There eight or nine hundred pictures, taped to the walls of your bedroom.
Magazines, pictorial history books, and Polaroids you stole from people, back when those things were readily available to small, lonely thieves.
All of them had already met your criteria for sainthood. Next stop: the world. I was there to get you some help. I was there to talk to you for as long as it would take for you to trust me.
If nothing else, you needed to finish college.
I was staring at this photo of Hedy Lamar. My shirt was stuck to my back. You had rich friends. Why in the hell couldn’t one of them alleviate their guilt by getting you a window AC unit?
My breathing was going to die, if my legs dragged my lungs up one more flight of stairs. Would have come for you sooner, but those goddamn stairs.
And other things, but those stairs, too.
You got the screwdriver into the back of my neck when I was waiting for Hedy to tell me all about those boring Hollywood pill parties. I woke up on a Chinatown bus. Clean shirt. Fresh bandages. Weak-willed cold air freezing my elbow to death.
You had made your feelings very clear, but it still would have been nice to talk to you for a little while.
DIVE BAR EXCERPT FROM LITTLE BLACK BOOK AN ELLA NOVEL
I came here to write, trying to stay as far from tourists and bars packed with frat boys and their silly attempts to stick me with the pointy end.
To avoid all those things, I picked this bar, a run-down locals place with a simple blinking sign of ‘duff’s bar’ on the front. The dusty floor and mostly empty stools told me immediately I had the right place.
The bar looks smaller from the inside, with an old juke-box sitting silently in the corner as the two older men pressing bellies to the bar stare at me. I place my notebook on the stool next to me and signal the bartender for a drink.
"What will it be blondie?"
"Whiskey, neat. Make it a double."
He makes the drink and places it on a cocktail napkin, giving me a creepy smile I am sure he thinks will make me swoon.
I shake my head and take down half the drink in one swallow to remove the image from my mind. I need to write after all and don’t need to be distracted by horny barbacks. Just pour my damned drink, please.
Rising from the stool, I walk to the jukebox. As I tap the touch screen looking for songs, the front door opens. A man walks in, age thirty if I am forced to guess, wearing jeans and a plaid shirt. His face is covered by a scruffy growing beard and dark brown eyes find my own. He gets a drink from the bartender as I select my song.
"Only girl in the world" by a certain pop star.
The opening refrain is playing and I begin to hum along when the man appears at my side, coming close to me. I can smell the lingering stink of travel and road dirt on him and wish he might have showered before pressing against my side.
"What’s your story? You play for the Redsox?" I ask, giving a beard a tug. He laughs, takes a deep drink and clears his throat. "Not those clowns. I’m from New York. I hate the Redsox."
"I see." I don’t tell him I grew up near Boston. Strike one, sir.
He follows me back to the bar in silence and watches as I take up my notebook to begin writing.
"What are you writing?" he asks.
I tap the pen against the bar with annoyance. I won’t be able to write anything if you don’t let me breathe, sir.
"Sex." I say, crossing my legs and putting a cigarette to my lips. I pause for a moment, giving him a chance to be a gentleman, but no flame is forthcoming. I light it myself and grumble into my drink.
"Sorry, I don’t smoke," he says.
"Nice story," I say, putting the cigarette on the ashtray and picking up my pen. I write a sentence in my notebook and move my arm to give him full view of the page.
The plot thickens and she wonders if she will take him back to the hotel. Does he want ‘that’ from me?
"Definitely," he answers, smiling at me. I can’t deny he is handsome, dark eyes matching his warm smile.
"Settle down, Mr. That is just a story. As it happens, I’m tired and not at all in the mood for that sort of thing tonight."
The air leaks from his balloon and he slouches on the bar stool, signaling the bar keep for another round.
"About time you offered me a drink. I was beginning to think you have no manners." I wink at him and finish my cocktail, waiting for another.
"Sorry, I’m nervous," he says, not able to hold eye contact and looking up at the sports highlight show on the television.
"Tsk, tsk, don’t ever ignore a girl for sports."
Barkeep arrives with drinks, shaking his head at the failures of my new friend who fumbles the money with shaking hands. I place a hand on his leg and wait until he looks at me.
"Relax. There’s no reason to be nervous. I’m just a girl."
He attempts a smile, but fails and gulps down his drink and waves at the barkeep for another.
"Not for me, I’m leaving in a minute."
"You only wrote a sentence,’ he says in confusion.
"I can’t concentrate tonight. I know better than to force the muse into cooperation. It doesn’t work that way."
The look of disappointment returns and he stammers a string of words in a feeble attempt to convince me to stay.
Grabbing a bar napkin, I write my phone number and my twitter screen name. Sliding it to him, I throw money on the bar and pack up my writing materials careful to shake the dust from dive bar free from the notebook.
"I am tired. So sorry to leave so soon. Be in touch?" I say, running a finger along his arm.
Walking away, I am quite certain his eyes are on me. He will call. Bet on it.
I don’t advise losing your parents when you’re young. Sure, you get out of their expectations and chores and all, but you also lose your place in life. You lose the knowing that whatever you did that day, you still got a kiss good night. At least, that’s how Mam did it.
Dot and I had a place to go when Mam died. It was easier on us than some. I heard about the war and all, where my Da got killed helping Britain stay free. Who hadn’t heard? It was only a couple years before. Some who lost a parent lost more of their family there, too. We were lucky. We still had Mam’s parents.
I bet my grandparents didn’t consider themselves lucky. Every last penny they had went to the running of their hotel. They likely didn’t account for clothes and other expenses that came with caring for young people. They certainly didn’t have enough money to come get us. We had to make our way to Gram and Grandpa’s town ourselves.
We took the train after the funeral. The local parish packed us a lunch and put us on board, settling with Gram and Grandpa to meet us at the end of our journey. Everyone deemed me old enough to watch over Dot. For the most part, I did. We sat eating sandwiches wrapped in brown paper and watched fields sweep by. Dot saved her paper, thinking to find a pencil to trace dolls and dresses out. I picked at a scab on my elbow. A few women eyed us and tutted as they walked past in the aisle.
When we got to the station, there was no one to meet us. We were alone for more than a few minutes before a hired car pulled up and its driver shooed us inside for our ride. I looked out through the open window to make sure he didn’t leave our suitcase. Dot just sat, trusting we’d get to our grandparents somehow. The dust billowed behind us as we were driven to our new home.
Gram spotted us first and called for Grandpa to come greet us. She wiped her hands in her apron and held one out for our things. I kept hold of our suitcase and shook Gram’s hand instead. Grandpa squinted at us from the steps, like he expected we’d be taller and prettier. Gram must have bolstered Grandpa with hopes that we’d be a big help around the hotel, helping in the kitchen until we were old enough to serve in the bar. When we finally showed up, Dot with her little voice and me in my jeans, Grandpa nodded “Hello” and left Gram alone to pay for the ride.
I would have done the same.
Living with old people wasn’t a real bonus for Dot and me, either. The hotel they ran was cruddy and worn in spots, like the threadbare sheets Gram used to cover the beds. Dot and I were relegated to a small room to share on the guest floor. At least they had a place for us, I suppose.
The room had a double bed and more space than Dot and I were used to. We each had our own drawer and a place on the dresser for our things. Dot spread her rag rabbit and little tea set out on her side of the dresser. I just put my book of birds on mine.
Grandma tisked and fussed over Dot’s hair, saying she needed a haircut. I wouldn’t let Gram near me with that comb. I grimaced and moved away when she brandished it above my head. I should have been more obliging, considering she was taking over from Mam. She had raised Mam, after all, and taught Mam ways of minding children. Mam said Gram earned her name “Grace” many times over with how caring she was. Mam mostly said it when she was admonishing me to act like my own middle name. Grace. Same as Gram’s. Mam musta regretted not giving it to Dot, instead.
“Don’t you have even one dress?” Gram’s eyes raked the few clothes I was stuffing in my drawer.
“No, ma’am. I grew out of them.” Secretly I was pleased at this development in height. Other developments? Not so much.
“Let’s see what you have.” Gram took our clothes out for inspection and folded them one by one on the bed. Then she looked me over like I was a pig for roasting. She shook her head and seemed to square herself up.
“Well, it’ll have to do for now. You’ll need a dress for Sunday, though.” Gram lifted my arms and poked me in the waist.
Dot giggled until I scowled her to stop. Gram left my chest alone as she circled me, though she eyed it close.
“It’ll have to be my brown one.” Gram tilted her head in thought. “Not the best colour for a girl.”
“My dress is too small, Gram.” Dot leaned in, all hopeful. Her face was lifted like an angel needing adoration. The glint in her eyes was the first sign I’d seen of real Dot since her sulk over Mam. I didn’t comment as I used to. I didn’t want to scare her back into her shell.
Gram gave Dot a pat on the head as she continued refilling the drawers. “You should be fine.”
Dot shoulda scowled but she didn’t. Dot knew how to hold her temper when the situation warranted. I envied her that. Dot grabbed her stuffed rabbit and squeezed it instead.
“Dinner’s in a bit, girls. The bathroom’s down the hall for you to refreshen.” Gram closed the door in a quiet old lady way. You barely heard the shush. If it had been Mam, there would have been singing in the hall and a bang or two. Hard to see how they came from the same family. Other than their cheekbones and eyes, I can’t imagine two ladies more different than Gram and Mam.
I grabbed my book and slumped on the bed. Dot was perched against the bed’s edge, picking at the quilt flowers.
“You think we’re gonna like it here?” Dot screwed up her face as she picked a long thread and held it high. She was always bothering me when I settled down to read.
“Don’t know. Don’t care.”
“She seems pretty nice. I wonder about Grandpa, though.” Dot put a hand on my leg as she spoke.
“Get off.” I shook my leg as if dispelling a gnat. “Why don’t you go have a tea party or something?”
I’ll admit. I was being mean. Here we were, both in a new place and Dot being younger. Mam would have expected me to watch out for Dot, to care for her. Well, I had. Through the funeral and the trip and everything. Even carrying our suitcase up the stairs to our room. Now I needed a break from being Mam.
“Why don’t you go find someone else to bother?” I lifted my book higher to block the sight of her. I was worried enough about myself. It was gonna be hard to fit in here when I didn’t feel like trying.
I flipped the pages looking for a bird to focus on. Staring at the drawings of sparrows and shrikes, I could still see Dot’s pained face. I could picture her all fluffed out and angry, like she was when things didn’t go her way.
“Fine, be like that.” Dot laid her soft animal on the bed. “Who wants to be with you, anyways? I’m going downstairs.”
“Take your stupid toy with you.” I picked up that rag from beside me and threw it on the floor. “Go find yourselves a rabbit hole to get buried in.” Dot’s face quivered as she scooped the rag rabbit up. She hugged it tight. I watched, already feeling sorry for what I’d done. “Dot…”
“Smelly Elly eat some jelly!” Dot slammed the door on my apology. Fine. Be like that, yourself. Now alone, I settled in to read by the light from the window above the bed. I decided then and there she was Gram’s problem. I always regret that decision.
MY PET DRAGON STORY IN A STORY EXCERPT FROM SERVER
“There once lived a man with a dragon for a pet. The dragon, named Champ by the man’s son, spent his days inside the inner most room of the house. The man spent hours each day, from the time he woke until near dinner in the room with the Dragon. The son wished to spent time with the dragon, but mother said never to bother Father when he was alone in the room, doing his work. Mother always said the word work with a disdain the child couldn’t understand. He simply wished to spent time with father and the dragon.
One night at dinner, with beagles yapping under the table for scraps and affection, the boy tugged at father’s sleeve.
“Daddy, can I tell you what I want for my birthday?”
“Of course, my son,” father replied, rustling his son’s head and pushing the plate to the side.
“I want the dragon to be my pet. I’ve been a good boy, ask mother.”
The man looked at his wife across the table, her face covered with a scowl, closing her eyes for a moment as if to gain composure.
“I’ve warned you about filling his head with this nonsense. Billy, there are no such things as Dragons. Your father is a waiter, not a writer. And you can’t create Dragons anyway.”
“Diana, must you in front of Billy,” the man said, his head drooping a little, a sigh audible, but only to Billy. The male beagle tilted his head as if to express sadness and licked at Scott’s hand. He smiled in spite of the situation and gripped the dog’s muzzle and rubbed his nose with affection.
“Mommy, dragons are real! I heard Champ roar the other day,” Billy said with excitement.
“Enough!” mother said, knuckles white from gripping her knife. “Tell him, Scott.”
“I can’t and I won’t. Dragons are real. I’m sorry you lost your magic, Diana,” he said, voice low and resigned.
“Yes, I want Champ for my birthday,” Billy said, feeding a dog a piece of meat under the table. Mother slapped at his hand, not taking her eyes off Scott.
“There are no dragons,” Diana said, taking time with each word, pounding a hand on the table as if to end the discussion.
Later, when mother paid the television her mind, Billy used the opportunity to sneak down the hall towards the room. Billy had never been inside the room and tonight, he resolved to open the door.
“I will see the dragon tonight!” he whispered with glee to himself. Pressing himself against the wall, he inched a hand towards the knob, trying not to make a noise. He heard a low growl and a hard crunching sound. Eyes widening, he placed his hand on the knob.
“Billy,” mother snapped, grabbing his shoulder and pulling him down the hall.
“Mommy,” Billy whined.
“Dragons do not exist. Never go inside that room. Do you hear me?” she said, shaking his shoulders. He began to cry, tears pouring down his cheek and she pressed his rosy cheek against her chest, rubbing his neck.
“Dragons are real, mommy,” he said.
“No, they are not.”
Scott emerged from the room and Billy attempted to look inside, but his mother shielded his eyes.
“I will not hear of this business again,” she said, leading Billy down the hallway.
Diana settled Billy into bed, reading him a story before continuing into the kitchen and grabbing the phone.
“I can’t take it anymore,” she whispered into the phone.
“I believe in Dragons,” Billy said to himself, hearing Diana in the other room, before slipping back through the door into his secret space."
“If the lady at table twenty-four asks me for another side of ranch dressing, I’m going to stab her in the neck with a fork ...”
Scott Holden lives two lives. In one, he waits tables, enduring an unending siege of abuse from customers, co-workers, and bosses. Invisible to them, he also feels like there’s a target on his back.
In the other, Scott is a writer during furloughs from his working-class nightmare. But the line between his work identity and his artistic one is blurring under the strain.
Is his life filling his fiction with violent daydreams or is his writing fueling the real-life desperation and darkness in his soul?
THE FOX POETRY BOX TWO POEMS BY AUSTIN DAVIS SELECTIONS FROM CLOUDY DAYS, STILL NIGHTS
THE FOX POETRY BOX is located in St. Charles, Illinois, one of the sister cities of the Fox Valley that border the Fox River. It is a part of the Poetry in Public Spaces movement. We feature the work of Guest Poets from all over the world, as well as locally. Interested in submitting or suggesting a piece? Please message us! Poetry is for everyone and anyone can have a Poetry Box! My thanks to Bill Waters, Haiku Poet, for featuring TFPB in his blog!
Two poems by Austin Davis are being featured in the Fox Poetry Box, selections from Cloudy Days, Still Nights. To purchase a paperback copy, click the cover image or the link below.
My eyes on the monitor next to the podium, I observe a man waiting at the entrance to the theater. He's on the other side of the door and I can feel his anxiety, hands balling into fists and relaxing in repetition, again and again. Tapping my palm against the microphone on the podium to ensure I have sound, I scan the crowd. Women stare back at me, some leaning forward in the seats.
The man raps on the door from the outside and I raise my arm.
"Open the doors for the prisoner.”
Saul swings the massive oak doors open and steps aside. Alone in the entryway, the man stares and blinks at the crowd of women rising to greet him. A murmur passes over the audience and I tap the microphone once more.
"The prisoner shall take his place in the box," I say, pointing to wooden structure built into the base of the stage. The man pauses, glancing about the theater. Silence greets him and all wait for him to make the journey. Taking a few steps forward, he approaches the box and moves to the side when Saul swings the gate open to allow him access. Placing his leg into the structure, he steps up onto the prisoner podium, flinching when Saul slams the gate shut.
“What is the meaning of this? Do you know who I am? I’m a fucking judge.” A chorus of boos from the crowd answer his tirade and I smile.
“Not anymore. Today you will stand trial.” A loud cheer erupts from the audience, causing the prisoner to flinch yet again.
“Trial?” He faces the women in the audience. “What are the charges?”
Leaning into the microphone, I wait for him to turn towards me before speaking. “You are charged with crimes against humanity.”
The prisoner begins to respond, but the roar from the crowd drowns his words in a sea of chants. Execute him! The chants swell into echoes and I close my eyes to enjoy the wall of energy emanating from the crowd. After several moments, I raise my arm and wait for silence.
“How does the prisoner plead to the charges?”
The man stammers attempting to respond, but I can’t hear an intelligible response. Pounding the podium, I repeat the question.
“I committed no crimes against humanity,” he says. “I am not…”
“Are you not the judge that sentenced a rapist to a mere three months in jail to protect his athletic career?” I ask, interrupting him.
His hands ball into fists once more and he scans the room again. Is he plotting an escape attempt?
“I was the judge in that case.”
“Very good. You admit your guilt. The prisoner has been found guilty of crimes against humanity. Do you have anything to say before I announce your sentence?”
“What? I said I was not guilty.”
His statement is met by laughter from the crowd.
“And I said you’re guilty. I’ll repeat the question once more. Do you have anything to say before I announce your sentence?”
He begins to stammer another response and I pound the gavel on the podium. “Since you do not have any final words, I’ll read the sentence.”
The women rise and move towards the stage, crowding round the prisoner box. He spins in one direction and the next, eyes darting about in fear. I wait for him to turn towards me once more before speaking. “I sentence you to death by firing squad.”
PRE-ORDER ORIGIN OF A SERIAL KILLER BUY A SIGNED COPY OF ELLA
PRE-ORDER Origin of a Serial Killer
PRE-ORDER a Signed copy of ORIGIN OF A SERIAL KILLER by Stephen Moran
Pay nothing now - I'll finalize payment with buyer when I have the signed book ready to ship.
Are killers born or made?
Journey into the psyche of a killer to discover the dark secrets of a twisted mind.
FBI seized documents shed light on the killer dubbed the butcher of Vegas.
What makes her kill? How does she select her victims?Find out in Origin of a Serial Killer.
A beautiful 20-year-old writer haunted by a traumatic past. Trapped in a small-town where everyone knows her secrets, she flees on a road-trip across America in search of adventure and to find the man that holds the key to understanding the violent days of her childhood.
Two mysterious men stalk Ella on the odyssey from Massachusetts to Las Vegas - an FBI agent named Marcus that suspects her of being a serial killer and an assassin called Mr. Brown with a familiar face she can't quite remember.
At the core of her journey of self-discovery is the search for Ray Holden. Everyone tells her he is dead, but she refuses to believe it and her insistence on finding him sets off a chain of events that culminates in a shocking final turn.
Follow her journey to learn the answers to the burning questions. Who is Ray Holden? And more importantly...
Is the FBI correct? Is Ella Thomas a serial killer?
One reader described Ella as "Dexter meets Lolita". Read this fast-paced thriller to discover the truth about Ella Thomas.
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.