London Lucky.

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Ever since he was 14, just a pinfeather, preened on the darkly wet streets of Piccadilly, he had been opening doors, toting bags and tipping his cockade-pinned bowler to the lodgers of the Stable Cross Arms. He had watched a thousand gentlemen walk through those doors, women on their arms, some their wives, some not. Doctors, barristers, clergy, each as capable as the next of ignoring the irony of their hemmablind moralities. It didn’t matter to him. There business was their own and Lucky could keep a secret.

Every week, he slogged toward his paycheck and the weekend frivolity it subsidized, one held door at a time. Now, silver in the eyebrows and stooped in the back, he left the younger lads the heavy lifting, but he still kept his weekly appointments with that emerald edifice from Berry Bros. and Rudd on James Street. Saying his offs to the staff and concierge, tipping his hat to the young lady in marigold that had just completed her last set in the lounge, he scurried in half steps down the stairs to the Tube, rocketed under Buckingham Palace and popped out under Trafalgar Square, reentering the boggy, summer air of Westminster, just east of St. James Street. His chest felt weighted, as if he were walking underwater. He stopped for a moment, gathering his breath while leaning against a brick wall, like Tiny Tim’s crutch. Eventually, he entered the opaque, green-glass door of the distillery and purchased his weekend spirits. “Don’t forget to look under the cap, Pops,” the young clerk commented as he bagged the doorman’s quality gin. “500 quid times a thousand. That’s what it’s worth, you find that gold token.” Berry Bros. and Rudd had their annual treasure hunt under way. Every bottle purchased had the potential to bestow a fortune. The single cap with a golden nail placed in its underside and engraved with a coded message (to make it difficult to falsify) would reveal the winner. “Good luck to you, Lucky.”

He scurried home, started some porridge simmering on the stove and sat down to the table – an able, functional piece of new world mahogany. He grasped the smooth, green bottle in his chapped and mottled hands. He peeled the sealing foil slowly, sliver by sliver, until the final shred fell away, releasing the cap. He pulled the cork stopper straight up and it broke free loudly, with the “pop” of an index finger being pulled from puckered lips. He had to draw a breath, and then one more, before slowly turning the cap over …

Another Monday, his dress the same, his manner perhaps just a liter lighter. He opened the door for a wealthy couple that could barely be pestered to acknowledge his existence. The decorous lady stepped forward toward the London mist, demanding an umbrella be held over her head. The gentleman looked toward Lucky, snapping his fingers tersely, as if addressing a beast of burden. He had an urge to inform the pair that he could buy and sell them twice over and still have enough coin in his pocket to enjoy tea and cricket at Lord’s, but instead he remained silently deferential, all while picking at the remnants of cod between his teeth with his newly acquired gold nail. Lucky could keep a secret.

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169 Extracted Words – The Tease – August 2018

August 2018

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a Wordle in progress.

20180826_201753.jpgEver since he was fourteen, just a pin-feather, preened on the darkly wet streets of Piccadilly, he had been opening doors, toting bags and tipping his cockade-pinned bowler to the lodgers of the Stable Cross Arms. He had watched a thousand men walk through those doors, women on their arms, some their wives, some not. It didn’t matter to him. Their business was their own and Lucky could keep a secret. Every week, he slogged toward his paycheck and his weekend frivolity, one held door at a time. Now, silver in the eyebrows and stooped in the back, he left the younger lads the heavy lifting, but he still kept his appointments with that emerald edifice from Berry Bros. and Rudd on James street.

Saying his offs to the staff and concierge, tipping his hat to the young lady in red that had just completed her last set in the lounge, he scurried in half steps down the stairs to the Tube, rocketed under Buckingham Palace and popped out under Trafalgar Square, reentering the boggy, summer air of Westminster, just below St. James.

 

 

Crater Lake

Always intriguing, Crater Lake acquires an increased dimension of mystery under the smoke of this summer’s wildfires.

 

 

 

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37 Extracted Words – The Tease – July 2018

July 2018

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from an essay in progress.

A writer knows as well as anyone, sometimes words just aren’t enough. A photographer sees so much more than what can be captured with a device. Life must encompass more than what we think we are experiencing.

 

 

359 Extracted Words – The Tease – June 2018

June 2018

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a work in progress.

Drinking coffee, watching Chinatown through the window, seeing a man hand-shredding collected litter – a trolley brochure, a Starbucks napkin, an announcement for the opening of a new French restaurant, stained with urine from the sidewalk. He holds a two-piece lid from a mason jar, separating the components, cleaning them with his filthy shirt, placing them back together, then pulling them apart once more, spinning the lid to just the right position, putting them together again. He places the lid on the sidewalk, crouches over it and begins shredding the brochure. He lays pieces in order around the rim, layering, layering. Donald Trump Jr. and Ronaldo walk by, oblivious to his actions, his determination. He, in turn, ignores their presence. The pile is insufficient, incorrect. He neatly empties the shreds onto a paper plate, re-cleans the lid and rim and returns to shredding the brochure. The red trolley on the cover has now been stripped to just its foundational image of wood steps and tourists’ sandals.

Their look, his view.

He refills the cap, layering, layering. Donald Trump Jr and Neymar cross the walk, in the direct trajectory of an oncoming fire truck. Its horn complains, its sirens blare, lifting the pigeons across my eyes. When my gaze remembers the old man, he is no longer crouching, but standing, although still grossly bent. He empties his morning’s project into the garbage can while a woman on the opposite side of the receptacle digs for cigarette butts and the half ounce at the bottom of a Stella Artois bottle. Donald Trump Jr. and Brady nearly bump elbows as they enter the new French restaurant. They clean their smart phone screens, attach ear buds and proceed to shred. They shred 401K’s, markets, futures, dreams. The old man walks down the hill, toward a swamp with no water, leaving only his shadow. Donald Trump Jr. and Knight each leave a half glass of Pinot and a tip on plastic. Their shadow falls on the entire planet, which they piss on, then boldly charge commission for providing the gilded irrigation.

If shadows had a scent, the old man’s would smell like urine, and so would theirs.

 

99 Extracted Words – The Tease – May 2018

May 2018

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a novel in progress.

Mann sat on a slatted, wood bench, flanked on each side by a pair of large, jade bulls with brass rings in their noses. The rings were in need of polishing, stained dark by the hands of lobbyists and peddlers alike, hoping for their ten minutes with the most powerful man in Jackson County. Mann currently performed his own penance, fingering one of the rings as he waited to enter the double oak doors that guarded the mayor’s office. The doors soon parted and Molly, in full uniform, stepped out, motioning for him to enter. The conversation had already begun, with the mayor leading the fray.

 

Spokane’s Get Lit! 2018

Spokane’s Get Lit! 2018

This year’s edition of Get Lit once again featured a roll call of literary talent, from Shawn Vestal and Fitz Fitzpatrick to Anne Lamott and Jess Walter.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On Monday night, we attended the studio taping of a panel discussion “The Spokane Literary Community”, hosted by Mark L. Anderson, Spokane’s third Poet Laureate. It was a lively discussion.

Friday morning, our fun continued, with a visit to the Kennedy Library on the E.W.U. Cheney campus. The first panel, “The Financial Lives of Writers”, was hosted by poet and MFA alum, Aileen Keown Vaux. Insightful conversation was followed by an informal meet and greet. We were lucky enough to converse with Vaux, as well as freelance writer, Sarah Hauge. Our day at the JFK continued with a session on “Writing Beyond the Binary”, moderated by R. Cassandra Bruner. The commentary was peppered with humor and sadness. Fitz Fitzpatrick was electric as well as edifying.

Our experience at this, the 20th edition of Get Lit!, concluded on Saturday at the quirky and entirely enjoyable downtown venue known as the Montvale Event Center (MEC).  Spurred by the delightful direction of humorist Elissa Ball, the panel members opened with a series of short readings and then, in turn, tackled questions about the many dimensions of humor in writing.

The vibrant and talented local writing community, combined with the hardworking folks at Get Lit!, made this year’s event another undeniable success. Thank you to everyone that made it happen.

We look forward to seeing what surprises are in store for Get Lit! 2019. (April 15th – 21st)