In Writing on May 24, 2013 at 11:38 am
“Pick up the phone.”
Colin listened a moment, to the far-off sound of the freeway and cars driving through the mist.
The stranger made no reply, simply inclining his head toward the phone. Colin shrugged and grabbed the broken receiver.
“There’s not even an earpiece on it, mate. How’m I supposed to hear?”
The voice that replied sounded digital and broken, like a recording from some earlier era, but the feeling of hot breath as the stranger whispered in Colin’s ear was distinct:
“The better question is: How am I speaking without a voice?” Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on May 9, 2013 at 11:32 pm
Tough Guy Bobby Caduzo
“A little… light for a mob joint, isn’t it? I mean, watercolors? Artsy mirrors. Glass eggs in baskets? I thought we were here to meet ‘tough guy Bobby Caduzo.’ This don’t strike me as a place for no tough guys.”
“Hey shut your mouth, would ya? Show some respect. Bobby’s right over there.”
“Where? I only see the broad at the counter.”
“Bobby is the broad at the counter, stupid. Barbara Caduzo.”
“Sal, I’m in deep with these guys, man—how’s some chick supposed to help?”
“Heh. Tony, sometimes it’s real obvious you grew up without a mudda.” Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on May 8, 2013 at 10:17 pm
“I see that look on your face: You don’t believe me, and I don’t blame you. But I do love you, Sean Brennan—after a fashion.
Shh. Don’t interrupt, sweetie. Let me explain:
When I came to see you four days ago (or three and a half if it please you) I told you I was desperate, and that was true. I’d come to unlock my place that morning—let in the day shift and count the take from the night before—when I’d found a note slid underneath the door.
Philippe Bonté, the cochon that owned the place before me, was threatening to run me out. He’d changed his mind about the sale, and told me he was coming back to take the place by force—with a few of his guys for good measure, naturally.
You ok, honey? You want another drink? Suit yourself… Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on May 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm
I watched my brother’s face as the cocktail of drugs took effect. His eyelids fluttered and his eyes rolled, and beads of sweat began to appear on his waxy skin. I made sure the contacts were secure against his scalp.
“Turn it on,” I said. Meher’s hand went to the switch, but he hesitated.
“You would do this to your own brother? Your own blood?”
“Of course,” I snapped, “as I have with thousands of patients before. I would not make myself a hypocrite. Besides, it’s perfectly safe—and if there’s any chance of finding out what happened to him, I must try.”
I composed myself in the silence that followed, and repeated calmly:
“Turn it on.”
Meher complied; the machine snapped to life and the faint crackle of current filled the room. Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on May 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm
I tried to give the form of nature to the works of man. The organic curve, the subtle softness—an answer to the harsh lines and right angles we use to distinguish ourselves from the beast.
The Segrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Batlló: these were my life’s work.
Perhaps the world laughs at me now, struck by a tram and left to die in the street—literally a victim of the industrial age. But, if so, they misread these symbols.
For in my death I will reveal what man truly is: an object. Inert.
But a work of art. Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on April 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm
“You took a piece of my heart?”
“Isn’t it romantic?”
I frowned. Les Moelleux was clearing out as we drank, and apart from the few dancers that remained, undone in the laps of patrons in dark corners, we were alone.
“And your story about someone robbing your place? That was a lie?”
“Well… it was half true. The other half is that they wanted me dead, too.”
She sipped her drink and swirled the ice.
“I needed you to help me stop them,” she said, “but, when you couldn’t do that, I needed a talisman for protection instead.”
She fingered the chain around her neck and winked, but I was done with this game. My hands were shaking. Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on April 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm
A Prison of the Mind
I’d last seen my brother when he was 11 and I was 15. I did not recognize this man—soft, bloated and white—that stared upon the world with these watery eyes. He was like a corpse, newly surfaced in some icy pond.
“Brother…” I said. “Paul.”
“He will not speak,” Meher said. “Our world is as distant to him as God’s light is to the heathen.”
I set down my equipment and tried not to sound perturbed.
“There’s nothing godly about this,” I said. “His mind has closed itself—a response to severe psychological trauma… It has been this way since we were boys.” Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on April 25, 2013 at 10:22 pm
Each evening I would find the ladder moved—and a book or two from the shelf displaced. Kant and Thoreau, Marx and Neruda; I would find them open on the floor, on the desk… by the cat bowl.
Naturally I became concerned, so I left work early and drove home, determined to catch the intruder in the act.
I entered quietly and climbed the stairs. Hearing a noise in the den, I prepared to pounce.
My gray tabby, Gary, met me with mild surprise, crouched by a first edition Dostoevsky.
“Got anything lighter, buddy?” he asked. “This stuff is murder.” Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on April 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm
Her Body Begs For Death
Les Moelleux was shining like a riverboat in the rain that night, the gaslights burning like a thousand tiny fires in a thousand cozy hearths. A loud zydeco tune was spilling from behind the windows, frantic with accordion and rub-board rhythm. The music itself wasn’t so unusual—the joint was as Creole as crawfish étouffée, after all—but what did strike me was the voice, sultry and sweet, that flowed along with it: It was Madelaine’s.
When I pushed through the door, she gave me a bashful, baleful glance and just kept on singing—as if she hadn’t put three slugs in me just the night before:
Elle dit qu’il est trop tard
Elle ne parle qu’au passé
Son corps implore la mort
Elle ne peut plus respire Read the rest of this entry »
In Fiction on April 22, 2013 at 11:17 pm
I ducked and followed Meher into the narrow hall. Wide bands of rusty light shone beneath the corrugated steel roof; dust motes danced upon the strands. The air was damp and the walls were black with mold.
“Is it safe for the inmates?” I asked.
Meher smiled, barely turning.
“By your reputation, I am thinking you don’t much care what is safe, yes?” He laughed. “But don’t worry, doctor; these men cannot be harmed.”
These men… they were everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Their silence, their stillness—approaching catatonia—unsettled me in a way that my work rarely does. They lined the walls and huddled on stairs, clutching their bony frames, watching us pass with milk-white eyes.
Read the rest of this entry »