There are sixteen wishing wells in her parents’ backyard. Thirteen are almost always broken. Two just give you smartass answers. And then there’s the one that either gives you everything your heart used to desire or a type of cancer that runs through you in about a week.
Why am I going to play those kinds of odds? I’m cool, man. I can stand on the back porch, tell the sun we’re going to have a problem if it rises, drink coffee and imagine I’m a fixed picture of quiet dignity.
I’ve got love for at least a couple more hours. I can get all the dry blood out of my throat on the first try. I can wait quietly for everyone I care about to leave me.
I can find poetic meaning in the heavy tree branches that fall into the tall grass that’s been coming up out of the concrete as of late. There’s a word for people like me, and it’s funny that the woman who coined it could never make up her mind on what she wanted to dedicate her comfortable life to.
Auditions for toothpaste commercials or holding up liquor stores.
Even God knows I know how she feels. I can’t remember her favorite song. I can’t tell you what I promised myself last night I was going to do today. I can’t believe I have any self-control to begin with.
I don’t want to be dragged down the stairs by my ankles by a man in black, who’s funnier than I am, richer in personality and silver dollars than I’ll ever be, and thinks it’s hilarious that I’m probably going to be pining for the glory days of last Tuesday next Wednesday.
Starting the drum roll for the suicide dive into accomplishment all over again is even scarier than losing her in a hotel lobby as big as the world.
I don’t know how I can make that clearer to people.
I just happened to be there that day. That’s all there is to it. My mother runs errands on the Thursday afternoon after she gets paid. Her routine is very predictable. She cashes the check at Fleet and does the grocery shopping for the week at the supermarket next door. The same routine every week. After the market, she gets the mail. See, we don’t have a mailbox like most of my friends. The part of the town I live in still gets mail through a post office box. When we want our mail, we must go into town. But that’s not important. I mean, we never made it to the post office that day.
That Thursday, my school had a curriculum day, and we were let out early. For those of you that don’t know what a curriculum day is, I’ll tell you. Curriculum Day is when teachers decide how they will bore us to death. Also, they sit around and tell each other what an amazing job the teachers are doing. Every one of them thinks they are the teacher of the year. But that doesn’t matter. I guess. What matters is that I was let out early and had to run errands with mother.
When Mother picked me up from school, she had not gone to the bank yet. Maybe if she hadn’t been late at work, the whole mess would’ve been avoided. She drove directly to the bank from school, so we arrived at noon. I remember because mother promised lunch after we got money from the teller.
I know I’m young, but I do understand how the bank works. You sign over your check, and they give you money. When you run out of money, you go to the bank and take some out of the ATM. I could never understand why Mother and Father fight so much about money when they just need to put their card into the machine to get more. I can’t seem to figure that one out. Maybe, I never will.
I decided to sit on the bench near the door while Mother got money from the teller. That’s why I got to see him when he walked in the door. I mean, I was the first to see him. I knew as soon as he walked in the door that he was going to do something bad. He was wearing dark clothing and a ski mask that covered his face just like in the movies. I watched him approach the tellers in a rush without even waiting his turn.
He screamed that he was robbing the bank and instructed the teller to throw all the cash into the book bag he brought. He tossed her the bag and pointed a gun at her head. The lady began throwing bundles of cash into the bag, but before she could finish, he grabbed the bag from her and moved on to the next teller. Repeating the orders, he gave the second teller even less time before he moved on. He’d been in the bank for about two minutes when I heard the sirens in the background.
I didn’t know what the man planned to do, but I knew he wouldn’t get out of the bank before the police arrived. That was for sure.
The man grabbed the bag and ran to the window next to where I sat. He stood closely to me, so closely that I could smell him. He smelled afraid. I learned the smell of fear that day though I couldn’t tell if that smell was coming from me or not. The man looked from the windows to the door quickly. I guess he was trying to figure if he could escape. He turned to me and stared into my eyes. His eyes were dark and angry, and I tried to look away. He reminded me too much of father.
The moment I looked away, he grabbed me by the arm and started pulling me away from the window. I heard my mother screaming, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying. The commotion in the bank was too loud.
He dragged me into an office in the back of the bank. He pointed the gun at the person on the phone and told her to leave. She dropped the phone and left. The man slammed the door shut and pulled down the shade. I had a feeling I was in big trouble. He paced the room and cursed repeatedly to himself. When I tried to talk, he cut me off by placing his palm over my mouth.
I could hear people moving in the main room. By the sounds of it, the police were getting all the people out of the bank into safety. I was alone with this man—just us and the police. He took off the mask and looked at me once again. I didn’t know him; I was sure of that. He was crying, and for a moment, I felt bad for him.
“Why are you crying?” I asked. I didn’t know what he had to be sad about.
“You wouldn’t understand. You’re just a little girl,” he sniffed a few times and wiped his nose in his shirt.
“Why did you try to rob the bank?”
“I need the money,” he answered.
A deep scar below his eye twitched when he spoke, and his dark, greasy hair fell over his eyes. His nose looked as if it had been broken several times. He noticed me staring and looked away as if he were embarrassed. He pushed a hand through his hair and placed the gun on the desk next to the phone. His stare was telling me not to try any funny business with the gun. He finally seemed satisfied that I wouldn’t do anything.
The man sat in silence for a few minutes, not moving. Then the phone rang. He grabbed the receiver but didn’t speak. It must’ve been the police because he started to answer questions. I could tell the police wanted him to let me go, but he refused. After a few more questions, he handed the phone to me and told me the police wanted to talk. I knew what they were going to ask. I’ve seen it on television.
I was surprised to hear my mother’s voice. “Yes, Mother.”
“Are you okay?”
“Has he hurt you at all? Has he touched you?”
“I’m fine. He hasn’t touched me at all.” Not like father, but I didn’t say that on the phone.
“Thank God. Tasha, the policeman wants to ask you a few questions.”
There was a pause, then someone else came on the line. “Tasha, this is Sergeant Woodbridge. You can call me Phil. Is that okay?”
“Can you tell me where in the office the man is standing?”
I thought it over for a moment, but I didn’t want any part in what they were planning. I told him I couldn’t talk about it and gave the phone back to the man. He took it from me and smiled. He understood what I did or seemed to at least. He may have robbed the bank, but he didn’t hurt anyone yet. They wanted to shoot him, but I wasn’t going to help them do it. These situations always end up with the police shooting somebody.
He turned to me after he hung up the phone. “Why didn’t you tell them what they wanted to know?”
“I don’t think you deserve to die for stealing money. There are worse things in life than that. I can tell you that much.”
He opened his mouth to say something but didn’t. Instead, he watched me intently for several moments. “You don’t look afraid of the gun or anything else. I bet you know about those things in life worse than stealing.”
I sighed but didn’t answer his question. I may have helped him, but that didn’t mean I wanted to talk about my father or any of that business. He stared some more, but I kept quiet.
“It’s okay, little girl, you don’t have to tell me. I understand.”
“You’re right. I’m not going to tell you. But you’re wrong about thinking you understand. And don’t call me a little girl. I haven’t been that for a long time.”
At that moment, the phone rang again. It rang and rang, but the man didn’t move to answer it. Sweat poured down his temples, and he looked very nervous. Finally, I grabbed the receiver and said hello.
“I want to let you know we are going to come into the room, Tasha. Move away from the man when you hear the bang against the door. Can you do that for me, Tasha?”
“Yes,” I said and hung up the phone.
The man gripped the desk with his fingers, waiting for me to tell him the news.
“They’re coming in. They’re coming in for you.”
His head slumped down onto his chest, and I heard him sob.
“They’re going to kill you. I’m sorry to have to say it, but you know they will shoot you.”
“I can’t face it,” he said. “I didn’t mean for it to come to this. To be shot down by police… What will my mother think?”
I sighed again and put my hand on his head while he cried. The clicking of boots outside the door let me know the police would come into the room in moments. As the man continued to sob, I grabbed the gun with my free hand and put it against his temple.
I pulled the trigger and his brains splattered against the wall behind me. The police smashed in the door and swarmed the room, one man grabbing the gun from my hand. As they dragged me away, I tried to see if the man was alive or dead, but there were too many cops in the room. The one holding me in his arms carried me to an ambulance, and a medic examined me for wounds. I kept telling him that I was fine, but he kept on looking me over, too closely if you ask me.
A few minutes later a cop appeared at the rear of the ambulance and motioned for everyone to leave.
“Can you tell me what happened in there?”
I stared into his eyes, but didn’t answer. The cop’s watch ticked and ticked, but he didn’t ask me again. He just waited. Finally, I sighed and leaned toward him. I didn’t want anyone else to hear. “I shot him, sir. He tried to touch me, so I shot him. Some things in life are worse than stealing.”
Writers resisting through their work has a time honored place in literary tradition. The thought leaders of the day in poetry and fiction can use their pens to fight injustice and inequality.
Today, I call on writers to once again - resist with your pen.
To many people, the Trump administration has been an abomination for civil rights - no images more pressing than the photos of children locked in cages after being kidnapped at the border.
I ask you to submit poetry, fiction, and essays in defense of liberty and justice, dissent with your work.
What I'm seeking:
Poetry and stories for immediate publication on MoranPress.com
The news cycle moves fast and I want Moran Press to stake a voice in the important issues of the day. I won't have something to say on every issue, but with your help - I believe we can make an impact by resisting with our words.
Poetry and stories (up to 5k words) and essays will be posted to the website and also collected for an anthology if the author gives permission.
Send submissions to MoranPressGroup@gmail.com
Microsoft Word attachment - 12Pt Times New Roman, Double Spaced.
Thank you and I'm looking forward to reading your work.
We’ll be great together, I’m sure. I can feel it inside me, bubbling through my being, an entity of itself, separate from myself. I can feel it in the small of my back, sort of a throbbing pressure, which constant and for all time insists we are meant for each other.
You are the one, the one I dream of so often, the one to ease my mind, to protect me from demons, which are undoubtedly of my own making, the one to make me ignore the fact that the world is an onion, a great stinking husk. You are the one sent from the very heavens above, sent down on clear puffy smiling clouds to cure me of this, my disenchantment.
If you only saw things, all the little things that tell me we are destined to live as one, you would cease this endless struggle. However, you see the problems, always and forever the problems.
I agree though, there are problems.
I can understand what you meant and I know from the first night we met, in an Irish bar, fiddles and flutes whispering melodies over my words, the problems began from moment one.
I remember trying to buy you a drink and with red faced shame discovered the lucky twenty I keep in my walled to be absent. I stammered something of an apology, at which time, with a shake of your head I took to insinuate disgust in at least a mild degree, you paid for my drink.
I know that this moment did not signal great things for our future.
I know also my stammered, confused attempts to humor you must have not made the greatest of impressions, but I swear in all earnestness that I can do better than the joke I told.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?” I asked. “Tell me,” you answered. “I don’t know, I’m not a chicken,” I said. I waited for you to laugh, but you simply stared at me for a few moments, probably thinking I am crazy. I am NOT I say.
You worked hard ignoring me, as if ignorant of my very presence, preferring to instead stare into your drink; probably even wishing me to leave, but I plowed through these masquerades and began the conversation anew.
“Tell me something,” I asked, trying to gain your attention. “Something,” you said, without looking away from your drink. You seemed to find the comment funny, laughing for a few moments in my general direction. “Tell me what a lady is doing in a place like this alone,” I asked. “I am meeting someone,” you answered, this time looking at me, probing me with your eyes, digging your stare into my skin. “The plot thickens,” I said. I rubbed my hands in anticipation. “No, no. It’s not like that at all. I’m waiting for a friend.” “Does he know that?” I asked. I smiled, pleased with myself. You laughed as well, a low agreeing chuckle flowing into a short burst of laughter. “We are just friends, I swear.” “There is no need to swear,” I said. You nodded understanding, smiling.
Silence and drink staring returned all the while I watched the bartender, new and green to the trade, struggle to make a drink. He looked around for a bottle, confused.
“Third bottle from the left, pour a three count,” I said, not even thinking. “Thanks,” the bartender said.
You shook your head at me once again.
“Seems someone spends a bit too much time at the bar.”
The comment hung limp and stale in the space between us.
“The reason is simple. When I spend too much time at home, I am tempted far too often to knit.” “I’m sure.” “Really, I’m not kidding. It is either the bar or knitting. I can’t stop myself. Socks, mittens, scarves, hats, perhaps a sweater, but not often I assure you, not often indeed.”
Blank silence, utter black void silence.
“Visits to the bar keep me from knitting more than I can wear over the course of a given winter.”
“Okay. I admit I can’t knit. Sue me,” I said. You looked at me, eyes pinned to mine, and it was then, just at that moment I realized you were drunk. “How long have you waited for him?” “Just about all night.”
I looked at you, your hair a blonde mess on your head, eyes tired and pretty and alcohol red, all the while you shifted nervous to watch people exit and enter the bar, hoping the next person to be him.
“Perhaps he became engaged in a heated game of bocce.”
You laughed, a bit nervous, but you laughed. Got you!
“You’re funny.” “Thanks,” I said. “No, really. You make me laugh and it is not often I am humored.” “Too bad. I will make you laugh.” “I’d like that,” you said. “Tell me your name.” “Scott,” I said, looking away from your gaze.
I woke the next morning still clutching the napkin upon which you scribbled your number, still wondering if he ever made an appearance, something I doubted. I have been known to lose time and place during a heated game of bocce ball. You must allow for a moment, the moment. At certain moments we get caught and certain times we don’t.
And so, I called you, or rather, left messages on your machine. You did not answer. It is okay with me, I am content to leave messages. The day you answered, a bit surprised to hear from me so soon as you said, I’ll admit to being drunk and can’t be held responsible for comments such as, ‘Why didn’t you call me? Where were you last night?’
I quite understand if you miss a few phone calls or fail to get back to me within a week or two. What is a week or two over the span of a lifetime? It is a blink, a wink, a mite of dust in time’s eye, nothing more. I forgive you for not calling and I agree with your point about not calling too often, for it might disturb your roommate. I shall not call more often than once a week. I will place a sign next to my phone.
Do not call this week!
Will that suit you? That is what I will do, yes. The thing about it that bothers me, when will I know to call? I mean, you know I get a little confused, which week will I call? I’ll see the sign and think I shouldn’t call. Each and every day the sign will remind me and in my confusion I’ll never be sure if I called you that week, so in your words, ‘Err on the side of caution. If you are not sure, DON’T CALL!’
I agree with you and not to beleaguer the point, I know you need space. Why see me each month? How can I ask so much of you? Am I crazy? Why must I expect you to see me every single damn month? It is very unfair of me, but honestly if you’re to be my wife, connected with eternal bonds (chains, chains, and chains) we will have to see each other a few times a year, for the sake of propriety.
What will I tell mother when she asks about you, that I haven’t seen you that year? I think you will agree, we must for the sake of outward show see each other three or four times a year. I know your demanding schedule might make three visits over a course of a given year difficult, but can’t we compromise on this issue? I’ll bend on sleeping arrangements and small issues of the like, but three visits a year is a must.
On that note, do I need to place another placard on my calendar?
“Not my month to visit.”
This brings me to my final point. How are we to ever get to know one another if we talk once a month and see each other three times a year? I’ve spent much time considering the point; time, time, time, dawdling and milling about broken piazzas, looking for volcanic love, never to find a scant hint of evidence that it exists, only to find- You! Time wasted thinking when I should be writing (things, things, things) letters to you! Time working, paying bills, evenings with friends?
All my evenings should be free, free of writing, drinking, partying, and going to readings, free of all! What if the night I choose to party indeed was one of our three visits during the year? I then will receive two visits that year. That is not acceptable. I will keep my schedule, the entire year free of outside forces in case that night, any night, any one of the three hundred and sixty-five days might be the one I see you. What business do I have with a schedule? My life truly revolves around you!
VENTURE FORTH CAPITALISTS from LOVE AND QUARTERS BY GABRIEL RICARD
We don’t get the benefit of ghosts pushing the hotdog carts down the street.
The horrified drivers of every car that’s stuck in the standstill remain glued to their selfish perception and remain fixed on the future of the summertime.
No one locks their doors, and since the sirens only exist in dimming speculation, they all sound like a nauseating banquet of Frank Sinatra songs. I don’t ask for permission to squeeze your hand. Sorry about that.
I’m distracted by who is leading who to what is hopefully a livelier dance in the new museum of the jewelry, Nokia tablets, and winter coats district.
I’m in love with fifteen minutes ago, and I’m a dreamy word problem about how attentive I am to the little bookstore that’s leaving us behind.
Am I the only one who’s going to look back at its open door, imagine what the breeze felt like from the stool behind the cash register, and wish that we were actually almost at the edge of one postcard in a single file of tens of thousands?
If you’re not feeling that kind of thing, it’s okay. We’re probably going to have to grow up in different ways.
Buy One Book on Assault Rifles, Get One ‘Learn How to Not be a Dickwad’ Pamphlet Free by Austin Davis
This is an ode to the quote unquote “man” wearing black Ray Bans, ripped jean shorts, a conscious frayed at the seams, and a faded white shirt with the words “I’ll keep my guns and my freedom, you keep the change” written in striking bold letters
in front of a flaming motorcycle, the Bible, and the American flag who just dropped “13 Ways to Clean Your Gun” in front of me at my bookstore. Dear Mr. Supreme-Asswipe-of-American-Culture, I won’t KEEP the change, I’ll BE the change.
I want to tell you to stop looking at other women’s asses as they walk by, your wife is right there, dude. I want to tell you that mullets were never cool and that on average, one school was shot up every week this year.
Even a fucking blind red elephant tripping on the hardest acid could see that you must be praying to the wrong God because your thoughts and your prayers aren’t doing shit. I want to tell you
that based on the way your “white is right” keychain keeps sucking the sunlight from the room as you twirl it around your finger, the God you pray to probably owns more guns than he can count and watches Fox News more than he hugs his wife.
I bet the God you pray to tattooed racial slurs and sexist stereotypes under his tongue so the swastika that holds them all in place doesn’t make his mouth bleed. I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach,
you know, the kind you get after eating too many chili cheese dogs from QT, that your God hates poetry, record players, and 70 mm movie projectors and wouldn’t understand any of my philosophical jokes.
Sooner or later you’re going to realize that the God you pray to, the one with the beer belly and cloudy-day-eyes, the one choking the Bible as if it were a dead goose at Sunday supper, the one who breastfed Eve pornography and would’ve liked to trade her vocal cords for legs that open like a revolving door
is the same God that bears a striking resemblance to the man in the mirror, the douchebag with the beer belly and cloudy-day-eyes, the one choking the Bible as if it were a dead goose at Sunday supper, yelling at poor Margerie (she seems like a Margerie) as she anxiously sweeps up broken glass.
As you comb back your mullet and ready your hand for a cigarette, I want to tell you that Donald Trump has been throwing matches off his tower far longer than you’ve been getting drunk and hitting your kids. As you laugh at your own joke and reach out to grab your book, I can see in your watered down eyes that the screams of children being separated from their parents at the border doesn’t make you cry.
You know what? You don’t get a bag. Carry your murder manual back to the trailer park and roll home in your frozen bubble so you can fall asleep to the sound of Trump’s voice.
I’ll be here, re-reading the words inscribed at the base of our Statue of Liberty, sailing past these empty planets all alone, fishing in my yellow spacesuit for the stars you dropped like a bag of marbles in a field of sticky air and long grass so many years ago, compassion and empathy are just two dreams you’ve mostly forgotten.
I hope you enjoyed the newest poetry from Austin Davis. Purchase a paperback edition of his first collection, Cloudy Days, Still Nights by clicking the button below.
The city lights shone early summer bright, a light heated breeze with a slight taste of pollen touching and feeling through the concrete and metal. Rose locked the car and pulling a black handbag over her shoulder, walked into the city solitude, alone, looking fleshy plump in a baby blue halter and white skirt, which moved pleasantly against her legs, dancing in summer wind. Down the avenue towards never, she glided her feet and sandals covering cracked pavement and garbage. She saw, without giving a sign of recognition, the bus terminal, the mechanical life of coming and going, of oil and gas, the place of the lost hopeless. Words flitted through her mind, her mother’s. “Only poor people take the bus.” She walked past the benches and bums and into the bright downtown night, seeing in front of her neon and advertised fun. She checked her watch, without slowing, and frowned. She pressed painted fingers through her hair, one last attempt to straighten and fix blonde locks that refused to be tamed. She paused for a moment at the door, looking at her reflection. With a shake of her head and a sigh, she entered. Bar darkness blinded blue as eyes turned to meet the open door. A couple nearest the door returned to conversing, making little note of newcomer. Further along sat the men, alone and leering, cheap animal seething, masked in khakis and collared shirts, hooded college jerseys and authentic team apparel. She moved slowly forward, eyes moving slowly with her, eyes tasting pearl thighs, bare navel. Slow steps past them, to an empty booth against the wall, sitting, and legs crossed, waiting. She looked around as she waited for barkeep to fix a drink. The same hungry eyes tasting and licking, four sets of hungry eyes. The bartender put a drink in front of her, which she finished quickly. “Another.” She glanced at her watch with disappointment and sighed. I shouldn’t have been late. A drink, drink empty. She signaled again. She placed the handbag next to her, removing a phone, gray contact with concrete world. She flipped it open: no messages. She sighed and drank, all the while a he, with the tan khakis and collared shirt, sauntered close, leaning against the booth. He smelled scented clean, standing dangerous near. he avoided his eyes, hungry and bright, and let her eyes wander. A couple holding hands and whispering of secret love, an elderly man staring into his beer, and further down the bar, he, alone, he of wild hair and blue plastic pants, sat writing mysteries into a black book. “Strange,” she said. “Indeed.” Khaki spoke. She looked at Mr. khaki and gave fake smile, hoping he’d leave. He smiled back and slid confident into the open space across from her. “How about a drink?” She nodded and reached into the handbag, removing a package of cigarettes. Khaki extended fire and smiled. “I’m Kyle.” “Rose.” He reached his hand toward her, which she met with her own. His hand felt cool and soft. A moment of silence spent watching him write, while Kyle fed animal hunger and stared. She finished her drink and he signaled for another, his eyes fixed on blue. “I’m meeting someone,” she said. He nodded understanding and flipped his hand in the direction of writer. “Hopefully you’re not waiting on him.” She sighed and began to pick at her fingers. She finished her drink and pressed her cigarette into the ashtray. “I’m not sure.” She watched as he wrote, wondering. She saw Kyle smiling, light laughter on his lips. She turned to face him, looking into hazel eyes, which burned deep red with alcohol high. “There is a story here.” “Not one that I’m going to tell you.” Kyle let out a low whistle and tapped his fingers against his glass. He sat silent, watching, eyes against her bare shoulders, touching her skin. He signaled for another round, finished his beer and walked from the bar. Rose lit a cigarette and returned her gaze to writer. She gathered handbag and phone and walked, unsteady with drink daze, past the eyes watching to the end of the bar, taking a seat next to him. “Mind if I sit?” She asked. He didn’t respond and continued writing. She drank while looking him over, seeing cigarette stained fingers and ragged clean nails, fingers in constant motion. She crossed her legs and turned towards him, her foot brushing against his pants. She adjusted her skirt and ran a painted finger over pale thigh, all while keeping her eyes on his hands. Silence and fingers in motion met her efforts. A sigh escaped her lips, lips full and colored light pink. She pulled hard on her cigarette and began once again to pick at her cuticles. He turned to face her, his eyes wide and dark and brooding, eyes that seemed to bore into her own, and placed his hands flat against the black book, as if shielding the words from her. “Is there something in particular you wanted or are you just looking to get laid,” he said. His voice rang deep and angry, bringing a rush of red to her plump, pale cheeks. She attempted to speak, but her voice failed her. In a hurry to answer, she dropped the cigarette and reached for the black bag, struggling to tear it open. The phone fell out onto the bar as she searched, finally bringing out a folded magazine. She opened it and pushed it in front of him. “Did you write this story?” She asked. He took the magazine in his hands, looking at the cover and at the page she wished him to see. He took a deep breath, ran a hand through his hair, which leapt out in wild spiked bunches from his head, and pushed the magazine back towards her. “I wrote that in another life.” She waited for something more, some sign of interest, anything, but he remained silent. He finished his beer, ordered another with a flick of his hand, and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. He closed his book and leaned back on his chair, watching her, looking into her eyes. Moments passed one into another; a cigarette lit, a drink finished and refilled, music sounding from the jukebox in the corner. “I loved that story.” She managed. He didn’t acknowledge her comment and continued to watch her, eyes not moving from her own. “I guess you get that a lot. I mean, I’ve read lots of your stories and I think you’re a really great writer. I wanted to meet you and see what you were like.” She finished in a rush, too many words, sounding foolish to herself. He remained silent. She gulped down a drink in an attempt to gather courage. “I’ve always dreamed of a man speaking to me the way you write.” She smiled, happy to have said what she wished to tell him, for once not lacking courage. He smiled and laughed a short hard laugh. He called for shots from bartender and pushed one in her direction. Without a word, only a simple nod at her, he tossed the shot back. He gathered his things, threw money on the bar and stood. He walked towards the door, not looking back. She downed her shot, through a grimace of discomfort and followed behind him, not knowing why or where he led. He stood outside the bar, waiting, black book under his arm, cigarette between his lips. Again, in silence, he began walking, a brisk pace. She followed, likewise silent, wondering and thinking and wishing. The city passed in a blur, a jumble of crosswalks and alleys and stoplights. Her feet felt sore from the exertion and she wondered if he lived in the city at all. “Am I getting a guided tour?” She joked. He smiled at her and kept walking, turning sharply into a narrow lane. Towering three story apartment houses lined the street on both sides, an endless stretch of humanity. He walked up the steps of a gray giant and with a turn of a key, entered. He climbed the stairs, expertly in the darkness, Rose trying to keep close to him, her hand upon his shoulder. He came to an abrupt halt next to a door that seemed to materialize out of the darkness. He pushed the door open and led the way inside. “Welcome to my humble abode.” The door opened into darkness, which he entered, leaving Rose to stare into the black. She heard and then saw a match touch light to a candle, revealing a wide room with low ceiling. The candle sat upon a wooden table in the center, the outlines of a couch to one side visible. He walked to each corner and lit more candles, turning darkness into shadows. The kitchen opened to the left through an opening and another door against the far wall, which Rose thought to be the bathroom. “Where do you sleep?” She asked, peering into the shadows in search of another door. “On the couch,” he said, extending his arm. She sat and leaned back, the couch feeling deep and soft beneath her. She pushed a hand against the cushions, feeling the fabric, as he placed a drink on the table. “I don’t place a high importance on possessions. I need few comforts to work.” Rose sat silent, looking and seeing, noticing the bookcase against the wall and the desk adjacent to the couch, as music sounded behind her. “Mozart,” Ray said as he changed into a shorts and a tee-shirt. He grabbed an ashtray and a beer and sat down next to her, close. Hand against bare leg, the light pleasure of alcohol in her veins, the rush of a moment close, Rose shut her eyes. “Can I read a new story?” Rose asked. “I don’t like to have a story read before it is ready to publish.” Palm against thigh, fingertips run slow and delicate against cream and pearl. “Please,” she said, placing her hand upon his, pulling it higher.Ray handed her the black book, pushing fingertips under white skirt. “Thank you.” She reclined against a pillow, opening the black book.
There is a terrorist in our midst. He is the leader of the land.
Rose moaned and gripped the book, tightly, as Mozart played mad heat upon her thighs. She read on. “This is fire,” she whispered. Cellos and violas danced upon her navel, touching and teasing, a chorus of intent.
The downward pressure exerted upon the individual must be excised. I am one, unique and strong. I will oppose. I deny my number; I stand and scream at metallic murderous god, I will not bow! Hear my song, my song of death, my song of opposition. To see is to live, to live is to die. You, our leader, shall die.
Nails clean and ragged dug into arm flesh, pulling Rose down and deep. A violin makes its voice heard, in one final rush, a maddening run of minor. You, those that fail to oppose tyranny, fail in the defense of the weak, infirm, aged, and young; you too shall die.