Archives for short stories

#191 No Movies Today

#191 No Movies Today

 

Joe asks Donna to go to the movies. She says, “I’m too tired to go, Joe.”

But he finds out she isn’t too tired to go to see another man. Joe wants to say that’s all right, she has her reasons, but deep inside, he can’t ignore the truth. Anyone can see her priorities are skewed away from him.

Joe overlooks this slight for a while to keep their relationship smooth, but one day he decides to act like the man he is supposed to be. He says, “This shit doesn’t fly. I’m not whipped enough to ignore this deceit. Double dealing is not allowed to become part of my life.”

Joe feels a terrible loss and thinks there’s nothing to do but sing the blues. How she broke his heart, done him wrong, how his sun no longer shines, his innards are all tied in knots and how music is the only sound that’ll penetrate his blues. Colors become muted and no longer speak.

Beautiful imagery that used to fill his days is now just dreary black and white sketches of reality.

She doesn’t know better, he thinks. She only did what’s natural for her, but if Joe wants to say, “I’m a man,” he knows he’s got to do what a man should do when a woman acts like that. Joe doesn’t know much about love, but he did know it’s supposed to be a beautiful thing, not a farce that leaves his heart full of pain. He doesn’t want to get his gun like so many others do, or slap her face to let her know he is the only one for her.

He sings, “I’m leaving you cold for things you’ve done. When I’m gone you’ll realize I didn’t know much about love and it just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

His train of thought chugs in circles until Joe realizes that his songs sound like a crow choking on an ear of corn. He drinks all day until words no longer dribble from his mouth.

He buys some booze to go and drinks it all before he sits down to write fume-induced words that are much better than the ones he sang. Now he can put his feelings into words and he tells Donna how she done him wrong:

Lord have mercy on your soul for what you’ve done to me. I’ve been working as hard as a Smoky Mountain bee to earn the dough to take you to the show. I have to admit, I’m pained and grieved that you didn’t think of me before doing that deed and not going out with me.

Now I shudder when I think of you. My flesh crawls and I recoil at the thought of your unfaithful touch. I know in the end you’ll be yearning for me, but my dislike and distaste for what you did will reinforce my unbearable grief. Even though I’ve quit singing the blues, I’ll continue to write to inform the world how you’ve done me wrong. But best of all is the fact that when I go to the movie show, I enjoy the movie more by myself than I ever did with you. My ship has sailed away and you can no longer climb aboard. I’m never coming back. If my ship should sink, my words will keep me afloat better than any life jacket ever would. I pour myself a drink and toast the harvest moon

for letting me enjoy life more by myself than I could ever have with you.

 

 

#188 It’s All Right

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Last Saturday night I sat in the “Blue Note,” my favorite blues club, and listened to Leroy sing. “Shake that boogie, all right, I’m gonna find a wife. Shake that boogie, it’s all right with me.”

I lit up a joint and passed it down the bar. “Somebody bought you a drink,” Squiggly the bartender set down a shot of Cutty Sark.

“Give me a beer to wash it down, Squig.” I gulped down the shot.

She walked in just as Leroy sang, “Shake that moneymaker. Nothing in the world could ever make me stray.”

She shook it all the way down the bar before she found an empty seat. I wished I was the seat she sat on.

“Come on shake that boogie, it’s all right with me,” hummed from the speakers. I strutted down the bar, taking my rhythm from Leroy’s music and the feeling going round in my head that came from pot and booze and music. I ain’t never ever felt anything better.

I whispered a tune in her ear. “You’re all that it could ever be. I found you here, waiting to find a cure for the blues and that’s what I am, girl. I can’t stop the despair, but that’s all right if you twist your hips, lift your pretty legs, fill my eyes with what you can do with what has been given to you.”

“You’re so cute and so cool. I’ll bet when you dance everyone stops to watch.” 71

“Hold on, girl. Never expect me to boogie or I’ll never cure my blues. My bones aren’t made to move with musical rhythm. Only my heart is made like that. But like you, I sure do love those blues.”

“The blues are all right, but if you can’t dance, you’re not the man for me.” She turned and looked the other way.

I shuffled on down the bar where a beer waited for me. I, for one, didn’t plan to cry into it just because she wanted me to dance and I can’t. I lifted my beer from the bar to take a swig and when I got it close, I saw a roach staring at my face. I let out a yell, threw the bottle into the air. Too late, the roach jumped into my hair. I jumped off the bar stool and jumped around slapping my head, trying to get the roach.

I knew it would crawl down my neck into my clothes, so I started slapping every body part trying to kill that little creature who probably wouldn’t even take a bite. Leroy sang and told me to shake my bootie, and I shook everything I owned. Satisfied the roach was dead or at least gone I stopped dancing around and stood up straight.

Applause erupted from everyone in the bar and I watched my girl sashay on down. She took me by the hand and said, “You’re coming home with me. I knew you could dance.”

#183 Puzzled

#183 Puzzled

As a child I never questioned my existence. Questions like why never arose because I was so busy searching for food to eat, clothes to wear, or something exciting to do to make life worth living. I never gave a thought to the meaning of life, or anything else.

I fought and struggled until I grew up and learned how to earn a living. Things went well. I had children of my own. Their lives weren’t as good as they could have been, but they were far better than mine. They grew up and had kids and their kids had kids.  I became a great grandfather to four. I tried to stay ahead of that age where I needed a cane and could no longer do what was required of me, but I got slow and old age chased me down.

A sudden pain came, reminding me that growing old, getting sick, and suffering before dying was the fate I faced. What was coming terrified me. I rebelled, got angry at whatever was responsible for my being here in a place of suffering and pain. Then it dawned on me that experiencing pain was only a gentle reminder that time is short and to make living this life worthwhile I should finish what I came here to do.

I died, and I wanted to say goodbye to my kids and friends, but weird guys surrounded me and said, “It’s not allowed.” Being a trouble maker all my life, I saw no reason to obey any stupid rules. I ran away. They chased me, but I got used to running in my early life. I escaped and went to visit my kids who were amazed when they saw me.

I tried and tried to explain to them that there is a place to go after one dies, but my words made no sound. I stood there until the soul catchers captured me and put me on the wheel that weighed my soul for good deeds and bad, and then decided where my soul would go.

I was horrified to learn that I’d return to the world as the thing I found most repulsive in life, a cockroach. Not only was I a roach, but a female roach. I had always thanked God I wasn’t born a woman. So he’s punishing me.

Being a bug wasn’t much fun. If I wanted to eat, I had to find garbage, or something dead. I adjusted to that, but sex was a horror beyond imagination. To be held by a roach bigger and stronger than me as he did whatever he desired made me want to puke all the dead things I had eaten. I thought if I found where my daughter from my previous life lived, I’d be safe. It took weeks, but I crawled to her neighborhood and went into so many houses looking for her, I lost count.

One bleak and rainy day I found her house and waited on her counter top for her to come home. I feasted on bread and cakes she must have left out for me. It was warm and cozy in her house and for the first time in this life, I felt safe.

I heard the door open. When I saw her face, I jumped for joy. She reached under the sink and pulled out a can of Raid.

“Wait,” I cried in my bug’s voice. “It’s me, your Dad.”

She said, “Die, roach,” and pressed the button. The spray hit me. I went into convulsions and could no longer breathe. She rolled up a newspaper as I asked, “Don’t you recognize me?” Then I realized she’d never believe I came back as a roach. The rolled up paper squashed my back legs, but I felt no pain because the spray had numbed me.

I dragged myself under the toaster. She picked it up, “Got you now,” she slammed the newspaper down on me. My guts squirted onto the counter, but I didn’t give up. I crawled to a crack in the wall and hid.

She didn’t find me. Time passed, and I got hungry. I wondered if I could eat my own guts. I decided against that and crawled toward the toaster where a feast of crumbs waited for me. That wasn’t all that waited. My daughter jumped out with her rolled up newspaper and said, “Gotcha,” as she smashed me to death.

The soul catchers have put me back in line. I’m waiting to return to the wheel and see where I’ll be heading next time around.

#175 Who’s the Man

#175 Who’s the Man?

I grew up where men were men and women knew their place. My dear old Mom would never backtalk to Pa. She knew he would respond like a real man and slap her across the face. I saw him do it a few times, and I felt bad for her, but he slapped me harder when I stepped out of line.

That’s the way it was and when Pa said, “Throughout this great country of ours, women have always known their place. Things were fine until woman libbers instigated equality into the heads of our mail-order-brides. There should be a law for agitators like that so they are strung up and flogged for dispensing dissatisfaction. Any fool knows women aren’t equal to men. They can’t hunt, fish, or do nearly anything a man can. Hell, most women see a fight and tremble at the sight.”

Pa put a shell in his shotgun. “My wife was fine till those fucking lesbians filled her ears with that inequality shit, and she changed to a bitch that needed to be hit.”

I always listened to Pa. If I didn’t, he’d beat the heck out of me. He’d fight at the drop of a hat and was a hero in the war. Pa could out-drink anyone. He even made his own moonshine that he sold by the gallon. The sheriff never bothered him. He knew Pa was above the law. He was respected by men in the county for the way he was, and everyone considered him a real man.

So when I married Miss Priscilla, I had to adjust her attitude. I tried to treat her like my daddy said I should. When I told her what to do, she sassed me back. I slapped her face. She kicked my ass. I told her I was the boss, and she said, “Sleep on the couch.” I spent my pay getting drunk. To get even, she went fishing and hunting. Then she went and sold her ass.

To put her in her place I hit her with a two-by-four, and she had me put in jail. I found it hard to be a real man while she wore the pants, but I had to make my

Daddy proud and prove I was a man. So the day I got out of jail, I went to the store to buy a gun, but because hitting her was a felony they turned me down. I figured I’d get her drunk and then I could whip her ass for all the trouble she had caused. I spent the money I had intended to buy a gun with for three quarts of my Daddy’s favorite liquor from the still behind the school instead.

She drank two to my one, and I was the one who got smashed. Looking at her through drunken eyes I saw the girl I desired when I married her. So we had sex, and now I don’t care that she’s the boss, because I’m in love, and when I lay with her I become a big, big, man, and I don’t even mind when she slaps my face when I get out of line.

The End160078r

#172 An Occurrence at Prescott Public Library

#172  An Occurrence at Prescott Public Library

 

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 1, the cloud-filled sky emptied onto the desert, and as usual, the gloomy weather brought on my blues, changing my world, from a happy place to a dreary and god awful. As I drove to a meeting with my critique group in downtown Prescott, Arizona, I went past the regional airport off  the  89-A. The silver streak in the sky didn’t strike me as unusual at all. In retrospect, it should have when it climbed 10,000 feet in two seconds and dropped the same distance in a blink of my eye.

I figured it was some trick the desert played, something like seeing an oasis that isn’t there. Even though the craft followed me all the way downtown to the library, I paid it no heed. Six dedicated writers met to learn the craft of creative writing. We sat at a long conference table overlooking a large window facing the street in the library’s Elsea conference room.

Pat, Sue, Linda and Mark sat with their backs to the window. Carol and I sat facing the street. We began to discuss  H.G. Wells’ Valley of the Spiders.

Pat commented on the amount of times Wells used colors in his writing and the conversation moved around the table. When Linda opened her mouth, I became mesmerized. Her voice titillated all my senses. As I watched her lips enunciate words, my heart rate rose and my entire being became aroused. I leaned forward as far as I could to be closer to this woman who affected me so strangely.

I looked into her eyes, and what I thought were blue irises spun in a hypnotic fashion. She spoke about Ambrose Bierce’s An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. As I listened, I could see past her teeth into her mouth and down her ruby red throat where her uvula danced with her words. Thoughts of rolling spiders and a hanging somehow mixed with this image in my frenzied mind,

So when I saw the bright light coming through the window, I believed I imagined it.

The light surrounded Linda. Her hair rose like it floated on water, and then her body began to rise from the chair. I wanted to shout, but not a word would come. I looked at the others. They carried on as though nothing strange was happening. I looked back to Linda. Now she floated above her chair and started moving toward the window as though the beam of light drew her in. I reached out and grabbed her ankle to stop her from floating away, but as soon as I touched her, I became weightless and rose off my chair like gravity was nonexistent.

I tried to let go, but my hand stuck to her ankle as if dipped in superglue. Scared by this weird development, I rationalized that if we couldn’t float through the window, once we were pulled up against it, whatever force held us would break.

When I saw Linda’s head reach the window glass and pass through as though it wasn’t there, her body continued to pass through solid glass without a crack appearing anywhere. Dragging along behind her, I too passed through the glass and followed her on up the light beam that I could see came from that same craft I had observed before. It now hovered above the library. We passed through the craft’s metal-skin like light through glass and once inside, the beam of light disappeared. We dropped to the floor. Linda wrapped her arms around me and hugged me like a frightened kitten. I became aroused again and returned her hug with passion. Surprised to find passion at a time like this, I pulled away. I needed a clear head to try to understand our situation, but when I looked at her, a cloud full of erotic images surrounded her, and her erotic thoughts flowed through my brain like a movie. Her thoughts enticed me to respond and I couldn’t stop my

thoughts from flashing through my mind no matter how hard I tried. But I stopped trying and started enjoying them as she slowly disrobed.  I felt compelled to do the same. She reached for me; I took her hand in mine and became overwhelmed with a desire so strong I couldn’t resist it.

Wait, I told myself. This is some kind of alien trick. I have to keep my senses. I ripped my hand from hers and erotic images disappeared. I put my pants on before it walked in.

“You’re not cooperating, ” said a tall spider. “I need to finish my research by .0000.7000, so I guess I’ll need another like this one.”

It pointed at me, and a light surrounded and lifted me. “Wait, wait, I’ll cooperate,” I yelled.

The light shut off, and I fell to the floor. Linda held out her hand. I tenuously took it in mine, and at the touch, lecherous feelings overcame me. I put my face to hers, touched her lips to mine, stuck my tongue between hers,

and tried to massage her dancing uvula. She in turn gyrated against me in such a satisfying manner, I lost control.

Though entranced with our love making, a part of my mind wondered if this creature was studying us or making a porn movie. Maybe if I perform well, the spider will make me a star, and use me in lots of scenes like this one. I pictured myself shaking the tall spider’s leg, sealing the deal, when I heard Mark’s voice.

“Joe, Joe, are you letting your imagination run away with you again?” It was then I realized I had an experience like the protagonist in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, but unlike the hung man in that story, I lived to realize it, didn’t I?

The End

#172  An Occurrence at Prescott Public Library

#171 Internal Disintegrating Words from the Id

#171 Internal Disintegrating Words from the Id

I’m usually a mellow guy and get along with most everyone. Sometimes, though, I come across a person who clashes with my energy field so much that being in the same room sets off sparks of animosity, hatred, violence, and vengeance.

Ms. T. is one of those. The sight of her white hair and sardonically lined face puts my emotions into an altered state. She and I belong to the same writing critique group, and she savors her opportunity to tell me how insignificant my work is compared to hers.

I watch in trepidation as she lurks in her chair, waiting to critique my work like a hawk looking for a meal. Her beady eyes set upon me as though I’ll be lunch if I utter a sound.

Her turn to critique comes and she swoops in with cutting words.

“Your work is thrown together without much thought,” she says, and turns my peaceful nature into a violent volcano. Inside, my collection of synapses, flesh, and bone erupts and my emotions flow like molten rock.

I fire hot language right back at this white piece of feminine saline salaciously craving to emasculate me with her list of things I wrote wrong. I’m mortified that a shrew like her can bring forth my loathing.

Her fury is awakened by mine, and her next words slash my thrown together first drafts—according to her—comparing them to her carefully thought out Greek odyssey that she’s been writing for most of her life.

I’d like to be cool and intellectual and say I’m better than that, but I feel pitted like a dog, and my nature causes me to respond in kind. The replies that are backed up in my mouth come out laced with wicked words that flow through my lips, calculated so that she will taste the bitter flavor of my anger.

I feel like a fool for arguing with this demon that passes for a woman. I remember what my mother always said: “If you get into an argument with an idiot, it’s soon hard to tell who the idiot is.”

I try not to argue with her, but when I don’t, I have to pay the price holding my rage inside. It eats away inside at any pride I own when that spiteful woman spews her sardonic wisdom, saying it’s my problem and not hers. My volcano wants to explode and if I had the power of God, I’d certainly repeat his action and subdue her into a pillar of salt, shipping her off to Sodom or Gomorrah for repeating her disintegrating words in a hostile manner that calls for a reaction from my Id.

The End

#168 Dream Train

#168 Dream Train

Things happened when I was five that I can’t forget. When I go to bed, I try to think of something else, but a vision that’s always in my head appears. I see a steam engine with its whistle blowing, belching smoke and soot as it rolls down the tracks hauling a string of boxcars loaded with freight. Though distant, the whistle lets everyone know a train is coming, a warning to be careful if you were on the tracks.

A warning we boys always ignored. We’d never let a little thing like a whistle stop us from hopping aboard a slow-moving freight train. We had no toys, especially electric trains like other boys did, but we didn’t need them. We had the real thing, coal burning, smoke spewing, choo-chooing freight trains that we not only watched, but hopped aboard and went for a ride.

When one rolled slowly by, we’d climb aboard a ladder on the side of a boxcar and the roof and onto the platforms attached to the roof of each car. We ran and jumped from one moving car to another. What fun!

My friend Ronnie McIntyre and his brother were with me one day when a freight train came and we climbed aboard. Once we climbed to the top, Ronnie ran ahead, and gracefully jumped from one car to the next. He made it first to the car nearest the engine, turned around to claim victory for getting there before us, but he didn’t see the bridge the train was about to go under.

“Watch out, Duck,” I hollered as loud as I could, but the engine made so much noise he couldn’t hear me. I watched as the bridge knocked Ronnie from the train and he fell in between cars. His brother and I scrambled for the ladders on the side and climbed down to see if he was okay.

It wasn’t too far back down the tracks that we found Ronnie, dead. His brother burst into tears. I puked my breakfast onto the tracks when I saw that Ronnie had lost his head.

His brother saw it beside the tracks and picked it up by the hair. Still crying, he ran home and showed his mother that Ronnie wasn’t coming home ever again.

After that when I’d go to sleep, I’d dream of a train rolling down the tracks.  I’d see McIntyre losing his head, and then I’d look up and see another train coming at me. In fear and dread, I’d try to run, but my legs got stuck in deep mud. The engine kept on coming. I heard the squeal of brakes when the train tried to stop and steam enveloped me in a cloud before it ran over me. I always moved and woke an instant before I died. No one had to carry my head to show my mother I was dead and wouldn’t be coming home for dinner again.

After years of torment by this dream, I couldn’t bear to go to bed without taking a drink, well, more than one. Enough alcohol to wipe the thoughts from my brain was what I needed before I could sleep.      One night as I sat in a local pub, I decided to face my fears for the first time since Ronnie died and go to where I used to play on railroad tracks.

I staggered down the tracks and saw a train hauled by a steam engine, whistle blowing. It belched smoke and soot as it rolled down the tracks, heading for me just like the train in my dream. I turned to look and saw another train coming at me. In fear and dread, I tried to run, but my legs felt like they were stuck in deep mud and the engine kept coming. I heard the squeal of brakes when the train tried to stop, steam enveloping me in a cloud as I heard Ronnie’s voice.

“You could have yelled louder,” he accused me.

I wasn’t drunk, so I must be dreaming, I told myself as the train knocked me to the ground. My neck hit a metal track passed over by an iron wheel that cut my head off as neatly as a butcher’s saw.

“Welcome to our exclusive club,” Ronnie said.

I turned and saw seven other boys holding their heads in their hands. Was I really dead, I wondered, did I simply return here to die, or is everything just a dream? I didn’t know, so I picked up my head by the hair so it wouldn’t get run over by the next freight train when it came.

The End#168 Dream Train

#164 Art

#163 Art

#163Art

Being alone breeds discontent. If only I could find the right one, my life would be filled with joy. Love has eluded me and slipped away so many times before. Hope had disappeared because I was never smart enough to detect what was required to remain a duo.

I always felt I needed more, more of what I never knew. Then one day while surfing the Internet, Tethy’s helmet came into view. A metal sculpture created by my classmate, Laurie. Its brilliancy filled me with unfamiliar passion. The creator of this piece must have a zeal surpassing even mine, a better mind by many degrees and the ability to create beauty I only daydreamed of.

If I could only be with a genius such as this my need would be filled, and I could love the conceptions inside her head. They’d fulfill my dreams of loving splendor that never aged and never died.

After this, I saw Laurie in a different way. Her soft skin and her eyes, a brilliant blue, sucked me in. She had moist and yummy lips, shapely legs, and a gorgeous body I couldn’t live without. Before I met her, no one woman was ever enough for me to be dedicated to.

But an artist like her had beauty bursting through, and my desire was aroused like never before. I thought we would have been the perfect pair. She’d be my muse and I hers. I wanted to work with her and imagined what we’d create with my industrious work and her creative mind. I visualized statues reaching to the sky, armies of knights wearing helmets like Tethy’s, and of course I’d sculpt her in many forms, so her beauty could be shared with the entire world.

She thought differently than me and didn’t want me in her life. A travesty I thought. All the works building in my mind came crashing down. Rejected and dejected I built a goddess to adore. She stands in front of my house holding a spear and a snake to let everyone know a broken hearted artist lives here.

If Laurie ever drove by and saw the things I had built out of love for her, I wonder if her cold, cold heart would melt and invite me in. Or was she in love with Art and no one else? Would she think me a fool for loving what she can do without knowing who she is? Did it really matter that I had seen so many more years than her?

I dreamed one night that my goddess Boadicea came to life and her heart beat beneath her breasts of stone. Her emotions rose with each beat and her love for, me, her creator grew and grew, until that heart of stone was ready to burst.

When I awoke, I knew I was no longer alone and had found that special one. But a problem arose when I wanted her to come to bed. It was then I knew I could only worship her in my psyche and had to be content with her standing there guarding my front lawn.

Was it weird to adore a woman made of cement, I wondered; until I remembered all those I saw on their knees praying to a stone statue of some long dead saint. My Boadicea was alive in my mind and heart, so if I wanted, I could get on my knees and ask her to be mine. And I did.

Now I wait for night to come when Boadicea joins me in my dreams.

 

 

#151 -2049

#151 - 2049

2049

I’m the first man ever to land on this beautiful azure blue world that’s almost four times as large as Earth. The bright yellow oceans are hard as steel. I look up to 13 brilliantly shining moons illuminating the thick atmospheric sky where floating clouds of ammonia, methane, water ice, and pressures millions of times greater than on Earth. Theoretically the pressure will squeeze all into liquid, and then into diamonds that sometimes fall as hail. When hailstones hit the ground, they’ll sink to the core and rise again, polished and faceted by planetary pressure.

Enclosed in my craft, I can’t see outside, so I dress in heavy anti-pressure, ant-gravity gear and ease through the hatch. The blinding light of 13 moons reflects off of faceted surfaces etched into what appears to be stones.

I climb from the hatch and step onto a loose gravel-like surface that gives way under my weight. I start to sink. In panic I grab my lifeline attached to the ship, but I stop sinking before I have to save myself.

I scoop up a glove full of the gravel and find it’s not gravel at all, but tiny diamonds. The twinkling brilliance of their faceted lights almost blinds me. I rejoice because it’s true. Ices of methane and water are squeezed to carbon that turns to crystal lattices creating diamonds in the atmosphere.

There are more diamonds underfoot than in any mine back on Earth. One bucketful is all I’ll ever need. A storm is brewing overhead. Warning lights begin flashing around my ship, telling me to leave – now.  I should, but diamonds forming in the sky is something I want to witness. Maybe I can blast off before the planetary hail arrives.

Some of it will be as small as salt grains, and others as large as boulders. The diamonds’ cutting edges will perforate my protective suit. If I stay, I’ll be the first ever to see diamonds falling from the sky. So I can’t leave.

It starts to snow brilliant light, and it isn’t snow, but diamond flakes reflecting starlight in the sky, and on the ground it blows into piles. I’m safe I know. The snow doesn’t break through my suit, and I wait to fill another bucket with glittering pieces of snow when it starts to hail diamonds bigger than my fist.

I watch the hail beat down onto my ship, and soon nothing remains. I bury myself in loose stones. The storm passes away and I pull myself out from under the diamonds that are almost dust now, but were strong enough to protect my suit from puncture.

I have enough diamonds to buy the entire world – if only I had a way to get there.

 

 

#144 Damn Nature

Damn Nature

There’s not a cloud in sight in the smoggy-yellow L.A. sky as I drive along Century Boulevard in my Buick LaSabre;. People and trees are waiting for a breeze to blow or maybe a little rain to wash the air clean. Of all the tunes I’ve ever heard, there’s only one that says it never rains in Southern California. Seems like a deity above never answers the prayers for rain coming from those on the ground.

Palm trees line the road on the way to Pershing Park. They show outward calm when the sounds of mechanical saws working in Pershing Park penetrate their bark and tree sap leaks like tears because they learn all things must die. They know before the moon is full, the saws will be coming for them.  They wonder why. They’re doing okay in the exhausted air.

Arriving at the downtown park, I see it has a lake, birds of many kinds and colors, even geese enjoying the ambience. A goose lands on my car, peers through the windshield and looks at me with love in its eyes. I’ve heard of being goosed, but to be loved by a goose is a whole new thing.

I jam on the brakes and the goose slides down the hood like it was greased. It hits the ground in front of the Buick. I step on the gas. That’s one gone goose.

But my conscience gets the best of me. I jam on the brakes, get out, and walk back to a pile of white feathers lying on the road. I bend over to check if it lives; it unfurls in a ball of fury and grabs my nose in its vise like beaks and squeezes so hard tears come to my eyes.

This is no ordinary goose. It has super-sized muscles bulging through feathers. The look of love has turned to hate as it flaps its wings, trying to lift me to the sky. If it could, it would take me high, and then let go.

I grab it by one leg and give the goose a goose where it hurts. It squawks and releases my nose. I kick it into a quaking Aspen Tree so hard the branches shake. This is one tough goose. It shakes the haze from its banged up head, and I can see it isn’t finished yet. I pick up a hot cocoa plant to stuff down its throat if it comes at me again. Glancing around, I perceive on the green grass a Red Plum Tree that looks like it’s about to die. Maybe it doesn’t eat smog as other trees do.

I break off a branch to beat back the goose. Unfortunately for me, the branch I break holds a hive built by hornets, and boy, are they mad. I throw the hive at the goose and run for my car, chased by winged things that want to cause harm to me.

I know that I can never get to the car, so I jump into the pond and swim along the bottom with my eyes open. I’m amazed that it’s clear enough to see what grows there. Along with weeds there are beer and wine bottles, a stroller, shopping carts, a few golf balls, and me.

Running out of air, I pray the things chasing me have gone away. I break the surface gasping for air. A foot long motorboat crashes into the side of my head.

“Hey asshole! No swimming here,” a guy holding the controls for the boat yells.

I turn around and the goose is swimming towards me. I dive beneath the water, and this time a car is there on the bottom. What the hell am I doing, letting a 10 pound bird terrorize me? Then I remember the hive and wonder if they are still after me.

I swim underwater until I reach the shore. Now I’m angrier than any hornet or goose. Drenched I climb from the water prepared to kill anything that bothers me. I step into a pointed cactus and let out a scream that scares a squirrel out of an Elm Tree.

The goose isn’t in sight, so I run to my car and step on the gas. I spin out and roll over the grass that flies out in tufts as my wheels dig holes into black earth getting traction before they move. My car lurches forward into one of those damn pine trees that give the impression of Christmas the entire year.

The radiator spurts steaming water. Things living inside the pine come out chattering and want to see what shook their tree. All this nature stuff is too much for a city boy like me, and I say it doesn’t belong in a city like L.A.

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