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.

 

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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.

 

376 Extracted Words – The Tease – September 2018

September 2018

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

He packed what he could of his gear, mostly on his sun-roasted back, since she had chosen a motorcycle to transport him. A sleek rocket at that.

“Ducati?”

“The man knows his bikes,” he could hear her comment, although muffled, through her full face helmet.

“Just a few more things,” he reassured her as she leaned up against the bike’s seat, holding her second helmet. “The tent is staying, probably a good decoy.” When he said the words it was as if someone else was speaking. A decoy? Bizarre.

Soon, they were pulling out on the main street and looping past the Roguehouse. He shifted his position twice as she accelerated. It had been a lifetime since he had ridden on the back of a motorcycle. He underestimated how the acceleration pushed on the torso and shoulders.

She must have sensed his lack of confidence, shouting through her face guard, “If you’re having a problem balancing, you can grab on. I won’t bite, at least not unless we get to know each other a lot better.” She laughed, which didn’t make him any less uncomfortable.

At the edge of town they suddenly slowed, causing his chest to press into her shoulders blades. “Did you forget something?” he asked as they turned around, not sure if she could hear him. They headed back into town and south, then across the old covered bridge where she could pull up in the dark and kill the engine and lights.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

She pulled off her helmet. Her hair was pulled up in a bandana, small strands pasted across her forehead like reeds in an eddy. He had never really looked at her for long when she was serving drinks, but now he could appreciate the counselor’s attraction. Her eyes were striking – a dangerously enchanting pair of dark pools.

“Just seeing if someone is following. They won’t be able to see us once they go in here, then we’ll just book the other way.” They waited a few minutes. No one came. “Ok, watch while we take off, I need to know if anyone comes in sight before we go around the corner.”

“Are you ex CIA or something?”

“No, just had a lot of jerkwad ex-boyfriends. It teaches you skills.

 

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.

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.

 

 

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.