yet more bad decisions, how many times
you heard this one?
same old story! flicking, clicking, the acid
pressing on for hours ’til release
no offence, a gust of wind; unjust, but that’s the story
an unconcealed commitment
(much less attractive prospect)
to smile and behave as one should
seeking permanent promotion
So how’s it going?
I mean this series, for you.
I’ve done three weeks’ worth, now, and they’re each more connected to the next than I’d originally anticipated.
Seems like it’ll be a bit more novelesque, or a serial story like Dickens used to do.
The beauty of this format is that you folks can weigh in immediately on what you like or don’t.
Of course, I can’t make any promises ’cause changes might not happen. Change will — change is inevitable. The evolution of this format is one of the things I’m most excited to observe even as I participate.
So what I’m getting at is if you like these stories, or don’t, or only kinda do like some of ’em sometimes, then let me know! All I can do is respond to the chems in my brain and the words of others — be they typed or audible. Maybe there’s a third option, too. Felt?
Hadlock had these long dreads that spilled out past his shoulders like wriggling tentacles. His girlfriend was on her way over, and so, his liquor cabinet empty, he called her to grab a couple bottles of rye. Her phone was dead – just kept giving him the same robotic message – so he found a pair of shorts among the splattered clothes in the den of his apartment and slid downstairs to the Booze4Less. It was a dank and narrow place set into a space between two ancient brick buildings, a wonder the City had permitted construction of it at all. Each glass bottle reflected Hadlock’s reflecting shades back at him, an infinite, tiny regress like a barbershop. The rye was at the back – everything good is always at the backs of places – and there were only a few bottles left of Hadlock’s brand, so he grabbed them up between his fingers and under his arms. He maneuvered his body carefully so as not to shatter any of the wobbling displays of dark glass, and shifted atom by atom to the counter.
“Popular stuff,” the lady behind the counter remarked, scanning the bottles into her machine.
“Hm?” Hadlock said, as he fumbled with his pockets to find his debit card.
“Popular stuff,” she said again.
Hadlock swiped his debit card and found it declined. Declined, declined.
“Another customer just bought a bunch of this same rye,” the lady said, her smile fading as the declines kept piling up. “Maybe she’d share some with you?”
Hadlock left the bottles on the counter and walked back to his apartment, shoulders slumped. He found the door unlocked and music playing within, and his heart leaped. Inside, his girlfriend greeted him with a kiss, and the first sloppy pour from the bottles she’d just picked up on her way home.
The apartment was filled with debris from years of neglect – many moons’ worth of dust accumulated on every surface. All manner of hairs – at least a half a dozen types of animal – had settled throughout the cramped and rancid space.
Betty Donovan swore she’d clean it up one of these days. Particulate swirled around her whenever she stirred from her easy chair – which wasn’t often, these days.
Plans are made and broken – made to be broken, like the proverbial rules, perhaps.
And yet she swears it’ll happen, a tidy-up, a quick spring clean, one of these springs. She tells this to herself, mostly – she used to tell visitors, when she had them.
Late this evening, after startling awake from a fitful doze, she shuffles from her chair over to a greasy mirror, smears some of the filth from it, leaving uneven streaks from her brittle fingers. She gets a glimpse of herself – thin hair loose and wild, lips dry – and the hint of a tear wells up in the corner of one eye before she blinks it away. She returns to her chair and sleeps.
Sandles, painted toenails
a stand at the edge of the beach selling sodas and popsicles
off-brand but sugar-saturated all the same
a pack of shredded gum with flavour particles “guaranteed” to last “all day”
a taste like rosehips and the texture of chalk dust
moisture in the throat, though
as the sun reaches into the lake
Communications consultant Sara Herfstadter pulled out of the concrete parking garage and onto highway 9, with little traffic impeding her. When she came to the Chipesten Bridge, though, she found it closed. Cursing softly, she made an aggressive U-turn that caused a driver in a beige Civic to lay on the horn. Sara knew there was an alternative bridge somewhere south of the county line, a rickety wood-and-stone number that offered the only alternative over the Chipesten in a half-hour’s drive. The sun sank fast as she navigated unfamiliar, poorly-paved roads, and had just reached the tops of the trees when she spotted the old bridge. There was a line of cars ahead of her – dozens of people had had the same idea. Sara cranked the radio and sang along to twangy country music with her foot on the brake. In tiny increments she eased her way toward the bridge, which looked even more dilapidated than she had imagined. When she reached it, she crawled forward, feeling each creak of the wooden planks beneath her tires. After an agonizing few minutes, the roar of the rushing Chipesten reaching for her, Sara emerged on the other side, onto a hard-pack dirt road, only to find it backed up with traffic straight on to the black horizon.