Archive for the Fiction Category

First Draft Theatre – Dead Mouse

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , on October 21, 2013 by cueball

When he saw the dead body, Leo almost dropped the pizza.  He had just walked in from work after stopping at the pizza place next to his job.  He shook his head and looked around for something to get it up with so he could dump it in the woods behind the house.  He thought the mice were supposed to eat the poison and walk back to their nest and then die.  They weren’t supposed to die in the house much less in the middle of the floor.  The gray little furry body lay spread eagle against the cream colored floor with the pastel blue and pink flowers.

He looked for something strong enough to carry the little critter in all the cardboard boxes and paper he had sitting in the corner.  He finally decided to go downstairs and just get a shovel.  He didn’t have a lot of time to waste worrying about this dead mouse.

He was down and back up pretty quickly.  His neighbor seemed curious as to why he was taking a shovel into his house.  She watched as she walked her dog but didn’t say anything.  She was still out there when he came back down with the mouse and walked to the woods.  He took the shovel back to the basement and she still said nothing even as he waved on his way back into the house.

He looked around at the kitchen floor.  He did not see any signs of the dead mouse, but he decided he still needed to clean the floor to be safe.  Still in a hurry to get out to Sheila’s place he vacuumed and then sprayed the floor with a cleaner/disinfectant.

Once all that was finally done, he grabbed a couple of slices of pizza before putting the rest in the fridge and chomped through one piece on the way back out to his car.  Hopefully Sheila and Jack were still at her new place.  Actually it was their place, he just hated admitting it.

He pulled into a little convenience store parking lot a couple blocks away and backed into the space so he could see the house.  Sheila’s care was in front of the house.  They must have taken Jack’s car and went somewhere.  He rushed inside the convenience store and paid for a soda and some gum.  He would wait.

Sheila left him a year and a half ago and the divorce has been final for about 6 months.  He was still paying the asshole lawyer for losing.  Leo didn’t know what winning would have been, but he knew it wasn’t this.  She started dating Jack just after the divorce was final.

They had all gone to high school together here in Emerson.  She dated Jack before she dated Leo.  He always thought she was having an affair while they were married, and when she started dating Jack, he knew it.  She denied it and his crappy lawyer could not prove it, but Leo knew it was true.

The street lights started to flicker to life.  Leo could see the clerk glancing out at him every few minutes wondering what Leo was doing in his car.  Then Jack’s car came around the corner.  Leo recognized it immediately from an old apartment complex parking sticker on the back left corner of the back windshield.  He watched them park and go into the house.  When they were inside, Leo started his car and drove over to the little ranch house.

He parked on the street in front and walked across the yard to the front door.  He knocked and waited.  He could hear steps coming towards the door.  The steps stopped and he guessed whoever it was looked out the peep hole to see who was there.  A few more seconds passed and heard another set of footsteps going towards the back of the house.  Then the door opened.  “Leo.  What can I do for you tonight?”

“You could stop fucking my wife.”

“She ain’t your wife.  She left you a while ago.  You need to move on, man.”

“How long you been fucking here?  Two years?  Three years?”  Then yelling into the house, “How long you been sucking his dick?  Since high school?”

“Look, if all you are going to do is sit and yell dumb shit, go home.  Go find a girl friend or hooker or go jerk off, but quit coming around here.  I know you been following us the last couple of months.  You need to stop that shit.”

“I ain’t done nothing to you.  We just keep popping up in the same places is all.  If you weren’t fucking my wife, we would probably never see each other.”

Sheila appeared in the kitchen behind Jack.  “We are not married, Leo.  Would you just move on from it?  I don’t love you like I did when we go married.”

“Go back in the kitchen, Sheila, Leo’s leaving.”

“What do you mean you don’t love me like you did?”  Leo stepped forward into the room and towards Jack.

“I didn’t say you could come in.”  Jack blocks Leo and pushes him slightly.

“Get your fucking hands off me.  I’m talking to my wife.”  Leo is trying to push past Jack and they start pushing each other until they are finally grabbing and wrestling each other in the door way.  They fall into the hedges to the right of the door as Sheila runs back into the kitchen and gets the telephone and calls the police.

There were not too many dramatic punches thrown by either man.  It was mostly just panting and grabbing and rolling around in the hedges and in the grass.  Finally, Jack managed to roll over and get on top of Leo and punched a couple of times before getting off of him and going back inside the house.  The sounds of sirens approached and an Emerson police cruiser pulled up to the house.

Leo was still lying in the yard.  Jack’s punches had not really hurt him.  He just wanted to lay there in the cool air with the grass on his back.

He could hear the officer ordering him over on his back.  It was like a coach calling out instructions on the other side of the field.  He complied.  He could hear Jack telling the officer what happened and Sheila giving her version of what happened.  Leo watched it like a movie going in slow motion with the sound not working.

“Mr. Harris?  Mr. Harris?”  Leo had dozed off or drifted into a day dream when the officer started speaking to him.  “Mr. Harris can you hear me.”

“Yeah, yeah.  I just drifted off for a second.”

“Mr. Harris, your ex-wife and her boyfriend are saying they won’t press charges if you agree to stop following him and quit watching the house.  If you agree to that, I’ll put you back in your car and follow you home to make sure you get there safe.  But, if you do start harassing them again they are going to press charges and you will go to jail.  Do you understand me, sir?

“Yeah.  Yeah.”

“I am going to uncuff you and walk you over to your car.  Then I’m going to follow you to your house.  Are we clear?”

“Yeah.”  Leo rubbed his wrists as he walked back to his car.  The world had a gauzy look around its edges.  It made it feel like the drive back to his house was a dream.  As he got out of the car and walked to his door, he could hear the officer talking to him and nodding in agreement to whatever he was saying.

He walked into his house and closed the door.  He heard the police cruiser pull out of the driveway and leave.  He was alone in a dark house.  He turned on the lights and looked around the house.  It was just as it was when she left.  Just with more stuff strewn around.  Magazines and mail lay on the coffee table.  Empty beer and liquor bottles sat on the bar and the dining table.  A faint sheen of dust covered it all.

He grabbed a box from the corner and started putting all the mail, magazines, receipts, etc. in the box.  When that was filled he grabbed another and put all the bottles in this one.  When that was filled he took them all out to his car and loaded them in the trunk.  He came back into the house and sat on his couch and finally started thinking about tomorrow.


First Draft Theater – Moment of Grace

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2013 by cueball

“Everybody has moments of grace.”  His mama told him that once.  He was ten or maybe twelve.  Dwayne could not remember why she felt the need to tell him that.  Maybe it was one Sunday or something and he had one of those questions little kids ask when they start to comprehend the world is a bigger scarier place then they thought.  Regardless, his five years as a cop taught him that little bit of mother wisdom was probably false.  Not everyone had moments of grace.  Most will do well if they have more moments of honesty then deceit.

Tonight was no different.  It was Saturday night, his shift was barely four hours old and he already saw three people try to get in cars and drive when they could barely stand.  All he was doing was sitting across the highway from one of the bars in town.  He pulled over one and called in the other two so Kenny and Connie could get their collars for the night.

Now, another one was coming out of the bar weaving across the parking lot trying real hard not to look drunk.  If had been able to get his keys in his door to unlock it with one hand he might have gotten away with it.  The young woman, young being a loose term Dwayne used to be respectful, who followed him out was in almost as bad a shape as the guy fighting his keys.

Dwayne watched them get into the car, get it started and barely miss two parked cars as they pulled out of the parking lot.  They pulled onto the highway and pointed the late model Taurus towards the Days Inn about a mile down the highway.

He would have radioed up ahead to Kenny who was sitting between him and the Days Inn, but the moron was weaving too badly to let drive.  Dwayne pulled out onto the highway and hit the lights and siren.  There was a moment when it looked like he was going to rabbit on Dwayne, but Kenny hit his lights just up ahead and the Taurus pulled to the side of the road.

“Patrol 45 to Patrol 42, thank you for the assist.  This is a suspected driving while impaired.  Requesting assistance in a field sobriety test.  There is a male driver and one female passenger.  Over.”

“On my way Patrol 45.  Central, show Patrol 42 and Patrol 45 on a field sobriety test.”

Dwayne waited until Kenny pulled around to box the dark Taurus with Texas plates in between them before getting out and approaching the driver side.

The driver’s door opened and the driver poked his head out and squinted into the headlights of Dewayne’s cruiser.  “Hey, Dwayne, it’s me man.  Wassup?”

“Sir, please stay in your vehicle.”  Dwayne and Kenny both had their hands on their sidearms ready to pull and fire if the driver made the wrong move.

“Shit, Dewayne.  It’s me Scott.  Calm down, calm down, it’s cool.”

“Dammit, Scott.  Keep your hands where we can see them.  Kenny, meet my cousin Scott.  I got him.  You get the lady on the passenger side.”

“Wassup, man.  I ain’t seen you since grand mama’s funeral.  You was in the Army then.  You a cop now?”

“That was seven years ago, I was in the Navy, and yeah, I’m a cop and I’m going to ask you if you have been drinking tonight.”

“Shit, yeah I’ve been drinking.  I got back in town about a week ago.”

“I need you to take a field sobriety test.”

“What?  Man, how’s your mama doing?”

Scott smelled like he bathed in a keg of beer even from five feet away.  “She’s fine.  I need you to here and walk on this white line towards my cruiser.  When I say stop and turn, you are going to turn on your right heel and walk back towards me.”

“What?  Man, I was just out trying to burn off some steam tonight.  You know daddy got lung cancer.  He ain’t going to live out the month, probably.  I been at the…I been at the hospital the last week.  I just needed to drink a little and fuck a little.”

“I heard about your daddy.  I’m sorry for that.  I didn’t know it was that bad.  I haven’t talked to him since Aunt Cissy divorced him.  But I need you to take this test now.”

“What you going do if I don’t take it?  Arrest me?  You going to arrest me once I take it cause I’m drunk as shit.”

Dwayne looked over to Kenny who was standing next to the woman Scott was driving to the hotel.  Clichés become clichés because they are true.  She was a bottle blonde with dark roots.  Her face and body looked like a high school cheerleader with 25 years of bad marriage, kids, beer, and disappointment hanging over her like the smell of stale cigarette smoke.

Kenny was the senior officer on the scene and started to take some control of the situation.  “Dwayne, let’s just take these two the station.  He admitted he was drunk we can arrest him and book.  We’ll put him in the drunk tank until Monday morning.  I’ll get Connie to come drive this one home.  What is your name and where do you live ma’am?”

“Who you calling ma’am?  You would be luck to ever get to fuck this.”

Kenny shook his head and started speaking into his radio.  “Patrol 42 to Patrol 46, I need assistance with a female passenger.  We are just east of the Days Inn on 74.  Please respond.”

“Patrol 46 to Patrol 42, I am on my way.”

“Ma’am, Deputy Banks is coming towards us right now and she will take you home.  You are not under arrest at the moment.  I suggest you keep a civil tongue in your head to keep it that way.”

Connie pulled up just as Kenny was finishing his statement and passed the lady on so that she could get home to pass out.  Just as they were putting her in the car she turned and vomited just missing both the deputies.

Scott thought this was the funniest thing he had seen and started laughing hysterically.  Connie got a towel out of her trunk and helped the lady wipe off her face and the front of her clothes now stained with regurgitated beer and wings. After finally getting her in the car, they drove off with all the windows down.

“Deputy Anderson is going to arrest you since he isn’t related to you.  Your mama or somebody can come to the courthouse Monday morning and bail you out after the magistrate sets bail.  If it is a first time offense the bail won’t be much but you will probably have to surrender your license.”

“How the fuck am I supposed to get around without a fucking license.  You stuck up fucker.  Ya’ll always did look down on us.  You ain’t even got the balls enough to arrest me yourself.  Fuck you.”  He tried to punch Dwayne but only managed to fall onto the grass.  He stayed sitting with his legs splayed out in front of him.  Kenny moved towards them, but Dwayne motioned for him to hold off for a second.  “He beat the shit out of me for 10 years and I’m still sad he is going to die.”  Scott seemed past crying.  He just sat in the wet grass looking around like a dog wanting to take a nap and searching for the perfect spot of grass.  Finally he lay his body over and curled up with his knees to his chest.

“Scott, you gotta get up.  Deputy Anderson and I will take you in and you can sleep all night.  I’ll call your mama on the way to let her know what’s going to happen next.”   Scott was already snoring before Dwayne finished.  He and Kenny woke Scott up enough to get cuffs on him and put him in the back of Kenny’s cruiser.  As he Dwayne walked back to his car Kenny pulled off and headed towards the station.  Dwayne watched the tail lights of Kenny’s cruiser pull away and listened as he called in what was happening on the radio.

He remembered where the moment of grace came from now.  Harvey, Scott’s father, had given his best sermon that day.  He shook the rafters of that old church.  On the way home, his mother had marveled at how moving the sermon was and how it had filled the church with the Holy Spirit.  Just as they were pulling into their car port she said, “No matter how bad a man is, God grants everyone one moment of grace in their lives.”

She was right.  Everyone had at least one moment like that in them.  His question now was, what did it matter to the people around you if you only had one?

First Draft Theater – Hospital Rooms

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , on October 9, 2013 by cueball

All the hospital rooms began to bleed together in Lee’s mind.  They all the same aggressively beige color scheme with the pale blue, green, and pink accents.  The all smelled of medicine, bodily fluids, and disinfectant.  Donna lay to his right sleeping, occasionally muttering to herself.

How many times have I seen her sleep?

He kept his eyes on the vitals monitor on the other side of the bed.  Lee had little idea what much if any of the numbers and little squiggles meant.  It still comforted him somehow.  As long as the monitor was active it was not over yet.

Another in a line of nurses came in to check Donnas IV and monitors.  She hovered for a few minutes checking, adjusting, and tweaking only acknowledging Lee with a nod just before leaving the room.  He wanted her or her eyes to tell him something, be it good or bad.

It was the waiting, the certainty of the uncertain that wore on him. They all knew the end was coming.  The doctors couldn’t tell him when and the nurses wouldn’t even if they could.  All that was left was the waiting.  They watched it come towards them, but they didn’t know how fast it approached.

He needed to call her kids.  Lee needed to tell them how close the time was now.  Jaime and Carl both lived a couple of hours drive away and would be here as soon as possible.  Donna actually talked to them last week.  Lee watched and listened to the conversations from her side.  She avoided telling them exactly what the doctor had said the day before.

“What did you want me to tell them?  They already know enough to guess.  Believe me, when you call them, it won’t be a shock to either.”

Lee didn’t know how long he had been asleep, but the monitors were screeching and nurses and doctors were rushing in to the room.  He stood from his chair and was shuffled out to the hall.  He watched them work for a few minutes before wandering down the hall.  He drifted past the nurse’s station and found the stairwell.  He turned to look back and could see the urgency at Donna’s door had quieted.  He opened the stairwell door and stepped inside where the faint smell of stale cigarettes and compressed moist air greeted him.

The only direction he could go was down and he took every step deliberately keeping his cell phone in his left hand and his right hand on the railing.  He lost track of the floors.  He just stopped at one to get some fresher air.  He came out of the stairwell and looked around.  It was like a version of hell.  The floor looked exactly the same as the one he left.  He quickly went back into the stairwell and looked up and down to be sure he had come from somewhere.

He continued his decent until he reached the lobby floor.  He walked out into the small lobby of the hospital.  The lobby desk was unmanned and it was dark outside.  Lee realized he didn’t know what day it was. The window in Donna’s room looked out onto another building blocking the sun.  The front door was locked.  If you were in, you were in until the morning shift started.  He looked around and saw the little garden area off to the left of the lobby and the chapel on the right.  He headed left and found himself standing outside under mercury lamps.  He looked up and strained his eyes trying to see the stars through the glare.

His right hand ached.  He was still squeezing his cell phone.  He turned it on and found Jaime’s number.  He would call her first.

First Draft Theater – Ronald’s Church

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , on October 1, 2013 by cueball

Ronald was at church.  On the Sunday after Thanksgiving he always worshipped at the altar of the antler, as he called it.  His ex-wife hated that.  She said it was disrespectful.  Once, he countered with, “It’s more disrespectful to sit in church when you don’t believe and you don’t want to be there.  I’m just being honest about it and not showing up.”

He figured, him and God had their own thing and he would pay up sooner or later.  Maybe even before he died.

Ronald sat in the tree stand watching the ridgeline and listening for any movement around him.  He’s been sitting for a couple of hours and the only thing he has seen are some squirrels who thought about getting too friendly.

He had the rest of the week off just so he could do this.  He always came alone because it wasn’t always about killing something.  This is why he called it church.  All he really wanted to do.  Sit and watch nature move about as if he was not here.  His ex-wife thought he did not believe in God, but he did.  He saw his work every year sitting in these trees watching as it moved around him.  Watching as life continued as it had before he was born and probably after he died.

He and his brother-in-law Carl go squirrel hunting.  Ronald does that just to get his eye back and warm up for deer season.  One time Carl asked him, “Why you go deer hunting?  You just sitting up there in that tree stand by yourself.  Ain’t you worried about one of them drunk-ass white boys by ‘mistake’ thinking you a deer or something?”  Ronald ignored him as he pulled the trigger on a squirrel about 60 yards away.  He hit him just below his head.  He would taste good in the stew they planned on making for Thanksgiving.

Carl was always asking him stuff like that.  He was always talking about those “drunk-ass white boys” or those “cracker-ass boys” he worked with.  It was like Carl hadn’t met any normal white people in his life.  All the white people he met were suspects.

Just then he caught a little flash of white off to the left just to the outside of the tree line.  Ronald waited for the antlers before sighting the deer down.  He turned with his snout in the ground looking for grass to nibble on or trying to find the scent of a doe.  He gave his side to Ronald and lifted his head.  He wasn’t too big.  Maybe 3 years old.  He would grow into a big one if he managed to survive this season.

Ronald watched him for about 10 minutes just nosing about and grazing on whatever grass and tree leaves he could find.  His path corkscrewed towards Ronald’s tree.  Ronald had probably 10 chances to get a good shot off, but he didn’t take it.  He just watched the young deer go about his life.  Ronald imagined he was trying to find food and thinking about finding some doe to fuck.

Ronald’s mind drifted back to his weekends in college and how they were much different than that.  That was a long time and a divorce ago.  Now his weekends were filled with hoping his son wanted to see him and hoping the football games were worth waking up for on Sunday afternoon.  Maybe he would go to IHOP for breakfast to see that waitress.  She was a black haired Costa Rican woman named Sonya.  She had a fourteen year old son and a deadbeat ex-husband he went back to Costa Rica to avoid paying child support.

When his attention came back to the buck he had made his way to about 40 yards away to his right.  Ronald thought for a moment and decided it was time to do something.  He brought his Browning up to his eyes and sighted the buck.  He waited for him to give him another flank.  The raised his head and looked about exposing his left side to Ronald.

Ronald took in a breath, let it out and moved his finger over the trigger.

The deer never saw him.  Maybe he caught Ronald’s scent.  Maybe a rutting doe happened by on the other side of the ridge.  Maybe that’s why he bolted before Ronald could complete ritual.  Whatever happened, the deer was gone.

Ronald wasn’t sad about it.  He lowered his rifle and relaxed a little and looked out over the land as a couple of squirrels dug around looking for the last of the acorns of the year.  He was alone with himself and God again.  That was enough.

First Draft Theater: The Shopping Trip

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , on September 30, 2013 by cueball

“You still wearing your ring…Well keep doing that and everything will be fine.”  All he had done was call and ask Julie if she needed anything from Wal-Mart and she tells him some guy at work has been sending her flowers.  She probably thought he was going to yell, but Phil didn’t yell.  He was driving.

He hung up the phone and put it in the cup holder.  He pulled into the parking lot dodging the other drivers most of whom thought their car made them indestructible.  Phil usually parked close to the same spot.  He liked to park on the second line going out of the parking lot.  It made it easier to get out on busy days.

He got out of his truck and as he walked towards the store a giant thumb and her two little thumblets came walking out of the doors.  They all had fluid blocks of flesh for bodies.  Their legs were like large corn cubs stuck to the bottom of a brick with tiny feet shoved on to the ends that barely moved and their arms were like thin sticks hanging of the side of a snowman.  Their heads were these short thin pyramids pushed down on top of the brick with sprouts of hair sticking out in all directions.

Looking at them, it made sense that some guy wanted to fuck Julie.  Pickings could be slim around here and she still had a tight little ass.  Two kids later and she still managed to turn heads.  He picked a good one.

Phil walked through the sliding door and was greeted with the cool dry canned air that smelled of floor cleaner, disinfectant, and bod odor.  Some top 40 music hit from sometime in the last 10 years kept playing loud enough to be heard over the din of people shuffling around being ignored by the barely above minimum wage part timers stocking shelves and aimlessly walking to any other part of the store where there weren’t customers.

Phil grabbed a buggy and a bunch of the cleaning wipes they kept near them.  He’s seen too many of these people and their kids picking their noses and poking their fingers and hands in other places on their bodies to not use whatever weak sanitizer he could.

His mind drifted back to Julie as he made his way to the razors, soap, and toothpaste.  He needed razors and shaving cream and Julie asked him to get soap and toothpaste.  He couldn’t remember which toothpaste the boys used.  He knew the brand he just couldn’t remember which of the fifteen types they made his two preferred.  It was enough of a pain to get them to brush in the first place.  If he shows up with the wrong one, he’ll just have to go back out and get some more or have his kids teeth fall out of their heads and have Julie snipe at him for a night.

As he stood looking at the wall of toothpaste he thought that might be why this dipshit thought he could fuck Julie.  Maybe she talked to him on some day that Phil did something stupid and talked about how much she hated him and wished he was different.  Maybe dude didn’t just dream this up on his own.  Maybe he thought she was signaling him to try.  Maybe she was.

Phil grabbed a couple of tubes of toothpaste and moved on to get the soap and razors before wandering to the other side of the store for the dishwasher detergent they needed.  He stewed over the fact that his wife might have egged on some poor dude at work by accident by telling him how shitty a husband he was.

He walked past the baby clothes and realized too much had happened that they didn’t talk about anymore for either one to leave the other.  He detoured back around to another part of the store.  Julie liked the scented candles they sold here.  She said they made her think of the beach trips they took before the boys were born.  He was going buy her a couple.  They would be a peace offering.  Show her there were no hard feelings.

Phil began to maneuver his way back towards the cleaning stuff.  So what if she told dude about any fights her and Phil had, it wasn’t an invitation to stick his pecker in her.  Where did he get off thinking that?  He thought about he would get her to tell him who it was so he could go to the store and they would settle this like men.  Phil would kick his ass to make sure he and any other guy at the store knew his wife was off limits.  That would settle the whole thing.

His phone rang again.  It was Julie.  “Yeah…I got the detergent…OK…Hey, what toothpaste do the boys use…Good.  That’s what I got…Yeah, I’ll get some.  Do we need any peanut butter…OK…Love you.”  Phil angled past the bread section to get a loaf on his way to the registers to pay and get out of this place.  He always did better in the fresh air and sunlight.

He went out through the same doors he came in through putting on his sunglasses to stave off the afternoon glare.  He moved past another family of thumbs and a little old man and little old woman who gave off the whiff of oncoming death.

Back in his car Phil took a deep breath and cranked his truck and backed out of the spot and headed towards the highway.  Sitting at the light he noticed Julie’s watch sitting in the arm rest.  Last night she said she lost it and he scolded her for being so absent minded.  She must have taken it off after church yesterday and forgot.  He decided to put it somewhere and let her find it.  Let her think she just left in the bathroom under something.  He didn’t want to argue or snipe at each other tonight.

Their Shared Weight

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , on September 26, 2013 by cueball

Patricia woke up at 4 am like she normally did when Craig was alive. She rolled over and reached for her alarm, but it hadn’t gone off today.  It hadn’t gone off today or the day before or the day before that.  It hadn’t gone off at 4 in the morning for almost a week now.

She turned off the alarm the day after Craig died, but she has still woken up at 4 out of habit.  She rolled back over and tried to go back to sleep for at least a couple of more hours.  She couldn’t.  She got up and went to the kitchen to start the coffee.

She moved between her bed and the one Craig was confined to the last two years in the dark.  Her brothers were coming by this weekend with a rented truck to take the extra bed, the ventilator, the motorized wheelchair, and all the other things that were necessary to keep Craig alive.

Patricia did not go back to work until next week, but she still had things to do around the house.  Mostly start packing up all of Craig’s equipment and clothes.

She sat drinking her coffee watching the sun slowly emerge from behind the trees to the East of her house.  She thought about the first time she and Craig came to the house with the realtor and many of those trees were barely 4 feet tall.  Now some of them were as high tall as the gutters on the side of the house.

She thought about the day after that first fall he had.  They were out in the car port getting ready to go grocery shopping.  His left leg just gave out and he crumpled to the concrete.  That was four years ago.

“In sickness and in health, till death do us part.”  She thought about saying those words when she was 22.  It was abstract.  They were almost just words, but she learned they weren’t just words. First, he was with her through the miscarriage and then the benign lump they found on her breast 10 years ago.  It was the right and only thing either could do, stay and fight together.

That didn’t mean she wasn’t still exhausted from the last four years.

She drank from his coffee cup.  He didn’t use it the last two years.  He couldn’t control his hands or his mouth enough.  She and the day nurse who helped four days a week had to do that for him.  They had to bathe him.  They had to change his catheter and his bed pan.

Near the end there had been a significantly hard day.  She was helping him out of the tub for one of the last times and he looked at her.  Somehow he gathered to strength to control his arms and rested his hand on hers to get her to stop tucking him into the chair and looked at her.  He tried to say something, but the words couldn’t form and he started crying.  She kissed his forehead and helped him back into his bed.  After he went to sleep, she came in to the kitchen and cried.  From sadness, from exhaustion, from the weight of this thing that had happened to both of them.

Patricia had lost track of the time, but the sun was now peaking over the horizon and her coffee had gotten cold.  She hadn’t cried since the day Craig died.  She didn’t even cry at the funeral.  The weight had lifted.  It was a weight she willingly took, but it was gone now.  The leaves dappled the light from the first morning rays of the sun across her face as she looked out the window.  She closed her eyes and felt Craig standing beside her, his hand on the small of her back.  He was tall and strong.  They were both free of the weight now.

Digging the Ditch Deeper – First Draft Theater

Posted in Fiction with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2013 by cueball

“I have been pissed upon from a very great height.”  Wayne wondered why Russell always talked like this. 

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Wayne, you assume I am just a local businessman with a repair shop and a community bank operation.  You assume somewhat incorrectly.  I do own a local repair shop, but my loan business is not local.  I am merely a branch of a much larger bank.  Do you understand what that means?”

“It means you work for somebody just like everybody else in this shitty town.”

“Very true.”  He stopped and took a drink from his McDonald’s smoothie.  “It also means I am not the one you need to fear ultimately if you don’t pay back your money.”  Russell stopped again and took another sip from his cup.  “Yeah, there’s the look.  The look of, ‘Oh, shit.’  That moment you realize your problems are much bigger then you thought.”  Russell turned up the cup and finished his smoothie wiping his lips clean with his thumb.  “As I said before, I will not harm your daughter.  The gentlemen I work for however have no such reservations.  You can run from me.  Me and my guys have a limited reach.  Get farther past Gastonia, Gaffney, Forest City, or Lincolnton and you’re pretty much out of my territory.  The problem is this, Wayne.  My employers have a much longer reach and fewer emotional ties to any one community.  So, I again ask you to get me my fucking money.  Otherwise things leave my control.”

“I’m trying to get the money.”

“Work faster, try harder.  There is your pep talk.  Figure it out.”

Tommy and Nathan escorted Wayne out the door by arms barely letting his feet hit the ground leaving him in the dusty parking lot.  He squinted at the noon sun and walked over to his car.  He opened the door and a burst of hot air rushed into him.  He rolled down the window and started the air conditioner.  He pulled onto the road and drove towards Ashley’s school.  He now had two problems.  One, he still owed $50,000 to Russell and now he had to protect Ashley from someone scarier than Russell. 

School doesn’t let out for another 3 hours, but he felt better sitting in a parking lot across from the school watching anyone who passed by.  Cars passed and his mind started turning the situation over and over in his head.  Russell wasn’t the ultimate problem.  The guys who control Russell are the ultimate problem.  He had to deal with them.  First, he had to find them.  Sam’s police contacts could help find them.  He pulled out his phone and dialed Sam.

“Hey, it Wayne…Wait, don’t.  I need your help…I know. I…Look, just meet me at the place…It…It’s about Ashley.  Just meet me there in a 20 minutes.”  He threw the phone down on the passenger seat and looked down the road both ways.  He hadn’t seen Sam in 3 months at least.  Not since Ashley’s surgery.  There is a little coffee shop a couple of blocks from the hospital they used to go to get some air after being inside for hours waiting on doctors and keeping Ashley entertained. 


He walked into the coffee shop and Sam was already sitting at their table in the back drinking what Wayne knew to be black coffee.  She dressed as simply as she drank:  jeans, blue dress shirt, sports jacket to hide the Walther PPK she carried.  Her hair was longer almost past her shoulders now and she was wearing lipstick. 

“What kind of shit are you into now?”  Wayne hadn’t even pulled his chair out to sit down before his sister started in on him. 

“Good to see you too, Sam.” 

“Goddammit, Wayne.  I don’t have time for this.  I actually have a job.”

“I’m sorry.  I owe money.”

“Is there something new we are going to discuss here.”

“I owe fifty thousand.”

“That’s what Ashley’s medical bills were.”  Wayne looked down at his coffee and didn’t answer.  “Dammit.  I told you I would help.  Who did you borrow the money from?”

“Russell Allen.”

“You borrowed from Russell.  I outta shoot you myself.”

“I was hoping you could help me find out who he works for and maybe I could talk to them.”

“Mama used to get drunk as hell, but she was never drunk enough to drop you on your head when you were a baby.  What the hell is wrong with you?  These are not the kind of people you just go talk to.”

“So you know who they are?”

“Oh, God.”  Sam sat back in her chair and crossed her legs.  She stared up at the ceiling and then closed her eyes.

“Are you dating someone?”


“You let your hair grow out and you’re wearing lipstick.”

“I met him at some classes I had to take in Charlotte.”

“He a cop?”

“No he is a teacher and quit changing the subject.”  She leaned forward.  “These guys moved into this part of the South a few years ago, up from Miami.  They’re some kind of conglomerate.  They are more like McDonald’s then criminals putting franchises everywhere.”

“Do you got a name or something?”

“A name?  No, I don’t have a name.  I don’t even know where they work out of around here.”

“Just get me one name.  I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Yeah, you’ll take care of the rest.”  Sam stood up and finished her coffee.  “I’ll call you in an hour.”

“Thanks, Sam.”  Wayne sat finishing his coffee.  He tried to think of what he would say to the guy Sam found for him.