Category Archives: Short Stories
Jumping down from the trains dark interior, I peered through the steady downpour. Even as thorough as I’d been about masking my scent, I knew it wouldn’t take the Guardians long to know I was here. To my right I caught a glimpse of something dark slip beneath the shadows of the loading dock.
Good. I thought. The council had decided to get right to the point and not waste my time. (more)
It was called Zelda’s. Third entrance on the left and the only one of its kind to offer true pleasure at a subterranean level. An underground French bakery with just enough avant-garde to make me feel as though I was never less than the center of the universe and the ruling attraction of eighty-eight hundred square feet of confectionery bliss. (more)
Jonathan had been preparing for this day since he was six years old and stepped through the canvas parted opening of his first Big Tent meeting in a wheat field just outside Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Even now, if he closed his eyes and concentrated, he could still hear the ripple of murmured voices, smell the sweat tang of ozone and rain-soaked earth, feel the crackle of anticipation in the movement of freshly iron shirts, summer dresses, and long, cool, cotton gloves. (read more)
By Jan Morehead
Maybe I was expecting more from such an iconic hero of fiction and journalism than I had a right to. I certainly thought he’d be a lot taller, more ‘Gary Cooper’ in the way he carried himself or suffused the room with his presence. Instead, I watched a man of average height, sturdy build and care worn features step through the door, sweep the room with unmet expectation, then walk over to the nearest bar stool and take up residency.
Like everyone else in Gentleman Jones Bar of the Dead, Mr. Hemingway had about him the look of someone who’d once boasted a light as brilliant as a new-born sun, only to discover, as with all nova’s, their brilliancy had a shelf life and that he’d come to the end of his.
A neatly trimmed beard and half-moon face, supported a full mouth, boyish dimples and eye’s the color of ripened walnuts. A remnant of evenly matched dark brows, once mirrored images of each other, now sat catawampus – one straight – the other as an afterthought – the mismanaged result of a burning fuselage from the plane crash that nearly took his life eight years ago. His once thick hair, now receded to a point midway between forehead and crown, lay peppered and thin in his attempts to capture an earlier time. With an upraised hand he caught Jonesies attention, “Bar keep, start me with a whiskey neat, a pint of Guinness, and keep em’ comin’.”
My curiosity is notoriously my undoing, so you’ll understand why I was compelled to leap from my perch – neatly clearing of a bowl of mutilated peanut shells, but not so neatly the outer edge of Sally Loren’s shot glass. ‘Sorry, sorry.” I screeched, then hopped out of range of her half-hearted attempts to separate me from several tail feathers. Between me and our newest arrival, stood a labyrinth of shot glasses, half empty bottles of rum, whiskey and the piston like movements of Jonesies arm, as he filled and re-filled the cadaverous drinks; it took me a few minutes, but I managed to make it through with all the usual swagger.
Upon reaching my destination I was careful to place myself slightly to the left of his center, fluffed out the under pinning of my aqua and green plumage, raised and lowered my breast bone several times, then purred in a near perfect imitation of Mae West, “Hey big boy…what’s a girl…gotta do… to get a drink around here…huh?”
Now in the four hundred years I’d been propositioning the dead, I’d narrowed their response to finding themselves no longer among the living down to one of two categories: those found it necessary to spit their response onto my perfectly groomed feathers – thus the position of center left, and those who still believed that this was all just a bad dream and that they’d soon wake up. The day Hemingway walked into the bar, I started a third response; “I’ll be damned, I thought you’d be a lot bigger than that.”
Edit was never one for sittin’ back and lettin’ a man do what God had obviously intended for her to do all along. To her way of thinkin, such nonsense just weren’t right. Hell, you could even say lettin’ someone else construct the dang thing ought to be grounds for getting yerself tossed by the Almighty in that great big lake a fire the local preacher was always so fond of goin’ on about.
Though, Edith thought has she rested a moment, wiping dusty rivulets of sweat from her face and neck with the same plaid kerchief she’d given Rubin last year for his name day, I’m not so sure I really believe all that stuff about sin, and judgment, and God being mad at the world, and condemning a gal for living with a fellar instead of getting hitched proper, or for wakin’ up one mornin and havin what ‘Old Lloyd’ over on Tucker Ridge calls, an ‘epiphany’, about how raisin a man’s kids would be a whole lot easier if’n he and that moonshine he liked so well just up an took themselves off somewheres else, or how scrapping together next fall’s seed money sos she could bail his sorry backside out of Sheriff Molson’s jail cell for the hundredth time, in any way constitutin’ the Lord’s blessin’ in disguise.
Nope! There just weren’t many things about God, and sin, and judgment, and how men should treat their woman folk, or what does or does not constitute blessing, that Edith and the good preacher would or could, ever agreed on. Fact was, in her forty- two years of living with a man who’d all but forgotten what it meant to love his woman, or care for the bakers bunch of children she’d given him, Edith figured if and when the Almighty thought about her and her doins, it weren’t probably more than just idle curiosity on His part.
Tucking Rubin’s kerchief back into the extensive mound of fabric covered flesh, Edith once again took a firm grasp of the shovel’s handle between blunt, calloused hands, and using the considerable cantilever of her weighted foot, once more pushed its wedge shaped head down into orange and gold leaf covered dirt.
When the sun reached a position level with Edith’s shoulder, she released her grip on the shovel, unmindful of the clatter it made as it rolled off what remained of the dirt she’d piled earlier in the day. Now, letting her eyes sweep over the softly rounded earth, the carefully placed stone and gently planted holly, she thought about what she might like to say before leaving.
As a woman with strong convictions concerning truth and how the measure of a man is found in the honesty of words and the simplicity of deeds, Edith could not now, in all good consciousness, find a single good thing to say about the man she’d promised to love for all those years except, “Lord, bout time.”
To those who think they know me, there is nothing special about the night, except maybe for the moon. A moon that is bigger than the sky and takes up so much of your vision that it’s hard to think about anything else. The kind that grabs you by the souls and won’t let go, holding onto you, wrapping itself around you, becoming one with the who and the what, of you.
But then those who think they know me would never understand how powerful such a moon is.
It’s power taunts and seduces until all I desire is to throw back my head and howl until the very earth itself shakes. But if I give into that temptation too soon, how many others will try and push their way out into the open? How many more of my secrets will fight and jockey their way into freedom until the who and the what of me is no longer hidden. No longer confined to simply the white moon of winter?
As far as my eyes can see, and they can see pretty damn far, the night is covered in a frost that is as tangible as it is mysterious. Tangible, because the white moon’s light flickers over every surface like diamonds on glass. Mysterious, because what the eye cannot see is that among its flickering light is a world in which faerie, spirit and the dead come together in a tapestry of life few mortals will ever know.
But I digress.
Yet how can I not when I’m surrounded by such wonder, such marvels, that if given even a sliver of chance I will trade all my tomorrows to remain as I am tonight. Forever abandoning the identity that keeps me from my true self. A persona placed upon me at birth by those too frightened of their own natures to allow me, their offspring, the freedom to choose between it and the who and what of me.
But again, I digress.
Thoughts of what could be, should be, wanna be. These still remain to be seen. The edict has yet to be made and so I wait under her bright light, under the dazzle of her beauty, my souls chained to the lie of who I am not, while longing for the who that I truly am.
The white moon of winter now shines her light on the caves opening, shadow and revelation coming together to give their verdict. The very hairs of my coat tingle with ripples of anticipation. Like a lamb to the slaughter, do I live or do I die? Tonight, under a white moon of winter, I will forever be one or the other, no longer torn between a lie and a truth. Leaving behind the one to embrace with full frontal passion the other.
I shiver. On peaks that glisten beneath the brilliancy of her orb, the white moon of winter now reveals her answer and I am forever changed by its truth.
By Shawn Spjut
Zipper found her way into my life at a time where tomorrow was just another day marked by credit card debt and the never ending job of feeding insatiably hungry teenage boys. On an artic night, the life of a tiny orange and white kitten was caught somewhere in the headlights of my Honda Civic, and will be forever remembered for her claws, her bad temper, and the incredible joy she brought to one woman’s journey in the struggle to overcome the ebb and flow of life.
It was the winter of 1998 and I was in the midst of yet another financial crisis, trying to feed two teenage boys, pay off an avalanche of self imposed credit card debt and struggling to salvage enough dignity to keep the rest of the world from knowing just how desperate I’d become.
Six months earlier I had come across an add in the newspaper offering jobs delivering the local newspaper seven days a week. The pay wasn’t much but I figured it just might get me over the hump, with a little extra to spare. And if I minded my peas and queue’s for the next two years, there was a real possibility I just might see the light of financial freedom again.
On this particular night, it was three thirty in the morning and I had been out on my route for less than an hour when the outside temperature dropped below freezing, Seattle’s infamous fog began to shroud everything below 1000 feet in white, and the left beam of the Honda was died.
With hands covered in ink stained gloves I turned the little cars blower on high, snapped its beams on bright and held my breath while the Honda and I slid from one bank of red polyurethane newspaper tubes to the next.
Another hour into the night found the Honda and I flying around the third dead end street in Riverside Park – a trailer court who’s better days were marked by Gremlin’s mounted on cedar blocks and tarp covered Winnebago’s – when my high-beams unexpectedly glanced over something small, tan and round squatting in the middle of the road.
My immediate thought, It’s just another orphaned lunch bag, dumped in the middle of the street by some school age child no longer interested peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Having no time for lost lunches, I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and prepared to run over it as all such abandoned things demand to be run over. Yet no sooner had I made my three-thirty AM decision to hit and run, then the now blazing high-beams of my Honda came beam to eye with two blinking orbs.
To this day I’m not sure whether it was the Honda’s precision front wheel drive or my spontaneous prayer of “Oh shit, Oh God!” that kept me from running over Zipper. All I am sure of is that night the universe choose not only to save the life of a kitten, but a woman who, in a momentary flash of insight, recognized the lunch sacks of my own misspent youth.