.

He sipped at his drink letting the ice meet his lips in a lavish ceremony of joy. His wife placed her hand on his shoulder. It was the touch of love.

It was perfect. Clark chuckled to himself because he couldn’t believe it. Clark met Gale when she was fourteen. He’d been seventeen. He’d rarely gone to school in his childhood so he hadn’t know practically anyone outside the plantation.

He met her at a town shindig. The dance was starting and Clark was never a shy one. The way Gale’s eyes pierced his soul like she knew him even before she met him melted his heart the first time they locked eyes. He asked her to dance and after that his heart never healed.

That was a long time ago, and the truth was Clark hardly remembered a time in his life without Gale. Twenty years later and their firstborn was getting married. Beautiful babies grow up the fastest. She’d met the perfect fella. They’d be happy together.

Clark got up from his deck chair and stretched his arms out. His limbs ached with a bitter hope filled anguish. He turned to his wife and smiled.

Nothing needed to be said. He knew she was worried about the wedding. He nodded to her reassuringly. It would all be OK.

Clark walked with her through their swinging doors into their newly painted home and put on a record. He set the needle and a crooning dark voice came on through the phonogram. He closed his eyes and listened to the hum in the background.

The man sung about a woman, and it should have been sad, but records like these never sounded sad. They never sounded happy either. They sounded perfect. Clark swayed lazily from side to side and met his wife in the middle of the room where they took each other’s hands.

They stepped from side to side, partners in a lifelong dance. The way they moved was beyond the music. They knew their steps. They knew the song. The record was a matter of extravagance.

The record spun down and the dance stopped as quickly as it had begun.

“I love you,” said Clark who always felt the need to say it.

Behind Gale’s head, Clark watched the sun begin to set through an open window. There was a hole in the sky. It stretched it’s black tendrils hungrily, and it scared him more than anything in the world. It scared him because he knew what it meant.

“What is it, honey?” asked Gale.

“Nothing,” said Clark pulling Gale close so she wouldn’t be able to look.

He knew she couldn’t see it, but he still couldn’t stand her to look. It would hurt him too much. To see her searching for the one thing they couldn’t share. The one everlasting wedge between them.

A voice interrupted them. Their servant, Lorylenne.

“Ah, Mr. and Ms. Harding. Dinner’s ready,” she said.

“Thank you Lorylenne,” said Clark. “We’ll be to in a few.”

Lorylenne made her retreat.

“Shall we?” said Clark.

Gale swallowed and held up a gloved hand.

“It’s just,” she said. “It’ll be the last dinner at home with Hannah.”

She was so worried; so loving. Clark loved that about her.

“Honey, that just isn’t so. She’ll come back to visit us lots after the wedding. You’ll see.”

“I know. I know. Alright, I suppose we should go.”

Clark took his wife’s arm and lead her through the house to the dining room. Clark stood at the helm of the table while his wife took her spot on the far end of the table as was proper. Soon enough Hannah and Henry found their way in as well. They exchanged pleasantries. Then Andy and Susan, his too younger children arrived at the table too.

“Finally. The scamps arrived,” said Clark.

“Come on, Dad,” said Andy in his high prepubescent voice.

Susan gave him a look. Even without boys around she didn’t want to be made fun of. He supposed she thought it made it more likely to happen when there were boys around. Not that she had anything to worry about. She’d gotten her mother’s genes. Any man would be lucky to so much as look at her.

“Alright. Everyone please sit,” said Clark.

Lorylenne served everyone a small glass of amber liquid.

“What’s this father?” asked Hannah.

“Well, it is a special occasion,” said Gale.

“That’s right…” said Clark. His daughter glowed. “I have something to say…” He raised his glass. “Hannah…”

White light from outside hit his glass and refracted into his eyes. He winced. His body felt heavy. He tried to fight it. He thought if he thought about his family hard enough he’d be allowed to stay. He tried to resist it, but the harder he struggled the more it hurt.

The world shook, and broke apart. He watched as his loved ones were torn into thousands of pieces in front of him. His baby girl, and his wife. His hard working boy. His pride and joy. Everything he’d ever worked for. It all was torn out from under him like his life was just some cheap trick.

Because it was.

Continue reading

Music Soaked: Crabs

Crabs is the first short story I wrote in a series asking how music influences my writing. It was written while listening to Big Star’s #1 Record/Radio City.

Crabs. They sit on the bottom of the tank and make it look easy. Their tough skin and rough shells don’t give even under tens of thousands of gallons of water. Under that immense pressure and without air. And they just sit there like lazy pieces of crap. But I’m sure their calm. These crabs have never had a bad day in their lives.

Crabs don’t get angry. Crabs don’t get lonely. Honestly. Where did “crabby” come from. Crabs aren’t crabby. These crabs don’t have anything to want for. Their lives are set as long as people keep coming to the aquarium.

I tap on the glass between our worlds. They don’t even care. I stare at them bathing in their blue heaven.

My radio crackles on and a man’s garbled voice tells me that C block is secure and that he’s headed off. I give him a quick, friendly acknowledgment. I walk out of the room and lock it up.

In the next exhibit I catch my reflection in the glass of an electric eel tank. A clean shaven man with enough hair and wrinkles a little uncommon for his age looks back. Big gritty bags under the eyes. The grey blue uniform reminds me of all the filth I have to clean. Filth the American middle class left me personally because what is life without some brown smeared on the wall.

I keep staring. There’s something in my eyes that I haven’t seen before. A question.

I think it’s that I haven’t looked at myself in a while. I haven’t stopped to see a sunrise in a long time.

It’s weird at a time like this that I suddenly think about a little black notebook I used to have. No, wait. I still have it. It’s somewhere around here.

That book is all the way from back in high school. Got it from a friend. My memory sucks.

It wasn’t a diary. Nothing in it was quite fact. Though calling what I scribbled fiction would be insulting to the form. It was back when I thought I could write. I’d transcribe a lot of the adventures Rodrigo, Matthew, Stephen and I used to have when we played D&D. I almost bust out laughing, but I remember where I am.

I walk over to the light well in my office and start shutting off the lights one by one. There’s still more to do, but I’d rather do it in the dark.

I wonder what I’d think about those simplistic story lines and the non-characters that filled them. Stephen always forgot he was supposed to be a refined elf out of his element. Most notably when he decided to stab the prince of the kingdom randomly while the rest of them were trying to help him solve what had happened to said prince’s father. He wasn’t popular around the table the next few weeks.

There’s no way those scribbles held up in any way. There was other stuff though. I remember typing a few manuscripts, but they were garbled nonsense. Stephen had read them. He said they were good. No one else read them. No one else really knew they existed.

And after high school? There was that coffee shop on Stark that I used to get tea at. Man I used to scribble away in there. That place was great. They never played any damn radio, and there were always cute girls to steal glimpses at. Is that place still around?

I can’t even remember what I wrote. Or what I thought I was doing. Where did I think that was going?

Not this job. No, not here.

The key ring feels hot against my fingers. Better finish up.

Under the dim skylight’s glow, I lock up the remaining rooms and scrub down the bathroom. I’m well suited to that kind of thing, so it doesn’t take long.

As I take off my latex disposable gloves, I get a call on my phone. It’s Robbie.

“Hello?” I say tossing my gloves at the garbage bin and missing.

“Dad? Are you running on time?”

Crap. I pick up the gloves and then dunk them into the garbage hitting my hand against the bin. That’ll probably bruise.

“No. Sorry. I’m almost out of here.”

“K. Dad you don’t have to come.”

“I said I was gonna come right?”

“Dad. You hate concerts.”

Sweaty people banging into you all night with subpar music? What’s not to love.

“Dad I’ll just go…”

I swallow. I’m being rejected by my son and it doesn’t even feel weird or wrong.

“Go do something you want to do,” said Robbie. “I’ll be fine.”

I walk into my office and fumble around with my key ring for a minute.


“Oh. Yeah. You’re right. Have fun, and don’t do anything stupid.”

“Yeah dad.”

He hangs up, and I stare at the phone for a second. Then I find the key to the second drawer of the desk. The key clicks in and out slides the desk. There’s a little black notebook buried under a trash heap of expired coupons and unopened letters. I take it in my hand. It’s so light.

I open it up and see a stick figure drawing I did in high school. There’s no telling what it was supposed to be.

A smile creeps on to my lips as I flip through the pages quickly. I need somewhere to look this over. I ask my phone to find me all the coffee shops in the area.

I’m not a crab. I need this.