Sunday, April 9, 2017

East Coast Fury

I have left Oregon. The Pacific Northwest is no longer my home and the snow covered mountains I grew so accustomed to seeing every day no longer punctuate my horizon. In December of last year I made the decision to move back east. I quit my job of ten years and said goodbye to dozens of friends I made in the decade that I lived there. It wasn't easy this time. Over the course of my life I have relocated many times and experienced many fare thee wells, all of which were relatively easy for me, but this last time around wasn't the same. Something changed. I think the man I was learning to become allowed himself to grow closer to the friends he made. The goodbyes were difficult and four months later I find myself missing them and thinking about all the fun times I had with everyone. Fuck all, I miss Oregon and my people.

So, what am I doing now?
Driving a big rig all over the place. Mostly up and down the east coast, but dispatch knows I'm willing to go anywhere in the country if the load pay is right. I bought this rig off my dad which means now I am a small business owner, which translates to: I am now adulting on expert level mode. I flipped my life completely in an opposite direction. I went from living a simple, stress free lifestyle to one that resembles an 800lb bluefin tuna fighting at the end of a deep sea line & hook. I feel like I bit off more than I can consume.

I'll explain.

I obtained my CDL (commercial drivers license) via a tour bus company 15 years ago when I lived in Pennsylvania. I used a shitty school bus to pass the driving test and then immediately started driving people all around the US and Canada on vacations in a 55' luxury coach tour bus. That was a fun time, not too stressful. After that I moved to Oregon where I became a garbage truck driver. Honestly, I've never had an easier job. Automatic straight truck on a set local route, nothing complex about it. For a tiny moment I learned how to drive a 10 speed semi hauling garbage to landfills and that was my first taste of driving a big rig, but little did I know what I'd be getting into later. Fast forward to now times.

I purchased my dad's 2009 ProStar International truck without ever having sat in it. I've never been a trucker. I had no idea what truckers do. When I got to PA my dad gave me a two week crash course on how to be a "real" truck driver. Suddenly I found myself immersed in a world that I did not understand. Real truck driving is nothing like I had ever experienced prior. Real truck driving is hard, harder than anything I've ever done. I'm now in my fourth month of driving and every day is still a challenge. My biggest hurdle by far was/is learning how to shift a 13 speed. I've been driving manual vehicles since I was 16 but that did nothing to prepare me for shifting a big rig. It's way different. I hate it.

My life is radically different now. I no longer get off work around 3 every day and then go play or explore or hang out with friends or drink or write poetry and stories. I don't get to do that stuff much anymore because trucking isn't just a job, it's an entire lifestyle. It occupies most of my time, day and night. And when I do finally get some downtime I have to use it to grab a shower and eat and sleep. I squeeze those things in when I can and if I have any time leftover, then I can pull out my laptop and write something or watch a movie or read a book. But honestly, I can feel the creative writer in me dying. I'm no longer living a free and exciting life filled with people and experiences and stories, so my inspiration is running out and so is my muse. I guess the good thing is that I'm drinking way less now. I used to drink every single night and now it's few and far between.

I don't have plans on turning this site into a trucker blog, but I'm sure from time to time (when I actually get time) I will be writing about trucking stuff since that's what's happening in my life now. I'm hoping to eventually settle into this and find a way to keep writing creatively. That last story that I started was exciting to me and I would love to jump back into it again. The characters are waiting for me. They have shit they want to do! It's weird to think that their lives depend completely on me. I can bring them to life on paper and make them do things or I can abandon them where they currently are and leave them dangling forever in limbo. Writers are gods, did you know that?

One last thing then I'll post this. One of my main reasons for moving home was to be close to family again. I have nephews and nieces whom barely know me and I want to be cool uncle Mick. I'm enjoying getting to know them and being a part of their lives. It's something I've kind of avoided my whole life. I've never lived close enough to be a solid part of my family and now I am and it feels good. I know what you're thinking and yes it kind of defeats my purpose of being present in their lives while being an over the road trucker, but I do get home to see them way more now than I did living 3,000 miles away. So stuff it!

Okay, that's all for now. Hopefully I'll be back soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Short Story In Progress...

     The guys were kicking it out front of Grant's Bar & Grill, or the 'Grant', as they liked to call it. They sprawled along the sidewalk smoking cigarettes and watching traffic. Sometimes they'd shout at the lookers, the ones who's heads would pivot while passing. The carrying on would increase until the car would exit their view, and then they'd all calm down a bit and go back to harassing themselves or any stranger unfortunate enough to walk down their sidewalk. The Grant was a real piece of shit bar located on Sixth & Hubert, opposite side of town as all the PeeWees (white privileged). Far enough away, in fact, that the PeeWees could completely forget that anyone other than themselves existed. But the Roach Street Crew didn't give a shit about none of that, none of them. Fact, they didn't really care much about anything at all, except getting fucked up and running shit round the Grant.

     Bobby sat atop a newspaper stand while rolling one; the heels of his shoes kicking hard against the plexiglass door while he licked the paper of the finished joint and twisted it between his fingers. He held it up and inspected it from every angle. It was good. He glanced over at Two Step.
     "Here, ya dumb dengo, light it up!"
Two Step took the joint and removed a zippo from his pocket. Holding both up high, he thumbed the lighter to life and began singing a song known only to himself as he pranced down the sidewalk like a fag. Down to the end of the block and back up again. Down and back up, like a real fairy. Until his friends all became lit  and started booing and throwing street trash at him. He stopped his sing song when he got hit in the head with a crumpled soda can.
     "Jeezus, ya fucks!"
     "Just light the stick, ya homo. For chrisake."
The rest of the crew laughed and chimed in and continued hurling insults at their friend as they stepped in closer to form a semi circle while passing the joint around. Just then, a cop car turned in off Sixth and slow rolled its way down Hubert. The Roach's stared hard; their heads on pivot as the cruiser drove by. The cop eyeballed the crew equally hard; connecting faces with names and activities and smiling like a real asshole. When he reached the end of the block he quick flipped his siren and made a "whoop whoop" sound before exiting from view.
     "Ya get a load of that shit?" exclaimed Bobby as he exhaled a plume of smoke. "Which one of you fucks ordered bacon-wrapped chicken?"
The group all laughed as they finished the joint and relocated back inside of the Grant.

     Grant was in his sixties. Retired veteran. Hated everyone. Used his returning home money to open up a bar where he could spend his dying days serving local punks like these. Though the age gap was considerable, he didn't mind 'em much. Matter of fact, Grant kind of liked having them around. Reminded him of when he was their age. Still fit, not giving a shit, and ready to kill. Two wars, three ex wives and seven children later... Grant was the explosive type who could blow at any moment, depending on the prevailing inner city winds. The Roaches sauntered in and piled onto old bar stools. They slapped their hands against the bar repeatedly and the commotion caused other patrons to turn and look their way. For the most part, everyone knew everyone here, but there were a few outsiders who watched the young crew tentatively and with caution as they continued to bang the bar and yell at the bartender.
     "Why you even have that goddamn song on the box, Grant?" (American Pie played from a jukebox along the corner of the furthest wall).
     "Hey, how long we gotta wait to get served in this dive, Grant?"
     "As long as your mutha waited last night!"
The crew laughed. Others didn't. Grant began pouring beers and sliding them one by one across the bar into waiting hands. One by one, the Roaches sang praises unto his name as they lifted sloshing beer mugs.
     "Graaaant is the ant of my eye!"
     "It's apple of my eye, you ghetto goat!"
     "Whichever fruit... I don't... aw, fuck off anyhow."
More laughter. On the opposite side of the bar, nearest to the bathrooms, the pool table was being abused by a couple in love. Between shots, they would caress and kiss and dry hump against the rail as though their next shot depended on it greatly. The woman wore a skirt that continuously needed pulling down. Her thong panties.. orange.. on display like her own imperfections. Her man stood around 6 foot and wore a muscle shirt and jeans. He looked like the front cover of a magazine. The Roaches spun on their chairs and watched while the two continued making piss poor shots at the table.
     Grant surmised the future way of things and leaned in. "None of your shit tonight, fellas. Please. I've not got the energy."

     Pop Tart was the first to stand. As he started walking past his crew a foot crept out and tripped him up, sending him sprawling. He regained his balance and verbally terrorized his friend while simultaneously laughing. He grabbed his dick through his pants and began thrusting his hips against Bobby's leg. Bobby punched him in the nuts and shoved him off. Pop Tart shot them all the bird and continued walking toward the billiards area. He set his beer down on a table and fished a smoke out; his eyes never leaving the hot blonde's ass. Even after state law forbid smoking in all public and private establishments, the Grant continued giving the Man the finger by allowing his patrons to smoke wherever they damn well pleased. He had been heard screaming, on several occasions, "Just let them gov't pricks come in here and tell me how t'run my business! I fucking hope they try!"

     Cover boy noticed quickly that he had a set of eyes on his girl. In between piss poor shots, he sized up Pop Tart and watched as the guy's friends all commented loudly from the bar, egging him on. It was no longer safe here and he knew it, but little could be done at this point. He was now a mark.

     Pop Tart crushed his smoke against a beer coaster and moved over to the rack of cue sticks attached to the wall. He pulled down the first one he saw and started rolling it around in his hand and talking sexy to it. He held it flat against his cheek, the long end hovering way out into open air, while licking it with his tongue and saying all the naughty things he wanted to do to it.
     "I'm gonna shove you so far up my pussy, baby, oh yeah. Gonna bury you deep."
The couple immediately ceased their sexuality and traded it for an expert level of professionalism that far exceeded the world champ players seen on TV. They tried pretending Pop Tart wasn't there. They tried so hard, but their attempt was halted by a bent over bare ass walking backwards toward their table. Pop Tart had dropped his pants and underwear and was now shuffling at them while smacking his ass cheeks with the pool cue and yelling, "Fuck me real good hard for the money shot!"


     In a last ditch quick effort call, the cover boy decided for a brawn approach to solving the situation he found himself in and kicked Pop Tart hard in the ass sending him toppling over and into several chairs and without hesitation, he jumped in and began beating him with his cue stick, but within seconds the bar cleared and The all the boys were in on the action. The first wave of fists and kicks knocked the cover boy off of Pop Tart. In a scramble to avoid blows, he lost his cue stick and ended up on his back out in the middle of the bar floor. He curled up instinctively as a storm of hardened feet reigned down on his body. Ribs began to crack, teeth loosened, fingers broke, as the Roaches continued their torment. In a moment of strength, cover boy managed to stand up and even swing a few while his short-skirt girlfriend screamed and clawed at them from beside the pool table, but the Roaches made quick work of him, promptly knocking him unconscious with two solid whacks from his dropped cue stick.

     Blood flowed from multiple cuts on his face and head and his eyes were already swollen shut. His jaw went off in a weird angle as unconscious breathing gurgled through. The girlfriend went into full-on freak out mode and jumped onto her lover like a shield showing up late in battle, crying hysterically and slinging curses and kicking at shins with her high heels. She moved like a fish at the end of a hook. The Roaches looked down and laughed and Pop Tart, having recovered from his pantless debacle, walked over and gave one last kick for nothing, but as unbalanced as he was, missed his intended target.

     "That's enough now, you cunty runts! Take your niggerish shit outside!" Grant screamed from his side of the bar, slammed fists and snorted. A crop of grey hair tossed to and fro while his torso trembled into action. Grant would always carry on a lot, but always from his side of the bar. Everything that occurred beyond it was not really his business. He considered it part of the turf war. The battle zone. And he wasn't in charge of that. He manned the booze and the lights and the shotgun he had hidden beneath the register was for the thieving criminals, not for breaking up fights. So he'd just yell and carry on and tell everyone his opinion, but never back much of it up. Fact: he'd already fought his wars twice over and wanted no part in them now.

     One by one, each Roach started to step away from the hot blonde whose tits were was now shaking while she cried and sobbed next to her unconscious boyfriend. The bar sure could become a place for hot torso action in a hurry. Bobby was the first to walk away and as he did he made a clicking sound with his tongue and tapped Pop Tart on the shoulder and Pop Tart tapped Mickey on the shoulder as he walked away and Mickey tapped Two Step and Two Step tapped Fitz on his shoulder and the whole group stepped over to the bar to finish their beers before walking back out into the street. They slapped each other good and bounced around feinting punches and carried on quite a bit as they bid Grant farewell.
     "We'll see you later, ya grumpy stump!"
     "Yeah, why you gotta be so crotchety? We barely got to know the fella!"
     "Save us our stools!"
They laughed and went out the door and left Grant surveying the mess left behind.


     "Ya'll see the eye pop out his head?" Fitz said as the crew made their way down Hubert Street. They moved together like an unrehearsed street performance, each at a unique speed, with varying levels of attention to their forward direction. Two Step dragged a beer coaster along the building walls as they walked. The thin, rounded pad of pressed cardboard bent and flicked as it ran across gaps, indentations, and depressions, giving a pfffft pfffft sound as pieces of itself flaked off leaving a trail behind them.
     "His eye didn't pop out his head. What the hell are you even saying?" asked Bobby. Bobby walked out in front, like always, his eyes darting from faces he saw in windows to other noticeable things happening along the way. He memorized locations of doors. He knew every alley and cross street extension and just about every bar with a backdoor leading into them. For the past four years, Bobby remained the unelected leader of the Roach Street Crew and all the other members remained silently okay with it. He was their de facto frontman; the guy who could brain his way out of most things, but also had the scrap needed to handle what couldn't be handled smartly.
     "I'm just sayin, it looked like his eye popped out. From where I was standing," Fitz replied. "Eyes do pop out yannow," he added.
     "Cheesy crust, your mutha musta butt-fucked a dalmation to have a dip-shit like you for a son, you spotted mutt," Two Step badgered. Everyone laughed, including Fitz.

     The boys continued walking. It was nearing seven Thursday evening and the city was becoming alive with the buzzing energy of a horde of other humans exploring the myriad local businesses with open signs in their storefront windows. Families entered restaurants, couples went into bars, women exited one clothing shop only to immediately enter another, men disappeared into strip clubs never to be seen again. The city life was kicking into gear and the Roaches were just getting started. A commotion could be heard across the street and the gang all turned and looked. On the sidewalk opposite of them, about a block back, an elderly Asian couple began arguing. The man, who appeared to be in his sixties (according to Asian aging standards, but really, who can honestly tell) was wearing a white apron over black slacks and an olive colored dress shirt. Grasped in his right hand, which was currently held high above his head and being used as an exclamation to his sentences, was a three foot beef stick. The end wobbled back & forth in the air as the man waved it angrily at the woman, who in turn was giving it right back to the man. Together, the obnoxious level of their verbal assault rang out like a war song being played at high speed. Foreign sounds and syllables bounced and echoed off walls as passerbys paused to watch and listen.
     "They sure get animated when provoked," Fitz remarked. Bobby and the others nodded. "Sounds like pots and pans being thrown everywhere." Everyone laughed except Mickey. He stood with his hands buried in his pockets and his back pressed up against the wall, not really paying attention. Bobby noticed.
     "Mickey, what's got you buggin?"
Mickey shrugged and looked off in an opposite direction. Bobby stepped over and got right in his face; their noses nearly touching. He stood there, staring deep into Mickey's eyes. The exchange of warm breath could be felt on their faces. Mickey stared back... hard.
     Bobby clicked his tongue and whispered, "Hey Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind... hey Mickey."

Mickey cracked a smile and shoved Bobby away. "Back the hell off, you lunatic."
Bobby laughed and turned back to the action. The crazy Asians were still bickering in the street; the beef stick still flopping obscenely in the air.
     "This is ridiculous. They've went through the alphabet a hundred times already," Bobby remarked.

     The rest of the crew watched as Bobby crossed the street and made his way over to the arguing Asians. Without hesitation, he grabbed the beef stick from the old man's hand and started bouncing like a gorilla back across the street while waving the meat up and down with one arm, beating his chest with the other and making loud gorilla sounds. The couples' bickering ceased immediately as they watched gorilla boy make off with their beef. The old man stood completely frozen, dumbstruck by what just occured, but the old lady snapped into action and chased Bobby out into the street yelling foreign expletives at him. Bobby spun around to face her and the woman stopped dead in her tracks. They stared at one another for a brief moment before Bobby held the beef stick out in front of his crotch with both hands, wiggling it as if inviting her to take it.  
     The angry Asian lady immediately lunged for it, but with the quickness of an NFL kicker, Bobby punted the piece of meat as hard as he could. It split in two: one half went flipping wide right while the other half soared high into the air and made a rubber slapping sound as it bounced and smacked along the city street. The cacophony from the original argument ended and was replaced by laughter from the Roach Street Crew. Bobby looked down at the oriental and grinned. She looked around at everyone looking at her and then over at her husband who still stood motionless in defeat. Having had enough, she hissed disapprovingly at Bobby, yelled a few more quick curses and retreated back to her husband. Bobby replied by clicking his tongue and sauntered back across the street to rejoin his crew who greeted him with high fives and shoulder slaps and a bottle of whiskey.

     "Dude, did you see the look on Mr. Miyagi's face when you nabbed his beef?" asked Pop Tart excitedly. "He just stood there like a dumb fuck... no clue what to do!" Everyone was laughing. Bobby stole a quick glance over his shoulder as though to make sure the situation had indeed ended, and then turned back to his crew.
     "Alright... alright... calm yer nuts, okay? How about we go see Miss Tits. I feel like getting into it tonight," Bobby said as he took a long pull from the whiskey bottle, capped it and chucked it over to Fitz. Fitz unscrewed the cap, drank it dry, then tossed the empty bottle far down an alley. The faint sound of it shattering into pieces was drowned out by the group's audible excitement of heading over to Miss Tit's place. The night was about to get sideways.


     The hundred thirty year old apartment high rise loomed over the surrounding buildings by several stories and outlived the oldest of them by at least thirty years. Nestled within what the locals called 'The Dirt District', Miss Tits' apartment was squarely situated amidst all the action. Surrounded by low rent government housing and abandoned commercial realty space, her neighbors were the lowest common denominator of junkies, squatters, and broken souls and she fit right in. The foundation cracks that littered her walls were strategically covered with high brow art and other decorations that clearly didn't blend well with the impoverished setting beyond her apartment, but that was the point. Rarely did she need to leave her home. Her entire life existed within these four imperfect walls and everyone she knew always came to her, not the other way around. Things she needed, she always had; things other people needed, she also had. This was the way things in her world.
     The doorbell rang causing her to look up from the cushioned corner of her couch. She placed the magazine she was reading down on the coffee table in front of her and nodded at the street twin sitting across from her while taking another sip from her martini. The street twin rose from where she sat, floated across the living room and answered the door. A parade of hooligans barged in and assembled in the center of the living room floor. The street twin closed the door and strolled past them back to her perch, pulling down her skirt as she walked by. Bobby whistled as he smacked her ass and then proceeded to claim the corner of the coffee table nearest Miss Tits. The rest of the Roach Crew claimed seats wherever they saw fit.
     Miss Tits took another sip from her martini and set it down. Bobby swooped it up, killed it, and smacked the empty glass down onto the table with a charming smile.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Red Glow

"You're the master of whisperers, you're supposed to know everything" - King Joffrey Baratheon

The other night I decided to roam the city streets after hours. During the day, downtown Salem is a stale place, void of anything inspiring to me, but at night it becomes an enchanting forest haunted by the hungry, welcoming to the weary, and foreboding to those who live their lives only in the daylight. I walked up and down each narrow alley, casually, driven by a desire to locate the source of my own existence. I investigated the dimly lit nooks and crannies like a rodent would looking for crumbs. I stood silently, with my face upturned toward the dark sky, while a cool drizzle covered my naked head. I passed by several others; humans of the night lunging in and out of the shadows like ghosts in the making. Those of us who dare to explore the sadness of a sleeping city enter an agreement with each other: the randomness of the night becomes our play thing; our temporary home. And it is up to us to take what we discover and bring it into the daylight for the rest of you to see. Treasures found. Cryptic messages. The fragmented clues of the unborn. It's all there just beneath the surface, past the shadows, echoing within the night. As I was about to leave and travel back home I was greeted by a lone woman, bent inward into her own madness, ranting loudly at a store front. While part of me feels a little guilty for recording her, another part of me is completely fascinated by the human mind, especially when it cracks into a chaos that resembles spilled poetry. Here is what she had to say:


“The heart your father gave me, it’s hollow. My chest is dead like a cracked carcass. I can’t feel this; it’s not going to do anything for me. I have to be loved. I have to love. I don’t have a mate, that’s disgusting. I don’t know what you want. Ya’ll bit me on my scrotums, everything. I needed those. These men and me. I don’t know what you want. Fifteen years they’ve been saying that. I love sin. All these ladies, I don’t know what you want. All these blind ladies that you’re supposed to be singing to. To attract them to you. So I can be loved. Love. I don’t know what you want. You’re invincible; I need you physically. I told you I don’t and I don’t need you and I don’t want you. Invincible. You can’t tell me if you’re going to fucking stay alive or not. I needed you. Write that one down. And that’s not me, I do it natural. I already protected and sealed these baby boys. Literally. I already protected and sealed everyone. You’re trading me. My water is gone because you put a great prostitute on me. She’s eating me dead. Your crumbled bitch. I don’t know what you want. You’re sinning. You can’t tell me which one of you’s are gonna stay alive, that’s my decision. I don’t know what you want. I want your father’s musical heart beating in my big chest with my big breasts. I didn’t say that. My hands. Where’s my bat hands with my red glowing fingertips? My healing power I have to love. I have to. Now I’m dying with three hundred billion people taking it. We’ve already been in four to five boxes. I’m suffocating. I know how I need it, it’s pertinent.  Burgeoning. I don’t know what you want, you’re invincible. I think you’re being judged from ships you’re shrinking me. I can’t collect myself the way you wanted me to. It had to be done one step at a time; that’s how I needed it and now I can’t do anything. What am I gonna be? What am I gonna be, demons? What am I gonna be? I can’t hang out with my family. What am I gonna do? My back is fucking broken. We haven’t fucking… we’re tense as fucking hell man. It’s not funny. You don’t fucking do that to me. And then spread it out. What about me? There’s a bunch of old ladies in here. Look at what you did to me. I had already done all that. I don’t know. These people they have family members. Friends. It’s not only the people in the pictures. You gotta judge. Step in front of the thrones and get judged.”

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hearts (a short story)

     "I haven't been to my blog page in some time. Heck, I can hardly remember what it looks like. I'm not even sure if I ever renewed my domain name, so for all I know my site is now just a broken web link lost among countless others. I think my last entry was a short story about an ugly bartender who blew one of her customers during a smoke break," Harold said while taking an unusual length of time sorting through the cards held in his hand. The remaining three people at the table just sat there watching and listening, impatiently.
     "I met a girl on Tinder," Harold continued. "A local writer here in town. Published three novels all on her own! I was impressed right off, you see. We spent our entire first encounter discussing favorite authors and books. We explored the ins and outs of what it's like to self publish. She was a deep well of knowledge and experience in that area. A real turn on, you see."
     Harold finished arranging his cards and looked up. "Are we ready?" he asked while peering around the table. His fingers were already sliding a card up from his fan.
     "If you got the 2 of clubs, just lay it down already. For crying out loud, Harold," the man sitting across from him said, the fingers of his free hand tapping the table top.
     Harold slid the card out and laid it down onto the center of the table. It was the 2 of clubs. "You don't have to be cross, Henry. Everyone here is just trying to enjoy themselves. You get so crooked sometimes, I swear."
     Henry huffed, smacked his fan of cards down and leaned angrily away from the table. His face reddened and constricted beneath a full set of salt and pepper hair, causing old facial lines and crevices to scrunch together as he shot a hard stare at Harold.
    "You take forever!" Henry bellowed. He continued, "You sit there messing with your cards, telling your stupid little sex stories that none of us want to hear! You hold us captive, you son of a bitch!" Henry took a moment and calmed himself before muttering, "This is worse than the war, I swear" and motioned for the player next to him to go. She laid down a king of hearts. "Oh, for Christ's sake! You don't have ANY clubs at all?"
     She shook her head no while hiding behind the wall of cards in her hand. Henry smacked down an ace of clubs. The next player laid down the 10. It was back to Harold.

     "It's not like I always talk about sex, Henry. You just selectively hear it. I talk about all sorts of stuff. Interesting things! I'm living life, you see, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with the table. I look forward to card night." Harold had a way of over-using the phrase 'you see' and it infuriated Henry. Every time the words were spoken it was like a knife twisting into old Henry's side, and it made him writhe within his chair. Harold continued, "And by the way, I never said I had sex with that woman from Tinder. If you must know, we didn't even make it past our third encounter. She was sort of stuck on herself and I don't think I could get past it."
     Harold never called a date a date, they were always 'encounters', and he encountered women often. He was 42, divorced twice, and had recently discovered the world of online dating while reading an internet article on the Huffington Post. Within a week of reading the article he had created three separate profiles on three of the most popular free dating sites. The daily inundation of BINGS, BEEPS, and BLIPS from his cell phone, alerting him of new messages from women, were a welcome spark in his life. In the pre-online dating days, Harold kept his phone on silent mode because it annoyed him, but now every alert he received could be heard by one and all. They were his audible badges of honor and he wore them proudly.
     And my, how old Henry hated them.
     "Turn off your goddamn cell while we're at cards, Harold! I'm telling you for the last time, turn it off!" Henry's anger increased with each new hand that was dealt. The fact that he even allowed this forty year old boy seated across the table to get to him, incensed him further. Memories of a long, hard life flooded back. "Little shits like this don't know," he thought to himself. He could feel his old bones ache as his temper swelled. He clenched his free hand into a fist, then relaxed it. His eyes focused on the queen of spades in his hand and he let out an indiscernible string of curses. The lady to his left spoke out.
     "Henry, it's alright. None of us here mind, now do we?" she asked while glancing at her table pleadingly. By this time the attention of other tables in the Activity Hall had already turned in their direction. The bridge table was nearest to them and the players seated there made no effort in hiding their disgust. Repeated glances and whispering made that obviously clear.
     "Sure, Henry, we just want to play cards," the other lady added shyly.
     Harold's cell phone beeped in two quick successions. Henry burst out of his chair and reached across the table for it, but Harold quickly grabbed onto his wrist before he had the chance to take it away.
     "Let go of my phone, Henry. LET IT GO."
     "There are women at this table, you inconsiderate little shit!"
     "And that is relevant how? Now let go of my damn phone, Henry!"
     "I will not."
     The sound of chairs sliding could be heard as a few men at other tables stood up. A few women gasped audibly. The two men at the hearts table remained locked in battle; one standing, the other still seated, their arms competing over a phone. The two lady players sat perfectly erect with cards still fanned in their hands, unmoved by the scene playing out before them. Whether from fright or uncertainty of what to do, they remained motionless like two atomic bomb test mannequins waiting for the blast.
     The devastating blast came via Henry and caught everyone completely by surprise, including himself. As the anger continued building and his 71 year old muscles continued to engage in the prolonged tug-of-war match he unwittingly placed himself into, his body began to turn on him. His traitorous leg muscles quivered under the intense stress and he felt as though he might collapse at any moment. His upper torso trembled as his arm continued pulling at that damn phone. His mind was sharp and strong and continued sending commands to his failing body, but his stomach muscles were now beginning to bail on him. His back turned to sweat and he could feel his heart pumping fiercely inside his chest. His thoughts drifted momentarily to his latest medical exam and to his doctor warning him, nay, urging him to avoid strenuous activity due to the weakened condition of his heart. The words struck hard and snapped Henry back into the moment. His chest burned and clenched. Several gentlemen his age were now standing right there at his table. They were mouthing things and using their hands for punctuation, but his hearing had been replaced by a long drawn out tone that sounded like number 3 pressed on a cell phone.
     Ah, the cell phone! His mind jerked back to attention and his eyes refocused onto Harold's phone. He still wanted it. He wanted it more than anything he'd ever wanted his whole life. In one final, visceral attempt at victory, Henry gave it everything he had and pulled hard against Harold's hold on him. There was a a terribly loud popping sound as Harold's grip failed and he watched his cell phone slip away within Henry's hand. The popping sound continued as Henry's newly freed body weight sent him sprawling backwards against the wall. He hit with a loud thud and slid down to his ass where he sat in a heap, breathing uncontrollably. As the popping sound ceased and his senses began to return, Henry now noticed the disgusted looks on people's faces as they slowly stepped away from him. The floor suddenly felt like warm mashed potatoes beneath his butt and the smell of shit instantly overtook him. The popping sound happened twice more as he felt the last few squirts of excrement exit his bowels and enter his pants. He heard one of the ladies at his card table mutter, "Oh dear, now he's gone and done it." Harold sat motionless at the table. He also sat phoneless.
     Still lying on the floor in his own evacuated shit, Henry looked down at the cell phone in his hand and smiled. The smile turned to a long drawn out laugh as he realized he had won. And at the height of his victory celebration, the cell phone beeped three times in succession. And it was Howard's turn to smile. And Howard's smile quickly turned to laughter. The rest of the activity room grew uncomfortably quiet as Henry reached down, undid his belt and unzipped his pants. Harold stopped laughing as he watched Henry slowly and methodically take the cell phone and slide it into the depths of his pants.

                                                                  THE END.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rags To Riches (a short story)

(WARNING: Explicit Content)  

 It was 8:37 and she still hadn't shown. Kenneth sighed, looked up from his phone and watched as the bartender made her usual swipes across the bar with a damp terrycloth towel. It was knotted up into a ball and looked stupid in her hand as she slid it back and forth in figure eight motions, cleaning nothing. Her half-ass attempt at cleaning infuriated him as he took another drink and continued watching. She appeared disinterested in life. The clothes she wore were trademarks of hard times and her hair was tied back in a simple ponytail as to avoid any effort at making herself look pretty. Forty years of alcohol had not been kind to her face and her attitude towards customers was irreverent at best. Basically, this bitch was one bad moment away from losing her proverbial shit.
     "I can't take it anymore. You're killing me here, Janice."
     Janice set her balled up rag aside and walked over. "Whattaya need there, Kenny boy? Nutha fountain?"
     "No, I do not need a 'nutha fountain'." Kenneth said using a girl's voice as he pronounced 'nutha fountain' mockingly. This was exclusively a Janice phrase and it too infuriated him. For as long as he'd been coming here she had always referred to the pouring of beer as pouring a fountain. "What I need is for you to use that rag as a normal person would. Can you do that, Janice? Can you not knot the rag up when you clean? I mean, is it even possible?"
     Janice glanced over at the rag. It was still balled up tight. She looked back at Kenneth.
"You think you got it all figured out, donchya. You're one of those smarty fart wise asses who think they're better than everyone else. Ain't ya?" Janice walked back over and picked up the rag and slowly unraveled it. "Well lemme tell you sumthin, Kenny boy. I got your number, mother fucker. Yeh, that's right. Every night you sit there in that bar seat drinking alone, and every night I watch you pretend to text people on your expensive little smart phone there, hoping to avoid anyone noticing just how alone you are. And tonight you got stood up again. That's the third time in two weeks. You think I'm too stupid to notice things? Well you're wrong, asshole. And I can clean this goddamn elbow rest however I want. You hear me?"
She walked down to the far end of the bar and started cleaning again. Kenneth watched as she swiped back and forth lazily, this time with the rag spread out flat like a normal person would. He turned and stared at his beer. He looked down at his phone and pressed the home button... zero new text messages. He opened his message history and scrolled through the texts that Rachel had sent him. He read them all, it didn't take long. She spoke in abbreviated thoughts and kept her intentions hidden well. Their correspondence played out like a bingo hall romance. Each message was neatly trimmed of any importance and all nonessential letters were omitted for sake of brevity. He re-read her last text that said she'd meet him at the bar at 7. She added a sideways smiley face and the words ‘can’t wait’ with an exclamation point.
Frustrated, he exited their message archive and opened his dating app. After logging in he navigated to her profile and looked at her collection of pictures again. She was gorgeous. Her complexion and make-up was perfect in every pic, as was the long black hair that hung straight down around her face, the ends of which just brushed the top of her ample breasts. In one pic she even bent forward and pursed her red lips which opened up her cleavage for all the online dating world to see. Kenneth sat staring at the digital picture for some time. He focused on the curvature of her tits and how her skin rounded backwards into her blouse, gently disappearing into darkness. He reached down and adjusted his pants to make room for his growing erection. He imagined himself on top of her naked body, lost in a moment of misfired passion and pent up sexual energy. His lips formed a little O as he pretended to suck on her nipple. His excitement grew.
“Hey lover boy, how bout a nutha fountain?” Janice asked abruptly, appearing before him unexpectedly.
Startled, Kenneth looked up. Janice stood over him with the cleaning rag draped over her arm, popping her gum, her eyes fixed on the glowing screen of his cell phone. Embarrassed, Kenneth hit the power button and the screen went dark. He looked back up at her.
“Janice, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, dawlin’. Ask away.” She set her rag down and leaned onto the bar as though legitimately interested in what he was about to say. Her low cut shirt relaxed and opened up, exposing perky breasts held tight by a turquoise colored bra. Leaning on crossed-over elbows, Janice chewed her gum unromantically and stared at Kenneth while waiting for him to speak. Her make-up appeared to have been applied in an extreme hurry and with complete disregard to beautification. Her eyeliner was thick and her mascara chunky which gave the impression of a woman trying to paint over two eyes that held dark secrets for too long. The color of her lipstick didn’t match the thick layer of blush on her cheeks.
Kenneth took all this in and then spoke.
“Janice, do you ever get… lonely? I mean, not here at work because obviously you’re never really alone here, but you know… out there?” He tilted his head and nodded towards the exit.
Janice stopped chewing her gum and smiled.
“You realize that’s the first serious question you ever asked me before? You been coming here for what, a year now? And through all that time all you ever do is sit there in that stool pining over girls who never show up. And giving me shit about it too, I might add. Every time you get stood up you take it out on me, you realize that? Listen, lover boy, real magic ain’t found in them fake bitches inside that silly phone,” Janice said while pointing. “Those types of girls drive up in their perfect little cars with Dutch Princess stickers in the windows, take one look at this place, and leave. Most of ‘em don’t even sit in the parking lot long enough to turn off the ignition. Those girls can’t even afford the monthly payments on the cars they choose that make them feel better about themselves; cars that they wear like expensive shoes. And here you sit in this beat-up bar, night after night, dressed to impress, waiting for something magical to happen.”
She stood up and removed the empty pint glass from the soggy coaster.
“Can I pour you a nutha fountain?” she asked again, this time in a loud crow.
Kenneth nodded and watched her retrieve a new glass from a plastic drying rack. She turned to the pour station and pulled on the tap. Looking over her shoulder she continued, “Listen, Kenny, there’s a reason you choose this place and not the next bar up the street. Only you can know that reason. Just look around, what do you see?” She turned back just in time to finish the pour. As the foamy head crept up she leaned in and blew it off until everything settled, then turned and placed the beer in front of him.
“There ya go, lover boy, a fresh fountain for your worries. That one’s on me,” she said and walked over to a new patron who just sat down.
Kenneth grabbed his beer and repositioned himself on the bar stool so he could people watch while he drank. Scotter the Otter was standing at the juke box navigating the touch screen menu, his pool cue held tightly in his left hand. His skin tight clothing and greasy slick-backed hair were the reason behind his nickname, but he liked to think it was the way he deftly ran a pool table. The ability to fluidly sneak balls around the others and sink them into pockets with ease was his claim to fame and there wasn’t a single person in the place that could out shoot him. Most of the time he’d just practice running tables all by himself since nobody liked losing to him, but every once in awhile an outsider would venture in and Scotter the Otter was quick to offer up a game.
Danielle always sat next to the pool table where Scotter the Otter was playing. She liked watching him bend over to take his shots; his buttocks stretched his tight fitting pants in a seeming effort to escape them. She was always joined by one or two regulars of the opposite sex; she never sat alone. She enjoyed the company of men, maybe a little too much, and unbeknown to her her nickname was “Well, Fuck” because she was as big as a whale and really liked to fuck. Tonight she sat at her table entertaining three possible suitors, one of which was her ex. He was either too stupid or too drunk to comprehend the current situation, or the fact that she had made quite a scene just the other night when she dumped his ass in front of everyone for not being able to ‘get it up’. And in the blink of an eye his nickname had switched from Half Bow to Half Mast, just like that.
Kenneth chuckled as he replayed the break-up scene in his memory and continued to look around. Most of the regulars were already here tonight as well as many outsiders who were lured in by the Live Music banner on display out front. The place was filling up fast. Every time the door opened he would quickly look to see if it was Rachel showing up late, and every time it wasn’t, his disappointment grew a little more. He checked his phone again… zero messages. He looked at the time… 9:07. He was now officially stood up. Again.
Feelings of dejection started to overcome him as two girls suddenly appeared from nowhere and squeezed their way next to him, pushing for a spot at the bar so they could order some drinks. Kenneth immediately picked up his phone and pretended to be texting someone. The girls were already a bit buzzed from where ever they just came from and giggled together playfully while holding onto one another’s arms. One of the girls bumped into Kenneth and apologized to which he replied “no problem” without even looking up. Janice walked over and took their drink order.
“Whatta ya having, ladies?”
“Two Bud Lites and two lemon drops, please.” The girls replied in unison.
“Two fountains and two sucker punches, coming right up.” Janice spurted back.
Janice reached across the bar and pressed the off button on the phone in Kenneth’s hand. He looked up angrily. “The magic ain’t in there, lover boy, so stop pretending it is,” she said and walked away. When she got to the pouring station she looked back over her shoulder, nodded towards the two girls standing next to him and shot him a ‘what are ya waiting for’ look. Kenneth shook his head stubbornly and Janice sneered. Upon her return she set all the drinks down and tallied the amount.
“That’ll be sixteen bucks there, Double Mint Twins.” Looking at Kenneth, Janice continued, “Say, do either of you girls happen to drive a brand new Nissan Pathfinder with terrific rims and a pink Dutch Princess sticker in the window?”
“I drive a new Monterro Sport with a pink sticker!” the girl closest to Kenneth excitedly replied.
Janice smiled. “Say, have you met my friend Kenny? He just bought you this round.”
Kenneth shot her an extremely disapproving look but quickly concealed it as the two girls turned toward him. In pure drunken showmanship, they both fondled Kenneth on his arm and shoulder, thanking him protrusively while slightly slurring their gratitude. They were young and pretty and their purses glimmered from all the sequins. Their make-up and hair was perfect and the clothes they wore matched that of Kenneth’s. The three of them were definitely dressed to impress.
“That was really nice of you!”
“Yeah that was, thank you! This place is sort of ghetto. You come here often?”
“Do you know what type of music will be playing?”
“Hip-hop I hope. Oh god, look at what she’s wearing…”
“Oh, that’s just nasty.”
“Gawd, that girl is busted.”
“So is the bartender. Look at her skirt… it doesn’t even match her top. And her stockings have runs in them!”
“Do you come here often?”
“There isn’t a single guy in here worth fucking.”
The two girls went on and on complaining about this and that, judging everyone and laughing at their underprivileged, bar-going counterparts. Kenneth simply sat there listening, observing, saying nothing. His eyes moved down their bodies as he checked out their exquisite legs exposed by short skirts that fit tightly, showing off the curves of their asses. He wondered if they even bothered wearing panties. He chuckled as he compared them to Well, Fuck and considered how these two girls were basically cut from the same mold, only theirs was five sizes smaller. Their tight-fitting v-neck tops revealed the young breasts beneath, enticing stares from every corner of the bar as they constantly giggled and touched each other teasingly. They enjoyed being the center of everyone’s attention. Kenneth felt angered as he watched them down the drinks which he got tricked into paying for. As hot as these girls were, he had no interest. After awhile, they too lost interest and left the bar without so much as a goodbye. Kenneth turned back around in his bar stool and faced his beer.
“So, lover boy, did ya score a few numbers?” Janice asked as she lifted his beer and swiped with her balled up cleaning rag.
Kenneth stared at the knotted rag in her hand. “Goddammit, Janice, you and that stupid fucking rag!” was all he could say. She stared back at him.
“I take that as a no?” Listen, it’s not my fault they weren’t your type. Hell, they looked your type.”
Kenneth shot her another look of disapproval. Janice yelled at the other bartender that she was taking a smoke break and turned back to Kenneth.
“Meet me around back behind the smoking area. Use that door over there,” she said pointing and disappeared through the swinging kitchen door.


Out back, Janice stood leaning against a stack of boxes smoking a cigarette. Off to the side a door opened and Kenneth’s head appeared. He looked around, saw Janice, and slowly made his way over next to her. She had her free arm tucked under her smoking arm and a jacket draped over her bare shoulders. She looked like an over-aged hot mess of a woman, but Kenneth didn’t seem to care. She motioned for him to sit on the stack of pallets next to her, which he did. She moved directly in front of him so that they were eye to eye. Still smoking, she reached forward with her free hand, unzipped his pants and pulled out his dick. She played with it in her hand for a minute, rolling it around and squeezing it until it became hard, then she leaned forward and began sucking. She held her lit cigarette off to the side while she worked it, taking an occasional break from Kenneth’s cock to take a drag, then going right back to business. Smoke billowed out from Kenneth’s crotch as Janice continued sucking and exhaling to completion. After he climaxed, she stood, turned, and spit. Kenneth remained seated, immobilized and panting heavily while she finished the remaining drag of her cigarette. Having finally regained his composure, Kenneth zipped up.
“My face is numb,” he said rubbing his cheeks.
“Good,” replied Janice as she snuffed out the butt on the pallet he was sitting on. She turned to go back inside and as she reached the corner she stopped and looked back over her shoulder and said, “A sixteen dollar blow-job from a 47 year old alcoholic bartender on her smoke break… now that’s magical, lover boy. Come back inside; I’ll pour ya a nutha fountain.”

                         THE END.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Grenade (a short story)

      Alison tilted her head back and held the dropper steadily above her left eye as she pumped the gas pedal repeatedly to keep the car she was sitting in from stalling. The revving motor created a gentle sway to which she timed perfectly with each squeeze of the hollow rubber handle. She seldom missed. After applying several drops to each eye, Alison screwed the dropper back into its glass port and returned it to her purse. Using the rear view mirror, she dabbed her eyes with a small swath of tissue. She noticed Shawn standing across the parking lot, on the sidewalk hugging the building, sheltered from the drizzling rain by an overhang that ran the entire length. His arms were outstretched, pumping up and down, and looked as though he were comparing the weight of two imaginary objects.  He was mouthing something in her direction. She cracked her window.
      "Leeeet's go, already!" "C'mon, let's gooooooo!"
He stopped yelling long enough to snatch a smoke from his inside pocket, light it and take a drag, before resuming his verbal commands. Alison watched his dumb ass for a moment longer before finally killing the car's ignition. The gas needle left the 1/4 mark and disappeared beneath the horizon. She checked her eyes one last time in the rear view, grabbed her purse, and made a b-line to where Shawn was standing.
      "Hey, fuck face," she said, "why you gotta be so rambunctious?"
      Shawn took a drag and exhaled slowly. "S'bout time! I been waiting in the rain here forever, fool."
Alison peered through the mostly empty parking lot. She looked back at Shawn and noticed a strange stretch across his face. It was like it was never there before, but she couldn't be too sure.
      "You're a goddamn liar, Shawn."
      "Whatever, come on, let's get a drink already."
They walked past several storefronts until they reached Jerico's Bar. Alison stopped to clean her boot bottoms on the rubber mat and reached for Shawn's shoulder for balance, but he opened the door and disappeared inside without hesitation.
      "Shit head!" she called out to him as she reached for the door frame instead.
Inside, Shawn was already seated at the bar and waiting for his first beer. Alison slid into the stool next to him.
      "You order one for me?" she asked. Shawn shook his head no. "Asshole," mumbled Alison as she motioned towards the bartender. "A whiskey, please. Neat."
      The whiskey appeared before her and was placed onto a napkin. It came equipped with a little green stir stick.
      "What the fuck do I need a stir stick for?" she asked aloud in no specific direction. The bartender had already moved away. Shawn looked over and shrugged.
      "Maybe to prop open your pussy later?"
      Alison sneered. "What does that even mean anyway? You make no sense, Shawn. None." She stirred her whiskey and took a hit. "Hey, how are my eyes?"
      "A BEER, sir! Can I get that beer already?!" Shawn yelled across the bar. Embarrassed, the bartender hurried over to the tap, poured a PBR and rushed to where they were sitting. He set the pint down on a coaster causing some to spill over and run down the glass. "My apologies, I completely forgot. I'm truly sorry," he said before wiping the spill with a cloth and walking away.
      Shawn took a long pull of the cold beer. Alison sat and watched. His adam's apple bounced and lurched with every gulp and his throat looked as though it were writhing in pain. He set the beer down half full and belched.
      "Um, nice. So, how are my eyes, pig?" Shawn looked at her.
      "What do you want me to say? For fuck's sake, I dunno... they look like... eyes," he said while flipping his hands out to the sides. "Besides, I'm hungry. We should order food too," he added and started looking for a menu.
      Alison griped a few choice words as she stood up and slid out behind the tall, wooden stool. She reached in and took another sip of whiskey, this time removing the mini straw and placing it along the edge of the napkin.
      "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to the bathroom. I'll check my own eyes, thank you very much." She started walking down the length of the bar, stopping when she noticed a stack of menus. She grabbed one and slid it down to Shawn. "Order me a fucking steak and prawn, would ya?"
      Shawn reached for the menu and nodded.

      Alison wasn't even a third of the way into her steak when Shawn finished the last bite of his meal. He wiped his mouth and surrounding beard and mustache clean, crumpled the napkin, tossed it onto his plate, and slid the whole thing forward. He nodded to the bartender. "Another PBR, please."
      "Wow, you really finished that food quickly. I have NEVER seen anyone eat that fast before."
      Shawn turned toward the voice. It was a pretty, blonde haired woman. She too, was eating. The man seated next to her was not, but was leaning in on his elbows while caressing a pint of beer between his hands. The neighboring blonde continued.
      "I bet you could do real good in one of them eating contests!" she giggled, pleased with her conjecture.
      Acting uninterested, Shawn acknowledged her with a "yeah, I guess so" while Alison rolled her eyes and continued eating her steak. She'd seen this whole bit with dozens of pretty girls before in dozens of other bars; each one hoping to end their evening by fucking Shawn's brains out. Alison waited for the next brilliant pick-up line by silently counting down with every chew of her meat. It arrived before she even had time to swallow.
      "So, where'd you learn to eat like that? I'm Courtney, by the way," the girl said while extending her tiny hand up and over her bright red purse. She wore rings on her fingers and bracelets that made clanging sounds against her wrist. Her hair was straight, medium length and hugged the sides of her smiling face. She had poofy bangs and her lipstick matched the redness of her purse. Her blouse was see-thru lace and a red skin tight shirt could be seen beneath. It was low cut, exposing her soft tits. Tight jeans and black boots completed her attire.
      Shawn took her hand in his and squeezed it lightly. Without thinking, he quickly answered her question.
      "In the Army. I was a Ranger. We learned to eat fast, kill faster, and fuck hard."
      Alison shot a him glaring glance and nudged him hard in the side. Shawn ignored both. She leaned in.
      "You are un-fucking-believable," she whispered, half smirking. "I can't believe I even know you."
      The blonde girl's interest in Shawn increased immediately as she turned more to engage him, completely abandoning her purse and plate of food, but before she could produce her next sentence the man seated next to her spoke out. He was still leaning forward on his elbows grasping his beer, but shifted and slid one arm in the blonde's direction as he spoke around her as though she didn't exist.
      "2nd Battalion right here, brother. Let me buy you a drink." The man raised his hand and snapped his fingers loudly, then pointed at Shawn. "Sir, I'm buying this man another one. Oh, and another for me if you don't mind, thank you." The bartender nodded and immediately served them a round. The man held up his own beer and motioned for Shawn to do the same.
      Shawn thanked the man, held up his beer and took a gulp in unison. He set his beer back down and turned nervously back to Alison.
      "You get no support from me, you dumb fuck," she said quietly. "Why on earth did you say that?"
      "I.. I.. I don't know. I just blurted it out without really thinking," Shawn replied even quieter.
      "Yeah, well, you better do some quick thinking... because he's coming over."
      The man walked over and stood with his beer in hand, partially wedged between Shawn and the pretty blonde (who was now visibly flustered by the sudden turn of events). Still ignoring her completely, the 2nd Battalion Army Ranger spoke again.
      "I'm back from deployment: Iraq and Afghanistan. State-side for the first time in over a year. Fuck, it feels good. What about you, brother? Where did you tour? Which battalion?"
      Shawn fumbled through his thoughts. His throat grew tight and his hands clammed up. He spun his beer anxiously in circles. He'd been in this situation countless times before, but always with women, never with a full grown, battle-hardened soldier asking questions he could not answer. His thoughts jumped from being slammed against a wall and punched repeatedly to the smell of the blonde girl's hair and the taste of her skin. He wondered what type of panties she wore, if any at all. He wondered if the sex was even worth the lie he told in order to try and get it. She was probably a bore in bed; a total snooze. One of those girls who cringe at the thought of sucking dick, but love to get eaten out. Karma certainly was a dirty bitch, and he definitely invited it in this time.
      Still punch drunk and swimming in an endless dream, Shawn slowly raised his head and met the man's eyes for the first time. They were deep brown, and his stare, intensely unwavering. He stood powerfully over him; a tight Affliction t-shirt contouring to a muscled body beneath. A 75th Ranger Regiment tattoo could be seen peeking out from underneath his sleeve. Below it were other tattoos- all portraying scenes of chaos and violence. Shawn almost managed a chuckle thinking about the dangerous frailty of his situation.
      "Fucking karma, I swear," Shawn mumbled incoherently as he drank more of his beer.
      "Didn't catch that," the man answered back.
      "He said, 'fucking car won't start'. That's all he's been talking about all night, and I swear, it's starting to rub me raw." Alison stood up and moved in, whiskey in hand. She wore a semi-short black skirt which revealed two gorgeous legs. She loved her legs and considered them to be her best feature, hence the wearing of skirts nearly every day. "I didn't catch your name?" she asked as she placed one of her legs against him.
      "Staff Sergeant Curtis Fletcher, ma'am."
      "Oh, come now, Curtis, you can drop all the military speak. It has taken me forever to train my... friend, Shawn here, of that. You Ranger boys are all the same," she teased playfully while placing her arm around his neck and shoulder. "Always so polite too, I might add. Complete gentlemen."
      Shawn could hardly believe what he was witnessing, but he dared not interrupt. He watched while Alison single-handedly, and almost certainly, saved his lily white ass. In a matter of minutes, Staff Sergeant Fletcher's interest in talking to a fellow Ranger had diminished and was replaced with buying whiskey and flirting with his new friend. They relocated to the far end of the bar and continued drinking and flirting. Shawn watched in disbelief as Alison continued the charade, even allowing herself to be felt up under her skirt. As the heavy petting progressed to a full on "anything goes" make out session, Shawn decided that it was time to leave. He paid his bill, got the pretty blonde's phone number and left Jerico's.

      He sat outside in his car smoking a cigarette and watched as the drizzling rain collected on his windshield and formed a dizzying, opaque shield between him and the outside world. His head still reared from all the alcohol and his mind was numb from disbelief. His cell phone beeped and vibrated several times in the empty seat next to him. He flicked his cigarette, rolled up the window and retrieved the phone. The first text was from mom asking where they were at and if they were coming home for dinner. The second text was from Jenny asking if he was with Alison. A third text from Jenny asking why Alison wasn't answering her phone followed by another text demanding her whereabouts and that he call or text her immediately. Shawn tossed the phone back into the seat and rubbed his face with his hands. He leaned his head back and wondered some of the same things his mother and Jenny were wondering. He knew only a little more than they did. He had texted Alison a few times over the past few hours, but no response. He was already way past the point of worry; he was downright scared now. His kid sister had jumped on a grenade for him, but why? Why would she do that? And what could he possibly tell his mom and sister's fiance about Alison's sudden lack in communication? This was bad... really bad. He cracked the window and fired up another smoke. His trembling hands made the simple task annoying.
      "Where are you, sis?" he said aloud. "Why on earth did you go with him?"
      The realization that he basically abandoned his sister and left her in the arms of a drunk, horny man, suddenly struck Shawn hard. He felt sick and tormented at the thought of what she might be experiencing. She had never even been with a man before. She came out of the closet in her teens and had been with girls ever since, never a boy. And now, because of his stupid endeavors, little Alison was who-knows-where doing who-knows-what with you-know-who. Yanking the door open quickly, Shawn leaned out and started throwing up. After finishing he closed his door and wiped his mouth with his jacket. He picked up his phone and tried calling Alison one more time, but was interrupted by an incoming text message. It was from an unknown number and all it said was, "Fucking karma, I swear."