Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ed Dean

Sam's Club

He walked out of his own life with a bang! The thirty-eight slug made a bigger mess of things than Sam ever did. Despair was his only refuge and he welcomed the comforting darkness with its blanket of self pity.
His chosen vehicle for his long ride on the highway to hell was greed. It started so long ago that even he never knew when it started but it always gave him a warm comfort in his own insecure world.
At an early age Sam collected things of all sorts. He hid them under his bed, in the closet and the basement. Just knowing that he had many things empowered him.
When Sam went to college he collected friends and favors. Classroom notes and term papers were his commodity of the day. He expanded his loner personality bit by bit. Finding obscure term papers to offer his classmates, from the archives of the university library was his forte, though the recipient never knew they were stolen property. Sam learned to relish the ease of his duplicity.
After graduation his offer from a major brokerage firm was the ideal venue for self promotion. His astute eye and ear allowed him to collect ideas and techniques. Over time of observing and listening, he learned the art of the deal! Most every stock the brokerage house was touting, he shorted.
The manager pushed and prompted the brokers. “ABC, ABC; guys. Always be closing! Some of you are wasting too much time with some of these stiffs. You gotta qualify better. Know your mark before trying to set him up. Let’s get those sales and cash register flowing, will ya? Make them bleed for the need of greed. It’s so damned easy. Everybody wants to be rich but we want to be richer!”
The scene was no different at Morgan Stanley or Goldman. Dreams and money were in play and someone needed to collect them. You only needed to get a tiny piece of their pies but tens of thousands of crumbs makes one sweet deal.
Sam and his fellow brokers were living a Chinese parable of; ‘A little from many grows to much for the chosen few.’
Collecting women was no different than collecting things. His lifestyle and trappings far outweighed his lithe stature and common looks. Women were no different in feeding from the same honey pot than the guys. Flashy cars, elegant restaurants and jewelry were always payment in kind for bad sex and uncaring relationships but most women knew innately the one thing they controlled was their own emotional honey pot. Love was a foreign substance that Sam was never privy to. He understood the concept but never drank its intoxicating liquor. In his mind it was classified as a controlled substance far more dangerous than any drug he knew. He desperately wanted to partake but didn’t know how.
His choice of Helen was a calculated gamble. Her family was well connected in the upper echelon of the moneyed power brokers. Their mutual wayward mental focus gave way to a marriage made in hell.
Affairs became a tit-for-tat scenario but at the country club they were always showered with the title of the ‘golden couple’.
The years were kind to his deceit. Over time, Sam and Helen pursued the ultimate human collection; progeny to extend their dominance over their part of the planet. Children were simply an easy group of collectibles; managed, controlled and a necessary asset for the Christmas card picture.
Later life brought him a collection of companies and O.P.M. (Other People’s Money). In getting more and more, there was always a higher and higher escalated gamble but Sam learned to eliminate most risk by cheating. It came easy and in waves. A brisk commodity of insider trading and information finally gave way to ‘the big lie’ which was always believable to his gullible needy and greedy customers. Everybody wanted to be a member of Sam’s Club. ‘Some’ was never enough and the difference between million’s and billion’s was power and glory. It was also the difference between success and ‘because I can’.
The day the markets and Sam’s Club crashed, the S.E.C. and Feds were breathing down his neck. His paper empire smoldered on the ruined lives of his client base.
His attorney advised him to come clean and give back all that he owned to appease the courts. They promised to portray Helen and the children as unwitting victims.
To Sam this was unforgivable nonsense. If he lost his things, he would lose himself. They just didn’t understand. It wasn’t about them, it should always be about him.
Blackness shrouds all mysteries and Sam was desperate to hide. There were a few things Sam was certain of. Good cognac and a .38 magnum were his partnered pair of solutions.

© Edward Dean 2011

Ed Dean grew up in Dearborn and Highland Park, Michigan until being drafted into the army and subsequently into the N.S.A. Having been in sales and marketing most of his life, Mr. Dean is now semi-retired and spends much of his time writing. His own experiences in the military, traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe, and as a wine enthusiast provided much of the background to his book. Mr. Dean has three books in the works, including a sequel to The Wine Thief.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jeanette Cheezum

Miss Emma

I pulled up in the little silver company car. The kids in the neighborhood saw me and ran ahead to tell Miss Emma I had arrived. I never knew what to expect when I came here. Would her children or the caretaker be there? Would Miss Emma be in a horrible mood or just the sweetest thing? I took a deep breath and entered the hallway to her apartment on the third floor.
The door was unlocked; the way it always was when she expected me.
The apartment smelled like cake. That was a good sign. Now I could exhale.
“Miss Emma, its Dotty your favorite nurse.” Silence. “Miss Emma, where are you?”
I began to worry and then looked in all the regular places. Where was she? Maybe she was on the balcony.
Then, I heard the sound of a man behind me. “Can I help you?” He asked.
“I’m Miss Emma’s nurse. We had an appointment.”
“She doesn’t live here anymore.” He looked me straight in the face and thought I believed him.
“Oh, when did she move?” I stood firm.
“Last week.”
I had seen her two days prior. This son-of-a-bitch was up to no good.
“Ah, you must be her grandson, Willie?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
You lying bastard, she doesn’t have a grandson, only granddaughters. “I’ve been driving in bumper to bumper traffic. Would it be okay if I use one of the bathrooms?”
“Okay, lady, but hurry. I have to leave for work soon.”
Someone would have called to tell me. I went through the motions and used the bathroom. Why did the house smell like fresh baked cake? Maybe I’d call the police and see what they thought.
I chose the back bathroom next to Miss Emma’s bedroom. When I opened the door he was there waiting for me.
“Open your purse--”
“This is a med bag; I don’t carry cash or credit cards. My billfold is in the car.”
“You got any drugs in that bag?”
He towered over me and I could smell the sweat and cigarettes seeping through his pores.
“No, I don’t carry anything but bandages and a blood presser cuff. Can I leave now? I have other patients waiting for me.”
He flipped me around and shoved my right arm up behind my back and snatched my bag away from me. It hit the floor hard. That’s when I heard a muffled voice from across the hall.
He opened the closet door and shoved me in with Miss Emma. She sat there with one of her knee socks stuffed in her mouth and a piece of twine about to cut off the circulation in her wrists.
Knowing Miss Emma I could just imagine what she would have done if she could have taken him down. We heard the door lock and the intruder searching through the house. My cell was in my jacket pocket but I waited.
“Miss Emma,” I whispered into her good ear. “Just be quiet until he leaves, and I’ll call the police.”
I began to work on her wrists, but the knots were too tight and I couldn’t free them. Now, did I dare to remove the knee socks? Because she would yell out some profanities that might make him open the door and smack her.
Things were quiet now. I reached over and removed the sock.
“Blah, why did you wait so long? Let me out of here. I’ll kill the ugly beast.”
“The door’s locked. Let me call 911.”
“They better not charge us. I remember one time I had to pay them five dollars because Julia hit 911 instead of 411.”
Lord, help me. Her blood pressure would be sky high. I thought, “How will I code this? The company doesn’t have a code for this. We have to have a code! If Medicare doesn’t get a code, we’ll have to hear about this from Miss Emma for the next five years.”
***
“Thanks officer for letting us out. We’re really lucky he didn’t hurt us.”
“Easy for you to say, my wrists are cut. I’ve peed my Depends and The Young and The Restless has just gone off.”
“Now Miss Emma, you need to calm down. Let’s see what he’s stolen and give the policeman a description.”
“Sonny, I’ll deal with you in a minute. I need to make sure my cake isn’t burnt.”
“She does pride herself on being a good cook.”
“Ma’am, I think she needs to keep the door locked from now on.”
“Yes, Sir, I’ll tell her.”
We found Miss Emma in the kitchen holding a rifle.
“Ma’am, what do you have there?”
“I’m going to get my son-in-law Jerry on the phone and we’re going to find that beast. He was an Army Ranger you know. He’ll take care of it.”
“Hold on! Can I see the rifle?”
“No! A poor defenseless woman has to protect herself. You can’t have it. This was my husband’s hunting rifle. Do you want me to show you the deer heads with antlers? Then I’ll fix us some cake. We can have a nice visit. I don’t get too much company. Just a nurse and she was late today.”
“Well if you don’t mind, Miss Emma, I’ll take your blood pressure and be on my way.”
“Okay, I’ll talk to this nice policeman and you can lock the door on your way out.”

© Jeanette Cheezum 2011

See Jeanette’s Pubit eBooks at Barnes and Nobel, A Bark, A Shell and a Squiggly Tail for children, Big Stories Told Short and Fish Wife for general adult audiences. Coming soon Twisted Branches. You may see where some of her work is published on the About Me page at http://cavalcadeofstars.wordpress.com/ or on the members page at http://www.hamptonroadswriters.org

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sam Raddon

The Soul

In a place where time has no meaning, he sang. He sang to no one but himself as he swam in a world of darkness. The loneliness of being a soul lost in the dark blanket of – not solitude – but a crowded pool of souls left to wander the place of voicelessness.
He often wondered if he would ever leave the compounds of his own mind and travel where his dreams of basking in an endless light danced before his eyes. He played his imaginative pictures across the screen of black tarnished souls like a flipbook.
He knew he was not alone in his dark, cold cell of a world, often bumping against other soft bodied souls such as himself. Having no way to communicate to them other than acknowledging their existence through the physical connection like bumper cars set loose with mindless drivers.
This soul knows that there is a better place waiting for him, but how to get there he cannot fathom. His mind plays tricks on him, giving him the illusion of light after so much darkness.
No one, not even he, can remember where or when he came to be. He lives in a world where time is non-existent. He knows not what a body is other than the form he takes now, and even that is only what he thinks it is – not knowing if he is but a shadow or made of atoms and cells.
Lost in time, in space, in his mind, he drifts. He watches his flipbook of images, believing that a soul lives forever, but in reality, he knows not that he will die.

* * *

The creator wades through her dark pool of souls, knowing that their thoughts dream of worlds they’ll never see, never know, for souls are not created equally. These were handpicked by her own hand to do her bidding. She allows some souls through the passage of endless time to live and die in a body. Human or animal, plant or merely insect, she cares not, for her creations are only for her entertainment.
These souls, these black possessions she uses to create her injustices upon the souls she’s given true life to. Each black soul bounces off of her. Carefully she chooses one, not caring that it has dreams of light or darkness, not knowing that this soul could make or break her mold of being.

* * *

This dark plastered soul, with imaginative pictures of light bringing him out of darkness can feel the creator’s caress thinking it to be nothing but the bodies of surrounding souls. In his mind he can suddenly hear the voice of a woman. Her singing more beautiful than any pictures or sounds he can create.
He imagines that this must be the light he’s been waiting for.
He pulses his body to the rhythm, thinking he’s not alone in hearing the voice. Other souls he can feel are touching him trying to share in the beauty.
The music that only a creator can create turns to screeches and screams. The soul shudders to a stop. The light he had been imagining for an infinite amount of timelessness ends replaced only by images of death and desertion. New images of pain fill his mind and thoughts of believing a soul never dies is replaced with a doubt so deep he folds into himself.

* * *

The creator watches as she tortures the soul in her hand. She had given it life, not the life that some of the other souls were given with bodies, but life in her daunting waist deep pool made for evil magic. She relies too heavily on it, on them, for her strength and she knows it. Not the only creator in her endless infinite world, she fights for respect amongst the others. She regards the others with distaste and hatred believing that they have no right to rule the worlds so close to her own. No matter, she decides taking the last of the black aura surrounding the soul in her hand using it to feed her happiness and her power. Life and death is but one nick in an eternal timeline.

* * *

Feeling the weight of his own death, the soul cries out, something between pain and sadness escapes within his final breath. The countless souls swimming in the voiceless pool, incapable of communication except touch, hear his cry.

* * *

A shockwave of sound pounds the creator, knocking her into the pool where she sinks to the bottom fighting for air, and for the first time in many millennia, she feels a fear stronger than any hatred kindled in the deep recesses of her own blackened soul.

© Sam Raddon 2011

Sam Raddon is a High School English teacher who enjoys basking in the warm Florida sun while trying to inspire himself and students alike. http://samraddon.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Brian Michael Barbeito

Jacob Easton Ellis
(Of Cowboys, Indians, and Columbians)


Jacob went into the interior of the metropolis. He was definitely in an abyss, and had, ‘fallen down a drain’ as it were. But what could he do? Sleep and respite would not have him, and since there was no repose for a soul such as his, he had to tumble on, and though he was floundering, the thought came to him that he could try to learn something.

He spent a lot of time with the urban cowboy, now exiled from the fields. The cowboy had one eye and they walked along always in the bright metropolitan day. Jacob noticed that the dregs of society stretched before them, and this coupled with the hot sun gave him uneasy feeling. Jacob had thrown an empty milk carton at the cowboy. ‘Don’t throw things at me,’ said the cowboy, ‘ cause I only got one eye, and I ain’t gone lose it. I been through too much to lose the last eye. The other eye is glass. I been through a lot. I had my own operation of product in the mountains until the police raided it. And even in the end I never gave into them. I beat it too. I beat it with a good lawyer. But I is in the city now, and lookin’ for a new start. I know that the construction workers is many of them bad. They go to church on Sundays, and they sleep around with lots of women durin’ the week. Me, I left all that- left everythin’ and now I am just a cowboy anarch. How do you say it? An anarchy. I am an anarchy to myself.’ And the cowboy always spoke with his finger pointing, like he was admonishing everyone and everything. Jacob grew tired and soon parted with the strange and often contradictory man. He continued on.

The Indian and Jacob were like kings from different courts. There was a group that the Indian was the leader of and a group that Jacob was leader of, though a reluctant leader. But they met on the bus once, and had reason to talk. They found that they did not quarrel, but instead became fast friends. Jacob talked to the Indian about Carlos Castaneda and the Indian, before disappearing for six weeks at a stretch, explained things such as the time the Indian said, ‘ I carry this bag, and it has matches, and a few other items in it. When you die, and you go to the next world, you will need four things. Always I carry them with me, because death can come at any time. Others are not so far on their healing journey, but I am and I want to be prepared for all things in all ways.’ One day the Indian threw his cigarette off of the balcony. Jacob laughed and asked him why, if he held tobacco in such high regard, did he just do that so flippantly and dismissively. The Indian laughed and made the sign of the cross over the balcony railing as if to bless the discarded filter. Soon when the Indian left to the fields to find his way out of the mire and much that is the cityscape, Jacob found the Columbian.

She was of medium height, and wore high platform shoes, her hair short, and the eyes looked out from under a light brown wisp of hair that was turning a golden hue from the summer sun. They walked and at a street festival she got on a stage and danced. The Columbian had lost much, but tried to stay upbeat. The Cowboy and the Indian had suffered immensely in their own ways, but it was hard for Jacob to see that suffering enormous and dark had come to the Columbian because she was a woman. The cowboy and the Indian also knew her, and Jacob and them had spoken about it often. All she really had wanted was to be happy, to be settled, but she had drawn a very lousy hand. Death and sickness were around her, and would continue to be around her all he days of her life. Yet there she danced, in the bright sun, with rhythm untold of in the Northern Hemisphere. ‘You are our leader Jacob,’ said the Columbian ‘and I would follow you anywhere.’ But the Columbian was only wishing that she could follow. Soon enough, the summer was winding and hints of things autumnal came slowly but surely in those nights.

One night, when they all found themselves so far to the edge of the metropolis that Jacob did not recognize any of the streets, he knew it was time to journey outward again. He kissed the Columbian softly on her pouty lips. To the Indian he yelled a sort of war cry- and the Indian and he laughed at this, - the Indian bestowing his Christian blessing with the sign of the cross in the air again. Jacob shook hands with the cowboy- and asked him to please try and look out for the Columbian, to take care of her and keep an eye on her. Then Jacob left.

Far and far he travelled, beyond the city limits. The vibration of the environs rose, as surely and definitely as the sky was blue or the ground was below one’s feet and not on top. When he reached his destination he took a long shower and got ready to sleep. He would sleep on and off for three days, but it was not a physical sickness he was trying to let the cosmos cure. The past was still on him, like an unhealthy psychic cord- and he could not cut it- but only had to hope it would wear and break through time. So he began the wait for the new season- the autumn, where the colder air might kill the past. The past, well meaning, but like a bacteria living however it knew could. Or like a drowning person grabbing onto another and drowning that person as well. The autumn would come. It always did. He would wake and it’s bright and rich textured hues would be waiting for him just outside- and lead him to a new life.

In the meantime he slept.

And dreamed of wild open spaces in fields covered in shadows and the moon’s light.

© Brian Michael Barbeito 2011


Brian Michael Barbeito writes short fiction. His work has appeared at Glossolalia, Exclusive Conclave of Delights Magazine, Lunatics Folly, and Mudjob. He resides in Ontario, Canada.

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