Free short stories

#300 Stars

#300 Stars2b is Made of Diamonds

The sun creeps over the hill in the morning, neither brightening nor warming my world. Its harsh light pierces my reality. It doesn’t care that I’ve got the blues and can never again be warmed by its light.

She told me I’m not good enough. She wants someone with a job. As soon as she said that ugly word, I knew we were through. Work is something I’ll never do, even though I love her and can’t live without her.

I sit and watch the sun go down over a hill. Darkness comes and stars light the sky. Come home, they cry to me and I’m tempted to go. But the man in the moon whispers in my ear, “Light always returns. Weigh your choices before you act.”

My choices are few because I never went to school, never learned a trade or any other way to earn some pay. When I put my options on the scale, I despair because I find there is no choice. I’d rather die than slave my life away, letting my soul be sucked dry a piece at a time so that when I finally die, there will be no spirit left to fly. Only a dried-out husk will remain, unable to travel to the stars.

Die or work. There’s really no choice for me to make, other than decide if I want this one to be by my side when I travel to the stars. Deprived of her love, this world won’t be long for me.

All I see is darkness and far away space, where soon my soul will go. How shall I go? I don’t know yet, but I’m sure I have to leave this world. A bullet in the brain is quick, but what if I miss? To jump from Sears Tower would be a long frightful trip. Lying on railroad tracks could mean waiting for a train that may be late. Poison is a sure thing, but what if I don’t take enough and suffer? Maybe sleeping pills are the way to go, but I tried them once and didn’t take enough for permanent sleep. They say lying in the snow is peaceful, but it’s cold and I’ll shiver and shake. Maybe I’ll sit in a tub with a razor and cut my wrists. But the water will turn pink, and I don’t like that picture at all.

Wait a minute, why am I in a hurry to go? Take her with me and I’ll have her love for eternity. I go to her house to tell her of my plan. She sees me coming and smiles because she thinks I’ve found a job. Her face falls when I tell her I’ll never need a job while we travel from world to world until we find the perfect one.

“You’re insane! But I do love you. I don’t want to see you die. I’ll get a job if that’s what it takes to keep you in my world,” she says

“I can’t allow you to have your soul sucked dry by a lousy job. You’ll never be able to travel with me if you do.”

“Oh Joe, what are we to do?” I pump the gas pedal; the engine, coughs, chokes, starts up, and fills the air with stinking exhaust.

“Open the door and give us some air,” she cries.

“Take these.” I hand her a sleeping pill. She refuses and I have to force her to swallow it. I watch her eyes close. A fog fills the garage and I get sleepy without taking any pills. Her spirit

floats above her head. She is so beautiful. An angel, I think.

“Wait for me,” I cry, “I’ll soon be dead too.

The door opener roars to life. Sunlight and fresh air seep under the rising door.

“No, no,” I shout. “I want to die.” But my brother pulls me from my car and drags me outside.

She’s dead and I’m not. Her spirit floats away as my brother tells me he has a job for me tending a bridge.

That isn’t work at all, so it won’t destroy my soul. If only I had known that before I sent her, all alone, to travel to worlds I may have only imagined.

 

#298 Ice

#298 Ice#298 Ice

 

It was a warm Chicago summer day when I first saw her angelic face and aura of innocence that drew me to her like a drug promising to make my life all right. I thought if I made her mine, she’d make me happy for life. Fall came. Innocence and charm left her face, replaced by a dissatisfied grimace.

“It’s all your fault,” she said, even though I tried my best to make her life a joy. Nothing I did brought a smile to her face until one day, I slapped a wandering look off her face. That brought a contented look and she thought by doing that, I treated her as a man should treat a woman. Though I slapped her from anguish and anger, I’m not the type to beat a woman for pleasure. If I wanted her to stand by me, I knew I’d have to slap her face every now and then.

I refused to be drawn into that silly game, and before I knew it, she left and took all the heat from my life. Knowing my only goal was to bring her warmth and joy, a heart of ice is what she had when she left me all alone in the middle of that Chicago winter, a cold, cold act.

My bed was as frozen as any cement sidewalk in Chicago on a January day. A frigid breeze blew away any warm dreams I may have had.

How can it be that at a hundred degrees my sheets were covered with frost? She used her magic like a witch and turned my world Arctic cold.

“I’ve got to go.” She says those simple words and my body fluids turned into solid ice that refused to flow through any of my veins.

My only hope was that there’d be one warm night when she didn’t leave my bed. My smoldering desire, flowing like a river of hope would bring her back for one more day and she’d melt my frozen parts before she left my warm bed.

That didn’t happen, so I went to the pound and got a dog as big as a man to keep me warm at night. He was a stud that had attacked and almost killed his owner, so I gave him a fitting name, Killer.  He’d eat anything I put out and if he got hungry, he’d eat the mailman if given a chance.

A long time went by before I heard a knock on my door in the middle of the night. If that’s her, I’ll tell her to get lost, I thought. I ripped open the door, prepared to yell, but when I saw her standing there my heart overrode my mind, and I let her in.

As soon as I did, she did her best to anger me. She didn’t succeed because I refused to let her drag me into her barbaric world.

What happened to her angelic face and aura of innocence she had when I first met her, I wondered as she sat on my couch swilling down beer and pills.

Killer was scratching at the bedroom door where I had locked him up. He didn’t bark. That meant he was hungry and would eat ten pounds of meat.

“I’ve got to go to the store for some food. Don’t you dare open that door.” I pointed to the bedroom.

“Why? You hiding some bitch in their?”

“Actually, he’s a stud.”

“Hah, you’ve gone queer. I knew it all the time. You weren’t man enough to keep me in line, and now you’ve got a stud shaking your bedroom door.”

Her insults were getting to me, but I warned her once again, “Whatever you do, don’t open that door before I get back.”

“You worried your stud will want to screw me?”

“No, I’m worried he’ll want to eat you.”

Her face lit up at those words and I knew what she was thinking and wanted to laugh. I knew I had planted the seeds of curiosity before I left.

“Get me some beer and wine while you’re at the store,” the bitch demanded.

“Okay but don’t open that door.”

I almost laughed out loud because I knew whenever I told her don’t she did. My conscience was clear – I warned her three times not to open that door. I left and wondered how long it would take Killer to get his belly full.

 

#299 Baby, Baby Please

#299 Baby, Baby Please

 

Debby didn’t show up for our date again. I knew she went out with somebody else instead.  I wrote her an emotional e-mail to let her know what I thought, “Baby, please don’t lie to me. Tell me the way you want me to be, but baby, please don’t lie to me. Signify our love with honest words from your heart and not your mouth.

“Baby, please don’t use those beautiful soft lips to turn lying words into believable truth. You know when your warm sweet breath blows truth or lies into my ear, I believe any sound coming from that provocative opening will be honesty and nothing but fact.”

Disgusted for  begging like this, I threw my pen on the desk, grabbed the wine bottle by its neck and swallowed sweet fermented grapes until I had to come up for breath. I knew Debby had been lying to me. I loved her so. I wanted to beg her to be true, but when I pictured myself pleading for her affections, I saw half a man on bended knee. No, I can’t do that. What could I do to make her respect me?

I did what I always did when I had a question that needed to be answered – I went on the internet.  The first page that answered my inquiry said, “Women don’t want to be respected. They want to be taken. They love being treated like shit and they come back for it time and time again.

                I didn’t want to believe that, but the next page had an article from CBS that said, “Lose the smile. For guys eager to attract a mate, that might be a killer strategy, according to a surprising new study from the University of British Columbia.” It showed that women find swaggering, brooding bad boys a lot more attractive than nice guys.”

I always considered myself a nice guy, but after reading this scientific study, I figured maybe I should change. I showed up at Debby’s door and banged on it like I was the police on a drug raid. She answered with a questioning look on her face. “Get dressed, were going out,” I said in a commanding voice. The look of adoration that washed over her face when she heard those words showed me the report on CBS held some truth.

Debby got ready and I took her to a club where music played. I strutted in with a glare in my eyes and a scowl on my face. Women glanced at me and Debby grabbed me by the arm to show I was hers. First time she had ever done that. This bad boy stuff seemed to be working. When the drinks came, I said, “You pay.” She did and seemed happy to do so.

I walked to the bar where a couple sat. The guy looked like a dork, but his girl was a beauty.

“Let’s dance,” I said as I grabbed her arm. She smiled and said, “Sure.”

I glanced at Debby and saw the anger in her eyes. I looked at my dancing partner’s guy and saw hate emanating toward me. That was all good. I was being bad, and I liked the feeling I had. I ditched the bitch I danced with and returned to sit with Debby. “Buy me another beer,” I told her, and she did. After five or six beers, I found acting the bad boy to be exhilarating.

Debby drove home because I could hardly see straight from all I drank. I wanted to show her I could drink as much as she was willing to buy, and she never stopped buying. We stood at her door and I figured I’d top of the night with a slap to Debby’s face, just to let her know who was boss.

I raised my arm in order to give her one hard enough to rattle her brain, and as I started my forward swing she grabbed my wrist, twisted my arm behind my back, handcuffed me and said, “This is to let you know who’s in charge. Next time you show up at my door unannounced I’ll whip your ass. Understand?”

The scientific study didn’t say anything about this. What was I to do next? I had no idea and needed to go online to find out. I struggled to get free, but couldn’t. She bent over and

whispered into my ear, “Baby, please don’t lie to me. Tell me the way you want me to be, but baby, please don’t lie to me. Signify our love with honest words from your heart and not your mouth, and if you ever try to hit me again, you’ll spend time in jail.”

Frustrated tears fell from my eyes and washed away any image Debby or I ever had of me being a bad boy.

 

297 – I Believe – Not

297 - I Believe – Not297 – I Believe – Not

Joe tried to please his wife in bed but could never measure up. Whatever he tried, his wife wanted the opposite. She’d complain that having sex didn’t last long enough. When he extended the act, she said, “It lasts way too long.”

Unable to please her, Joe left. After a few years of carousing, he returned. “I’m now man enough to make your nights paradise,” he said. “Because you lay incredible eroticism on me, my hands cannot stay still and won’t stop roaming your softest flesh. I know you need your rest,but urges surge. I can’t let you sleep away any time we have together.

“Your touch electrifies my every nerve. I stand erect, incapable of not craving another part of you. Shocks touch my small brain. It takes charge, and warns every body part to be on alert, to search out and feel any part of you energizing my very being.  You excite my libido even though it’s been with Rip Van Winkle for many years. It’s now awake and raring to go where, hopefully, no man has gone before. So take off your clothes and let’s get down to business.”

“Does being man enough mean you got an operation?” she asked.

“What?”

“You know, a penis enlargement. Your six inches was never enough for me.”

He should have known she’d never change. “No, but I did read the book ‘How to Please a Woman Every Time.’” “Reading a book isn’t good enough.

You’ll have to grow an inch or two before you’ll ever satisfy me.”

“Well, the book says six inches is more than enough. It’s you that has the problem, not me.”

“How can that be?”

“You’ve had kids. Your vagina got stretched, so you need to exercise to tighten up.”

She swung her right fist at his face. Joe ducked and she hit the wall.

“Calm down. All you need to do is wear some smart balls a few hours a day.”

“Smart balls? Any balls I’ve ever met are as dumb as the men who own them.”

“It’s a brand name, dummy. They’re weighted balls you insert and walk around with them inside you all day. Every step you take exercises your Kegel muscles and before you know it, you’ll be tighter than you’ve ever been.”

“I wouldn’t wear something inside me all day.”

“Then you can use a vagina barbell to do your exercises, or weighted cones. Why, there’s even a vagina-tightening cream you could use.”

A few days later Joe handed her a package containing every Kegel exerciser and cream he could get his hands on. “Find something you can use in there. I’ll be back in a month and a day to feel the results.”

The time went by swiftly. Joe returned and knocked on her door. His wife answered with a frown on her face. “I can’t let you in, I’ve been using the tightening cream, and now you’re much too big.”

Joe barged into the room and saw his ex-wife’s girlfriend’s face puckered up like she had been sucking on lemons. That’s when Joe discovered what she really liked, and he knew he could never please his ex-wife because he was a man.

 

#296 Reprisal

 

#296 Reprisal

I wanted to get rid of my wife and not give her a dime. I wracked my brain, did a little research, and found an easy solution.  In 1960, I only had to say she was insane and they accepted my word. Two men wearing white jackets came to take her away. Her piercing shrieks and valiant struggles were wasted on them. They wrapped her in a canvas jacket and injected drugs that paralyzed her brain.

While locked up, she tried to fight back, her world filled with fantasies of freedom.  “I don’t belong here,” she’d often scream. “I don’t belong in a place where others see their world in figurative form.”

Protesting to those in charge caused her to lose part of her brain by being stuck through her eye with a thin lobotomy needle. That taught her to obey. Many years later the government discovered a drug and declared they could open all the doors of asylums across the land. They sent all the inmates out. Some had been institutionalized their entire lives and now they had to face the unsympathetic world and fend for themselves.

Many ended up standing on a corner, shunned by most but preyed upon by others who saw their vacant looks. Before they let her out, my conscience was clear.

Out of sight, out of mind was true for me. But when I began to see those helpless people mingling on street corners in almost every city I went to, I began to think. My wife didn’t know what to do or where to go. I no longer know what she looks like, yet from almost every bag lady I pass in most cities, I see her with her vacant, lobotomized eyes staring at me. I began to think that maybe what I did wasn’t so easy after all.

If only the asylums hadn’t dumped those in need on city streets, I would still think what I did was an easy thing to do.

 

#295 Sugar and Spice

#189 Sugar & Spice

When I was a boy, the descriptions of little girls as made of sugar and spice seemed so true. But, lo and behold, they grew and transformed from sugar to salt and from spice to spite.

Their lovely baby giggles turned to voices of shrews that cut as deep as any knife. It shows that they forget their mother’s sacrifices and think only of themselves. A reverse metamorphosis has turned these flittering butterflies into caterpillars with more faults than legs.

I saw them change from sweet giggling girls to acidic women spewing cutting words that would put any man to shame. It’s no wonder I drink all night long. I’ve got nothing to lose, because all I’ve got is the blues. Everything I do is wrong and will never be right.

I’m always in the mood for the blues, and when a woman sings them, I intently listen. It makes me feel good to know some of them can feel too. Most women I’ve met have turned so damn cold they make my refrigerator seem warm.  Icebergs are what I see when I walk down Michigan Avenue, and they’re wearing furs that’ll never warm the ice in their cold, cold eyes that look at me with disgust because I’m a man. A man without the means to buy them some ice – the kind that’ll never melt when they string those diamonds around their frozen necks.

If a woman like that blows into my ear, she would chill my very soul and cause body parts to shrivel from her Arctic breath. Is it any wonder I’ve never loved?

If I did, would the woman of my choice ever have her temperature rise and maybe melt her cold heart or her chilly thoughts?

When I dream of being in love, it’s in a warm and sunny place where the women have never seen ice and don’t even know how to be cold. So I think global warming is a good thing. Soon all those frigid hearts will have to melt and when any woman looks at me she’ll see me for what I am, a misogamist in search of an unattainable dream, because woman are made of spite and ice, not sugar and spice.

 

#294 Questions

#294 Questions

I asked my wife if she thought our world was as it seems.

“What do you mean?” she asked as she flipped the eggs she was cooking for my breakfast.

“I wonder if I’m deceiving myself by believing the world is mine to control, or is the incredible things I say or do imposed by someone projecting their insanity onto me?” She scorched the eggs once again. I wondered why she always did that.

“You’re confusing me with your crazy thoughts,” she complained.

“Come on. Didn’t you ever think we are only props in a game?” I shoveled burnt eggs into my mouth and washed them down with coffee before I gagged.

“Who’d create a game like that?” She took my empty plate to the sink. Her smug smile revealed that she burnt my eggs on purpose.

“Someone we may have locked in an asylum for the insane if we knew how they thought?” I said, and wondered if what I saw was really there, or was it all a delusion coming from another’s awareness or was my wife in my dream or was I in hers? Maybe we were both in somebody else’s dream?

“People don’t get locked up for what they think, only for what they do,” she said as she poured me coffee that looked like mud and tasted worse.

“That’s not true, ” I said, “because it’s difficult to know what’s real and what’s imagined.”

“There you go again with your abstractions. Exactly what do you mean?”

“Matter is nothing but waves washing through a universe that may only exist in someone’s imagination. Maybe all we see is nothing but an apparition, or worse, our world is a drug-inspired hallucination.”

“You’re saying that the eggs, toast and coffee you just ate weren’t really there?” She waved the dirty frying pan in front of my face.

“Well, it’s like when I think of sex. Is it all in the mind? Do I even need you to enjoy it, when all I need is the waves of pleasure provided by my mind?” I took the pan from her hand and carried it to the sink. The weight of it convinced me it was really there.

“I don’t understand your ideas of how scientists explain that I’m not really here, but as long as you don’t need me, I’m outta here.” She slammed the door on the way out.

Did I want her to go? Is that why she left, or did she want to go? Am I an avatar in someone’s game?  Was she ever really here? Was I happy she had left? I looked in the closet and her clothing had disappeared. In the sink, the frying pan was clean, and the coffee pot held aromatic coffee fit for a king. Good riddance to her, I thought.  I heard a knock on the door.

A woman, or rather girl of eighteen or so, stood there with a pile of luggage. “What’s this?” I asked.

“Mostly negligees,” she said and held up a transparent one for me to see.

“Do you know how to cook?”

“Like a gourmet.”

“Come on in.” I showed her the closet and watched her unpack 27 negligees, two dresses and other clothing that she neatly put away.

She put on a dress and went to the kitchen where she began to cook a meal.

“Let’s have sex before we eat.” I took her by the arm and led her to the bed. She knew things I never imagined, and I had the greatest experience of my life.

“Do you want me to serve you dinner in bed, or will you come to the dining room?” she asked as she kissed me on the forehead.

Her cooking wasn’t gourmet, and she misunderstood everything I said. My life became a bore, so I sent her back out the door and dreamed of the best companion a man could have, a dog. One that could cook, make a good cup of Joe, and converse in a language we’d both understand. We’d be buddies and have no need for women or sex.

My doorbell rang and there stood a male mutt with a bowl between his paws. He was a brown German Sheppard mixed with retriever, the best of all possible mixes.

“I understand you’re looking for someone like me?” the mutt said, with his mouth open in a doggy smile.

“Only if you cook and can make good coffee,” I opened the door for him to come in. He went right to the sink and washed his paws, then put on coffee and cooked a T-bone steak for dinner.

We talked and he understood everything I said and added a few anecdotes of his own. He got me a beer and asked if I needed anything else. Then he cleaned the house. When he finished, he lay at my feet, waiting to fill any wish or command.  I taught him poker and chess, and he always let me win. When we went for a walk, I always led. He even learned to use the toilet I built for him next to mine. I called him Jeeves because he was like an old English manservant who only lived to fill my every need and I knew this world was indeed one I had created

 

#293 Dueling Options

#293 Dueling Options

One gloomy day on my way to the Park Street Subway station, I walked through Boston Commons and felt a tug on my arm. I turned to see a girl dressed like a gypsy. She motioned for me to follow her. For some strange reason, I felt I didn’t have a choice but to do as she commanded. She sat on a bench concealed on three sides by the shrubbery that grew in the Commons.

“You think your life has been a great journey, but I’m here to show you how wrong you are,” she said in a voice that somehow hypnotized me. I couldn’t move, nor think of anything but what she said. Entranced, I sat there staring at her two shinning gold teeth.

“Wrong?” I said.

“You’ve experienced a terrible passage here on this terrible world called Earth.  A worse experience I can’t imagine. A better life here can be had if you make use of my magic mirror. It’s not usually needed, but to change the direction of this life, you must make use of one.”

My brain began to function, and I wondered what the hell she was talking about. “Who are you, and what is this ‘magic mirror’ you’re talking about?”

“Follow me,” she said.

Just like a puppy dog, I did. I knew if I had a tail, it would be wagging because I felt so happy to trail along behind her. What kind of hold did this woman have over me?

She walked into Murray’s, the largest antique store in Boston and went directly to the third floor, filled with every type of mirror imaginable to me. She stopped in front of one that was six feet in length with a gilded frame and a stand to keep it erect wherever it was placed.  When I gazed at the reflective surface, I found myself looking into space.

“This is the one you need. Buy it and pay to have it delivered today,” the gypsy said as she walked into the mirror.

What the heck? Was she a shill for the store? I mean did she just use some sort of illusionist magic trick to make me think she went into the mirror? Regardless of what I thought, I was compelled to purchase the mirror. When it was delivered later that day, I had it carried up to my bedroom and set up at the foot of my bed.

I lay in bed that night and peered into that so-called ‘magic mirror,’ wondering if the gold-toothed woman I had met actually went into it. Impossible. I knew better than to believe in magic, that is, until I saw her in the distance, slowly walking towards me. The closer she came, the bigger she became.

I went close to the mirror to watch her approach. Where my image should have been reflecting back at me, she soon stood full-size, opposite me. Light glinted off her shiny teeth when she smiled. Without a word, her hand came from the mirror, took me by the arm, and yanked so hard that I fell head first toward the mirror. I braced for the crash I was sure to experience, but when my face and head made contact with the mirror, I floated on the surface for a few minutes and felt myself dissipate into the vast space I saw inside the mirror. I sank into it like a marshmallow sinking into a cup of hot chocolate.

“The life you’ve been living is a life endured, and I’m not thrilled with the way you’ve lived. I’m thankful now for this chance to show you what you can have if you only imagine it,” the gypsy said to me.

I imagined a new car, and one appeared, but it was black, not my favorite color. “I want red,” I said, and it instantly changed to a candy apple red. “Make it a convertible,” I said, and the top rolled down. Wow, this is great. I imagined a woman, and one appeared. “Bigger breasts,” I said, and her chest expanded until I said, “stop.”

She didn’t look right until I said, “Smaller waist.” Her waist shrank until she looked like Pamela Anderson, so I was satisfied. “A million $100 bills,” I said, and stacks of bills appeared around my feet. Life would get better now, I thought. I put the girl, the money, and myself in the car. I wanted to drive out of the mirror, but I wasn’t sure how to accomplish that. I revved the engine, put the gas to the floor, took my foot off the brake, and sped toward the glass.

I heard the smash as we broke through and we crashed through my bedroom wall. I didn’t think ahead, and because my bedroom was on the second floor, the car went down the stairs and crashed on the living room floor. The girl in the car died from a broken neck. The car and money caught on fire. I panicked and ran upstairs with the intent of saving the mirror so I could imagine another girl and car, but it wasn’t there. The gypsy was though, and through her glittering teeth she said in a sneering voice, “I fulfilled your dreams and you abandoned me.”

“Please, give me one more chance?” I pled, as flames licked at my pant legs.

“Maybe I will, if you can love me for who I am.” I watched her jowls grow and sag on her face. They made her look like a pig.

“Okay,” I screamed. I knew if I could imagine her to be beautiful, I could love her, but I didn’t know I had already used up all the imagining I was allowed, and I’d be stuck with her looking like a pig for eternity.

 

#292 Mistaken Priest

#292 Mistaken Priest

Joe held his son’s hand outside Saint Mary’s Catholic Church and told him, “Wait here.” He felt his .44 Colt revolver sticking into his ribs. Conflicted about what he should do after what his son said had happened, Joe wanted to go to confession before he acted. He turned and walked into the church, empty other than a lone priest sitting in a confessional booth filled with aromas of sinners who came before.

He pulled the curtain aside and entered the dark booth, closed the curtain, knelt down, made the sign of the cross, closed his eyes and said, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.”

“Tell me, what sins you have committed?”

 

“I haven’t sinned since my last confession Father.”

 

“Then why are you here?”

 

“I’m having evil thoughts.”

 

“Tell me about them.”

 

Joe would like to ask him what sins he, the priest, had committed and why, but he knew the priest would say, “I go to my own confessor, and tell him and God how I have sinned.”

Joe used to believe, but not now, not after what his son told him. He wanted to articulate why he was here, but couldn’t get the words to form in his mouth. Instead he said, “I have an eight year old son Father, who has been molested.”

“God will forgive you,” the Priest said.

This idiot thinks I’m confessing to molesting my own son. His anger rose, and he asked the priest, “Is that how it works Father? You molest a little boy, tell God you’re sorry and it’s okay, you’re free to sin again?”

“God forgives all sins.”

That’s what Joe wanted to hear before he did what he came to do. “Then I confess Father for killing the molester of my son,” Joe said.

“You killed him?” The Priest asked

“Not yet, but I will.”

“I can’t absolve you of a sin you haven’t yet committed.”

 

“After I do, you can forgive me then. Right?”

 

“God forgives all sins.”

Joe searched the pockets of his janitorial uniform for a cigarette, found one, lit it with his Bic lighter, sucked in, and exhaled a circle of smoke that blew toward the screen the priest leaned his head against. The screen, put in the booth for anonymity between priest and confessor, wasn’t very effective. If one peered hard enough, he could see who sat on the other side.

“An angry voice chastised him, “No smoking, for Christ’s sake you’re in church.”

 

“God will forgive me for such a small transgression I’m sure.”

 

“Maybe he will but I sure as hell won’t,” the priest said.

 

“I’m glad you said that Father, because I feel the same.” Joe pulled his pistol placed it against the screen where the priest leaned his head.  “God may have forgiven you Father but I sure as fuck don’t.”

Joe pulled the trigger. Thunder echoed through the church. The wounded priest managed to open the door of the confessional booth with blood streaming from a crease in his cheek.

Joe pushed the booth’s curtain aside, reached through and grabbed the priest by the arm. He said, “God is treating you well. He’s giving you another chance to come clean before I send you to your judgment day.”

“You’re crazy let me go,” the Priest said. He yanked his arm free and fell out the door onto the church floor.

“Confess.” Joe said. He stepped outside the booth and stuck the barrel of the .44 into the priest’s crotch, pulled the trigger and enjoyed the explosive noise thundering around the church. The priest screamed in pain while clutching his groin.

Moaning he asked Why?”

Joe pulled the hammer back, aimed at the Priest’s head, applied pressure on the trigger

and said, “Last chance padre. Confess.”

“Confess to what?”

 

“To what you did to my son.”

 

“I never did anything.”

 

“God doesn’t like liars Father. Joe’s trigger finger tightened, and he aimed the gun-sight at the Preacher’s eye. Just as he pulled his trigger finger tight, his son ran into the church screaming “Not him dad. It was the other priest.”

Too late. The .44 went off and the bullet tore into the priest’s eye.

“Dad, Dad, why did you kill him?”

Joe’s face showed shock, but only for a second until he said, “I’m sorry god.” Then a smile spread over his face, and he said, “God forgives all sins son, so I’ll go get the other Priest too.” He dropped his burning cigarette onto the floor turned and headed to the rectory where the other priest lived.

 

#291 Things Happen Way Too Fast in New York City

#291 Things Happen Way Too Fast in New York City

I step onto the Greyhound bus in Kansas City, look in the rearview mirror. I see my dad’s old Chevy pickup pulling away.

“Remember what I told you.” His last words ring in my ears. I’m finally going to the Big Apple, where I know I’ll find fame and fortune playing and strumming my guitar. I’ve been playing guitar since I was ten, and I’m the best ever.

I pat my wallet to be sure it’s in my back pocket with the $800 remaining after paying for the ticket. The bus speeds down the highway at a constant 55 mph, and I watch the harvested fields flying by. I make a wish that I’ll never see them again. Who the hell wants to live in Kansas growing corn when I can be in New York?

I fall to sleep and wake hours later when the bus pulls into the terminal on 51st Street in the heart of New York City. I get off; pick up my one bag and my guitar. Walking out the door, I’m greeted by a smiling man with a gun.

“Welcome to New York my good man,” He says, and takes my bag, guitar, and wallet, leaving me with nothing in a place where I have no friends. Why’d he pick on me? Did it show that I’m a country bumpkin? Hell, I thought wearing cowboy boots and a fringed jacket made me cool enough to blend right in.

My first night in the big city, and I’m hungry and homeless, but never the less, I’m here. Kansas with its loneliness and barren plains will soon be erased from my memory. New ones of art and music will replace them, if I don’t starve to death first.

I walk down to 42nd Street and head for Broadway, that great Milky White Way. Passing the restaurants I endure aromas of cooking food spilling out over the dirty sidewalk, pizza, roast beef, and god knows what else? My stomach rumbles, baked smells penetrates my nostrils.

I get to Broadway, a wide street, and look up to see gray buildings rubbing against a blue and white sky. I’m not the only one mesmerized. There are others like me that have never before seen such a sight. I know by staring up I’m marked as an out-of-towner, because New Yorkers look at their feet as they walk, avoiding each other’s eyes and the shining neon colors glowing from so many signs.

I jog down steps leading to a massive subway system. I can take a nap on the subway train. Worn out from the long ride here, I need time to think how I’m going to survive with no money, food or friends to help, in this canyon of a city.

Hearing the roar of trains from below, I jump over the orange turnstile without paying and ride the escalator down to a place I never dreamt exists. Posters on every wall, lights everywhere, warm air, and clean swept floors. Trains make wind and noise as they pass, people congregate where the doors will be when the next train stops.

I move forward and amidst the crowd, beautiful music is being played, as good as mine if not better by raggedly dressed man plucking his guitar and singing true blues coming from a tormented soul.

My dog done died, and my lady left me without a cent. Please brother, can you spare a dime?

I reach in my pocket and run coins through my hand till I feel a quarter.

“Here you go my man. I’d give you more, but I have less than a dollar.”

He lifts his head, takes off his sunglasses, and stares at me.

“You lying to me boy?”

“Hell no,” I pull out all the coins remaining from those I brought from Kansas, that god-forsaken state.

He stands, looks into my hand holding sixty five cents, reaches into a moneybag on his hip with two big hands, and pulls them out brimming with quarters.

“Take what you need boy, I make ten times this in a day.”

I can’t believe my eyes, he holds near a hundred dollars between his super sized hands. He sees me staring at the money and says, “Whatcha waiting for boy? This is New York and I only got a minute.”

My stomach painfully turns as I think of how much food I can eat if I take a fraction of what he holds in his hands. Should I reach and take what he’s holding out to me? Can I take money from a beggar? What will people in Kansas think of me, here In New York, taking a poor man’s money? No, I can’t, I tell myself, but my eyes wander to a poster showing a burger and fries, reminding me I haven’t eaten. Eyes return to the money, thoughts of nowhere to sleep, shower, or eat course through my head.

“Come on boy, you want it or not?” the man shakes his hands up and down.

The chinking of the coins entices me to reach out my dirty hand. “Go on, take it,” I tell myself, but a vision of my father pointing his finger and saying, “I told you so” enters my head. I withdraw my hand.

“Can’t eat pride boy,” the man says, “go on, take what you need, and hurry up. I got some blues to sing and some begging to do.”

I glance around to be sure no one sees a young man like me, stooping so low by taking money from a beggar instead of giving. No one’s looking. I close my eyes in shame, and reach out my dirty hands, dreaming of hot golden-chicken-soup and crackers with a piece of piping hot pizza. My hands feel for the silver, but grab thin air, there’s nothing there. I open my eyes, and the man is nowhere in sight. I wonder if he ever really was.