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.

 

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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.

 

61 Extracted Words – The Tease – April 2018

April 2018

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

What the hell? There are things that even the dump doesn’t take? I’m thinking, I’ve known rejection, but never at this depth, rejected by a waste transfer station. I know now what I didn’t know then. Latex paint isn’t hazardous waste but it also isn’t garbage, until you make it so. A household chemical and citizen of waste disposal purgatory.

 

59 Extracted Words – The Tease – March 2018

March 2018

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

 

The never-ending winter has finally ended. Birds are tweeting, buds are budding and for sale signs are popping up like mushrooms on nearly every front lawn, including my own. This experience has led me to ponder … what is the genesis of a sacred place? What makes our house a home? What are the ties that bind us to the places where we live and make it so difficult to let them go?

 

147 Extracted Words – The Tease – January 2018

 

January 2018

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

Nature abhors straight lines. Humans worship straight lines. We embed them in our roads, our buildings, our lives. Recently, I chanced upon the shadows of a maple tree as it cast its crooked cartography across the pre-fab, straight-edged, exterior wall of an angulate, downtown building. Even in the compressed light of a January afternoon, reality shone brightly. The tree was broken, jagged, very much in need of order, but very much alive. The building, on the other hand, was crisply engineered – paneled, aggregate rectangle upon paneled, aggregate rectangle and, of course, entirely dead. Why do we strive to produce the dead and not the living? Why don’t we embrace the crooked, the unbalanced, the unexplainable things in our lives, the things that brush up against us on the street, whisper in our ears, knock on our doors in the early morning moonlight?

There are no straight lines in great love, great empathy or great art, nor, I suspect, in a great life.

169 Extracted Words – The Tease – December 2017

December 2017

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is from, well I’m not quite sure what yet. At best, it’s a work in progress.

He doesn’t believe a word he’s hearing, a thought he’s thinking. Go back? “You’re saying I have to go back?”

“Yes. I really can’t be more clear. You must return, to where you were … well, before.”

“But, I have plans …”

“We all do, don’t we?” asked the administrator with the golden clipboard. “There really are no guarantees. Not even here.”

“But you don’t understand. We are having the Plato couple over on Thursday. And next spring, we are traveling with the Khans.” He pauses for a moment, still sure this must simply be a misunderstanding. Surely, even in paradise, mistakes can be made. “On whose authority …”

“His. There is no other.” The administrator turns his clipboard toward the man, revealing a golden sheet of paper, with the word RECALL in block letters across the top. “As you can see, He even went so far as to put it in writing. No prophesiers or visionaries to twist the meaning of His words.”

“But why? I mean, I’m a fairly decent guy, right?”

206 Extracted Words – The Tease – November 2017

 

November 2017

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

Then it started to return, like a foolishly placed wager that demanded to be honored. Just hours before, Jessie, this woman who was bellowing at him, had been nodding off in the passenger seat, her beautiful face twitching and blinking as she struggled to stay upright, only succumbing to sleep when he promised not to stop. But the night and the sea air, mixed with drinks, soon tugged at his eyelids as well. He had to pull over at this … “Where are we?”

“You don’t know?” She punched his arm. It genuinely, fucking hurt.

“That fucking hurt.”

“Good. The next one will be worse. Get me home, to my son … now!” He watched as she looked helplessly at her phone. “No service. Shit. I knew this was a mistake. Why did you stop? You promised. Just another promise breaker. Men, just small-dicked little boys.”

“Hey,” he started to take her comments personally. “I know I promised and I’m sorry. But I was nodding off. I had to pull over. I didn’t mean to take more than a few minutes. I’m truly sorry.” He reached for her hand and she appeared to cool briefly. The heat in her eyes turned from fire-red to blood-red.