Halloween Flash: As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

More macabre flash to keep you creepy until Halloween. I wrote this one about a year ago, but it hasn’t been published anywhere.

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As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

He was screaming when we buried him and he was still screaming when he dug himself up two days later. Now we have to look at the sorry state of him. His hands is broke and his face is ripped to ribbons. One eye running down his cheek like the yolk of a soft-boiled egg. He’s worse than before. He won’t talk, won’t listen and he won’t leave. All he does is walk the town and stare at us, like we’re some kind of monsters.

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Shameless Spousal Promotion, part II

Picking up the Ghost has published! It’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and lots of other book sellers. It’s written by Tone Milazzo, a man who, through a series of coincidences and misadventures, happens to be married to me. Of course, this in no way colors my glowing recommendation of his book. I’m not joking. It’s awesome.

I am, in fact, so enthusiastic about Picking Up the Ghost that I wrote a piece of flash fiction featuring a couple of characters of the book. Hope you enjoy the story and feel inspired to pick up a copy of Picking Up the Ghost!

Who He is not

He shuffles his identities as quickly and easily as he shuffles a deck of cards. The shapeshifter is at one with change. You can not catch the shapeshifter because the day you grab him, he is a different man than he was the day you met him. He is all about chance, luck and today.

The shapeshifter was a riverboat gambler once. He floated down the wide Mississippi, with a striped shirt, suspenders and a handlebar mustache. He wore the name Tennessee Slim and dealt cards to the wealthy pleasure seekers, watching them win and lose fortunes on the green felt of his gaming table. That was yesterday. The shapeshifter is not Tennessee Slim today.

The shapeshifter was an insurance salesman once. He worked in an office under fluorescent lights and rode the bus home to his cold bachelor’s apartment. He wore the name Robbie Freeman during the day and the name GamblinMan88 in online poker rooms at night. That was yesterday. The shapeshifter is not Robbie Freeman today.

The shapeshifter was a drifter once. He drove a car with tinted windows and New Mexico plates. He sniffed the wind off long stretches of hot asphalt for any sign of change. He wore the name Ted Lopez. He had a bag of tools, a deck of cards and a teen-aged boy to steal from. That was yesterday. The shapeshifter is not Ted Lopez today.

The shapeshifter was a teen-aged boy once. He stood by the side of the road, trying to hitch a ride and nursing his injured hand. He wore the name Cinque Williams and it did not fit him. He had a missing father, a screwdriver, a dream of an African Hougun and a burning need for answers. This is today. The shapeshifter is Cinque Williams today.

The shapeshifter pulls out his deck of cards and shuffles. It doesn’t matter what name he wears. The shapeshifter can not stand still on the side of a road. Stillness is death to him and he has cheated death for a very long time. The shapeshifter does not know it, but his luck is about to change.

San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology Vol. 4

My short story, “Sleepwalking,” will be appearing in San Diego Writers, Ink Anthology Vol. 4, edited by Jericho Brown & Laurel Corona.  I’ll be attending a release party for the book this evening and I’m excited to see my work in print for the first time! 

Contributors to the anthology will be reading excerpts  from their at the party. Here’s what I’ll be reading tonight:

Sleepwalking

                       My bed was sweaty after hours of my tossing around and trying to sleep. I left it and got up to visit the bathroom. I slunk down the hallway, past the plastic houseplants and neatly framed photographs, pausing when I thought I heard a noise. My toes curled deep in the carpet as I tensed, listening to see if our mother was sleeping. Our father always snores. He snorks and growls his way through the night, announcing his slumber to the world at large, but our mother; our mother is far more subtle. She lays curled in on herself like a crescent moon, three quarters of her mind eclipsed by undifferentiated darkness, and one quarter still brightly aware. One quarter of her mind stays open all night silent, distant and patient as the cold satellite that revolves around the earth. The white crescent of her body lays bright in the darkness of her bed and listens for noises in the dark. In the hallway I swayed my weight from left to right, producing an experimental squeak from the floorboards. I received nothing, save my father’s snores, for an answer.

            Streetlight trickled through the bathroom window, casting shadows in the basin of the sink. The countertop was cool against my skin as I laid my arm on it, inspecting the toilet seat cover. It was still blue, still plush, but it was completely free from stains. I rubbed my fingers in it, pulling apart the pile, searching for a remnant of my memory. I knelt that way for a long time, crouched on the cool bathroom tile. After a while I leaned back on my heels and tried to remember if the seat cover had been replaced since Darlene’s accident, or if a stain that deep would ever fade away.

Notice

I read the “Missed Connections” section of the local weekly. That’s where hipsters express their undying lust through cryptic messages featuring bar names, band names and clothing labels. Often I imagine one of the less detailed and more passionate entries is about me. “Beautiful Girl Downtown: I see you every day and hope that someday you will see me.” It’s a lovely notice and it makes me want to thank whoever wrote it. Even though it’s not for me, I can imagine it is. For a moment I can feel that adrenaline rush of being wanted. I’m not that desperate. Really.

A Ride in the Country

Me and Bigguy are in the truck. I like the truck because it goes fast. I stick my head out the window and the wind is in my fur and my teeth. I bark at the wind! Bigguy tells me, “Shut up.”  Bigguy smells nervous. Maybe he is excited like me because we’re going to play dig. I love to dig! Bigguy loves to dig too because he does it fast.

We are in the woods and Bigguy digs with his shovel and I dig with my claws. I dig hard! I made the dirt fly behind me and he throws dirt over his shoulder.  We dig and dig and it is great. We make a big hole for the dead thing.  I should be digging but the dead thing smells. It is full of rot smell and maggot smell and mold smell. It has so many smells I can’t tell what kind of dead thing it is. I put my face near the dead thing to sniff better and see better, but I sniff all the same rot smells. The dead thing is not all one thing because it is cut up in many parts and I don’t know what sort of dead thing all those parts make.

“Get away!” Bigguy yells and he is angry. Don’t be angry Bigguy. I am walking away from the dead thing. It is your dead thing. I won’t sniff it. See my tail between my legs? I am sorry.

Bigguy throws his dead thing in the hole. I stay away until he starts throwing dirt on it. I know this part! We are burying. I like burying as much as I like digging. Me and Bigguy throw more dirt. I’m helping. I’m a good helper!

We’re in the truck again and dig time is over. No more dirt. No more trees. No more dead thing. Bigguy talks to his phone and drives. He doesn’t tell it any words I know. I am tired so I lay my head on his lap. Bigguy puts down his phone and makes a big sigh. He says some more words I don’t know, but I think he’s talking to me. I make a big sigh too. Then he says my favoritest words ever, the happiest words I know, “Good boy,” he says and pets my head, “You’re a good boy.”