Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Big Love (A Fiction)

Many many years ago
I worked on an oil rig nine months out of the year
I had a big love during that time
this girl I saw for three months when I’d return
this went on for eight years
almost all of my twenties
I would come back to my place
after all that time being away
and she’d be waiting for me in the living room
her lavender scent kissing the air
we’d make love fiercely and quickly
and just the once
not like you see in the movies
but still pretty swell
we’d end up tiring of each other about 10 weeks in
and so we were quite content to let each other go
when it came time for me to leave
though 7 months later, I was chomping at the bit
to see her again
one year I returned to shore
and learned she had died from typhoid fever
I never went out on the rig again
My waking life for two years after her death is blurry
I frequented a lot of book stores
and some coffee shops
and took great walks from one end of the city to the other
I lived off of my meager savings
The girl wasn’t completely out of my life
I saw her in dreams for many months after she died
we played in the ocean
fought alongside each other in some kind of battle during the middle ages
met each other all over again as strangers in a delicatessen in Philadelphia
there were difficult times too
other men
other women
she killed a man in some kind of botched drug store robbery
she moved away across an ocean
I moved away from the city
of course, two nights after an incident,
she might return to me as if nothing had happened at all
the night after she cheated
I remember we had a very pleasant stroll
through some blooming garden with sunflowers as big as bowling balls
it was an odd way to conduct a relationship
but we made things work
as we had once in real life
then my dad died
and it was as if one tragedy erased another
I stopped dreaming of her almost completely
Three or four time she resurfaced
Once we were running some kind of race together
side by side
we weren’t talking
only running
sometimes I’d look over and catch her looking in my direction
Then the dream changed
and I was on the oil rig again
except rather than ocean we were sailing over
a vast desert
when we came to a small body of water
we panicked over how we would get over it
and that was when I woke up.
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A Pair of Black Garbage Bags

At 2 am

Mom woke us up in the middle of the night

gave my brother and I a pair of black garbage bags

“Put as much winter clothing as you can fit inside these bags, when you run out of warm clothes, you can begin with the toys,

then meet me downstairs.”

this was not the first time we were given this instruction

so Edgar and I basically knew how to proceed

but it was never easy

Edgar was only 6 and he had great trouble accepting

that he would have to give up an action figure

in place of a sweater

a nebulizer in place of a lite-brite

when we were done,

we headed downstairs

where our mom held out her arms to both of us and we all huddled together

Dad had not beaten her up in a number of years but Mom still made us move every time

she spotted his car in the towns we lived

he didn’t approach us anymore

it was as if he just wanted to be in the vicinity

I had seen him a handful of times from the backseat of Mom’s car

in Temecula, he was helping some people move a sofa into their apartment

in Tahoe, he was putting on someone’s snow chains on the side of the road

in Spokane, he was up on a ladder working on a faulty street light

when I was little

he seemed like a pretty nice guy to do these things

but mom said

he wasn’t doing it out of kindness

it was how he “stayed afloat”

the night she told me this

I dreamt my dad was on a busted-up oil freighter on the high seas

running around patching up all of the holes

just as he plugged one another would open

“Boys we are going north to Canada —

what do you know about Canada?” asked mom.

“The capital is Ottawa.” I said.

“It’s cold,” added Edgar.

“Very good.”

“Will there be snow, Mama?” queried Edgar.

“More snow than you can imagine in that little mind of yours.”

There was a big smile on Edgar’s face now

and my mother made her face look like his once she spotted it

“Mom why can’t we go back to Los Angeles where it’s warm?,” I ventured to ask.

“You know we can’t ever go back there, hijo.”

I did, but it didn’t stop me from asking the question every time.

“Okay mis hijos, my loves. Time to go.”

And then the three of us went out into the cold

or what we considered cold

because a lot of what I thought I knew back then

we left behind in that house.

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A nineteenth century zoo docent’s farewell to the last Quagga: a fiction


“Ladies and gentleman what we have here is a species on its last legs

hunted to extinction in South Africa on account of being

‘easy to kill'”

said the docent

“as all of you well know

their meat recalls something close to beef

but leaner and far less tasty

certainly not worth killing over, I’m certain you agree

this is the last known of its kind

let it serve as a reminder

of how ruthless some in our species can be

not any of you fine people, of course,

but those awful African hunters

who pull their triggers for profit

and give not a thought to the wonderful diversity of this planet

in the process”

at that, the docent shed genuine tears

the tour customers looked back and forth between the animal and the man and then the animal again

it had a build like that of a horse

the stripes of its African cousin the zebra

but curiously only over the first half of its body

Standing over a patch of unruly grass

nibbling together its breakfast

it was difficult to imagine

a less dramatic ending

perhaps a tiger set loose on it might make more sense

as far as endings go

“This creature, albeit in fair health is quite old, and as such, our royal veterinarians tell us will be dead within the next three months

and with him, will come the end of an entire species”

the tour customers had known this estimation

that’s why they were in attendance after all

but many of them still opened their mouths in disbelief

whether they feigned such gestures is not known

what is known is that not a one cried

but rather they went through the tour quietly and glumly


that they could not feel anything

at all.

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That Murderous Wind

On the way home from the concert

the wind assaulted his little car

she buzzed the window a third of the way down

grabbed her food-stained copy of Annie Dillard’s A Writer’s Life by its pages from out of the backseat

and tossed it into the crack

She turned her head to look

but the book had already been swallowed by the night

“My brother died on a night like this.

he’d had a few drinks

nothing zany

anyway, I occasionally toss something his way,” she explained.

“When I’m out on the highway,

I mostly give him reading material, but I have gifted him a pair of ear muffs, his favorite baseball cap, and at least one hamburger.”

the woman shifted nervously in her seat as a throng of flying trash slapped against the headlights.

The man, her friend, had lost his mother five years previous to her own car accident,

hadn’t tossed one thing out the window to her since she died, though

She’d, no doubt, think it a colossal waste of money

he thought

“I’m not sure what I would toss to my mom — maybe some warm clothes. She was always cold, I mean like even after she moved to Florida. Have you ever run into someone who looked like your brother on the street?”

He didn’t let her answer the question.

“Three weeks afterwards I thought I saw my mom on a street downtown

long, unkempt, black and gray hair

a blue hooded sweatshirt covered in cat hair

she had my mother’s zombie-like walk too.”

“What’d you do,” she asked.

“I went right up to her and put my arms around her

and pulled her toward me

the great thing was that she did not pull away

only waited until I was finished.

and said

‘you looked like you needed that’

Isn’t that awesome?

I think I got all of the crazy out of my system right then.”

The woman laughed at this, and together they sat in silence for a few minutes, listening to Lou Reed rap along to “Walk on the Wildside” from the tape deck

“Do you think I’m nuts?,” she suddenly asked when the tape went blank and they remembered how close they were to death outside

“Nah. Everybody has their own way of dealing, I think.”

“How do you?”

“I don’t know. I tried to pick up marathon running.”

“Seriously? Did that help?”

“Not really. I guess though, I cope by hanging out with people like you.”

The wind seemed to finally subside and he picked up his speed to around 85 mph

He imagined what his mother might tell him in a situation like this.

Something cheesy like “slow down Speed Racer —

you’re gonna kill us both,” no doubt.

But the funny thing was

she died doing 102 on a road not unlike the one they were on

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The Haircut

It was her idea

for him to be standing half naked in front of the bathroom mirror


she snipped off a sprig of hair

that’d been bugging her since their 3rd date

he grimaced

and wondered

why they couldn’t just have gone to the movies

she worked to hack away the last 5 months

wanting to locate

the promising roots of a love

that got tangled

by infidelity


she cut a few inches off the top

so that his blue eyes were

trained on her now

she took her time around his ears

when she noticed his balled fists

“do you want me to cut anymore off the top?”

he shook his head

“looks good”

he loved her

but she could be stubborn

and unreasonable

like when she scolded him for cheating on her in a dream

and wouldn’t talk to him for three days

off went the sideburns

and he winced

when he saw the white where his tan ended

but she was busy marveling at

a mole the size of a quarter

black as oil

that she’d never before seen

“hello there!”

she said

running her index finger

along its contours

and beaming

like she’d discovered an island

as of yet unclaimed.

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