166 Extracted Words – The Tease – September 2020

September 2020

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

The two mobs run toward each other. The only distinguishing difference is that one approaches from the left and the other from the right. Signs, clubs, guns. Shouts, laced with righteousness, jab at the air, as if meaning to poke God in the eye.

And then it happens. A protester falls, twisting his ankle in a pothole. And then another and another. Years of budgetary neglect has created a minefield out of the boulevard. Perhaps they could have built a few less bombs, a few less prisons, a few less green belts, and none of this would have taken place. No one would have had to get hurt.

97 Extracted Words – The Tease – May 2020

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

 

May 2020

 

Writers have their preferences, just as readers do. I write novels and short fiction, essays and informative pieces, but short stories are my greatest pleasure. This is not an exercise in judgement, or a ranking of importance, rather, it’s an austere affinity – cashews over peanuts, photography over painting, gin over vodka. All the pieces I write, no matter what their form, have a place in my life. Even the most difficult of these works bring me great joy. It is as if they are family or, better yet, friends. And we all have our best friends, don’t we.

177 Extracted Words – The Tease – March 2020 – (Covid-19 re-post, originally posted September 2016)

September 2016

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from a work still in progress. It seemed fitting to re-blog it given the current crisis.

It started the way most manmade disasters do, with the best of intentions. The root cause was eventually traced to the ventilation system of a lab tasked with developing experimental vaccines for mutated avian flu. Not three generations later, the entire human population had lost the ability to smell. Taste had been reduced to the thin edges of salt and sour.

Aside from the obvious challenges to the perfume industry, the dining industry and the movie-theater-popcorn industry, the greatest disturbance from the emergence of Scent Detection Deficit Disorder (SDDD) arose in a way never hypothesized by the para-governmental World Science Agency empowered to battle the crisis. Their narrow thinking, at the outset of the epidemic, allowed a far more dangerous crisis to arise – to the point that now, the very survival of the human race was threatened. The short-sightedness of a small, yet powerful, group of scientists and government officials had led mankind to the edge of extinction.

 

 

Spread Facts Not Fear

Leave the fiction to the writers.

In these strange and uncertain times, many of us are asking, what can we do to help. One very important action we can all take is to NOT spread mis-information. Refraining from engagement with the rumor mill is simple if not easy. Just don’t do it. If you don’t know, say so. If you hear others spreading falsehoods, correct them and quote your source (WHO, CDC, etc.). They might argue at the time, but they and others will eventually check your source and learn for themselves.

Take care of each other and leave the fiction to the fiction writers. We’re all in this together.

93 Extracted Words – The Tease – July 2019

July 2019

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

Jessie didn’t even remember when she and Mann came in themselves, but when she returned with their latest round of drinks (which had devolved to the level of vodka sodas) she realized they had been sitting on the sofa long enough for the darkness outside to have completely enveloped the grand, tall windows and their view of the valley. A seam of lightning cleaved the sky.

“Looks like that storm is getting heavier. The boys are in for a rough night. Gals too, hope they keep it wired tight.”

313 Extracted Words – The Tease – June 2019

June 2019

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

He packed the old Ford with everything he thought he might need, save the items he would toss in right as they left. He planned on getting there early, at first light, if necessary. He already had the place in mind, if it came to it. Hopefully the dumb shit would take his threat as advice and just hit the road, disappear, never return. But before he could even finish the thought, it soured from clarity. “Got damn, Cleopatra, as sure as you’re a Saluki, that kid’s a dumb shit. A neophyte, liberal, socialist dumb ass.” He spit in the pine needles behind the Ford’s toothy rear tires. “And people think he’s some kind of truth teller, but just like the idiots that mistake you for a Doberman, they don’t even know what the truth is.” He spit again, this time brushing at the stubbly skin covering his taught jawbone. “He’s a coyote, a jackal, and you’ve seen how I dispose of them.” He reached behind the dog and rubbed the wooden stock of his thirty-thirty. “Afraid you won’t get to sniff this one’s bones, though. One shot and we’re out of there. Might not even go back to the homestead right away.” The dog whined through her long nose. “Well, I wouldn’t care for that either. I’d surely miss the place as much as you, but we might have to run for a while. Might be a kick in the ass, anyway.” He smiled at the thought of crossing the heartland during the night, listening to emboldened talk show hosts across the land, their voices turning to midnight anthems, crying out with pride about the mysterious patriot in Oregon, and how he acted so boldly, the way we wished our leaders would. A crack of lightning answered from the sky. “Well Miss Cleo, sounds like a storm picking up.”

93 Extracted Words – The Tease – May 2019

May 2019

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

Terrell, Ayesha, Sisse´, Cisehal and Michael all sat at the bleached, teak bar. Behind them, the surf crashed softly southward into the faraway. They all sipped lightly from their glasses except Terrell. He was pouring from the Beefeater like a man lost at sea, just trying to get to the bottom so he could put his message in and cork it.

“Why the hurry, sir?” Michael asked.

“No hurry, M,” Terrell answered, between the gold and white teeth of his buccaneer smile. “It’s tasty … but no hurry. Not even with the storm coming.”

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 …

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.