Posts Tagged ‘short story

28
Feb
09

New Short Story–Part 1

The Welder

 

I been thinkin bout this thing for a while now. I gots to tell someone bout it.

I been thinkin bout what makes people go. Well, what makes them do good in life. How come some people’s so sad and others strut around all giddy and happy.

 So what came to me was Jake Stephens. Ol Jake lived in a trailer down my driveway right next to the garage. Skinny? You aint seen a man skinny as Jake, but he’d work as a horse every day. Every damn day. Never had friends ova. Don’t know he had any cept maybe the guys he worked with.

“Beer?” Jake’d ask me anytime I went to check on him. He’d hold out a cold can. Kept nudgin it at me. “Beer?” Now I don’t drink much. Can admit there’s a day or two when a sip of Single Barrel does me some good, but not too often.

See, here’s what was strange about Jake. He was the only man I ever met seemed happy without connections.

“That’s life,” he’d say before taking another sip of beer. “You wake up, go to work, come back home, have a little somethin’, get up do it again.”

He had eyes brighter’n a light house. But like an icy color–blue. Arms like taut ropes, always movin, doin somthing. Always got a project.

“I’m a mechanic, John. That’s what I  do, jus like my father did.” He’d pull out a smoke  after he’d said something like that. “That’s alls I got to offer anyone. What a man does is what he is. ” His eyes would sparkle like you wouldn’t believe when he start talkin and drinkin a few. Still be in green Dickys, holes burned through all over like someone’d poured holes out a shaker. His hands had cracks on em, an his fingers were knotted up. Looked like driftwood.

Then he’d say this after he kept drinkin: “Yep, a man is what he does. That’s what Dad use a say.” A man jus layin there don’t mount to much. Some people likes ta think a man’s worth somethin even when he’s layin round. I say he’s worth less than nothin. He’s takin, not makin.”  He’d take a few more sips.  ” An a man either has a family or’s tryin ta get one.”By then Jake’d have a sheen coverin his eyeballs. A glow bout his face, too. He’d fall asleep for two minutes at a time. Think he’d be sleepin anyway, then his eyes’d pop open an he’d start jabberin away again s’if he’d been pretendin ta sleep. Maybe he’d jus been thinkin.

“You know I love ma boy, John. Evey day I get up an go and do my thing so I can be a man worth bein, jus hopin ma boy’ll see me an be proud for the first time. Proud a his papa.”

Now Jake never said a word bout his boy till he’d made a twelve pack disappear. But the beer washed away all Jake’s surface thoughts so that the thoughts he’d been thinkin without even knowin it came out.

I guess I’d known Jake then for at least fifteen years. Knew him from when we used to have breakfast at Jill’s Diner. Heard he was a drinker, but just sos you know, I never known him ta miss a day’s work on account of it. When he’d start talkin about the work he’d do on the cars and some weldin job he had comin up–I knew he was the real deal. I’m a welder myself.

When Jake got his divorce, only thing he had left was his camper–trailer. I had plenty of place to put him on my lot, so I let him settle down by my garage. He was down there, I’d say, bout three years. Didn’t change his schedule much. Sometimes he sucked up some overtime at work on Saturdays. Generally, we’d have breakfast most everyday at Jill’s, and most nights Jake’d pull down another twelve-pack.

Then, bout four months ago, somethin clicked in im. Jus somethin I could see was different. Despite everything, divorce from his wife an the beer an not havin his house, Jake was such a happy guy. Least he seemed it.

Right before Christmas I think it was, yeah I remember cause it was about twenty below with the wind that night–I went down to make sure Jake didn’t need anything.

“Common in, John”, Jake said. He stepped away from the door and fell back into his chair, which should have hit the dump about ten years prior. The way he fell back looked as if he’d given up on somthin. Normally, Jake’s a wiry lookin fellow. All stringy an jumpy. But that night he was kinda swishin around all loosy–goosy. His eyes told the rest of it, cause even when Jake was three sheets to the wind, his eyes normally sparkled.

He started in on me.

“John,” He looked like he’d start bawlin. “You know a man’s either got a family or’s tryin ta get one?” He chucked an empty can he’d been holdin, right over his shoulder. It bounced off the bathroom door an settled back by his foot.

“Yeah, you said that before an I guess you’re right.”

“An I’m glad for a lot of things, you know. Got a good job. That’s more’n my father had most a the time. Prolly worse a man not have a good job than no family. Wanna hand me anotha?” He flicked his hand at the beer case, which was torn open an layin by the front door. Bout six left in it. Guess maybe a draft was keepin the beer cool cause there was a pile of snow hedged along the bottom of that door an I could see flakes flyin up from the wind gettin in. I did what he wanted.

“Mind?” I said. I held another beer in my paw after he’d grabbed his.

“Plenty more where tha came from, John.”

So I popped it open and took a draw.

“This is it, I think.” Jake took me by surprise when he said that.

There was a long time before I said anythin. Just sat there waitin for him to finish.

“What’s it?”

“This is the last Christmas, I think.” He cleared his throat, settled down a little further in his chair. But then the old Jake showed up, a little grin on his face. “Sent Bobby, ma boy, Bobby, a letter. Told im how good I’d done. Told im how sorry I was for all the stupid shit I’d done long time ago.” His grin went down. “Sent the letter last week an told his mother ta tell im to look for it. Ain’t heard back yet.”

“He’ll  get it, Jake. Just take it easy. Why not come up to the house an have some pumpin pie? Vanessa made it today. She puts extra cinnemon in it. It’d win a ribbon somewhere.”

“Naw. That’s alright. Think I’m settled in for the night. Jus thinkin.”

“Don’t think too much,” I said. “it’ll get you in trouble, is all. All the thinkers out there, seems ta me ain’t done much but get us in trouble. Don’t get much done, an others seem a take their ideas places they weren’t meant ta go.”

02
Nov
08

Little Things: A short story

  Little Things: A short story

I’m not sure if I’ve put this one on this blog or not, but it is posted at Helium.com. This story represents an effort on my part to make a story that James Joyce would have appreciated.

Hope someone likes it. Here’s: Little Things

Pine Sol. The whole room smelled of Pine Sol.

“I don’t think you got the corners,” said Agnes as she lay in her bed.
“Of course I did, Mom.” Rachel ran her hand over her mother’s forehead, smoothing back the white wisps of hair. “I always get the corners. Is there anything else I can get you?”
Agnes layed down again. She turned a bit onto her right side. It was a slight movement, accompanied by a grunt indicative of extreme effort. She stared at a corner of the room intently. “It’s dirty I think.” She collapsed back.

“I’ll take care of it, just rest Mom–please.” Rachel walked out of the small bedroom, down the stairs. She went to a closet in the house’s foyer and removed a mop. Her brother, Jim, stood from his seat when he saw her. His face looked drawn; dark circles orbited his eyes, skin bland as sheetrock.

“Everything alright?” Jim asked.

Rachel dug in the closet as she spoke: “It’s the same thing. The mopping. Or the door to the bathroom creaking.” She stood before Jim, holding the mop, her face showing no emotion. “She’s almost gone but she cares that the door needs WD-40.”

After dabbing the corners of Agnes’ room with the mop, Rachel went back downstairs where she found Jim applying lubricant to the squeaky hinge. He swung the door open and shut. When he’d finished the job, he stared at the can, spun it in his hands as if to distract himself.

“The doctor,” Rachel said, “will be here in half an hour.”

Jim only nodded.

Returning to her mother, Rachel told her of the doctor’s impending visit. Agnes’ eyes lie closed. Her lips though, were parted. Agnes seemed to be sinking into the bed before Rachel’s eyes, the cancer that grew in her body pulling her down and away from her family and friends. Rachel imagined that; mobs of dark and knotty hands growing from the bed, curling around Agnes, greedily pulling her away–forever.

Raspy words escaped Agnes: “Did you pay the phone bill? It’s the first.”

“Mom, I’ve taken care of it.” Rachel stood and leaned over the bed. She pulled a curtain open allowing blazing shards of sunlight to crash in. Agnes shuddered as if she had been hit by a hammer. Quickly, Rachel shut the curtain.

Rachel sat in a chair beside her mother’s bed and began to read a magazine. She worried about Jim. He seemed unable to breach the wall of pain that stood invisible before the door to his mother’s room.

“Phillip’s son is coming to mow the lawn on Wednesday. The gas for the mower is in the shed on a shelf. A red can,” said Agnes. Her words trailed at the end, like someone speaking as they dozed off.

The doorbell toned. Muffled conversation made its way up the stairs. Agnes’ eye lids burst open. “Dr. Krutzburgh’s here,” she said. Footsteps chugged up the stairs.

“Good morning, Agnes.” Dr. Krutzburgh walked in. He wore khaki dress pants and a blue, button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. “How are we?”

Rachel stood from the chair and Dr. Krutzburgh took her place.

The doctor carried with him an illusion. It is the illusion that all good men of the medical trade must be able to employ at will: That pain, suffering and even death are subject to him. Though the patient’s mortal confine is ravaged beyond rational hope, everything will be alright.
He lifted Agnes’ arm from under the blanket and gently slid a blood pressure cuff on. After noting her numbers, he removed the cuff and pressed a chilled stethoscope to her bosom. “Take a deep breath for me Agnes.” Her chest rose slightly, followed by a deep groan. Her face contorted. Then, a long silence.
Rachel stood near the door observing, biting her lip. The quiet had a disturbing aspect to it. She half-expected the doctor to stand and announce: “The cancer’s gone. I’ll be on my way.” Instead though, he removed a syringe and small glassine bottle from a case he’d carried in.

“I’m going to give you some medicine to help with the pain, okay?”

“I don’t want it. And you don’t have to talk so loudI’m not deaf,” said Agnes.

“There’s cookies if you want some. My daughter made them.”

“I think I will, but I want you to take the medicine,” said Dr. Krutzburgh.
Rachel saw the word: morphine on the bottle that the doctor held.

“If that’s what it takes for you to stop pestering, go ahead.”
The doctor administered the opiate then motioned Rachel into the hallway. He placed a hand on her shoulder. “She’s going. This may be the last. I’ll stay here for the day. I don’t expect things to go on after that.”
Rachel went to tell Jim, then returned upstairs and stood in the bedroom pacing.

“Did you check the mail?” asked Agnes, through delirium. “It’s one o’clock. The mail comes at one.”
Indeed, Rachel’s watch confirmed it was one o’clock. How her mother knew this without a clock nearby, Rachel couldn’t say.

At twelve past one, the doctor felt for Agnes’ pulse and found it missing. He looked up at Rachel.

She understood. It was true what they said; that only two things really mattered: Death and Love. With that realization: relief that it was over. When she told Jim, he picked up the phone to call for arrangements.

Rachel walked to the driveway. Outside, her senses exploded and Rachel noticed all of the little things that everyday she took for granted: the undulating chirps of chickadees, calling, rasping in uneven harmony, never to find a chorus; crunching gravel beneath her feet, the rolling stones mashing and finding their place amongst brothers, small stones pounced upon by the pricking rain, light, cold as lonely steel; a rain that pulled down the smell of lightning ozone from damaging gray cirrus, mingled it with the surrounding pines, offering the smoke as sacrifice to her mourning soul; a soul that felt the thick breeze moving and lifting her hair, grazing her eyes and ears; yes, ears that recorded the echoes of barking dogs, lonely, calling for the pack to undo exile, the sadness imposed upon the lonely for all time; ears pulled by the band of children playing in the joy of youth, evident in randomness, cleverness, carelessness; a bouncing ball, a clatter unknown, smashing against the muscular tones of distant motors, angry, huffing, pulsing, flowing down tunnels of concrete, running to escape the droning populace, racing for the muffling of forest and ocean and river, collapsing, swirling, finally, again, waiting for the one such as Rachel, who would hear, smell and see.

24
Mar
08

New Short Story

I enjoy writing short stories having to do with Greek mythology, and mythology in general. The stories can cause some problems with readers not too familiar with the characters or situations, but on the other hand, they can be quite rewarding when one does a little digging, and finds out what I was talking about….

Anyways, here’s one:

Notes From the Underworld  

I am ill. Under here and in this outer darkness, my inner being withers. But it cannot perish outright, which would be the better thing without question.

     The darkness here is tangible—viscous. It slows my movement. And somehow it slows my thoughts, preventing me from formulating a way of escape. Once, I thought that no prison could hold me, given my wile.

     Try to remember. Try!

     Yes, there. Now I do remember. How Zeus assailed us in the heavens, then, my brethren and I—the rightful rulers of the universe—cast into Tartarus. Perhaps that The Mighty One dared tread Tartarus, to free the Cyclopses from their chains of despair, proves His right to sit upon Olympus’ throne.  

     To the victors go the codices of history; this I understand. I know what you have read in the stories and poems and even if the upper-world knew the truth, few would challenge the power of Lord Zeus. Those who would, may first ponder me and my surroundings: the horror of an eternity swimming alone in a sea of blackness, the feeling of the damp, rocky floor, and the screams of the damned shattering all hope.

     Better for me that I would have suffered the fate of Cronus: sliced to bits and tossed into the ocean.  Or that the mercy given doomed Prometheus would have trickled to me. Even to labor as Atlas perhaps, straining beneath the weight of the lighted world. But no, Zeus feared the Titan of intellect, that I may scheme a scheme so intricate that even Athena’s wisdom could not pierce its mysteries. And that is surely what I would have done, what I will do should I escape this fate.

     What brings you to this place? How could one so insignificant draw the ire of Olympus? I sense no great power in you, no aspect of the upper-world that bends to your command. Are you a spy for Zeus? No, that’s not it. Perhaps you’ve pilfered a bit of knowledge once guarded jealously but the gods. You must help me. Lift up your head, grab back your will to see the light, help me to reclaim what is my divine right. To think, immortal Coeus needing the help of one such as you! But the Tartarus Pit holds god and mortal alike within its depths.

     This way, keeping your hand on the bronze wall that encircles this prison. For uncounted centuries, when able to gather my strength, I’ve dug in the rock and dirt, the sound of my clawing masked by the shrieks of mighty Typhon.

     Steel yourself—what is left of you. Prepare for the long walk beneath the musky ground. Even when we immerge on the opposite side of this wall, still three rings of the void’s stygian gloom will hide our way.

     At last–here we are. With your help we’ll make good our escape. Do not fade now.

     Do you hear? The feral hisses echoing? Follow that sound and know that as the din grows nearer, so does my freedom. We are on the highway leading through the gates. Don’t tire!

     I see the light, even feel its tingling touch. Do you see the guardian of the adamantine gate?

     Hold still, don’t struggle so—it’s no use. I‘m grateful for your assistance, but the worth of a thousand mortals doesn’t approach my value. I admit I considered taking you with me, to a place on the Aegean—a superb servant you’d have made.

     Again fool, stop writhing. To the monster’s belly you go! So many mouths on this omnipotent hydra, set down with the foundations of the world. I do hope you’ll continue your flopping and fluttering so as to afford me the time to slip by him.

     Now for me it is lovely ambrosia and the sweet nectar of the vine.




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