689 Extracted Words – The Tease – May 2016

May 2016

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a short story written at the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement. With the onslaught of summer and its political races, partisan mudslinging and free-speech zones, I thought it might make an interesting installment for the Tease. Enjoy.

“Look at these freezing morons,” he chuckles to his wife, but she keeps her dark eyes steady on her book. “Get a job, you sleeping-bag Marxists.”

SOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAince being banned twice from the Zuccotti Park chats, he’s had to resort to mocking the local riffraff streaming and scheming down at Harding Park. With pugilistic deftness, he bluffs, feints and jabs at his ideological opponents. Beating these knobs to a rhetorical pulp is easy. Doing it without invoking banishment from the forums requires a much greater level of nuance.

He types in his password and screen name, Tisantaphobia.  “Do I see snow?” he engages, softly.

“Yes, very cold tonight, and windy. Lake effect I think,” the moderator, Ima99girl, types back.

“Looks like that global warming thing isn’t working for you tonight, Ima.” He has come across Ima99girl in the role of moderator before. She is young and seemingly unflappable. The only time he ever witnessed her lose her cool was when a chat participant repeatedly used the term “retarded” to describe others he disagreed with. She banned him without hesitation. He himself was threatened with expulsion by her once, when he posed the open question, “Which is more integral to OWS, bongos or bongs?” No drug talk in the chats.

Someone named Quaker chimes in about increased snowfall actually being predicted by climate change models. What a dope. Probably Al Gore’s love child.

He grips the mouse like a trigger, clicking the comment tab. “I built models when I was a kid. Schooners, battleships, warplanes.” he types. “Funny thing, they never came out like the picture on the box. Maybe I was sniffing too much of the glue. Did that happen to you, Quaker? Sniff too much glue?”

“Be nice,” the moderator types in bold.

He watches her reach off camera to adjust the streaming lens and for a moment, her slender, young torso darkens the picture. He reads the scroll at the bottom of the screen. “Banks got the bailout, we got the bill,” then, “National debt equals nationalized debt,” and then it repeats.

As she sits back, he notices a yellow button pinned to her coat. “What does your button say?”

She looks down and then the picture freezes. The sporadic footage reminds him of watching old Apollo missions on the NASA channel. When motion resumes, she’s rubbing her glasses with her sleeve.

“Careful, you’ll scratch the lenses,” he types in an almost fatherly tone.

“They’re fogged. Lol.” She looks down at the button. “Some guy was handing them out. It says ‘occupy with a smile’ and has a smiley.” She holds the pin to the screen and as her sleeve pulls back, he can see an yin yang tattoo on her forearm.

“They’re moving on Portland State,” someone types frantically. They follow it with a link.

“No links while we’re live please,” the girl reminds the offender.


She seems strong. Intelligent. He doesn’t know if becoming a moderator is a nominative process, but if so, her peers have chosen well.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” he asks and is immediately punished for his choice of words.

“Dude, aren’t you like 70?” Quaker cuts in. “The crap you say sounds like you’re seventy.”

He types back defensively, “I’m not hitting on her, I’m just concerned. I hear about things happening. Is there someone there to protect you?” He seems to have pricked a nerve. The response is swift and brutal from screen names he’s never seen.

“The police won’t protect her, that’s for sure.”

“Now you sound like you’re eighty, dude.”

“I thought you were a troll, but now I think you’re just a perv.”

“Easy guys.” the girl comes to his rescue. “Lol. See Tisant, I’m well protected. And yes, I do have a boyfriend.” She smiles and reaches off screen. For a moment, her face is hidden by a mass of dark hair.

“Cops using pepper at PSU. They’re moving on Oakland in half hour,” the foreboding typist returns. “Scanner says riot gear utilized.”

“Our cops are cool,” comments Rustbelt. “They don’t destroy our books, like New York.”

“The ones on the horses scare me, though,” the girl replies.

“I saw some of them joining human mic at the last GA. Very cool,” Erie adds.

“Twinkles for Cuyahoga Cops,” someone responds.

When they start with the OWS minutiae, it gets rather tedious. He decides to take a break before they start swapping vegan recipes.

He gets up and stretches his back then turns toward the kitchen. “I’m going to make some tea. Want any? I think there’s some Baikal left.” He watches as she nods and places her book on the couch, face down.

He returns with two cups on saucers, hers cradling a spoon and a pink packet of sugar substitute. She is standing near the television, her diminutive frame silhouetted against the glow. As he hands her the saucer he catches the solemn look on her face. He turns to the screen. A reporter speaks rapidly as a camera pans the streets behind her. The scene is like something out of the sixties, or Cairo. Trails of smoke partially obscure mounted police and other police on foot, wearing riot helmets.

“Is that Oakland?” he asks hopefully.

“No, it’s right here Jimmy. It’s right downtown.” Her dark eyes are fixed on the screen. “Reminds me of Kyushu.”




Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille, May 18th, 2016.




This entry requires re-visiting a haiku previously written, so it’s possible you might recognize the opening lines.


tears drop in ocean

cloaking pain with saltwater

eternal waves roll


and then it becomes …


everything returns

waves and whales riding currents

tides and love a swell


view original prompt here




Parallax – Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille – May 4, 2016 – Tan Renga




Winter rice fields–
railroad tracks running
a level above them

A train’s steam is there and gone

parallax tricks with delight




view original prompt here

489 Extracted Words – The Tease – April 2016


April 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a novel in progress. April is National ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Month. To highlight this, I have chosen a piece involving a character with ASD (which was also presented in an earlier Tease, with some additions).

She had to reach up to brush his hair. She wasn’t short by any measure, but he had sprouted to nearly six feet over the summer. Where had her little boy gone? The child she knew had fled, slipped out in the night while she was trying to glue together a life for him. In his place, a stranger had arrived, a lanky, teenage man-boy, with wavy brown hair and tragic blue eyes. Buried inside him was a well-disguised sense of humor, the kind that laughed at curse words (even ones she was certain she’d never exposed him to) uttered in public, often laughing even louder when she reacted to his reaction. The little boy her mind still pictured didn’t know a thing about cussing. Of course, that child also didn’t kick holes in walls, self-mutilate or engage in the worst offense of all, looking just like his father. Every day, he acquired more of his dad’s stoic good looks. Unfortunately, he also shared his father’s pension for escape and his frigorific ability to plunge an emotional pick axe into her heart. The only difference, and it made all the difference in the world, was that Austin didn’t know he was doing it. The other bastard did, and could rot in hell for it.

“What’s it going to be today, Mr. Man? Shower? Bath?” She preferred that he shower, but Austin liked baths. As long as he did one or the other daily, and included a shower thrice a week, she didn’t push too hard. It was a fine line with Austin. The harder she pushed, the harder he pushed back. But he needed guidance and that escalated the tension, creating tough choices. In her parent group, Trish spoke about choosing useful battles, if able. But so often, the battles chose them.

An acquaintance gifted her a parenting book once, when Austin was about six, written by a Hollywood couple with zero child rearing credentials, other than their fame. It only took three pages for the authors to state unapologetically that most kids on the spectrum were misdiagnosed, even suggesting that some parents sought an ASD diagnosis for their personal benefit. She had immediately tossed the book in the trash, along with a spoiled head of lettuce, Austin’s wet bed pads and the scum that she scraped out of the dishwasher tray. The golden couple had their beautiful images plastered all over the cover so she gave them an extra shove into the garbage, face first. There was no incentive for obtaining a fabricated diagnosis. Autism was no bucket of fame. If anything, spectrum disorders manifested in secret, the secrets of parents, siblings and the autistic children themselves. Who could cypher the mysteries inside a child such as Austin?

Her son grunted his choice. Bath. She turned the water on. Hot. He liked it hot, even in August, just as she liked her coffee.



Spokane’s Get Lit! 2016

Spokane’s Get Lit! 2016 – Garth Stein and Corinna Nicolaou.

This year’s edition of Get Lit once again featured a roll call of literary talent. Garth Stein headlined, but Shawn Vestal, Samuel Ligon, Jess Walter and numerous other local writers added to the mix.. Our favorite event this week involved Corinna Nicolaou.

On Wednesday, we attended an enlightening event with Corinna Nicolaou, author of A None’s Story. The session, held at Auntie’s Bookstore (one of our favorite venues), was followed by a sign and greet.

Thursday night brought the now famous Pie and Whiskey readings. This event’s unique blend of Dry Fly whiskey, homemade pie, slamming poetry and flash fiction never ages.

We look forward to seeing what surprises are in store for Get Lit! 2017. As you might have noticed, the countdown has already begun.

Little Spokane River Natural Area – South Bank

Pictures from the LSR trails.









Arrow Point

An early spring visit to Lake Coeur d’Alene.