Metamorphosis

February 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm (Guest Blogger) (, , , , , , , , )

butterfly

A Short Story

by E.B. Jones

Mason Maxwell wasn’t like most of the other boys that he went to school with. Whenever he was twelve years old his mother bought him a box with a glass front and he decided that he was going to use it to start a butterfly collection. He liked the idea that butterflies weren’t always the way that butterflies seemed to be. For he himself, felt as though he was a caterpillar, simply waiting until he was able to wind himself up in a cocoon and then to emerge and fly away from everyone and everything.

Mason had never been a very popular boy, he was skinny, small and had to wear very large glasses in order to see. He spent most of his time alone in the library reading books and avoiding confrontations at all costs with the mean boys in gym class.
His only real friend at the school was the librarian. She had taken a special liking to Mason because of his love of reading. Many times he would excuse himself from the pep rallies and assemblies, saying that he needed to go to the bathroom, and he would sneak off to the library to read.

Mason wasn’t the only kid in school that didn’t get along with the mean boys in gym class but they weren’t the same as Mason was. They all wanted to be accepted by the popular kids. One of them, Lynn, had once been friends with Mason years ago. But whenever the boys would be mean to him he would run to the bathroom and cry.

There was another boy, Jeremiah, who would be made fun of as well. But instead of running off to the bathroom and crying, he showed up to school one day wearing all black and pretending like he had no emotions. The kids eventually stopped making fun of him but they never accepted him and Jeremiah would spend most of his off time standing behind the dumpster smoking sweet smelling cigarettes.

Mason was made fun of just as much as any of the other kids that were made fun of, but he didn’t mind it so much. He never wanted to follow the status quot, but preferred to focus his energy on things that interested him. With his affinity for insects he categorized all the students in the school into different groups. Most of the kids in school were ants, just following whatever was popular at the time and doing things that way because that was what you were supposed to do. Mason never got angry at them or wanted to cry whenever they made fun of him because he knew that was just how they were. He knew that none of the ants could understand him, being a caterpillar, and he never expected them too. “There’s always tomorrow.” He would tell himself and smile.

One day, one of the boys from gym pushed Mason up against a locker, “Hey nerd,” The boy said, “How come you like butterflies so much? You a fag or something?”

“No,” Mason said calmly, “I just think they’re pretty. I mean, they aren’t at first, whenever they’re still caterpillars. But eventually they grow up and are beautiful, then they fly around in big groups with their own and are never alone anymore. Not like ants, ants just stay on the ground and do whatever they’re told to do, never thinking for themselves.”

“Whatever faggot.” The boy said, pushing him down on the ground. “I bet you like other boys, that’s why you like butterflies.”

“I don’t see the correlation,” Mason said smiling, “Don’t worry, one day you might see.”

“Shut up faggot,” The kid said. Then he swung and knocked Mason’s glasses off. “That’s what you get for being a fag.”

That evening Mason’s mother picked him up and asked him what had happened. He explained and she just sighed. She didn’t understand him either, “Why don’t you try to play sports of something and make some friends?”

“It’s ok mom. I don’t want to be friends with people like that. They’re mean and one day things will change and I’m going to have a bunch of friends. People that aren’t just mean to each other because they are insecure in their own shortcomings,” he told her.

“Where do you get this stuff?” She asked. She didn’t understand her son, but she didn’t really care, she was proud that her son was more mature than even she was.

“I don’t know, I think it’s because I read a lot of books,” he told her.
A week later Mason decided that he wanted to explain to the other kids in school why he loved butterflies so much so he asked his science teacher if he could do a presentation on then for class. His teacher agreed and he set to work laying out all the details and making sure that he had everything in order for his presentation.

The presentation went well despite the spit wads and name calling. After he finished his teacher stood up and addressed the class.

“That was very informative Mason. Now, can anyone tell me what the process that a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly?”

Mason raised his hand but the teacher just looked at him and smiled. “Obviously you know Mason, does anyone else know?”

A girl at the back of the class raised her hand slowly, as if she thought she might know the answer.

“Yes, Sandy?” The teacher asked, “Do you know?”

Sandy hesitated for a moment and bit her lip, “Is it, metamorphosis?”

“Very good Sandy.” The teacher said.

Sandy wasn’t the most popular girl in school, but she was a cheerleader and her boyfriend was on the football team. Of all the members of the cheer squad she was the only one that actually seemed to care about any of her school work. Mason turned around and looked at her and smiled.

She looked at him and started to smile, then someone coughed out the word “nerd.” Then her smile went away and she rolled her eyes at Mason.

Mason didn’t mind Sandy rolling her eyes at him. He just turned back around and kept smiling.

Three weeks later Sandy missed several days of school and rumors started to circle around. Someone had said that her mother had been murdered by her father and that she had been kidnapped and was in Mexico. The only thing that anyone knew for sure was that the news was saying that her mother had been murdered and her father was on the lam.
Eventually Sandy did show up to school. Most of the time she kept silent and whenever someone tired to talk to her she told them to go away. Many of her friends ended up taking it very personally because none of them understood what she was going through.
The day before her mothers funeral, Sandy was standing at her locker whenever Mason walked past and noticed that she was crying so he decided to walk up to her.

“Sandy.” Mason said to her.

“Go away, I just want to be alone.” She told him.

“I’m sorry about your mother.” Mason said.

“Just go away! All right?” She yelled at him.

Mason continued on towards the library and went inside and sat down at his usual seat. The librarian came and sat down next to him.

“You like that girl Sandy huh?” She asked him.

“I like everyone. I just think she’s sad and I want to be nice to her because her mom died.” He told her.

“Well, I think you are being a very kind and proper gentleman.” The librarian told him.

“I don’t want her to be sad.” He said “I know why she’s sad, but everyone thinks she’s just being mean to them. They tried reaching out but I don’t think any of them really understand.”

“Well, she is going through a lot right now, and you have to understand that there are a lot of things going on in her mind. Just try and let her know that you’ll be there if she needs to talk to someone, but don’t be pushy about it.” The librarian said, “It’s kind of like whenever you get a little older, you’ll learn that you need to be available, but also respectful of boundaries. Lord knows I’ve been waiting for a boy that understands that.”

“You aren’t married?” Mason asked.

“No,” She laughed, “I was a caterpillar until about two years ago.”

“How old are you?”

“Here’s one more lesson. Never ask a girl her age.” She told him, “But between you and me, I’m 27.”

“Wow,” Mason said, “You were a caterpillar for a long time.”

The librarian laughed and then said, “Yeah, I was.”

“You made a pretty butterfly though.” He smiled.

“Thanks kid.” The librarian said.

Sandy opened the door with her head down and stood in the entryway for a bit, then walked to one of the aisles of books.

“Go get her kid.” The librarian said.

“Right, available, but respectful.” Mason said confidently.

“You’re gonna be something someday.” She smiled.

Mason walked slowly to where Sandy and gone. “I know you don’t want to talk to anyone right now, but if you ever do want to talk, I just wanted to let you know I’ll listen to you.”
Sandy looked up at him and had tears in her eyes. They stared at each other for a moment and then Mason smiled at her, turned around and walked away.

The next day Mason asked his mother if he could go to Sandy’s mother’s funeral and his mother agreed that it would be a nice thing to do.

Sandy arrived with her grandparents and Mason with his mother. “I don’t want to get too close, she’s going through a lot.” Mason told his mother.

After the funeral service ended Mason looked up in the sky and noticed a dark cloud moving swiftly towards the site. Mason’s mother put her hand on his shoulder, “We should get going.” She said.

“Not yet,” He told her.

The dark cloud got closer and closer until everyone that was left at the grave site could see that it was a swarm of butterflies. As the small group marveled at the site, Sandy looked down and noticed that there was one single butterfly resting on her mother’s coffin. She watched it as it slowly moved its wings and then took off and joined the other butterflies and flew north. She watched them until they disappeared into the sky. Whenever she looked back she noticed that Mason was watching the butterflies as well.

“I want to go talk to that boy.” She told her grandmother.

“That’s fine dear.” Her grandmother said.

Sandy walked towards Mason and tapped him on the shoulder. “What kind of butterflies are those?”

“Those are called Red Admiral butterflies. They migrate through here during the spring and fall.” He told her, “This is the first time I’ve seen that many of them though.”

“Do you think they took my mother to a better place?” She asked.

“Maybe,” Mason said, “Maybe in this life we’re all just caterpillars right now. Then one day, we go into a coffin for a little while, and then come out as something even more beautiful.”
Sandy’s throat closed up and tears started forming in her eyes. She tried to open her mouth to make words but nothing could come out so she just leaned in and kissed Mason. It was the first time a girl other than his mother had kissed him. They both stood for a moment looking at each other.

Then, Sandy turned around and walked away, and even though no one ever saw it, for the first time since her mother had died, Sandy smiled.

first-kiss

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Waitress

November 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm (Guest Blogger) (, , )

A Short Story by E.B. Jones

My last table is finally getting up to leave. I swear, they sat there forever. I was starting to wonder if they were going to sprout roots. I hate how long it takes people to get up. All having to say their goodbyes to each and every person while they’re still standing around the damn table and I have to wait on them to go home to their families and their beds so I can clean up their mess. I want to go home and go to bed too you know, but people don’t consider the waitress. For the thirty minutes I’m in your life, or hour and a half if you consider these people. I’m just here to serve you, and if I don’t get your water that you didn’t pay for filled up in a timely manner then by god no tip for that lazy hussie.
Finally, they’re walking out the door and I can get this damn table clean. “People are such pigs,” I whisper under my breath. I swear if I were to collect all the damn mustard these folks left on their table or seat or wherever the hell it landed we’d have a whole extra bottle of French’s for tomorrow’s lunch.
Dammit, someone left their credit card. Mr. Spencer Dean Thurgood. Well isn’t that nice, left a measly three dollar tip and the guy has a platinum card. Spencer, who names their kid that anyway? That’s like someone naming their kid Floyd, it’s an old mans name. I mean how often do you ever see a kid running around these days named Floyd?
Spencer Dean Thurgood. With a name like that I bet he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and another one in his hand in case the one in his mouth ever fell out. Hopefully he won’t notice his card is missing until tomorrow so I can get all my work done and get home.
The table is finally clean now. What time is it? Ten fifteen, dammit, I need to call Rodney and tell him I’m going to be home late. He’s gonna be mad. I knew I shouldn’t have covered for Mary, but she worked a double today and her dad isn’t doing too well and she’s the only person that old man has.
Jane’s on the phone, dammit, Rodney is going to be pissed I’m coming home late. I tap Jane on the shoulder and she just gives me a hold on a minute finger. Guess I’ll go ahead and get some silverware cleaned.
A little bit later Jane pops her head around the corner, “Hey darlin’, you need to use the phone?”
I tell her yeah, and say thanks and I go to the phone. It rings twice and Rodney picks it up.
“The hell are you woman?” He asks.
“I took Mary’s closing shift cause she worked a double and her dad’s sick.” He ain’t gonna believe me.
“Bullshit!” he yells into the phone as if I couldn’t hear him if he’d just said it normal. “You’re fucking around on me aren’t you?”
“No.” I tell him, “I swear I’m still at work, I’m just gonna be here a little longer and then I’ll be home. I promise.”
“You know I’m getting sick of you lying to me all the time. You spend more time up there at that job than you spend with your own damn kid. If you’re even at that job as often as you say you are.”
He’s mad.
“I spend all this time here because you ain’t working you son of a bitch.” I’m not sure where that came from, but it feels good, kind of proud, copping an attitude right back at him. He never hit me before, but I imagine that’s the kind of remark that would push a man to the point of hitting a woman. Least it’s over the phone so even if he wanted too…
“Woman, you know I been looking for a job but since the brick factory laid me off it’s been hard to find anything.” his usual excuse, and then his usual rebuttal. “But that don’t matter none, and you need to get your ass home.”
“I told you I’ll be home once my shift is over.” I am getting so sick of his shit.
“Whatever.”
Good, his whatever usually means that he’s damn near done talking and I can get back to work.
“And grab some damn diapers at that new all night Wal-Mart over there on Elm on your way home. If you really are still at the diner.”
“I swear I’m at the diner.” I hate how he never believes me. He is a son of a bitch and it’s moments like this one I can’t stand him, “I’ll be home in a little bit.” Dammit, I’m starting to cry, I can’t let him hear it or he’ll win. “I’ll see you in a bit.”
I hang up the phone and can feel tears sliding down my cheeks. I really don’t want anyone to see me like this right now, I should probably go to the back.
Shit, I just noticed my reflection in the mirror just off the door. God I look like a mess, make up running down my cheeks and eyes, red as hell. Damn him for making me feel like this all the time, damn him. I swear, we used to be so good together, at one point we were, I swear we were.
“We were!” I hiss at my reflection. It’s no use, my make up is smeared, my face is flushed and my eyes are red. Now I have to deal with talking about what’s wrong with Jane and Vera. Oh well, maybe it will help to get all of this out.
I go around the corner, still flushed and weepy eyed and there’s Jane standing there polishing away at the silverware. She looks up, “Oh my lord, what’s wrong honey?”
“Nothing.” I tell her. It feels like snot is running down my upper lip so I wipe my sleeve across it but it doesn’t look like there’s actually anything there.
“Honey, you don’t look good.” Jane puts her hand on my shoulder. Poor girl, I know she means well but damn if she isn’t a naive little thing. She thinks she knows so much but she’s only seventeen and lord, she has no idea. She is a sweet girl though.
“It’s Rodney.” I say without thinking. Dammit, I didn’t want to talk about it.
“He mad you staying late again?” Jane asks. She is such a sweet cute little girl. If I had any sense I’d have been one of them lesbians and tried to get in the sack with Jane instead of Rodney. At least then I wouldn’t have ended up having a damn kid on top of everything else.
“Yeah,” I tell her, “He thinks I’m cheating on him cause I took Mary’s shift so she could go home and take care of her dad.”
“Honey, I know that I ain’t been working here long and I don’t really know much about you and your beau. But from all I hear, that Rodney is an ass.” I want to smack the bitch. Only because I know she’s absolutely right.
“We got a kid,” I tell her.
“I heard about that.” she pauses for a moment, “Still don’t mean he ain’t any less of an ass.”
“You think you’re so god damn smart.” My attitude is starting to get the best of me. She’s absolutely right and that’s what pisses me off, “How the hell would you know? I got a damn baby with that man and yeah, he’s a prick, but I do love him.”
I love him. I love him. I love him.
If I say it enough it’s true right? I think I can keep myself convinced if I say it enough.
“Sorry,” Jane hunkers down a bit and keeps polishing the silverware. We don’t say anything for awhile. She just keeps polishing the silverware and I keep rolling it up inside napkins for tomorrow.
“Sorry Jane,” I say, “I didn’t mean nothing.”
Poor girl, so young.

“You know, you should get the hell out of this town while you can.” I snap at her, and I mean it. This place is a damn cancer and the quicker someone can get out, the better. I had the chance whenever I first graduated high school but I thought I was in love. I had a full scholarship and was going to go to college but Rodney screwed all that up. He was going nowhere and was a nobody. But at the time he was everything to me. He knew that all he had to do was say them three words and I’d be like putty.
“I love you.” he told me, “Don’t leave me, you’re all I got.”
That son of a bitch kept me here. Now I’m working in a shit hole diner and I spent nine months of my life lugging his little bastard around in my belly.
“Jane,” I tell her, “If a man ever tells you that he loves you…” I stop for a minute. All motion ceases, we both stand there as time stands still.
“Yeah?” Jane asks. Her eyes are big and green. She’s still seventeen and beautiful and skinny. It isn’t fair that beauty is given to the young and stupid.
“Don’t let no man tell you they love you.” I tell her.
“Rodney tell you that?” she asks with a smirk.
“Shut your god damn mouth bitch.” I can barely say it and keep the laugh in. I like this side of her, but I can’t show it. Not when it comes to Rodney.
“Oh child, is that boy at you again?” Vera is just coming out of the kitchen. Vera owns the diner and the whole menu is based on her granny’s cooking, she says. She is such a sweet old lady and her cooking is amazing. About the only thing I really don’t care for about Vera is when she finds out it is someone’s birthday she makes us all go sing to them and give them a piece of her famous peach cobbler. She swears one bite of it and they’ll be back for more. “We give them one helping of my granny’s famous peach cobbler for free and they’ll be back sooner or later. I swear child, it’s just like them potato chips on the T. V., you can’t eat just one.”
The thing I loved most about Vera was that no matter what she was doing, whether it was taking care of the books or whipping up a batch of that famous peach cobbler she always made time for gossip. If there is one thing you can trust Vera for, it’s that she will always have time to gossip.
“Yeah, he thinks I’m cheating on him.” I tell Vera.
“Child, that ain’t no good.” she purses her lips. “Tell that boy he need to learn his place. You make the money now doncha?”
“Yeah.” I love the way Vera talks, it’s like something from a time forgotten. It always puts a smile on my face.
“Well baby girl, I was you I’d leave his ass. Huh. Jesus Christ tell us to treat each other right and some boy be treating you wrong like he does, then he don’t go with God and that ain’t no man for you sugar.” There was something about when Vera cursed, it always made me laugh a little.
“Oh but you got children with him huh?”
“Yeah, well, just the one.” I tell her.
“Oh child. You too young to be having babies. You just a baby youself. Babies having babies, my lord of wonders what gonna be happenin next?” Vera says shaking her head.
I smile. “Vera honey, I’m twenty five.”
“Oh honey child, I understand. I had my first little one when I was but sixteen.” Jane’s eyes widen as soon as she hears Vera say that. “That’s right dear child, and the the next one at nineteen. And lordy I don’t even know no more haha.” Vera just laughed. “I do love all my babies though, mothers love like no other, you know what I say doncha girl?”

I nod. From the look on Jane’s face I’m pretty sure that Vera and I have convinced Jane to never have children at all.
“How about you child? When are you going to make some babies?” Vera asks Jane. I know she was just messing with her but we are having fun now and I finally don’t feel as shitty as I did before.
“Uhm.” Jane was speechless.
Vera laughs louder than I’ve ever heard her laugh. “Oh child, I just be playing. You too young to be having babies. You need to get you an education and then you can have some babies.” Vera looks at me sternly. “Like you should have.”
Vera walks back into the kitchen and all I can think is “Thanks Vera, thanks a lot.”
I start feeling shitty again.
“I’m going to go have a cigarette.” I tell Jane and I turn around and head for the door.
“Can I join you?” Jane asks me. I can tell she was nervous about asking. Initially I want to say no but “Sure,” comes out of my mouth. I guess I could always use the company.
It’s cold outside and the heat from our breath on the cold air mixes with the cigarette smoke to make tiny clouds. We stand smoking and looking up at the stars, they’re bright out tonight.
“So why are you still with that guy?” Jane finally asks me.
“I guess cause we got a baby together,” I say.
“That don’t mean nothing. I know plenty kids with step parents. Hell I’m a step kid myself.”
I hate to admit it but she has a point.
“Well we at least gotta try right?” I ask her. I wonder if she might have a better concept on all of this since she’s never been thrown into the middle of it.
“I dunno. I mean you can try, but I dunno.” she pauses for a second, “I mean there are other avenues you can take.”
She’s looks up and smiles at me.
“I ain’t never seen none.” I say and I drop my cigarette on the ground. I stamp it out and go back inside. Jane puts out her cigarette and follows me right after. We finish up the last few silverware and then I turn towards her and sigh, “Well, I guess I’ll see you next time.”
“Yeah,” She’s still smiling at me, “See you.” she says and walks to the door.
Suddenly she turns around and puts her arms around me. “You’ll be ok.” she tells me. “You’re a beautiful strong woman. And I know there’s plenty of other people out there that would love to make you happy.”
She’s right. She pulls away and smiles at me again and then says good night and walks out the door towards her car.
I take my apron off and put it in the linen bag, yell goodnight to Vera, and then walk out to the door to my car. I look back up at the stars and wonder if Jane was right, if maybe there were some other avenues I could take. Maybe I could even end up going to college like I should have so long ago.
I guess I’ll worry about all that kind of stuff tomorrow though. Right now I just need to get home and get some sleep. I open tomorrow and it’s going to be a long day.
I turn the key in the ignition but the engine doesn’t turn over. I’ve been worried that something might be wrong with it. Rodney keeps on saying he’s going to get around to it but he hasn’t yet. The third time I turn the key it starts. I reverse out of the parking space behind the diner, shift the car into drive and start to head home. With any luck Rodney will be passed out drunk and I won’t have to deal with him tonight.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Three A.M. – A Short Story

October 11, 2012 at 3:53 am (Guest Blogger) (, , , )

Original Story by E.B. Jones

I woke up slowly and looked at the clock, it was three in the morning. I can’t remember a single night since my wife and I moved here that I didn’t end up waking up at three in the morning. A train used to always come by at three and blow it’s whistle at the intersection right behind out house. The first time that it happened my wife and I both shot out of bed, scared out of our minds trying to figure out just what the hell was going on. We knew that there was a train track behind our house but we didn’t have any idea that it was going to be going past at three in the morning. The realtor had failed to mention that whenever we were looking at the house.

We’d moved here about six months after we were married because we decided that buying a home was the next logical step in our lives.

“It’s more like an investment,” She would say as she chewed celery and looked at the brochure that the mortgage company had given us. “I mean, right now we’re just throwing money away at that sleazy land lord of ours, and you know real estate always goes up in value.”

“Sounds good,” I would say, sipping my coffee and not trying to be contentious, “But are we really ready to settle down just yet?”

“Well, we were settled down enough to get married.” She laughed.

“You have a point.” I told her.

“Besides,” She would say as she put her hand on mine. “I think we’re ready.”

We both smiled and then spent the rest of the time figuring out the details on how to close, how much we would need for a down payment and everything else. She was much better with the numbers than I was so she took care of most of the details, besides, we both knew that it was really going to be her house.

The next few weeks we spent looking through the real estate ads at all the houses that were for sale.

“Oh, I absolutely love this one!” She would tell me quietly. She had heard that if the realtor knew that we were excited about a place then they would have an easier time convincing the client that it was a good home, despite the obvious flaws.

The realtor could still always tell whenever she was excited though, so I had to be the skeptic and ask questions that might make us look less interested. “I don’t know,” I would say, “I mean, what is the  crime rate around here?” I wanted to make sure we weren’t getting something we would regret.

“It’s a lovely neighborhood, low crime, great schools and the neighbors are all just so active in the community.” The realtors always said the same thing, sometimes even in the same exact words and I wondered if there was some sort of script that all realtors had to memorize in order to get their license.

The first time we walked into the house that we would eventually buy in a month and a half my wife couldn’t keep it in. “I just love it!” She blurted out.

And we both told the realtor, “We’ll take it!” The final paperwork was signed and we made the hefty down payment and they handed us the keys.

We drove from the old apartment to the new house with the last of our things and got out, marveling at our first real purchase as a married couple. We stood for at least ten minutes just looking at the front door, then she broke the long silence. “Oh my god, a flower garden here on the front with some bushes would look amazing! I could plant some azalea’s and maybe some small bushes,” and then, “You can put in a nice brick walkway up to the front porch, and then people can walk up to it while we sit on the porch in the spring and sip on tea!”

She was so excited about our new home. I was excited as well, “I can build a shop back here so I can work on things.” I told her. I had no idea what I would work on, I was just an accountant and had never really built or repaired anything in my life, but it seemed like something that a married man would do.

“Oh! What kind of shop!” She would ask me excitedly.

“I don’t know yet, maybe I’ll get a lathe and learn how to do wood carving, like my grandpa did. Or I could just turn the garage into an auto repair place and buy me a hot rod and soup it up!”

She tilted her head and looked at me, “As long as it doesn’t take up my side of the garage.”

After walking around the house and coming up with all of our crazy ideas of shops, gardens, sun rooms, dinner parties, barbeques and even a quickly dismissed idea of beekeeping, we started to unload the car.

Most of the larger or heavy stuff we had hired professional movers to take care of so it didn’t take us very long to get everything into the house. We walked around the three bedroom house and were amazed  at just how little possessions we actually owned.

“It’s ok, we can buy new things. Furniture that actually matches so it all looks proper.” I laughed.

“You’re right, and there’s two empty rooms, maybe we could think about starting a family. You know, once we get all settled in.” She said looking at me with a gleam in her eyes.

“Really?” I asked, “You want to try for kids?” I wasn’t sure how I felt about kids. I wasn’t against the idea, I had just never really given it much thought.

“Yeah,” She hesitated, “I mean, if you want too.”

I hesitated myself, then finally, “Of course, I’d love too.”

She slung her arms around me and kissed me and then jumped up in the air and before we realized what was going on we were in bed working on starting up a new family.

That evening we ordered pizza. I think it was mostly so we could invite someone to see our new place, thinking that they would think it was just as spectacular as we thought it was. The pizza delivery boy didn’t seem as excited as we were whenever she told him that we had just moved into the neighborhood.

We ate the pizza and watched our favorite movie together and then decided to go to sleep, it had been a very long day today, and we still had many more boxes to unpack tomorrow.

A few hours later, it happened, the loud screeching of a train screaming through the room like some kind of banshee trying to warn us that the house was haunted. I jumped out of bed and grabbed for something to beat off whatever the noise was that had interrupted our peaceful slumber.

It only took about thirty seconds for us to figure out what was going on but it felt like an eternity. She was holding a fly swatter and I had picked up a cardboard tube that one of her paintings was in. We looked at each other and then we started laughing. Then we got back in bed and both fell asleep to the sound of the train going off in the distance.

The next day we unpacked and laughed some more about the train that night, thinking it was probably just a one time thing. It wasn’t. Every single night at close to three in the morning the train whistle would screech through our room, waking us up every night.

The train whistle wasn’t the reason that she left, but she isn’t here anymore. We never had any children and she never planted that garden. None of the furniture is the same and I’m still driving the same four door sedan that I’ve had for the past six years. The train doesn’t come by anymore, but I still wake up every morning, for just a minute or two, at three in the morning.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Bourbon

September 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm (Guest Blogger) (, , , )

The Latest Short Story from E.B. Jones

The sun had just come up and started bleeding through the window and
into the largest bedroom of the little single-wide trailer. Specks of
dust danced in the rays of sunlight until they reached his eyes and
woke him up. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, sending the dust
scattering in all different directions. What time was it? Seven
o’clock. The entire day was free, no work. Tomorrow as well. The floor
was cold as he stepped onto it and he quickly pulled his feet up then
slowly lowered them back down, hovering his feet just above the floor
until they found his house shoes. He turned around and saw that his
wife wasn’t in bed, she must have been in the other room feeding the
baby.
The bathroom door creaked as he closed it, he didn’t bother locking
it. The faucet on the sink ran steaming water while he lathered his
face with shaving cream. He ran his razor slowly across his cheeks,
chin, jaw, and lastly, just above his upper lip. After each stroke he
dipped the razor under the running water, sending small specks of hair
and foam sliding down the drain. The mirror steamed up before he
finished and the towel he rubbed across to get the fog off left
streaks. His wife hated whenever he did that because it meant that she
would have to spray the mirror down with window cleaner and wipe it
down again. He didn’t care that it bothered her, not anymore.
The shower knob creaked a bit when he turned it on and the cold water
splashed against his hand. When the water started to get warmer he
went back to the streaky mirror and saw himself. Twenty-eight years
old, living in a broken-down trailer in a nowhere town in southern
Alabama. His gut had gotten bigger in year since he got married and
his face had filled out. He didn’t like it. If it weren’t for him
working so many hours at the sawmill he probably would be even fatter,
but the exercise he got at work helped keep a lot of the weight off.
When the room started getting warmer, he stepped into the shower and
started to wash himself off. The extra hair that had stayed stuck to
his face and a bit of foam around his right earlobe were the first to
get rinsed off. The dirt, grease and sawdust didn’t wash off until he
lathered up with soap and scrubbed with a washcloth. After about ten
minutes he turned the shower off and grabbed the towel that was
hanging on the rack to dry himself.
He came out of the bathroom and went to the dresser and pulled at it’s
top drawer. It was stuck and took a bit to get open—it had been giving
him trouble for awhile—but he hadn’t had time to fix it because of all
the extra hours he had been putting in at work. He started buttoning
up his shirt as he walked towards the babies room. His wife was
breast-feeding when he walked in.
“Button your god damn shirt up,” she snapped at him. “The baby’s fine.
Now go make some damn breakfast. Not like you’d be any help here
anyway.” The last part she mumbled under hear breath but he still
heard it.
The coffee he made in the kitchen was too hot to drink so he set it on
the counter and went to the refrigerator to grab some eggs and bacon.
They were out of bacon.
“Honey, we’re out of bacon,” he yelled down the hall.
“I told you to pick some up along with the milk yesterday. Did you
forget?” she yelled back.
“I don’t remember you asking me to get anything. I didn’t go to the
market,” he yelled into the refrigerator.
“What? I can’t hear you,” she said. The baby started crying.
He turned towards the hallway again. “I said I didn’t go to the market
yesterday.”
“God dammit, can’t you do anything right?” she yelled back at him. “I
told you we needed milk and bacon yesterday before you left for work.
You were supposed to get it on your way home.” She let out a loud huff
and then mumbled, “worthless son of a bitch.” He didn’t hear the last
part.
The baby stopped crying just before the toast popped up. She walked
into the dining room with the baby and sat down.
“Ain’t you got it ready yet?” she groaned.
“Dammit woman, this ain’t McDonald’s. I can’t just magically go
‘poof” and have your damn breakfast ready in an instant,” he shot
back.
“I don’t care. Just give it to me,” She sighed, looking away from him.
He set the plates down in their places at the table and sat down.
“And what am I supposed to drink?”
He stood up from the table without saying a word and grabbed a glass
and a jug of orange juice and slammed it onto the table in front of
her.
“You burnt the toast,” she said between chews.
He didn’t respond.
The toast was still on her plate whenever she got up and took the baby
into the other room to watch cartoons.
He propped his hand up against his forehead and let the weight of his
head rest on his hand. His forehead was hot to the touch and for a
moment he thought he might be getting sick.
Was this really his life? Had she always been such a bitch? No, she
hadn’t—when did it all start? After the baby was born and she started
going out with her friends again.
It had been about six months ago. He came home from work and she
shoved the baby into his hands told him that she was going out with
her friends. He protested that he had been at work all day and was
tired, but she insisted, stating that she had been cooped up for a
year since he knocked her up, not allowed to have any fun and she was
going to go out and have fun with her friends. She was sick of seeing
his kid and besides, he needed to spend some time with their baby
anyway.
He was angry at her blatant disregard for his feelings. He started
yelling that even though he hadn’t been cooped up like she had, he
spent most of his time at his job and he didn’t get to go out and have
any fun either. He spent all his time working six of seven days a week
with overtime so they would be able to have a house and food and pay
the bills.
She walked out in the middle of his rant and got into a car and drove
off. There he was standing with a baby he hardly ever saw and had no
idea what to do with.
The first night this happened he started the evening by turning on the
television and watching re-runs of Star Trek. The baby was lying in
the crib and he was sitting in the recliner with a beer and a roast
beef sandwich. About fifteen minutes into the show, right before the
red shirt died, the baby started crying. “What now?” he said out loud.
He went to the crib and picked the baby up but it continued to cry. He
took it into the kitchen and sat it on the counter, then peeled a
banana. The baby stared at the banana that was in its face for a short
second and then proceeded to cry again. That’s whenever the man
noticed the terrible smell that was coming from the baby. He laid it
down on the dinner table and undid its diaper to check if the baby had
used it or not. It had.
The baby was slippery in his hands as he washed it in the kitchen sink
with Palmolive and a dishcloth. After the baby was dried off he set it
on the ground and started looking for a diaper. It seemed as if the
smelly shit diaper he had just taken off the baby was the last one so
he let the baby crawl around naked while he went back to his beer and
television.
After about 4 more beers the baby had fallen asleep so he took it to
the crib and laid it down, then started thinking about his situation.
The clock told him that it was just after ten so he went to the curio
in the living room and poured himself a glass of bourbon. He needed
more than just beer at this point. While he stood there sipping on the
bourbon and pondering his life, he noticed a few pictures of his wife
and himself looking back at him. They were smiling. They both smiled
those days. He couldn’t remember the last time he had smiled, or the
last time he saw her smile. The pictures were mocking him. Mocking him
because of what he used to have and what he had become. He turned them
face down so their laughter would at least be muffled. With the bottle
of bourbon in one hand and his glass in the other he went and sat on
the front porch and lit a cigarette. A million thoughts raced through
his head as he sat there and drank and smoked.
Before he knew it a car pulled up and he saw his wife get out. She was
smiling and laughing like in the pictures. He started to smile as he
watched her, but her smile turned to something of a scowl as soon as
she made eye contact with him. “Get the hell out of my way,” she said.
“Have you been sitting out here on your no-good ass drinking all
night?”
He didn’t respond. She walked in mumbling about how he was a worthless
sack of shit and that she deserved better than him. She yelled at him
not to wake her up whenever he came to bed.
This had been going on about once a week for six months now. She
always somehow timed her nights out to be the nights before his one
day a week off so he was unable to go out himself and had to stay in
and watch the baby. She always did this because she knew she would
want to sleep in after she went out and didn’t want him to wake her up
early while he was getting ready for work. Most mornings the baby
would start crying while he was getting ready and she would tell him
to give it some of the formula she had made in the kitchen, and he
would have to skip his own breakfast so he wasn’t late to work.
The baby laughed in the other room and snapped him back to reality. He
stood up and picked the dishes up off the table and put them in the
sink, then refilled his coffee cup.
He didn’t want to deal with talking to her so he quietly slipped out
the door. His truck’s brakes had been squeaking so he figured he
should check them out. Besides, it was a good excuse not to be in the
house with her.
As soon as he stepped out the door he heard a dog bark and looked over
in the direction the noise came from. It was his dog Mary Bell, an old
Basset hound he had since he was twenty-one. His high school
sweetheart had given Mary Bell to him as a Christmas present. She
broke up with him that January and started dating some businessman
from Atlanta. He was going to ask her to marry him on Valentine’s day
about a month later but he never got the chance.
He liked Mary Bell because she had been there any time he needed
someone to talk to, and with the way his wife had been acting since
the baby was born, he needed someone to talk to often. She always
agreed with him—either a loud bark proclaiming that he was correct or
a sympathetic groan to confirm that he had in fact just made a very
bad decision.
He unlatched the dog chain and Mary Bell waddled over to him. “Hey
girl, how are you?” The dog licked his face and he laughed. “How about
you and me fix them brakes, huh?”
Mary Bell barked in agreement and started walking towards the tool
shed with her master just behind her. It was an old broken down shed
that had been there longer than the man had even been alive. The paint
was peeling and one of the walls had taken dry rot and was on the
verge of collapsing.
“I out to just knock this old thing down and get one of them metal
sheds they sell on the T.V.,” the man told Mary Bell. She barked in
agreement.
“Now let’s see,” the man said to the dog. “We’ll need a jack, a tire
bar, and some brake fluid.” He shuffled through the toolboxes and
drawers and shelves. “Now I know it’s here somewhere. You didn’t steal
it off, did you Mary Bell?” He looked at the dog and laughed. Mary
Bell just groaned. Whenever he found what he needed they both walked
together back to the truck.
The truck was a 1963 Chevrolet C-10 and had been his pride and joy
since his dad bought it for him when he graduated high school. It was
the truck he had spent most of his youth in, but it was older now and
starting to show signs of its age. One of the back fenders had started
to rust and the paint had just started peeling off the hood. The
interior was mostly good, except for the floor board from years of his
boot heel digging into it while switching from the gas to the bake. He
tried as hard as he could to keep it in pristine condition like he had
been able to whenever he was younger, but the money for it just wasn’t
there anymore.
He slid the jack underneath the front driver’s side tire and found a
good spot. The truck moaned as he started to lift it off of the
ground. The lug nuts broke with a screech and he put them in a pile
next to him and then pulled the wheel off of the hub and laid it on
the ground behind him. He took a moment to smile at Mary Bell and then
he inspected the brakes.
“Well, this one looks good,” he told Mary Bell.
It didn’t take him as long to put the tire back on as it did to take
it off. While he was unscrewing the lug nuts on the passenger side
tire, his wife came outside with the baby.
“I’m going to town and getting the bacon and milk your dumb ass forgot.”
He just grunted.
“You need anything?” she yelled.
“No,” he yelled back.
“You know you probably just outta sell that piece of shit. Don’t work
no how and we could always use the money.”
“Don’t think so, darlin’.”
“Jackass,” she said, quietly enough for him not to hear her.
He didn’t look up as she walked to the car. She sat the baby down in
the back seat in its baby chair and made sure that all the belts and
straps were tight and secure on the seat and then made sure all the
belts and straps were tight on the baby. She then got herself into the
car and backed out of the driveway and drove away from the house and
towards town.
“Well, thank god!” he told his dog. “She’ll be gone at least an hour.”
They lived about twenty minutes outside of town in a very secluded
area on a plot of land that his uncle had gifted to him from his death
bed. The closest neighbors were half a mile away. He liked the
seclusion and quiet, but his wife hated it. She was much more for the
city and refined things. Dinner parties and nights out dancing were
more her flavor.
The passenger side brake was in fine working order as well, so he put
the wheel back on and then lowered the truck back to the ground.
“No sense in wasting an opportune time to take a break while she isn’t around.”
Mary Bell barked and they both walked into the house.
The pictures were staring at him again but he didn’t bother turning
them face down right now. Besides, she would be back soon and would
raise all hell asking him why all the pictures had been knocked down
and he had no desire to deal with any of that.
A pink spine at the bottom of the bookcase caught his eye so he walked
over and pulled it out to see what it was. The cover of it was a
picture frame that showed him in a tuxedo and his wife in a white
dress. It was surrounded by red roses embroidered around the edges and
read “Wedding Memories – 1978” at the bottom.
They had wed on April 15, 1978, just a few months after his now-wife
had discovered that she was pregnant. They hadn’t told anyone that she
was until after that had married, fearing the fallout they would end
up suffering from the mostly Christian community that they lived in.
Most of the community would go out to the bars on weekends and either
get sloshed drunk or smoke marijuana. In fact, most of the unmarried
singles even slept around quite a bit, but they were able to keep that
all a secret. Then come Sunday morning, they would appear in church in
their Sunday finest and even though everyone knew who had done what
and with who, everyone kept their mouths shut about the night before.
A pregnancy, however, wouldn’t be easily hidden on Sunday morning and
would become a permanent exposure of their sin against God’s law. So
the man and his girlfriend decided to do what any God-fearing couple
would do—get married so as not to have a bastard child and anger God,
or at least the local community.
The wedding was small and simple, just their closest friends and
family at the local one-room church downtown. Whenever she entered the
room, his best man, who was also his best friend, leaned over and
whispered something about how she was hot and he would hit it if they
ever split up. The man just punched him the arm and laughed while he
to told him to shut up.
He was smiling the whole time she walked down the aisle. He had
realized in that moment that he was actually happy that they had
accidentally conceived a child and were getting married. He could get
a job at the sawmill and save up some money over a few years. Then
after that, they could move to Texas and he could work on an oil rig,
make a good living and they would live happily ever after, just like
all the stories he’d read in school.
Whenever she made it to the alter she looked at him and smiled and
thought something very similar to his own thoughts.
They said their vows to each other and to the crowd of their friends
and family watching. After he told her “until death do us part,” he
lifted her veil. They looked into each others’ eyes and smiled, and as
his lips pressed into hers, everything that was wrong in the world and
any problem that he had ever had was suddenly gone. It was the most
completely perfect moment he had ever experienced.
The reception was held at the local bar. Most of the groomsmen were
getting drunk and flirting with the bridesmaids, trying their best to
get lucky with whatever girl they could. She had grown up in a town
about thirty minutes away from him, so none of his friends really knew
any of her friends, and in their minds that meant fresh meat.
The crowd had a multitude of conversations going on that differed
quite substantially but were all about the same subject—the marriage.
Some seemed to think that they were a lovely couple and would live a
long and happy life together. Others only gave the marriage a few
months, or maybe a year at the most. Neither the bride nor the groom
heard any of these conversations; they were too busy dancing together.
That day, nothing else mattered or even existed to them.
He heard a car door shut outside and he quickly closed the photo album
and shoved it back into the book case. His wife kicked open the door
holding grocery bags in one hand and the baby in the other. He was
still thinking about the day they were married and started to smile.
“Well, are you gonna help me or just stand there and look dumb? And
why is that damn dog in the house?”
His smile faded and he looked down. “Yeah, sure. Come on, Mary Bell.”
He went out to the car to get the rest of the bags. There was one
left, with bacon and milk in it.
After he brought the bag in, he went back outside to check the rear brakes.
She made herself lunch and sat down and ate. Neither of them wanted to
be in the same room at the moment. He was happy to be outside working
on his truck and she was happy to be inside eating her lunch away from
this bastard of a man that had knocked her up and forced her to give
up her youth.
The back passenger tire was off whenever she opened the door and
walked out to him.
“Got it fixed yet?”
“Nope.”
“Well, whatever.” She shook her head and rolled her eyes. “I’m going
out tonight. The baby’s asleep in its room so I’m going to go take a
bath. If you need anything don’t bother me.”
“Fine.”
She walked back into the house and went into the bathroom and started
filling the tub up with water.
The rear passenger side brake had nothing wrong with it either. There
was really nothing wrong with the truck at all and he knew it. He
simply told her that there was so he would have an excuse not to be
around her on his day off. It also kept his mind off of how things had
gotten between the two of them. He wanted so badly to blame that
little baby asleep in its crib, but anytime he looked at it, he knew
he could never blame it for any of their problems. They were their
problems and theirs alone.
He was about to put the rear drivers’ side tire back on when he heard
thunder off in the distance. A storm was rolling in and he saw the
clouds rushing towards the house with lightning forking down into the
woods. It started to sprinkle a bit as he stared straight up at the
sky for a minute. Then he looked back to the storm in the distance.
“Git, dog,” he told Mary Bell quietly. She waddled back into her
doghouse and laid down with a slight whimper. Dust blew up into the
air around her mouth as she sighed.
He walked up to the front door and opened it with his left hand, still
holding the tire bar in his right hand.
He went into the living room and poured himself a glass of bourbon.
The pictures were mocking him again. He took the tire bar and flipped
them over with the bent side of it one at a time until all of the
pictures in the living room were face down.
He slowly made his way into the bedroom and used the tire bar to flip
the rest of the pictures down. He finished off the glass of bourbon
and let it drop to the floor. Inside the bathroom the shower curtain
was closed.
The tire bar made a shadow as it moved across the shower curtain and
then slowly, it moved the curtain across the rod, exposing the tub to
the rest of the room.
She was lying there naked and had fallen asleep and he wondered if she
had always looked that way. She couldn’t have, could she? Where did
those disgusting stretch marks or that extra flab come from? She was a
tiny girl when they first met, just over a hundred pounds. He wanted
it to be that damn baby. Since the baby she had become something else,
someone else. It wasn’t just her physical shape that was noticeable
either—that was just the most obvious. The harder he tried to blame
the baby the more he knew it wasn’t it’s fault at all. It was her
fault, or his.
They had first met in 1977 when she had just graduated high school.
She was eighteen and he was twenty-five. He hadn’t really been
interested in any women since his former fiance had run off to Atlanta
with the businessman. His friends had started noticing that he didn’t
seem very happy with his life and wasn’t really the same guy that he
used to be. They all talked it over and decided that one of them would
invite their cousin to the next Sunday church luncheon and there, they
would introduce the two of them.
It was something like love at first sight. She was a petite little
woman with curly red hair, pale skin and eyes as green as a pasture
after an April rain. He had dark brown hair, an immaculate jaw line
and a slim but muscular frame with the most beautiful hands she had
ever seen. They spent the entire afternoon talking to each other about
their hopes, dreams, past experiences and anything and everything
else. They exchanged phone numbers and said goodbye, but as soon as
she got home she called him. He answered before the first ring was
finished. They stayed up talking until three a.m. If she hadn’t fallen
asleep listening excitedly to his plan to move to Texas and get a job
on an oil rig and become a big-shot rough neck, eventually working his
way up to owning his own oil company, they probably would have been up
all night talking.
Over the next several months they continued to spend all of their free
time together. Whenever they weren’t together they were on the phone
talking, and when they weren’t on the phone talking, they were
thinking about each other. Most of her girlfriends told her that she
was the luckiest girl ever to land such an amazing guy and most of his
friends told him that he was a lucky son-of-a-bitch to land such a hot
little fox.
It was in a cold February evening whenever she approached him and told
him that they needed to talk. He could tell something was very wrong.
“What’s up, darling?” he asked.
“Well, I’m not sure how to say this really.”
“Well, girl, just spit it out! It’s getting kind of late and you know
I ain’t the partying type,” he said with a smirk.
“This is serious. I just, well, you see… I mean… the thing is…”
she looked at him and tears started to well up in her eyes.
“What is it, baby? You know you can tell me anything.” His face became
more concerned now that he knew it was a very serious matter.
She looked at him and waited until the tears slid down her cheek. “I’m
pregnant.”
He sat and looked at her in disbelief. His body didn’t move an inch
but his mind was moving faster than it ever had before. He thought
about abortion, he thought about names, he thought about schools, he
thought about adoption, he thought about how to set the spare room up
as a nursery. Finally, after about three minutes and the longest
silence either of them had ever encountered, he stood up and walked to
the bedroom door. “Well,” he said rubbing his chin.
He turned around and looked at her and then got down on one knee.
After a few false starts he was finally able to ask her. “Baby, will
you marry me?”
“What?” she said.
“No, I mean, I love you so it makes sense that we should… you know.
And you know if we have a baby and we ain’t married ain’t no one in
town gonna talk to us or anything. You know how these folks are. So
come on, baby, let’s just jump right in. Both feet.”
“Well,” she said, tears still rolling down her cheeks.
The silence that followed was even longer than the moment before.
“Yes!” she exclaimed with a huge smile. They told each other that they
loved each other more than words could express.
Now they were here, he thought while looking down at her, laying there
in the bathtub and slowly in his mind she started to change back into
that beautiful girl that he met that Sunday afternoon and he started
to smile.
Suddenly she twitched and was again the stranger that had invaded his
home and his life and taken the one person he loved.
Without thinking, his right arm rose above his head and sliced down
through the air. The tire bar smashed against her neck, tearing a hole
through the skin all the way to the wind pipe and vocal chords. Her
eyes became wide and she sat up. Her arms and legs flailed in the tub
as she opened her mouth and tried to scream, but only gasps of air
mixed with blood came from the hole in the left side of her neck. His
eyes went wild with rage and he brought the tire bar down again, this
time crushing her jaw and knocking several of her teeth out into the
water she was trapped in.
Tears slid down from her eyes and mixed with blood, flowing down her
face to her neck and down her breasts and into the bath water, turning
it to a light crimson. He continued to beat her and she continued to
flail, unable to gain any traction on the slippery sides of the tub.
The blood stung her eyes and she was unable to see anything.
He swung wildly, sometimes hitting her, sometimes just putting holes
in the porcelain walls on the sides of the tub. Blood splashed from
her face and neck and chest and landed on the curtain and the floor
and across his face and body.
She had been laying motionless for some time before he finally stopped
swinging. The room smelled of fresh blood and a crack left in the bath
tub was slowly leaking the crimson bathwater onto the floor of the
trailer.
He dropped the tire bar and walked back into the living room. His
footsteps squished and left light, wet, pink marks on the carpet.
He picked up the bottle of bourbon, smearing blood across the label,
and he pressed his lips against the opening and tipped the bottle
upwards.
When the bottle was empty he went to the bookcase and pulled the
wedding album out. The red on his fingers smudged the three pages he
turned before he found the image of the two of them in that wedding
kiss, forever burned into history by film and chemicals. He took the
picture out of the album and went back into the bathroom.
Her body was cold to the touch and the floor was now a half-inch deep
with bloody water. The tire bar was still next to the tub. He grabbed
it and went outside, leaving a trail of watery blood wherever he
walked. As he stood on the front porch it started to rain. He looked
up at the sky and smiled.
“Come on, Mary Bell,” he said. “We’re going to Texas.”
The door of the truck creaked as he opened it and he slid the blood
smudged picture into the dashboard next to the speedometer. The rain
came down in force as he put the back tire back on, washing most of
the blood off him. He was soaked by the time he got in and started the
truck up. Mary Bell was already inside, sitting next to him.
“Her friends will be by soon to pick her up,” he said, patting Mary
Bell’s head. “They’ll take care of the kid.” Mary Bell groaned in
response.
He started the truck and backed out of the driveway then put the truck
into gear and drove west.
The drive was mostly just forest and cigarettes and he was able to
make it to the Mississippi border before he decided to stop and get a
motel room for the night.
The room was small. There was a bed and a small nightstand next to it.
Across from it was a dresser with a black-and-white television and an
ash tray. Next to the window there was a small table and a chair. He
walked over to the window and opened it. A cool breeze hit him and he
smiled.
“Get off the bed, Mary Bell. That’s where I’m sleeping,” he said as he
pulled a cigarette out of his shirt pocket. “It’s gonna be a new day
for the both of us, I guarantee you that, girl.”
He sat in the chair and lit the cigarette. His mind raced with
thoughts of oil and money and women and fast cars. As soon as he got
to Texas, everything would come together for him.
He put his cigarette out in the ash tray and laid down on the bed next
to Mary Bell. “I ‘spose you can stay up here if you want. It’s a
pretty big bed.”
Mary Bell groaned and laid her head next to his shoulder and fell asleep.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Hog’s Head

August 9, 2012 at 1:57 am (Guest Blogger) (, , , , , , )

A Short Story by E.B. Jones

I stepped onto the train and made my way past the vomit stains and broken arm rests to the cleanest looking chair and sat down. The whole car smelled like a mixture of bourbon and puke. Bums would use the trains to go from one part of town to the other because the ticket man spent more time watching his personal DVD player than he did actually checking tickets.
I made sure I had one though because they usually hired men a lot bigger than me, and if for some reason he had decided to go out and check tickets then they would no doubt have a man working that could throw my ass off the train. I’d seen them do it a time or two and it looked pretty painful.
See, the bums would panhandle for awhile on the east side of town and when people eventually started to recognize them and stopped giving them money, like they had a quota per person that once they reached they could no longer be charitable anymore. Once the generosity dried up in one area the bums would ride the trains to another part of town where people didn’t recognize them. They would continue to do this until they eventually made their way around the whole city, which took about a year and a half. By the time they got to the area they started in, most people had completely forgotten that they existed. I sometimes think people don’t give bums enough credit, they make more than the people out there working some shit minimum wage job; they just woke up one morning and realized that dignity is more overrated than being without.
The train pulled up to the main station downtown and stopped with a loud hiss. I stood up and headed towards the door. The guy checking tickets never came out, so I could have saved six bucks, but it was all right, I had just gotten paid so it wasn’t going to hurt me too much.
I stepped down onto the platform and took a moment to breathe in the sick sad air that was around me. I felt like it understood me and knew what I was thinking, stuck in a city ready to poison you at every turn but having no way to get out, and not really wanting too.
I walked down the sidewalk and passed a bunch of shops that were never open after five o’clock. I was surprised at the amount of shops that had strange little nick knacks like ceramic baby dolls kissing or glass cuckoo clocks for ridiculous amounts of money. I had to wonder how shops like that stayed in business whenever they were only open from Monday through Friday from ten to five. Then again most pencil pushers that worked the nine to five wouldn’t have been able to afford that kind of crap. I had walked about ten blocks whenever I realized that my thoughts had gotten away with me but I was still downtown and found myself in front of an open sign. Another sign above the door said “Liberty” with the word “bar” underneath it in smaller letters. It was just a blacked out glass door in a red brick wall so I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to be getting into but I decided to go inside anyway.
The room I was in was awe-inspiring. The lights were all black lights reflecting greens, reds, oranges and purples. The entire place was crawling with boys that looked like girls and girls that looked like pigs. They all wore black with little accents of red and white here and there and drank bloody marys. The jukebox said something about how it didn’t belong here, and neither did I.
I was already inside and had been standing for some time so I decided to stay and have a drink. I walked up to the bar and sat down for a minute or two before the bartender came from the back room. I figured he must have been in the back changing out kegs.
“What can I get you?”
“Whiskey.”
“Fuck man, finally someone orders something other than a god damn bloody mary!” bartender said in a heavy north eastern accent, I’m guessing he was from somewhere in New York like Brooklyn. I think I remember a movie that was based there and he sounded like they did. He was also the only person not dressed like he came out of some Edgar Allen Poe story or an Emily Dickenson poem.
“Don’t get much of that here?”
“No man, all these fucking goth kids. This bar used to be a nice place but then we got this new owner. Draconia she calls herself, real fucking character she is. Anyway, all her friends started coming and apparently spreading the word that this was the hip new place for goth’s to hang out.”
“So why don’t you quit?”
“Honestly?” He asked me, “It pays good and I hate having to look for a job.”
“Where’s my whiskey?”
“What?”
“Where is my whiskey?” I said a bit louder. It was kind of hard to hear with Robert Smith trying to own the conversation.
“Oh shit man, sorry.” He turned and poured my whiskey and then set it down in front of me.
“What I wouldn’t give to have the old place back.” He had a look of reminiscence on his face, like a child remembering his first puppy.
“So why not open your own place?” I wasn’t sure if this guy was just looking to talk or actually looking for some direction.
“Well you know, that’s kind of difficult and you have to go through so much paperwork and all that. I just don’t know if I could actually pull it off really.” His words came out slowly. He didn’t seem to have much self confidence. I was bored with him now. I continued the conversation for a little longer because I felt obliged too but was well ready for one of those poorly dressed vampires to come up and order a bloody mary so he would stop talking to me. Finally some skinny boy and his pet pig walked up to the bar. The bartender was still talking to me so I coughed and hinted that someone was there. He walked over and asked what they wanted. Bloody mary’s, of course. I downed the rest of my drink and ducked out as quickly as I could so he wouldn’t try to talk to me anymore. I didn’t bother with paying my tab, I figured my company was enough.
I started going up the street again. I didn’t want to go into another goth bar but I didn’t figure that would be too much of a problem, maybe if I was in New York or Los Angeles but I doubt there was another goth bar for a few hundred miles. I also didn’t want to go into a dive bar or a dance bar or a honky tonk bar or really any kind of bar for that matter. I didn’t like bars.
The only reason I was even out tonight was because I wanted to write something, but I had nothing to write about. The one thing I wanted more than anything was to be a great writer, like Hemingway. The difference between Hemingway and I was that he actually went out there and did stuff. He was stuck in the hospital for months for wounds he received in the war when he carried another man out of danger and into safety. He told the world about the running of the bulls in Pamplona. He lived in Paris. Me, I worked in a sports bar on the north side of town and once I got off work most nights I would go home, heat up a tv dinner, grab a beer, watch television for a bit and then sit at a computer staring at a blank page and drink until I passed out.
Sometimes I thought that maybe if I ever met a woman then my life would change. A whirlwind of a woman who would draw me out of my seclusion. Once I met her I would be on the adventure of my life, and then I would write non-stop. The only problem was that I didn’t like going places alone and I didn’t like meeting new people. I also didn’t really know anyone around town so I never really went anywhere but for some reason tonight I decided I was going to go out.
I was just about to head back to the train and my apartment whenever I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. It was a wooden cut out of a pig with faded paint that told me the building it was attached too was called “Hog’s Head” and that if I went inside I could expect to drink cocktails and to dance with beautiful women. Maybe she was in there, and she would pull me out of my shell. I stood for a moment thinking on whether I should go inside or not and finally decided that one drink wouldn’t hurt, so I walked across the street and went into the bar. It had a patio on the outside that was fenced off and the entrance to it had one of those old saloon style half doors that you always saw in the westerns. The actual door inside wasn’t as exciting because it was just glass with a handle and only opened outwards. The patio doors swung both ways.
The place was pretty packed and it took me a few minutes before I was able to find a seat. A fat man in flannel got up from the bar and started walking towards me. He bumped into me and half mumble, half burped something at me then stumbled out the door. I darted up to the seat and lifted my finger to get a drink.
I noticed a flash of very light yellow just to my right so I instinctively looked over to see what it was. A blond woman was standing next to me and I looked her up and down. She had on a tight white shirt that barely covered her breasts and a plaid skirt that covered some fishnet stockings. She wasn’t my type really, but she did seem to have a nice ass.
“What are you doing here stranger?”
“Trying to get a drink I suppose.”
I really had no interest in her, but I figured I had no interest in even being there in the first place, but there I was so I must have had some interest in her simply by default. Like I said, she wasn’t my type, but it had been awhile and she looked good enough.
“Well aren’t we all doing that.”
“Looks like it to me.”
“My name is Beth.”
“Nice to meet you Beth.” I didn’t bother looking directly at her, I’d heard at one point somewhere that if you didn’t pay much attention to women it would drive them crazy. They felt insulted but enthralled that you wouldn’t look at them. In my experience that advice never really held true though. If I ignored a woman and didn’t pay much attention to them they didn’t pay much attention to me either. Besides, if I had looked directly at her I probably would have ended up just staring at her tits.
“And you are?” she was starting to get a little bit pissed so I decided to indulge her a bit. I got my drink and turned my chair towards her.
“Pierce.” I said raising my glass.
“Nice to meet you Pierce.” She raised her glass and clanked it against mine.
“So Pierce,” she said with her eyes all-glistening at me. I hated whenever people said my name to me, I saw no sense in it, I knew my name already, you don’t have to tell me my name. Unless she thought I might think that she might have been talking to someone else but she was obviously looking at me so it was stupid, “What do you do?”
“Mostly drink.”
“Well don’t we all? I mean what do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
She seemed to get really excited about that, “Oh, what do you write? Have I ever read anything?”
“I doubt it.” I didn’t just doubt it because I’d never really written anything and subsequently had never been published but also because she looked to be about as dumb as a sack of bricks and probably hadn’t read anything in her life other than some article on 69 New Ways To Please Your Man in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan.
“Well, I went to modeling school.” she said, seeming to think that by knowing that she went to modeling school once would do something to impress me.
“Ah.”
“Well it wasn’t all glamor and clothes and shoes and stuff, I mean it was hard work.”
I actually believed her that it was hard work, with a brain like hers I’m sure walking down a catwalk was a difficult task. Don’t get me wrong; I had full intentions of fucking what little brains she had out of her but would I call her tomorrow? By no means. She was about as shallow as piss on concrete and did nothing to stimulate conversation. But the attractive intelligent girls only had about a two day waiting period before someone snatched them up and I wasn’t interested in someone that was less fortunate looking than I was because I was pretty unfortunate looking myself.
“See we have to walk straight down the catwalk and we half to…” I listened and listened to her blabber about how difficult walking was and then suddenly, salvation, in the strangest form came to me.
A large fist the size of a grapefruit came between us and actually made a small dent in the aluminum bar. I slowly looked up and saw the flannel man that had bumped into me before. He was clearly disturbed by the fact that I was sitting in the seat he had once been sitting in.
“What in the god damn hell you think you’re doing boy?” he snarled at me like a bull about to charge the matador. If I hadn’t known better I would have sworn that steam came out of his nose.
“Drinking?” I wasn’t sure what answer he was looking for.
“You’re in my seat and talking to my god damned woman.” His arm wrapped around the blond ex-almost model next to me. I thought about how she probably wasn’t a model anymore because she had gotten too fat for it. He started talking again, “Are you talking to my woman here?”
I started to answer him and let him know that she initiated the conversation but he wasn’t hearing any of it and cut me off.
“You don’t say shit son!”
Now I could tell he was angry. A vein popped out of his forehead and he snorted at me, “You’re a no good god damned son of a bitch.”
“Look man I’m not…”
He grabbed me by the throat, choking me off and yanking me up from the bar stool. The only real thought that went through my head was that I was in quite a bit of pain right now and probably about to be in even more pain very shortly. His hand moved around to the back of my shirt and he pulled me the rest of the way out of my chair and drug me across the floor. I raised my hand as to order another drink; the bartender just stared with a blank expression and polished a glass.
We went through the bar and out the boring door and then out the saloon style doors and into the parking lot. One of the saloon style doors almost hit me while it swung back. Finally he let go of me and I was able to breathe for a second. Then he kicked me in the stomach and told me to get up. This giant mans logic must have been replaced by muscle because getting up was not the easiest or the best option, but it’s what he wanted and I did not want to get anymore on this guys bad side than I already was.
I stood up with one arm around my stomach and the other stretched out so that just in case he tried to rush me I might accidentally have the strength to fend him off. I got my footing once my eyes stopped spinning and I was able to see straight across the parking lot,with just enough time to see a big pasty peach colored brick shaped like a closed up hand come towards my face. It made contact with my upper jaw and nose and I flew up into the air for a minute and then was back on the ground again.
The landing actually hurt worse than the punch did, but the punch had done more damage. I was spitting up blood on the parking lot. I noticed a tooth had fallen out of my mouth and was sitting on the ground. I grabbed the tooth and stood up just as the lumberjack had grabbed me by my hair and pulled me back up. I slid the tooth into my pocket about the same time his fist came across my left eye. I fell to the ground again without him letting go of my hair. I didn’t bother trying to get up after that. I just lay there motionless, hoping that he would assume I was finished with and just leave.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity the blond almost model came out and kissed him and they walked off together. Less than ten minutes ago I was convinced I was going to get laid and now I was just laying on the ground bleeding. I laughed a little bit at the irony of it all and watched them walk away. She did had a nice ass.
I waited awhile until after they left in case he decided to come back for more before I got up and walked back into the bar. I made my way to the men’s room and then took my missing tooth out and examined it for a bit. I was going to need a dentist to put it back in. The mirror told me that my face was smeared with blood and gravel and warned me that I should probably put an ice pack on my eye or it would swell up nice and big like an eggplant. I washed my face as best I could but the black eye and the busted nose and the swollen lip just wouldn’t wash away. The empty seat was still there once I left the bathroom so I went up and sat down.
“Are you all right?” The bartender asked me with some concern, “Do I need to call the cops or the hospital or anything?”
“No it’s fine,” I said, “just get me a whiskey.”

Permalink Leave a Comment

Flying Saucers – A Short Story

July 11, 2012 at 3:46 am (Guest Blogger) (, , , )

Meet Guest Blogger and Short Story Writer E.B. Jones.  He is a native Texan, a musician, and in the process of writing his first novel.  I hope to feature his short stories here as often as he chooses to submit them.  Hope you enjoy!

Flying Saucers

The first thing I noticed whenever I looked down next to me was my guts strewn all over the place. Shades of red reflected in the moonlight and went out from my midsection in all different directions. I didn’t really feel anything substantial until I saw my daddy’s 68 Chevy Nova wrapped around the only damn oak tree within two miles on that stretch of highway we’d been cruising. The first thing that went through my head was that my dad was going to kill me. I could still hear .38 Special playing on the cassette deck.

I wasn’t wearing my seat belt and, from the giant hole in the windshield, I figure I had flown through it once we hit. Looking at the mangled wreckage, I was probably better off than if I’d stayed in the car.

I twisted my head around to see if Johnny was anywhere but I couldn’t see him and I wondered if he was laying out in some other part of the field staring at his guts like I was.

We’d been celebrating our high school graduation and had spent most of the night drinking beer and trying to get laid. We had one last summer here in Hickory Flats and we were going to make the best of it and then get the hell out of Dodge for good.

Whenever finding a girl here in town didn’t pan out for either of us, we decided to go for a joy ride and see what kind of hell we could raise. Thought there might be a party over in one of the neighboring towns we could crash and find some girls there.

It was about one-thirty in the morning whenever we went around Devils Bend and I guess we took the curve too fast cause I ended up losing control of  the car. It was right about the time Johnny started screaming out profanities and just as soon as I heard him scream “oh shit” we hit the tree. Then everything just kind of went white and the next thing I know I was laying in a field  staring at my intestines wrapped around some bull nettles.

I thought about how I hadn’t paid much attention in biology class back whenever we’d gone over the human anatomy and wondered that maybe if I had, I might have known where everything went. Then maybe I could have shoved all my insides back in their proper location and gotten up and gone along my merry way.

I tried to move a little to see if maybe I could crawl back up to the car and see if Johnny was all crinkled up kissing the dashboard or not, but my body wasn’t letting me do much but just sit there and wait to die.

I starting thinking about all the plans we had made and how we were going to have one hell of a summer drinking, floating the river, partying and just causing a ruckus all over Hickory Flats. Then come August, we’d be gone like ghosts of Christmas past.

We’d both been accepted to UNT in Denton, which was  a few hours from here, but it was far enough to not be here. We had it all figured out. First we’d party our way through college, both of us probably joining some fraternity and doing it up right. Get lots of women along the way. Then once we finished up, he was going to go on and become a famous doctor and cure cancer or something and I was going to fight international crime for the CIA. I really hoped that he had somehow gotten out so that once he started practicing medicine he could stitch up the dumb asses like me that don’t buckle their seat belts but don’t actually want to die.

I heard some crickets chirping and a frog sending out its mating call and thought about the time that I’d heard from someone that most people die within ten miles of where they were born and I guess that was going to be true of me. We weren’t even three miles from the old hospital. I guess this is what I got for running over that preacher’s kid a few years back and being too scared to stop or ever fess up to it.

The tape ended long before I heard the sirens or saw the fire trucks and ambulances pull up. A couple of guys ran over to the car and I heard them say something about a body and I knew that Johnny didn’t make it. I guess they didn’t notice me on account of how far I’d been thrown from the car so I just decided to lay back and look at the stars while I waited for them to find me.

The night sky was clear and black and all the stars were out shining. The sky looked like someone had spilled milk across it and I wondered if there was any kind of intelligent life out there. I wondered what they thought of us and I wondered if they had seat belts on those flying saucers of theirs or not.

Permalink Leave a Comment