the visitor

An opening in the woods on the side of the road. He knew it well. Perhaps he owed the bartender his thanks: the abrupt ending to his lonely adventure toward numbness afforded him the opportunity to take a literal walk down memory lane. How long had it been since he’d gone down this path?

Even the mice silenced themselves in seeming respect for the visitor now walking through their territory. In the stillness and the quiet. In the unsettling stillness and the oppressive silence. A voice punctured the darkness.

“I heard you came to town.”

Suddenly she was beside, matching his pace step for step. “I thought I might find you here.”

A deep sigh. “How long have you been following me?”

“Not following. Just waiting. What happened to your face?”

“The sidewalk got in my way. What are you doing here?”

“I told you, waiting for you, baby. Where are you staying?”

“Twin Oaks. But don’t get any ideas, I’m leaving right after the funeral.”

“Come on, let me come back with you… and then I’ll go to the funeral with you in the morning. People might talk if they see you there alone, Richard.”

“People might talk if they see you at your own funeral, Jess.”

She grabbed his hand. “Are you gonna let me come back to your motel or not?”

 

[word count:  224]


Loosely continued from:

small townsmall town, part 2closing time

illusions

As the chemicals hit, the pictures came into focus:

He would meet her on the beach, just as the sun set. In a flood of passion, they would make love, there on the sand. And when he woke up in the morning, he wouldn’t sneak away. This would be the one, this would finally be the one.

And as they merged their lives, her belly would swell with the proof of their love. The child would be strong, and have his jawline and his eyes. He and his son would have a catch in the summer, where he would explain to him the facts of life and his son would look at him and say, “Thank you, Dad.”

And as his son grew into a man, he would visit them weekly to share tales of his exploits. And then he and his wife would kiss their son and send him back into the world, and then make love again celebrating all of the joys that life had afforded them.

And as the applause tapered off, his son would say from the podium, “I owe all of this to my parents, who sacrificed so much and taught me what real love is and how to live my life to the fullest.” And a tear would fall from his wife’s nose as she turned to him and said, “This is all because of you, you have made my life complete.”

He closed his eyes.

 

[word count:  242]

hyperbole

“Extraordinary!”

Did he even see the work he’s reviewing?

“Flawless!”

The seams show, yet these ass kissers won’t acknowledge, hoping to sway me with flattery.

“A triumph!”

I ache for honesty, I crave perspective, I long to be taught and tutored.

“Unbelievable! Completely unexpected!”

I followed every formula available, relied on tropes and cliches in lieu of creativity. Trashed my integrity for a quick buck.

“A failure in every way.”

Well, you don’t have to be such a dick about it.

 

[word count:  83]

the burrito of god

“I was getting lunch and thought you might like something too.”

From the doorway, she extended the foiled-wrapped delicacy in my direction.

“You like carnitas, right?”

I sat dumbstruck. Her form was silhouetted against the fluorescent lights in the office hallway. I had spent a lot of time looking at that form, but the law of platonic congeniality forbade entertaining thoughts of that nature too long.

I reached out. My fingers glanced the aluminum. REVELATION. FIRE FROM HEAVEN. LIGHTNING. Everything else faded into obscurity as she came into sharp focus

She smiled.

I started to write the next chapter.

 

[word count: 99]

catering

1. So that takes care of the appetizers, we need to move on to the main course. Your package will include three entrees: a beef dish, a chicken dish, and fish dish. We also have some vegetarian options, if you have special needs. Now, we have a lot of options to look at —

2. Time is a little short though, so maybe could you pare it down a little?

1. Of course, miss. Of course I could, but you wouldn’t want to make a choice without knowing all of your options, right? Tell you what, we’ll go through the list and then instead of choosing three of each to sample you can just choose two. Does that sound alright?

3. It won’t take too long, honey.

2. Fine.

1. Wonderful! Okay, so first I’ll show you the chicken options. We always take great care to make sure the chicken is cooked perfectly —

2. Let’s just do the options, we don’t need to be sold on the preparation.

1. Okay.

3. Sweetheart —

1. Like I was saying, we always make sure that our meat is perfectly tender, so we marinate —

2. I just said not to go into the preparation. Are you even listening to me?

3. Baby, calm down. We’ve got plenty of time. We’re only gonna get married once, we want it to be perfect. Please, sir, continue.

1. The options are —

2. I wish you wouldn’t say that.

1. — a chicken cordon bleu, using only locally sourced ham —

3. Say what?

2. That we’re only getting married once.

3. What’s wrong with saying that?

1. — teriyaki chicken breasts served over —

2. You know it’s not true. Why do you have to rub it in my face?

1. — noodles. A chicken marsala risotto, now this one is —

3. It’s the only time that WE are getting married, dear. I don’t care —

1. — very special, because we use three different types —

3. — about anything else.

1. — of mushrooms —

2. Of course you care about it. Of course you hate it. But it’s not going to change, no matter what. And I wish that you would stop bringing up my ex at every opportunity just to make me feel ashamed as if I don’t already feel bad enough about it. It happened, I married him, and I know it should have been you in the first place but it wasn’t and I was wrong and if you can’t get over it then you’ll need to start getting over me.

3. Wait, where are you going?

1. Shall we reschedule?

 

[word count: 400]

 

closing time

I opened the door, felt the crisp air hit my face, and stared out into the dark, black void. I had to wait an extra thirty seconds for my eyes to adjust, too much to drink. Stupid. Stupid decision.

I turned back to the bartender. “I don’t recognize you.”

“I don’t know why you would.”

“You’re new here then? You’re new in town?” I tried to disguise the slurring. But this was the guy who’d been pouring me drinks all night, what was the use? Besides wasn’t that illegal or something? Didn’t he have to cut me off if I’d had too much?

“Would have loved to have this conversation a couple hours ago. If you come back tomorrow we can talk and share our life stories and braid each others’ hair or whatever but tonight, now, it’s time to go.”

“I won’t be here tomorrow. I’ll be dead tomorrow.” I slammed the door behind me, which threw off my balance. My face, red hot with booze, made first contact as the rest of my body spasmed, trying desperately to right itself.

A breath. The motel. I needed to get to the motel. I pulled myself up, too numb to rightly assess the damage. Keith took my keys when he left, so my only option was to walk the three miles.

 

[word count: 221]

small town
small town, part 2