Not Tonight, Honey

I should be cold, he thought lying there on the pavement as the rain fell lightly around him. Instead he felt a warmth creeping along his back as blood oozed from where the bullet had gone through him. He felt that he should be scared, he was. The terror of the moment had stricken him so completely it overwhelmed him, leaving an odd stat that seemed to be a horrifying mockery of calm and clarity. He couldn’t see, not with that security guard shining his damned flashlight in his eyes. He opened his mouth to shout at him it to get it out of his face, but he couldn’t catch his breath. So instead he just laid there listening to sound of his friends footsteps running away on the wet pavement and the sirens in the distance.

He started thinking about her.

He had only met her a couple of weeks ago. They had only gone out a few times, she was always busy. He thought she had promise, though. She was smart and funny, he didn’t know if he’d call he gorgeous though. He remembered the first time he got her to smile, it was a great smile, but he couldn’t help notice her teeth were just a little bit crooked. Her nose was slightly misshapen too. She had told him once, maybe cause he was staring, that she had broken it a bunch of times dancing at shows back in her punk rock days. That she’d always wind up, later on in the night, drunk in the bathroom of some bar looking in the mirror trying to set it back into place.

He liked that image of her though. Some tough girl in a mosh pit. How it didn’t quite match up with the woman he knew. The one that had to stop and make baby talk at every dog they passed by. They always fell for it too. He had seen her walk right up to some mean ass dogs that roamed around the neighborhood and, after a minute or two they’d be on their backs getting belly rubs. Then she would say some nonsense about how they had always been a good dog, they just needed someone to come along and remind them. He wondered if she felt the same way about him.

So yeah, maybe not gorgeous but she was definitely beautiful which was a lot better.

He had known some gorgeous women in his life and somehow, after a while, the polish would wear off and there would always be this filthy, petty, mean spirited person underneath it all. Not her though, she shined all the way down to the bone. Yeah, he’d take beautiful over gorgeous any day.

He was sorry when he had to disappoint her. They were supposed to have dinner to night. She had made reservations. Someplace nice, she’d gotten that promotion she’d been chasing, and wanted to celebrate. He had just gotten off the phone with her when Nicky had shown up at the shop and told him about the job.

He didn’t want to do it. He was trying to be done with all of that stupid bullshit. He owed Nicky though, owed him big. More importantly, as Nicky was kind enough to point out, he owed someone else. The kind of person you didn’t just say no to.

So he had sat there at his workbench for a bit. Trying to figure a way around it. Until he finally called her back to cancel.

“Not tonight, honey,” he told her. “Something important came up.”

This story was written in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at his blog Terrible Minds. You can check out the other entries in the comments there
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Kings and Queens

Sometimes I look back to those days,
Back to golden years not so very long ago.
When we were each kings and queens,
Our younger days before our troubles.
When we were free and unhindered,
Unshackled by the thought of consequence.
When Our faults did not matter,
Our mistakes weren’t so permanent.
Before a future to dread or a past to regret,
Only now to squander as we saw fit.
Those warm days when we still felt things deeply,
When we still loved recklessly.
Those delicious days when we were kings and queens,
When we did all else but mourn.

The Worst Halloween

One fall, when I was about nine, I found myself exploring through one of those party stores that stock costumes all year round, and there it was. This cheap plastic hook with a bell-shaped cuff that hid your hand to make it look like it had been chopped off. That’s when I knew I was going to be to be a pirate for Halloween.

Understand, as a child, I was obsessed with pirates. I was into the other typical childhood things of the time; dinosaurs, Matchbox cars, Star Wars etc. But pirates were always cool. In movies, books, and games from swashbucklers, to scurvy dogs I was fascinated with all of them. One of my prized books as a child was a large slim book full of portraits and facts about the really famous pirates. One of my favorite video games ever was Sid Meyer’s Pirates, in which you got to sail the Caribbean as a privateer, plunder ships, duel with other sea captains and engage in other forms of skullduggery (There was an actual story line about rescuing lost members of your family from indentured servitude but frankly it didn’t seem that important my first couple times through.).

Halloween was still a ways off and I had to plead and whine at my dad to get it for me, but I convinced him.. We left the store with the hook and an eye-patch with a Jolly Roger on it. Then I had to wait.

From that moment all through October I chattered about my awesome costume. To my parents, my friends, to anyone who wouldn’t flee in terror from some overly enthused fourth grader, ceaselessly prattling about on about how cool it was going to be when he was a pirate. A striped shirt was acquired at some point. Some make-up crayons would be used to draw on a five-o’clock shadow, for that much-needed sea dog look. My dad was going to loan me one of his bandanna’s for my head. I spent weeks practicing my “aarghs” and “avasts”.

I was, to use the parlance of the time, totally stoked.

Then with less than a week to go, I did the unthinkable, the unforgivable. I struck my mother.

I don’t remember why. Probably some minor punishment for a petty transgression had set me into a fit of blind hot childish rage. Why wasn’t important. What was important is the fact that I hit her. Just like that it was all gone. I was grounded for a period of time that would encompass both my birthday and Halloween. I wailed, I screamed, I cried, and finally settled into moping. It was no use. Everything in my life had been ruined. Halloween, my favorite holiday gone. My awesome pirate costume, that had taken weeks to put together rendered useless.

I entered into a state of denial. Surely she couldn’t mean it. I mean she had to be bluffing, just to teach me a lesson. If I just am on my best behavior between now and Halloween I’d earn a reprieve right? May be I could barter my way out of it. Keep my room clean, take out the trash, maybe do the dishes every day for a week. There had to be some way.

There was a slender ray of hope when, the day before, on my birthday I was given presents. Clearly  if I had been still loved enough to have birthday presents, I would be allowed trick-or-treating. When I started talking about my costume, however, I was quickly reminded the there would be no such joy in my  life this year. Upon hearing this reaffirmation of my punishment the rest of my birthday took place in my room alternating between, sulking and sobbing with the occasional rage filled screaming fit.

I spent my Halloween that year either crying in my bedroom or sulking in my living room hiding behind the arm of the couch, staring in envious embarrassment as all of my friends from school, one by one showed up to ring the doorbell. Festooned in their holiday disguises and cheerfully yelling, “Trick-or-Treat!,” as my mother answered the door and patiently dropped pieces of delicious candy in their sacks and plastic orange jack-o-lantern shaped pails.

None of these costumes were as cool mine would have been.

The evening passed and the number of trick-or-treaters dwindled and finally Halloween was over. The hook and eye-patch got buried somewhere in the house, I never looked at them again. I don’t think I ever wore the shirt.

At some point I aged out of trick-or-treating. As I grew older my costumes for parties were always thrown together at the last-minute, or decided for me based on the need for a theme, or maintaining harmony in a relationship required a matching costume. Now a days, Halloween is about my own child’s experience, not mine. Plus, frankly, I don’t have much time, money, or energy to put into a costume for myself.

To this day though, I still feel  a bit of sadness and a little regret each year to remember that I never got to be a pirate.

Happy Halloween, and as always Happy Monday.

Guilt

I had my last drink that night,BadPoetryLogo1
And in the morning you were gone.
Only a note by way of apology,
for being how I treated you.

You came back home,
Even when we had no home left.
Now I still panic,
If I wake up in an empty house.