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

Diary: Into the Crypt

10 Dec

flames

Have to go into the fucking office. Weekend ruined. Won’t write the next chapter of Finally, Some Good News. Dreams in flame. Death, run over by a car, shattered pelvis, squirrels gnaw my scrotum, etc.

What’s more I wasted all morning reading /biz. Watching graphs fluctuate on Coinbase with my puny investment in imaginary money you can’t withdraw. It’s a Chinese finger trap. When you pay in, the system sucks it up eagerly. When you transfer out– a long dark lacuna while the price of what you want whips around wildly. Never in your favor. When your coin is lowest and theirs highest, it goes through. Plus a fee. Don’t you see, cryptocurrency eliminates the middleman. 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