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The Big One

11 Mar

(Previously)

In the morning they were going to move north. It had rained again. At 1AM maybe. The water tapping hesitantly at first on the tent roof and then walls of it making rivers of ashes, crawling cold in the dirt under the nylon floor. Hissing over the dying trees and ripping the gray grass out of the mud like a cancer patient’s hair coming out in clumps. Snaking into holes in the blown out Sherman Oaks roofs around them. Waking up mold spores in wrecked sectional couches and pianos and entertainment centers. Fattening up the burned out corpses of TV writers on hiatus who’d moved over the Cahuenga pass seeking highly rated schools. The scorched ribs of the pit bull mixes they’d rescued. It had taken months to get one. The shelters were bristling with volunteers and their alimony money. They interviewed you like Harvard. They wanted credentials. Certificates of education about rattlesnakes, coyotes. You had to try and try. You had to know somebody. Nothing left alive to soak up the sounds and the air made white noise like a jet engine next to you. She had second shift to listen for killers but when he woke up her cheek was nestled in his armpit. Her hair on his neck still wet, smelling like campfire smoke and swimming pool. The rain calmed down to a tap tap tap on a detached gutter pipe somewhere and a gray light was picking up. Her fingers on his collarbones and her eyes were opening and she was pulling down the zipper in his 25 degree rated sleeping bag and kissing him. Her mouth stank like Slim Jim debris caught between teeth for sixteen hours but he got used to it. She pulled open his cocoon and the cold air hit his belly. Slipped off her toothpaste color underwear and crawled on top of him and he felt like he was easing into a warm bath in winter. Moving slow with her hot palms on his chest and he looked in her eyes, seeing a child outside time that he wanted to hold and protect. When he came the world went white and he could see her black bones.

Father of the Sword

10 Feb

philippine cockatoo

(Previously)

Joy had the day off. She came in the morning. Took him to the beach where her canoe was waiting. Do you know how to drive one, she said. It is traditional Philippines boat. PVC pipe bolted to the sides on struts to make a catamaran. Black nylon fishing net heaped in the aluminum hull.

It was high tide. White sand stretched out into swaying weeds under calm water. Out on a pier a Chinese family studied distant ships with binoculars. The only other tourists. Tall storm clouds pulled sluggishly at the horizon. The night before he’d taken the scooter into Puerto Princesa to find sunscreen. A hundred kinds but only one that didn’t bleach your skin, for tourists. In a separate area of the pharmacy. On the boulevard by a harbor full of shipwrecks kids dancing in school uniforms stopped him for pictures, laughing. He woke up early. Spent long minutes smearing sunscreen on. Toweling it off. He didn’t want his nose red but didn’t want to be shiny either. Appraised his gut in the mirror. Sitting down like it would be in the boat. Continue reading

Talk to Her for Me

28 Jan

daily mail

Previously

On his 37th birthday he got an email. I love your OKCupid stuff, it said. Would you write my profile. Some messages. $500. Vlad.

He didn’t write for money. Instead he made cold calls for a real estate office in Rancho Cucamonga. I see the lease is almost up on your refrigerated warehouse. There’s a new property with rail spur. Specifically designed for meat storage, or citrus. If you meet your wife I get ten grand, he said. He was kidding, but Vlad said: done. Continue reading

Ghost Wedding

24 Dec

stupidity 3

(Previously)

At night a burning star arced across the black sky to the north. Past the mountains. They were in what was once a back yard. Cinder block walls around the pool still half intact. Everything up high was gone but in the dips between the hills buildings still stood. Air mostly still and cold but once in a while a shrieking hot wind would spin the dead leaves, send them clattering against the concrete. It carried burned magazines. Excel printouts, emails marked HIGH IMPORTANCE. The pages spiraled around and hissed against the walls in the dark. Continue reading

The Bitcoin

13 Dec

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Friday he got off late from the coffee shop. Had to walk up the hobo alley off Abbott Kinney in the dark, to the residential street where he’d parked his Mercury Topaz. Work lot for customers only. Rough day but they all were. Gloria the goth cashier girl called in sick. He had to cover. He had a crush on her but she was dating some guy in a band. A state worker out of South Carolina had called, threatening a fine. The dishwasher had fathered kids there and he’d forgotten to file the wage garnishment. In his hand, in a clear gallon freezer bag, the now day old vegan almond flour blueberry muffins. No time to cook but it was something.

Suddenly behind a trash heap something moved. He felt his hands raising up, although he couldn’t box. Rats scattered and a coke Zero bottle rolled half cocked over the concrete with a sound like a door knocker. A strange voice rattling off the dumpsters. Can you help me, it said. Continue reading

The Fisherman’s Daughter

10 Dec

(Previously)

In Puerto Princesa the guard at the resort gate had an M16 with the blacking worn off. A kind smile. He made 50 cents an hour and they posted him by the road. When Abu Sayyaf took you they approached from the beach. They drove speedboats up the coast from the south; he’d read about it. If they came the guard would have to hear the disturbance 200 yards away. Run to the beach, fight off five men with AK-47s by himself. 50 cents an hour. That’s assuming the boats weren’t already halfway back to Balabac where they kept the video equipment dry for the beheading. The hotel came at a significant discount but the desk girl still charged him for an upgrade. We need it sir, she said. No more Westerners now because of the terrorist. She had studied hospitality. Hoped to work in California. You’d be like a movie star there, he said. The men will go crazy for you. Continue reading

Festival of Savings

19 Nov

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Previously

He dreamed he was walking. Looked down and his hands were holding papers. Folders of mistakes he’d made at work. It was the day of his annual review. In one or more areas he had not been Very Satisfactory. He woke up thinking he was late. Then remembered. There had been a nuclear holocaust.

Thank God, he thought. Continue reading

Aswang

4 Nov

garfield cropped 2

Previously

Don’t come inside, said Maricar. She was 4′ 11”, 19, looked 14. Waray-Waray. The father a coconut farmer on Samar. There are beach there but no tourist, she explained. He’d never heard of it but decided to move there.

They were in the best hotel in Angeles. You could tell because there were so many Arabs. In the elevators they’d quietly appraise your girls and smile. One named Waleed he’d seen three times, earned enough trust to hear that your George W. Bush was a criminal. He worked for the Jews. Continue reading

Finally, Some Good News (Part 6)

22 Oct

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Previously:

What Do You Do

Nest Egg

Second Date

No Exit

The Zombie Zone

Angel of the Morning

Belinda

Power Achiever

I Just Keep Losing

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The Sherman Oaks Outdoorsman

The gun shop door was open but half the ceiling had collapsed. The Sherman Oaks Outdoorsman. Here too hissing sprinklers, shrieking alarms. He had to press his fingertip into his left ear and still the back of his head rang with the sound of cicadas. Shelves fallen into each other. Tile floor covered with flashlights and Rambo knives, spreadeagled Guns & Ammo magazines. Soldier of Fortune open to honeypot ads in the back for hit men, all sopping wet. Marcy still catatonic in the ’79 Mercedes outside, in the handicapped space. He’d wrapped her in his picnic blanket. Strapped her in like a baby. Eased the seat all the way back so her head wouldn’t stick up. He’d thought about taking another car, a 4-wheel drive. But the hallway floor tilted in and the first burned corpse he checked for keys groaned when he tried its pockets. Continue reading

Finally, Some Good News (Part 5)

30 Sep

ispot.tv activia

Previously

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Power Achiever

The Monday before Halloween there were vegetables in the break room. Broccoli and baby carrots. Continue reading