434 Extracted Words – The Tease – April 2019

April 2019

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

He picked at it, looking down and then off at the approaching clouds. “I suppose I owe you guys a better explanation. You’re already guessing anyway. I would. Young guy, clearly messed up. Something pretty shitty must have happened, right?”

“Look kid,” Mann started, “you don’t have to …”

“I think he wants to,” Jessie corrected him.

“I do,” Tumbleweed confirmed her hunch. “Besides, it’s probably better to explain the whole story, rather than have you put in pieces that don’t belong. It might not matter to the dead, but to those of us they leave behind, it should.”

“The dead?” Molly questioned before quickly being hushed by Jessie and Mann.

All three were listening intently, now, with weighted tension, as they anticipated the kid’s disclosure.

“Max, you guessed correctly when you tagged me as a guide. I once was one, a pretty damn good one. For the Rougettes, out of Grants Pass. Problem is, I thought I was even better than I was, better than the river itself. Something happened to change all that. When you picked me up, hitchhiking, over by Grave Creek, I was having a tough time of it.”

“Down on the river?”

“Down on myself, down on life, and had been, for a long time, longer than anyone should be. Drinking into oblivion every night, waking up in strange places, with strange women.”

Jessie and Mollie looked at each other and shrugged. Tumbleweed kept talking, not looking for a reaction, except perhaps, from himself. He was pitched into memory and nothing could pull him back now. It was as if he had dropped an eighty pound pack after a long day on the trail. Suddenly, with virginal clarity, he appreciated the appeal of confession.

“The night before Max stopped to pick me up,” he continued, “I was on a drunk, but the booze ran out. I dried out in the wild, in the dark. Not good. It made for some awful fits in my sleep, horrible dreams. Terrors. Visions. I was pretty confused. The lines between asleep and awake, dream and reality, were all blurred. I woke up in the morning, in the gravel, beside the passer’s cross at Lost Penny. Sometime during the night, I had scratched myself a message in the dirt.”

“A message?” Jessie asked.

“Don’t interrupt,” Molly scolded her. “I don’t think he’s been in this place for a while,” she added, tapping her forehead.

“It’s okay,” Tumbleweed assured her. “I can see it all pretty clear right now. Clearer than I have in quite a while. It wasn’t even a message, really. Just two words …

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51 Extracted Words – The Tease – March 2019

March 2019

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

Both men wore ear protection. Both men wore soiled clothes. Neither man knew the other.

Both men had unusual skills. Both men drank coffee. Neither man spoke to the other.

Both men carried phone chargers. Both men were comfortable in the mid-center of their life. Neither was envious of the other.

And yet …

199 Extracted Words – The Tease – February 2019

February 2019

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

As she stepped out, she decided the view was even more impressive once the day turned on its side. It was early evening, and they were at altitude, but the warm mountain air lingered. The smoke from the valley fires had begun to aggravate the sky.

“Sunset should be amazing tonight, with all that smoke in the air. Even looks like some clouds in the southwest, hope it’s not heavy.”

“I guess we could use the rain, in any dose.”

“Sure can get some nasty stuff out here this time of year.”

They continued to tell each other things about the weather that they both already knew, until they were seconded by rumbling in the distance.

“I guess those two are going to be in there a while?” Mann finally addressed what she had been thinking. “What evil lurks in the hearts of men,” he laughed.

“It’s the stuff that lurks in their other parts that concerns me,” Jessie replied.

221 Extracted Words – The Tease – January 2019

January 2019

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

… they cleared the ridge’s final incline, the walls of the world fell away, releasing them into full panoramic exposure. She was truly amazed. Obviously, Mann was loaded, wealthy, spackled with the stench of riches, (none of which she had any objection to) but she never expected this. He actually had good taste. His second (or third) home was not just some giant, Frank Lloyd Wright-scholarship-winner’s graduate thesis insult, super-glued on to the limits of the slope. It was a true architectural effort. Some cabin, the thing was four or five thousand square feet. But the slate and pine components accented the terrain, almost as if the structure had erupted from the rock itself in a seismic upheaval of building codes and rebar, or sprouted organically, like one of those massive burls stemming from a coastal redwood, distorting the bark, changing the tree’s form from within. And then she thought about her experiences and how her life had been distorted from within more than without and she wondered if that was how Bart felt too. And she knew, if she ever developed the confidence to think of herself as brilliant rather than merely street smart, then this would be where it started, because she was being brilliant and not just sensible.

 

99 Extracted Words – The Tease – December 2018

December 2018

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

Boxing Day. What a way to end Christmas. And this thing about the “boss” bringing presents … If his boss’ idea of a gift was acting like a big, honking pain-in-the-ass, then he nailed it. The only gift here was the fact that he had showed up for work at all. Half his co-workers hadn’t.

A young man with flat tires for cheeks stepped up with an energy drink and a pack of gum. As he aimed the wand to scan the beverage’s bar code it struck the customer’s bare forearm. He recoiled with the wide eyes of fright.

163 Extracted Words – The Tease – November 2018

November 2018

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

Almost all my possessions had been removed from my reach. I was with my family, but in a strange place, somewhat fearful for our safety. There were few familiar scents or sounds. Above all, I was displaced, uprooted, devoid of foundation. I was nearly homeless.

The ideals of empathy and love for our fellow humans, are never more tested than when we are actually faced with strapping on their footwear for a day, a week, a season. Recent experiences have taught me something about the homeless, and my naïve, misguided thoughts about what they truly need. I had always maintained the traditional view that food, shelter, protection from violent abuses, were the basic needs of those individuals forced to live on the street. And while all that is important, there is another element I had never considered, that might be even more vital to their survival.

 

59 Extracted Words – The Tease – October 2018

October 2018

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

Light to dark, an opening door, a closing window. This place of long, tear-stained faces, like so many, named for a servant of God. We enter afraid. We exit a little wiser, but no less frightened. From light to dark to light again. A window opens and a door closes, all within the space of a broken heart.