Tag Archives: Flash

Grits and Canadian Bacon

Rushing in at the last minute, the cold wind makes my bangs flutter before the window shuts tight. Red-rimmed and burning eyes blink at the clock glaring 11:45 from a dark box. “11 hours…” my inner voice narrates, “11 hours since we left the house.” Past the torrential downpour in Detroit, past the irritable border guards, past the wrong turn leading to Leamington is this: darkness on the King’s Highway.

She shifts restlessly in the car and grabs a clove. I see a glimpse of her green eyes and red hair for a split second as the lighter fades into a dull orange, spicy-smelling dot. Maybe I should have the kept the window down? We’ve smoked the Hell out of that pack, but then again, nothing parties like a rental.

“We can find a place to stop, if you want to stretch your legs.” Yeah, those legs used to walk over a lot of people. Those legs I’d still kill for. I could use the stop though, maybe shakedown a vending machine for coffee. That is… if they take American.

“No…” a listless yawn precedes,”we’re almost there anyway.”

Peering out into the darkness, I only saw more darkness. 

“We need some music.” Instantly perky, she begins to flip through the CD folder. Anything’s better than silence, I suppose. “Oh, hey… yeah,” she pauses to to scrape the CD up by her fingernail. “You’ll like this,” sliding the disc into the thin, vertical slit of the dash console. Vinyl record effects pop through the car’s woofers, as if there were a needle to be found somewhere. We might as well be driving a haystack.

“I live on a chain and you share the same last name. As a joke, I sent a bottle of whiskey.

As you choked, I knew it made you feel dirty,”*

Pete Yorn’s disembodied, breathy voice entered the car. I felt the indie pretentiousness immediately, like I needed a hipster in here. Without much provocation, sound erupts through the level 22 settings.

“And I was waiting over here for life to begin. I was looking for the new thing, and you were the sunshine heading my front-line, I was alone, you were just around the corner from me.”

Light slides up the dashboard, and I wince to keep the Chevy Malibu on the road. It is the forte of the trip, a very ill-advised and sketchy dive into the Great White North. I see a city alive. She gets her vindication. Damn her.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

* – Yorn, Pete. “Life on a Chain.” Musicforthemorningafter. Columbia, 2001.

 

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Birthday

Tapping steady at the side of my cup, the coffee ripples in time with twitching.  My spectral image housed within a picture frame would be invisible if it were between dawn and dusk. I see myself in my current state: transparent with a few new facial creases. An hour ago, I sped recklessly down the main drag. An hour ago, she and I parted ways. My time is now occupied by looking at the TV screen and wringing an August issue of Entertainment Weekly.

This place runs at an odd angle. Am I facing north? The curvature of the waiting room displays the faintest of skylines with a few aircraft warning lights. Otherwise, one would think this hospital doubles its capacity in the evenings. I rest my head on the pane, and make sure my stomach doesn’t fly out my mouth. We thought we’d cross this bridge when we’d get to it. Well, here it is in front me and my… my… what are we really?

At any rate, I suppose this room becomes a land of imagination. I can see it now, families all stuck helpless like flies on paper. The designers must have had a sense of humor, too. Cheap, mass-produced chairs set neatly side-by-side with laminate end tables and a corner full of rhododendrons. But, wait! There’s a 50″ widescreen TV with the Cubs/Cards game playing “just for the guys.” Absurd. What kind of man would gladly drift off as a spectator sucking down the crude chili dogs from the cafeteria?

Keening burst through the stainless-steel double doors again. A banshee would be jealous. I can see her as I last saw her, pushing me away as the team of physicians roll her beyond the austere threshold of the operating room. I would weave myself in and around medical staff to offer my services of nothing, provided I’d simply move. It would feel like an accomplishment in more than one way. Some accomplishments aren’t rewarded as they should be however.

My solitary confinement gives way to a new presence, the obstetrician. Yanking down her mask, its presence still remains on her cheeks. The doctor’s eyes blink and replenish the moisture on the cornea. Breathing in gives her a contrast both rooms leave on her. I keep quiet and wait for her to speak.

“Mr. Calipretti?” Her unpolished lips formed a black fish bone-like shape.

Clearing my throat, I’m able to stumble over “that’s me,” before I get caught up again.

“The baby is fine and in the nursery. The mother, on the other hand, has been through plenty. She’s resting right now and we’re going to keep an eye on her for a while in the maternity ward. Would you care to see your son?” Expressionless delivery. It’s a living, if nothing else.

She said “son.” I have a son. A thickness runs down mid-foot and curls my toes. Its tightness pulls away from the moment, pulls away from the hospital in flight. I never move. “Thank you, doctor.” Controlling my movements carefully, I follow the woman into forbidden zone. The official blessing felt like genuflecting in my presence.

The maternity ward’s humidity could be nothing less than artificial. Its florescent wash gives a utility where waiting rooms lack. Gurneys stud the hallway in case of pandemic emergency and I narrowly miss several.  I’m as graceless as its residents. Before rounding a corner to the nursery, I perchance catch her half-hidden by a curtain.

Sleeping hard on her shoulder, hair plasters her face as wet string. Femme voilée. Its once-tension-filled space now pays attention to the EKG machine in the corner, pinging away until sunrise where the day shift will do their rounds.

When I am shown the nursery, the doctor leaves without a sound. I’m left staring though a window of new arrivals. It’s loud, but he isn’t. The tiny chin tucks into his shoulder, and his fat cheeks make for a nonplussed frown. It’s a popular sentiment.

“Would you care to hold your child, Mr. Calipretti?” A ghost of a nurse appears to the right in my field of vision. I say “OK” when I very much attempt a “no,” and a mass of swaddling cloth is brought forth before I have a chance to revise my answer.

Such a dour child with the facial contortions of a court judge. This must be the wrong foot of his life. He’s out of step already. I can recall several memories to highlight that point of view.

No matter how many times I want to run, I’m immobile. No matter how many debates I have, I lose. No matter how many times I rehearse, I forget my part. I do not have the will to put him up for adoption, but one man’s cowardice is another man’s credibility.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Inflorescence

The goal of this writing exercise was to describe a flower without using the word “sweet.” ~Nate

———-

As I wander my way from Zar’it to Shomera, I feel a need to rest. An hour’s walk is reason enough to stop and collect oneself. The open sky has no trace of clouds, and there is never a schedule to keep. With an occupation such as my own, it’s of no pressing matter where I am or what time it is.

Searching for a seat, a boulder became an ideal perch for my moment of idleness. Its sturdy nature was plenty to support a simple frame. No more than a few seconds into my leisure I am greeted with a light, heady aroma from an undisclosed location. A little effort reveals a blooming hyacinth cluster near the base of my seat.

Truly a comforting sight, paper white and blue inflorescence jutting up through the dirt. Small gusts of wind glide their will over each raceme to carry the natural smell elsewhere. Such beauty is often ignored by the preoccupied. In my current condition, I should have the chance to capture a feminine splendor from the earth.

How lovely it is, strong and syrupy, like honey but not cloying. My nose tingles with its perfume-like essence. As if on cue, a bee hugs the stalk and dips its legs for nectar. The pleasure of this flower can now be share by us both.

My giddiness complementing my abilities on a sensory holiday, I wonder how many people could do such? It would seem easy enough to perform, yet years to master. To relish that which is hidden in plain sight requires keen eyes. I resumed my journey on a note of camphor. A light heart will carry me onward.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Dusk

A million troubles, that is all the world’s worth. Set in its revolving loop, it swirls an elliptical hurly-burly of debilitating woe. What is this human to do? The boy of a nobody and man of no means, I am careening through the bumpers and flippers of existence. There is no defense I could raise against such a foregone conclusion. My life, as it is now, is meaningless to such a hunk of space rock.  The only moving and shaking to be done is my calf as it balances itself on the lowest rung of the bar stool.

“Hey, Chris!” With my hand raised like an elementary school student, I wave the bartender down for a moment. A stern, set-faced man strides to my end of the bar and props his hands up on the bar. “What’s a drink for a man down on his luck?”

Scratching his stubble, he contemplates while watching a patrol officer yell down a soccer mom using the turn lane as a parking spot. “Probably whiskey,” he lifted his forehead in honest resolution. “That’s my drink of choice when the wife starts screaming about one thing or another.”

“All right, pour me a glass.” I’ve never been one for hard liquor, but after funeral, a fallout, and a fight with the repo man, I’m willing to try just about anything at this point.

A tumbler with oaken-brown fluid slid toward my hand. This was like the Wild West, right? An unfortunate cowboy drinking up liquid comfort. It felt comforting, warm and simple. The alcohol was still swaying from side to side, a maternal-like motion.  It burns my nose before I even drink. My next resolution is to stick with beer.

Chris laughs and wipes up the sputter all over the counter. My embarrassment adds a feather to the Mariner’s necklace. Life-in-death. That’s what this was: a walking nightmare.

With a shout, a fist fight erupts in the other corner of the bar. Two patrons are fed up with their misfortunes and take it out on each other. Profanity and alcohol are thrown in all directions before the stolid arms of order chuck them into the street like a wrapper or peel. No one would consider them otherwise.

This is too much. There is no enjoyment here from my last sound decision of the day. Crumpled presidents slide across the bar top and I head for a walk in the afternoon. Going home would be the end of me. My exercise is a testament to life and existence. I would let the Earth know I live and breathe as flesh and blood for their own eyes to discover.

Wooden feet on concrete clap out a melody for the tone deaf. People careening into disaster weave a chaos-laden path around me: road rage, pugilism, dereliction… the subjects of a raw life on public display. What good was there to be found roasting in the sweat of a cement convection?

On the stoop of a project house sits a weathered musician. Time has bleached his hair cotton white while his skin hold the marks of age as if it were keeping score. Hacking out 12-bar blues, his head blocks out the rest of the street. Barring other people’s problems, his steady strums create a reply. That was his answer to the madness around him, an old man pushing back the insanity by creating beauty. The tune lingers long enough for the sane to catch.

A new home is found for my last dollar in the guitar case of the old man, and I sit listening to the rest of his resistance. His enchantment with his craft made for little acknowledgement of my presence, but that is of no consequence. My admiration for the old man and his guitar would only describe a small portion of my attitude. He was troubled; we all are, but he avoided the destruction. Creation in misery is a pacifist protest against human nature.

As the sun makes a silhouette of his figure, I resolve to be that man and his guitar. I need to find my guitar, whatever that may be. There are too many troubles in this world for me to shoulder. I, like him, won’t admit those problems into my life. I, too, shall play ceaselessly into the impending night.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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City in the Fields

There was a flash fiction challenge yesterday from Opinionated Man of which I had not participated. I had already posted yesterday’s flash, which was for another Reddit contest (did not win/no honorable mention). That’s not to say I’m upset about it. I didn’t want to leave people on here hanging.  The WordPress challenge seemed a little more like a Saturday write anyway. If people have read my blog for any length of time, they know I’ve spoke about my town slightly in my stories. In 1,000 words or less, I shall condense that.

——————-

Urbanites often clamor for the countryside, a respite from the “noise” and “pollution” of a metropolitan backdrop. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence especially if it’s compared to concrete. Plenty of green dots the landscape of my city, even if it’s mold. Perhaps the agricultural nature of the outer limits appeal, waving arms of wheat and corn in a Summer’s gust? The ears certainly make for better conversation anyway.

Crumbling corners and mended roads, all drizzled in chocolaty-tar sauce like a sundae stretch for miles under questionable skies. Built once with pride, brick buildings burn from apathy’s children leaving only work for the crewmen to raze. Holes, like pulled teeth, pit a once wealthy dirt. An asphalt crown is the new order of business.

Hulking and oppressive, the courthouse stands idle with all of its faded glory. Since when had you last felt alive? Bluebottle cars fly around your rotten carcass of petty justice. Your delusions of grandeur are transparent! Your mightiness is moot!

…and the floods. O, the floods! Have you come to visit us with fervor of Zelus? Have your waters ran through our hair enough? Can you not stand the sight of our houses as much as I? There would be no blame in that. Bring it to us so that we may bathe in a pool of our mistakes.

Time has come and time has passed, leaving nothing but old values as new ideas spread across a nation. Angry and afraid, a retirement community is proclaimed. Leave it as it once was, so we remember it fondly. A sepulcher for the nostalgic. There is no need to share; it is ours!

A generation took that to heart, and a generation made a new start off on coasts and in between. “They will be back!” Was the mantra of the day which fizzled to a murmur on the lips of the selfish. The world is not as it once was. Haughtiness becomes highlighted in hindsight.

Ghosts of people past still haunt the streets in which I ride. Past the schools. Past the homes. Past the shops I’ve seen too many times to remember. Pictures on the gelatin of my eyes. Translucent and faded they post bills of their likeness where I’ve been before. Up on the hill, down by the river, out by the freeway, or around the corner, I cannot live them down. The city will not let me live them down.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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