Sunday, September 25, 2011

Umbrella Elevator

The man steps onto the elevator with a morning newspaper tucked under his arm, coffee in hand. The doors close.  The elevator moves. He finishes his drink. The wait begins. This is his last job.
    He has no doubt his quarry will be here. The mark never misses a Thursday. Unfortunately, this Thursday it is raining and the mark is also extremely forgetful.
The early coffee plagues the man’s bladder. At noon he can stand it no longer and barrels into the bathroom, almost knocking over the janitor. “Hey!” The artificial ceiling light flickers. He doesn’t see the wet floor sign. . . .
Days later the Sun slants thru the blinds at the optimum angle to awaken him. He blinks, groaning wearily. Where am I? he wonders and tries to sit up. The machine next to him beeps faster. There are tubes strung into and around him like some sort of sickly Christmas tree. Different fluids slide and ripple thru his bloodstream. He’s woozy.
The accelerated tone brings a doctor and nurse who straggle in languidly, as if amused. The smiling nurse hefts the drip bag.
“Way he’s sucking this stuff down we should buy stock.”
The doctor grabs the chart off the foot of the bed and looks down his nose at her as he flips it open.
“Nurse, do you recall our discussion about professionalism in the workplace?” he rolls a page over.
“Yes, of course doctor. But isn’t laughter said to be the best medicine?”
She fluffs the man’s pillow.
“Am I right?”
Never taking his eyes off the doc, he answers “I’ve always felt there was a strange humor to be found in the world. Like take this for example. This is funny.”
The doctor looks up. “Excuse me?”
The man lurches to his feet and snags the nurse, stifling her scream.
“Where were you today, Doc? Not at the apartment building with your whore. I was there. You never showed.” he inches closer to his clothes, folded neatly on a chair.
The doctor is frozen, unsure of what to do. Scared. “Who are you?”
Out of a jacket the man dumps something that looks like a tiny hairdryer. He raises the device up next to the woman’s head.
“My name is not important. Neither is your answer, I suppose.”
“Oh God, please don - -“   
There's a flash. The woman is gone.
The doctor drops the clipboard and lunges wildly for the hallway! The man, a little slow due to the medication, misses the flailing physician’s coat by inches. He rambles awkwardly after him.
His paper shod feet make sharp little whisking sounds in the deserted hallway. There’s no one else in here, he thinks. Why is there no one else in here? Where is everybody?
The man stops, darting suspicious eyes behind him. If nobody else is in here, who’s whispering?
 “Where ya going, Doc?” he squeezes off a wild shot, exploding a ceiling light. The busted light sparks.
From down the hall the doctor peeks out of a room. A blast from the weapon tears into the door jam.
“No, no wait! Wait a minute!” The doctor holds out his jacket on an umbrella and waves it about. “Don’t shoot!”
“I was there, Doc! You always go there on Thursdays. I figured I’d do it in the elevator. Quick, clean, zap and done. But no,” he fires again. The energy rips a hole in the wall. “you weren’t there! So it’s gonna have to be here Doc!”
“I’m already dead! We’re already dead!”
“What are you talking about?” he spits.
The doctor pokes his head out “We. . .” he motions back-and-forth. “are dead!”
“Bullshit.” the man whispers. Or was that behind him?
Drawing on his coat the doc slowly stands and steps out. He leans on the umbrella like a cane and tilts his head.
“You don’t remember.”
“Doc, I don’t have– “
“Your very soul is a stake! You must remember.”
The man gazes at the floor a long time without blinking. He shakes his head suddenly.
“It’s not my soul you should worry about.” he fires!
The doctor is thrown off his feet by a subdued blast.
“What the hell?” the man taps his weapon on a handrail screwed to the wall. “Never done that before.”
Glancing up he sees the doctor rise, a little shaken, and yank the umbrella closed.
“Too bad. We had such high hopes for you.” he brushes off his shoulder. “Security.”
“You’re crazy, doc. There ain’t no one else- -” Something grabs him from behind, by the throat and lifts.
He reacts, prying at the encircling intruder. a slimy suction-cupped thing constricts. He chokes, dropping the weapon so he can use both hands.
The doctor neatly scoops the weapon before it hits the floor. He turns it over in his hands.
“Remarkable.” aiming behind him, he squeezes. A flash destroys that end of the hall.
The man’s hands fall. His eyes roll back. He’s turning purple. 
“Ease up a little; you’ll have him forever you know.”
The thing loosens, and reluctantly lowers the man to his feet. He coughs, sucking at the air.
“What the hell is this thing? Get it offa me!” he raises his hands again.
“I wouldn’t do that. Security reacts quite efficiently to violence.” the doctor moves behind a nurse’s station and sits. He places the weapon on the desk, his umbrella across his knees and spins in the chair, head back.
“Where am I?” the prisoner asks.
    The doc stops spinning and gazes at him a minute.
    “Between worlds. There’s no exact coordinates or street address or anything like that. This place,” he gestures around him. “exists only for us. In our imagination maybe.”
    “But you said we were dead, I don’t - -“
    “Understand? Neither did I when you first sent me here.” The doctor stands, walking towards the blasted egress.
    “I sent you? No, I was supposed to kill you!”
    “And you did. Haven’t you been listening?” the doc stops at the end of the demolished hall. A light is approaching from far off in the ether.
    “The nurse you ‘killed’ was my guide. That’s who’s coming to get me.” he points out the hole at the nearing light.
    The man sees the weapon on the corner of the desk in his periphery. He takes a cautious, testing step. The thing tightens but allows him to move.
“Haven’t you figured it out yet?” the doctor calls.
    Another step. The man shakes his head.
“No?” Doc shouts.
    The light is closing. Another step. Doc turns.
    “I forgot my umbrella! It was raining, don’t you remember? I was on the way out when my lovely wife called me back. If I hadn’t been delayed those few minutes I would’ve ran into you on the elevator as you so prudently planned and we would have arrived separately to this place. I would never have been in the bathroom when you rushed in and fell.”
    The blue light fills the hall conjuring tall shadows and silhouettes. The doctor is a thinning shade.
    “Actually, it’s quite funny. Can’t you piece together what happened? No? Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to ponder.”
    The man moves quickly knowing he’ll have only seconds to pull and shoot. The gross noose tightens, whipping his head back viciously. The shot goes awry. The doctor laughs heartily.

Monday, April 18, 2011


As a writer I have been the recipient of numerous rejection letters. Stephen King has his spike. I keep mine in a folder marked 'R E J E C T'. It spurs me on whenever I take them out to read again.

You see, sometimes I fall victim to complacency. I am a person after all. There are long periods of inactivity on the creation front. I still carry a pen but feel like a fraud in doing so. There are no words spilling ftom the point to the pages I shove in my pocket every morning. I mourn the loss of thought.

Other days, I open that file folder and read thru all those rejections. Slowly, a stoic resolve within me builds. They have no idea what they're missing. I'll show them.

The pen flies to my hand

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flawless Loss

Her laughter broke the silence
in which I waited

my cigarette smoke mingled with the rain and
the click of her heels as she approached

"Got a light?" her red lips whispered

I flicked open my zippo and
she cupped her hand

as I touched flame
to the devils smoke I heard

angels lamenting my demise
but her smile

"My God. . . ." her smile

Friday, January 14, 2011

Whistles in the Mist

Whistles McCoy was up before the Sun every day of the week. Being a logger means long and weary hours. Sleep is seldom seen. Most of us still languish in dream as he makes his way past the gated cemetery .

A crow whooshes past and settles in a bare tree across the way. Whistles tips his hat.

“Morning, brother.”

The crow bobs, studying him before cawing once. Whistles hefts his axe to the other shoulder.
Today is different. Today he killed someone.

The mist seems heavier now. Harder to move thru. His footsteps echo loudly in the fog. Tendrils twist around his ankles as if trying to hold him. The thick carpet obscures the blood splashed over his boots. He leaves sticky, unseen half-footprints in his wake.

“Whistles. . . .” a disembodied voice whispers. “Whistle for me, Whistles.”

He spins, clasping the axe in two-hands and peering into the fog.'Impossible!' he thinks.

“You remember the tune, don’t you?” a figure glides into view.

“No! It can’t be. . . I killed - ” Whistles’ knuckles squeeze into white. Sweat beads at his temple.

“Yes, you did.” the mystery guest leans against the fence.

“But you’re. . . .”


Whistles glances around, hoping someone will appear and tell him what's going on.

“I want my money back, Whistles.”

Whistles looks askance at him, “You’re dead.”

“Yes, we've covered that.“

“Then why do you need money?”

The stranger’s eyes blaze. Whistles readies his axe.

“AHA-HA-HA-HA!” the stream laughter shakes the shadow. “You know, I always did like you Whistles. You’re a smart guy. A hard worker. You had such potential.”

With a sudden cry, Whistles rushes and swings! The axe passes right thru the evanescent stranger and ricochets off the fence, cleaving bone, flesh and muscle.Whistles crashes to the ground in agony. His screams and life flow out, disappearing into the empty whiteness around him.

“But your choices, Whistles.” the figure says, axe now in hand. “Tsk tsk. You’re choices have been very disappointing.”

“Here!” Whistles digs into his overalls and tosses over many rolls of bills. “Take it! Just leave me alone! Let me live, please!”

"Oh, I’m not going to kill you Whistles.” The smile can be heard if not seen.

“Thank you! Thank you!” he crawls slowly backwards, pushing off his good leg.

Far-off in the fog, another set of footsteps echoes now. More crows gather in the branches overhead, laughing and flapping their wings. Whistles breath is erratic now.

A very tall personage in a top hat, billowing coat and leaning on a scorpion-in-amber tipped cane materializes out of the mist. He gazes down.

“I’ve wanted to meet you for so long.”

Removing his hat, the figure crouches and grasps Whistles hand in enthusiasm.

“Yes, yes! You’ll make an excellent addition, of that I have no doubt.” he stands to address the shade.

“Perhaps I should apologize, Martin.” the top hat is replaced. "I didn't think you had it in you."

“People surprise you everyday, Mr. B." he hands the axe over, "I got the money right here.”

Mr. B pockets the cash..

“And one soul.” Whistles’ victim points. "That's the deal, right?"

“That was indeed the bargain. You’re free to go, Mr. Reyes.”

Martin Reyes, once only a mere ectoplasmic soul, is himself again. Whole and true. He looks at his hands, feels his face and a delighted grin breaks out. Eyes shining he bows.

“Oh thank you, sir!”

“Tut tut, off with you now.” Mr. B watches him go. “Nice fellow.”

He stoops back to Whistles.

“Now, as for you Mr. McCoy! You and I have to be going as well. It’s short jourmey, don’t worry.”

Whistles complexion is ashen, like the swirling fog. His eyes bulge, showing a lot of white. He licks his lips.

“Who are you?”

Mr. B looks cross.

"You know I was hoping for a bit more out of you, Whistles. You had such potential. How disappointing.”

“Yeah, I’m hearing that a lot lately.”

Mr. B laughs approvingly. The crows shift above in flurries of feathers and rattling branches and soft caws.

“I see what Martin meant about you! Yes, now I’m absolutely sure you’ll fit right in! I’m so glad to have you.”

“Where. . . where are we going?”

Mr. B’s grin is suddenly black and rotting. Whistles can smell feces and necrotic flesh. The mist darkens.

“To a place you've made, Mr. McCoy. A place of wicked horrors and eternal pain. I’ve come to take you there. Give me your hand.”

“Oh, my God!”

“No, I'd thought you figured that out by now.”

Martin Reyes lived into his late nineties. When he died, he was whistling.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Knowledge City Blues

The city fell around them. War had finally arrived with all its fury and horror. Some later thought the initial victims were lucky.

For months there was no communication between the survivors. No whispered words, no furtive glances, no secret nods, no handshakes, nothing. Each was woefully unaware of the others existence. Until the night of the beacon. It drew them together.

The surrounding countryside was lit up for miles. Every hunger worn straggler ceased whatever they were doing for a moment and gazed up at the indigo flare as it fell back toward the earth.

An urchin nibbled nervously at his thumbnail as the light diminished and night reclaimed Her throne. He ducked back into his filthy corner and tried to sleep, but the blue flash burned in his dreams.

A young lady fell to her knees touching her forehead to the dirt. 'Thank you!Thank you! Thank you!' she prayed. This was her sign. Rising to her feet, for the first time since the attack, she smiled. It would be a long walk. There was no time to waste. Her first step is full of joy.
When the spark disappeared below the horizon an old man died. His death was peaceful and easy, blissful even. Do not mourn. He merely closed his eyes and was gone. There was no pain, no suffering. We should all should go the same way. Before he died he spoke a single word. What did he say? I don’t think you’re ready to know yet. . . .
The survivors emerge on the following day. Encounters are filled with hopeful trepidation. Like animals they stalk uncertainly closer. At times it’s a group of wanderers who spot a lone traveler and immediately surround them. No blood is spilt. No harshness or cruelty is echoed, instead it’s only curiosity that lords over their feelings.

What’s your name? Where were you when the firebombs fell? Where have you been? I thought I was alone. Do you have any water? Any food? Are there others? Did you see the blue light, too? Yes, I know. Come, let us make the way together.

And in the breach where the signal emanated sits Knowledge. He doesn’t know how long he’s been waiting. Doesn’t know how he knows all the things he knows. Like which night would be clear enough to launch the flare or where to aim in the velvet gloaming to ensure optimum trajectory and altitude. All that he knows has no memory and he can’t remember a time before the waiting. So Knowledge sits, waiting for the survivors.

Friday, September 10, 2010

In Mysterious Ways

When I died I went to the in-between place and God met me there.

“You mean Purgatory. You should say Purgatory. That’s what I named it.”

“No,” I responded. “I like the way I’m thinking of it better.”

Anger reddened the Divine face and the hands clenched.

“See! That’s the whole problem with you. . . “ eyes closed and there was a Divine inhalation of breath. The wind stirred our surroundings. “. . . people. You never do what I tell you.”

God slumped down against an oak tree. There was a two-way sign above his head.

“Okay.” I murmured, looking around and waiting for God to cool off.

The road forked ahead of us and the sign beckoned both ways.

“So. . . uh,” I queried after awhile. “which way do I go here?”

“What are you asking me for? You’re not gonna go the right way anyway.”

“Which way’s the right way?”

“Ahh son,” God smiled. “that is a very good question!”

When I awoke I went to the toilet and brushed my teeth.

“You mean bathroom. Brushing your teeth in the toilet is disgusting.”

“Aw. . . shit.”

“This is what I’m saying.” God agreed.

I shook my head. “No, no, no that’s not what I meant!”

“I don’t know.” God shrugged. “That’s what you wrote.. . . .”