Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baby Fever

She waited until his video game character died, and acted quickly enough to snare his attention before he could select "Continue."
"What if ..." she bit her lip, a nervous trait she'd developed, but also an effort to amplify her cuteness, here, "I told you that ... I dunno ... I've kind of got Baby Fever?"
He stared quizzically back at her, glossy, narrowed red eyes numbly scanning her as if searching for the remainder of her statement, and then burst out laughing in the manner only a stoned person can.

In their three years together, on-and-off, he had never hurt her feelings so much as he did now, making her cheeks blossom so hotly she felt that she might melt and sink into the futon cushion.
He caught a breath, finally, sliding his finger across soggy eyes, "I'm sorry, I'm just picturing you being bitten by a baby; it's funny."

She passed on each of the several statements that came to her mind in the ensuing fury of seconds, realizing that none was even worth the effort, except for, "Don't worry, I think it's breaking."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Almost Never

His breath today is noisier than he remembers it ever being before, and he notes this with all due significance. The crackling wheeze feels like it's rolling in a ball between his nasal cavity and throat.

His daughter's first day of school; her standing at the bottom of the stairs, big yellow bow covering her head as fully as her smile does her face. Years later (or the blink of an eye), he opens the envelope and sees the pictures of her daughter's first day. Just like her mother.

He leans against one of the six small trees lining the walkway, his chest drawing into one spot in an agonizing crunch. His scant white hair vanishes as every inch of his pale bust reddens and sprouts beads of sweat. His car isn't far, his office just as close, but distance is relative. Everyone else has been gone for at least an hour. He shouldn't have even been here today. He should've been retired years ago; this is exactly why everyone has been telling him so for better than a decade now. He thinks quickly of the OnStar commercials, that blue button above his windshield is his beacon.

He's been on the football team for four years before his first snap. It's the last play of the last game of his senior year and all he does is run into some other kid from Troy High, but it feels -- so -- good.

Two steps and he stumbles, his breaths now come in skin-crawling gulps only. He pushes up from his knees as well as he can.

Christmas Eve 1964, he's Santa for the first time. He hasn't giggled like this since he was a boy.

His car is maybe ten feet away. He stares at the panel hanging above his dash, thinks of that button. Tries to see it. His vision fails him. Everything is black.

Grits, just cool enough that they start to harden, mixed with sausage gravy.


Lying on his back, he consciously accepts this is the last time he'll do so, and parts his eyelids.

The way the shoreline sand disintegrates between your toes as the waves wash over your feet.

The night isn't here yet but the stars have made an early appearance just for him, and in concert with the waning sunset and swaying treetops, they seem to sing him on his way.

His first wife. She is so sweet, so exciting, so perfect as she stares out the window, sipping a root-beer float on a Saturday morning in their booth at Hannigan's.

It's all there. In him, around him. There was no purpose to seek, the seeking was the purpose; his elusive goal achieved all along. He realizes it now. "Better late than never," he thinks with the same satisfied smirk he has worn in every posed picture since he can remember. In the same way one nods off in front of the television, a sort of trance sneaking over him, the picture fades as the sky sings its last note.

You'd have to see it to believe it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sway

A stagecoach was parked not far from where he stood, his left hand shadowing squinted eyes against the midday sun and the sharp desert sand riding a constant gale. He looked over at it every few minutes, regarding with somehow removed fascination the two women who sat just inside the shade on the driver's box, talking. The whole time, talking, never looking up.

He wondered if he could do it; just stand in attendance as all decent folks did, but not watch the man being led to the noose, to simply not look as his legs went rigid, tossed abruptly, then swung whichever way the wind may will.

"You just have to look at the family of his victims," he'd heard in whispers when the bottle had brought him to admit his uneasiness, and so now he did. He could understand their satisfaction, and hell he could completely accept their delight, but be that as it may, jubilation at death just made his stomach do a strange little dance, each and every time.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Six Things I've Learned

One should be careful not to confuse another's failure with his own victory.

Everyone else is just as scared and confused as you are, and the less they seem to be, the more they are.

A sly smile and good manners will take you anywhere you want to go.

If you can laugh off insults, you win.

All rules are made up, laws are just opinions of how to keep safe, and theories are bandages to help curious people sleep at night; they are just imaginary things and, while we must respect them for the sake of peace, they should be applied with that in mind.

You can't prove a damn thing to someone who doesn't want to be convinced.

Use of Literature

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