Taco Tuesday 

 

 

Tuesday afternoon came around. We had planned on meeting up for lunch at Rosita’s. They have the best tacos on the island. The place was beat up. It looked like it was constructed entirely of driftwood and old metal signs. I ordered the Key West Amber. The barkeep wore peach shorts and a denim shirt buttoned low over a nice, tight tank.

“I’ll have a water, no lemon please.” The sound of her voice broke the love spell.

“Sorry, I was…uh…”

“It’s okay. I understand.”

“How are you?”

“I’m good. It has been a rough start to the week, but it’s early and we’ll rebound.”

“I love that about you.”

“What’s that?”

“How you always find hope in the situation.”

“What’s the alternative?”

“No, I get it. I just don’t naturally see it.”

“Are you guys ready?” The barkeep asked.

“I’m going to have the taco plate.” Alice’s voice was overly cheery, bordering on patronizing.

“Make that two, please.” I resisted looking at the barkeep, instead keeping my eyes on the menu. I folded it, handing it to her without ever looking up. I’m sure it was awkward for everyone.

“What’s your name, dear?” Alice asked the barkeep.

“It’s Summer.”

“Oh, of course it is. ”

 

*previously published

Thousand Yard Stare

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It was dark out on the flight deck. The stars and moon not visable tonight. The hum of the Diesel engines mixed with the lapping of the waves. The rest of the guys were inside playing cards. He was sitting on a bullnose, where the mooring lines enter the ship.

He was dirty. The overall grime of shipboard life had taken its toll on his uniform, exposed flesh and general psyche. At this point of the deployment, his blue ‘digital’ camouflage pants were were out of regulations. They had rips, paint splatter and grease stains. No one gave him flack about it. There was no time to focus on those aspects or the means to replace uniforms. It was not important at this point. There was a mission at hand. The priorities were to do your job correctly the first time. Crisp new uniforms would not help you succeed out here. There is a feeling among sailors that those who had time to polish their boots did not have a real job. Admin types and supply personnel usually were the ones with nice looking boots.
“Smitty, you okay man?”
“I’m cool”
“You got that 1,000 yard stare going.”
“Naw, I’m just thinking. I’m fucking tired man”
“Me too.”
“I just want to go home. This shit sucks.”
“I know, I don’t even want to get off the boat in port.”
“Right? Let’s just go back, cut all this short.”
“Wish we could, man. You gonna be okay?”
“Yeah. I’m cool. I’m gonna go to bed soon.”
“All right man, don’t be grabbing chains and jumping off the side.” They both smiled. “We’re laughing, but seriously. It’s not that bad. We’ll be home soon enough.”
“I know, thanks man.”
They went their separate ways. Smitty returned his gaze back out on the water.
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New Year’s Noir

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He parked down the street, facing away from the house. He sat there all night, parked against the curb. He flicked the lid of the Zippo back and forth the entire time. He gave up smoking years ago, but he didn’t give up carrying the lighter. He never stopped playing with that lighter. In years past, the sound would have driven a partner crazy. He gave up on partners, too.

The night was a moonless disaster. He sat in that car, knowing that he couldn’t see anything. He kept his eyes focused and ready on the off chance he was right. He didn’t know anymore. The Captain seemed to have more faith in him than he had confidence in himself. He did as he was told. That bit of trust between the men kept them both alive far longer than either were expected to live.

It was getting close to midnight and he began to feel a bit restless. He checked his mirrors and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The usual trouble makers were out setting off fireworks. There was nothing crazy, merely stuff on the line of bottle rockets and black cats. He knew he could have flashed his badge to scare them off, but he liked the idea of the distraction.

The house was dimly lit on the inside. There were no external lights. He carefully checked the side gate. It was unlocked. He smiled to himself. This might be easier than he thought. He made sure that his position was never given away in the light of the fireworks.

The lights were off and the shades drawn in the windows on the side of the house. He didn’t linger as he went around to the back of the house. The curtains were pulled back, allowing him to see into the living room and kitchen areas. There were no lights on, besides the glow of the TV. He paused, fading into the blackness of the night.

The only sounds continued to be the fireworks.

He walked up to the side of the sliding glass door, trying to keep most of his body out of view. The door was inexplicably unlocked. He was unsure of his good luck. He waited a few seconds after he cracked the door. He heard no alarms or beeps to be worried about.

There was only a few minutes now. Of course there was the possibility of a silent alarm. He knew he had to make things quick once he entered the house. He didn’t see any movement inside. The slight audible sound of the TV was heard as soon as he stuck his head in. He wore an all black outfit. It was a cliche for a reason. His movements were slow and easy. He didn’t need any joints to pop or his shoes to squeak.

There was no evidence of anyone home. He made it to the hallway without hearing anything or seeing anything. His heart began to beat a little faster. He looked both ways and decided to go down the left hand side. That’s when he heard her for the first time.

“I thought you’d be coming for me.”

He froze. Blood left his face. Instinctively, he reached down to his sidearm.

“Don’t.”

“Okay.” He breathed deeply. “I’m not going to.” He raised his hands up to shoulder level with his fingers spread out wide.

“I’m guessing you thought all that noise would let you do this without attracting attention.” He didn’t betray any thoughts. His face remained trained on hers. “Well, I’m counting on the same thing.” He never heard the shot and neither did the neighbors.

*previously published

Just Keep Pouring Me The Coffee

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Just keep pouring me the coffee. I’ll need it to keep warm. The air conditioning is over the top. I can’t handle it. The nights are long and they keep getting longer. I don’t feel the loneliness as much as I used to. But then again, I don’t feel much anymore. I’ve closed myself off from everyone and everything. You cannot save my soul, so please stop trying. I know I’m broken. I’ll probably never get over it. But that’s just the way life is going to be. People swarm around me, but I can’t feel anything towards them. I want to feel something again. I see those young ladies walking around in those short skirts. Yes, I’d like to do dirty things with them, but my tainted soul is no longer for sale.

Deck The Halls

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She made sure the house was cleaner than it had been all year. She scrubbed and cleaned deep into the home’s old wood. A little elbow grease made that place shine like it hadn’t in too long. Bleach and Pine-Sol made sure her effort didn’t go unnoticed. Her old sweat pants and stained t-shirt looked like Cinderella’s rags. She was a mess, inside and out.

She sat back and looked over the house, admiring the place which had been neglected. Work and caring for others had taken priority. She wandered into the kitchen and uncorked a bottle of Pinot Grigio. It had been a rough week and she felt a little relaxation would be nice.

Soon afterward, she retired to her bedroom and scrubbed herself of the grime and sediment of the past. There needed to be nothing left to remind her of disappointment and heartache. She needed to feel fresh and clean for the coming New Year.

The winter season had always made her feel special as a child. The recent past dulled any happiness she might have found. She was determined to change all that. This year she was going to be happy and joyous. She was going to take back her life.

She emerged wearing her favorite holiday cocktail dress. It was a classic blue taffeta. She loved how it fit her. It flattered her figure without being ostentatious. This dress quietly announced her. The perfect heels and pearls completed the ensemble. She felt graceful and beautiful.

She wasn’t going to allow not having a place to wear it this year to keep her from the pleasure of feeling this good. This dress changed her whole outlook. There hadn’t been many moments where she felt good about herself. She made a mental note to change that.

The fire had been carefully built and lit, as well as all the candles in the house. A fresh pine garland was woven along the mantle. She made sure the oversized red bow was tied perfectly upon the front door. Each decoration raised her spirit a little more.

She sat down on a barstool at the end of the counter. The second glass went down smooth. Her spirits began to rise. Spinning the stem in her hand, she thought about her life.

Something stirred inside her, telling her that she had a good life. She was tougher than this and was tired of feeling this way. She wasn’t a victim and she was tired of being treated like one. She knew that she was an intelligent woman. She held a good job. There were men who found her attractive and behaved nervously around her. The thought made her giggle softly.

She poured herself another glass and walked over to her phone on the bookcase. With a few touches, she queued up a waltz. The magic of technology had music playing from speakers throughout the house. She smiled broadly and returned to her decorating. She began to dance around the room as she filled her home with the Christmas spirit.

Once completed, she turned off all the interior lights, allowing the fireplace, candles and Christmas tree to illuminate the room. The coffee table had been removed for the winter to fit the tree. This offered plenty of room for dancing and merriment.

Her soul was glowing. This pure joy had been missing for so long. She knew that she would be okay as long as she could remind herself of the simple joys in life. She could be happy as long as she kept dancing. While she drank her wine and celebrated life all evening, her heels could be heard click-clacking on that hardwood floor.

 

*I forgot to post this earlier in the season. I hope you enjoy.

**previously posted on former blog

The Parlor

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I never knew the real story. I walked in on her in the parlor. It was one of those old homes, where the room could be completely closed off by panel doors. This part of Savannah was full of places like this.

I could tell that she had been crying for some time now. Our eyes locked instantly. I was the first to look away. Her eyes held a hatred that I could not begin to fathom. Her make-up was ruined and streaked all down her face. I had never seen her so flustered. She was always the model of composure. She was proper, almost defiantly so. I never saw her without her pearls on. She said that they were a heirloom, going back generations of buttoned-up ladies. Those weren’t her exact words.

It was a warmer day. I don’t know why she was wearing a coat. I was warm as it was. I loosened my tie. I looked back up at her. I could tell something wasn’t right.

“Are you okay, Charlotte?”

“Why yes, of course they are.” I paused. What was off?

“You don’t look well. Has something happened?”

“Nothing of any consequence. I will be okay.”

That wasn’t what I asked. There was something definitely off. I knew I needed to approach her politely and with caution.

“Hey, do you want to talk?”

“What about?” She had a blank, spaced out look on her face.

“You seem upset.”

“That’s sweet of you.”

I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with her at this point. I needed to step away and give her time to sort out her feelings.

“You have my number. Please call if you feel like talking.”

“Sure, I’ll do that.”

“Okay, good day, Charlotte.”

“Good bye. Thanks for stopping through.”

She walked me to the door during that final exchange. It wasn’t until I heard the locks behind me that I realized I caught the faint smell of gunpowder.

 

*previously posted

Special Ability

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“I have a little known, special gift. I have the ability to see what is beautiful about almost any woman. They are amazing creatures. They inspire the greatest myths and legends.”
“So you objectify all women?”
“No, it isn’t just sexual. I want their hearts and souls, too. When you get all three to align, you find true beauty.”
“You are just using up these women and leaving them broken and alone.”
“Man, you can really suck the passion out of anything. Please don’t be so negative. Listen to what I’m actually saying. I love women. I truly love them for being feminine. They are amazing. I can be that mirror for them to see their beauty from their souls. They don’t want me to be their forever. They use me to gain the confidence to go and lead a happy life. I am merely happy to be of service.”
“I guess I just don’t understand.”
“I guess not.”
“We’ll have to agree to disagree.”
“Apparently.”
*previously published 

Bodega Highway 

 I woke up early to get out there. We met at the scenic overlook, just north of Bodega. It was a little more than a wide spot on Highway 1. It was a cool morning. The fog wasn’t really there. This was more of a mist. I was hoping it would all burn off by noon. I had only thrown a Mexican poncho over my a swimsuit. The verdict was still out on whether that was a wise decision. I was sitting on the hood of my old, beat up Volkswagen. She had seen better days, but we took care of each other. I loved being out here. A lot has been written about the ocean, but I have never read anything that comes close to what I experience. Life slowed to a manageable pace out here. It was peaceful and rejuvenating.

 “You look cold.”

 “I’ll be okay. The sun will come out eventually.” I adjusted my sunglasses atop my head, keeping my hair out of my face.

 “Here, have some of this.” She handed me a capful of coffee from her thermos.

 “Thanks.” It felt good going down my insides, warming me a bit.

 “You’re welcome. Thanks for meeting me.”

 “Always.”

 “How did you ever become the wise one?”

 “I don’t know.” I blushed, fiddling with my keychain.

 “I never would have guessed this growing up.”

 “Me neither.”

We sat there talking about our current lives and the complications in them. We shared the coffee. When we left, both of our souls felt right with the world. The sun did come out that day. It always does.

Sonia


“Are you responsible for her?” They weren’t happy to see her wearing trousers, but I thought she looked superb. I guess her appearance wasn’t their concern. They wanted her to fit into their society’s mold for women. They were uncomfortable with someone who so blatantly defied them. Sonia didn’t give a “rat’s ass” (her words) about their structures. She was Sonia and no one else. She lived by her own rules and no one else’s. She could be infuriating, but I think I loved her.

“Sir, would you be so kind as to speak like a gentleman around the lady?” I gently replied.

“Ladies do not dress as such.”

Before I was able to interfere, she had bloodied the poor gent’s nose. I grabbed her hand and off we ran. She held tight to her sloppy hat. I hated that thing. I never thought it flattered her. It was too big and worn.

Sonia was a little rough around the edges. I knew that. It was fairly clear from the get go. But, there was another side of her. There was a side of Sonia that you would only see when you had her comfortable and feeling secure within herself. She was kind and loving then. It was as if all the outside threats melted away. Her smile was infectious. Sonia was a special girl. I will never forget her and our time together.

I lost her sometime before Berlin. It is difficult to remember exactly where. All of Europe was in chaos. Sonia had strong feelings about the whole thing. I just wanted her, but Sonia had a stronger moral compass. She slipped away to fight her own private war.

There were reports of her joining the resistance in France, Belgium, and North Africa. I believe those were all exaggerated, but some people need to believe in heroes. She could still make me smile from across the world. I didn’t know how to find her. I don’t know if I would anyway.

My life had become dull without Sonia. I typed away at my desk in that same room everyday. The hammering of the keys kept me agitated, but I had no other skills. The world was changing and I didn’t know how to change with it. I felt like I was fading into oblivion without any beauty in my life.

So I just kept typing. I had to get these ideas of freedom out into the world. They were the only thing I could use against the atrocities. I wasn’t the soldierly type. I was a man of words. I hated evil as much as the next guy, but I had to fight them in my own way. I thought perhaps I could transcend the war with my ideas.

On my way out of the office at the end of each day I checked the mail one last time. There was hope in my search. I was never rewarded with any word from her.

The Unmentioned

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“Don’t you understand? That’s why I’ve been so deep into all these stories for so long. The more I read, the less I have to deal with my own life. The more I write the less I have to deal with my own life. I can create these worlds to dilute the reality I’m running away from. Everyone has been so afraid of my addiction to alcohol. What about my addiction to these alternative worlds?”

“Did you figure all this out on your own?”

“Man, I’m trying to be serious here.”

“I know you are, I’m sorry. Why does it have to be such a big deal? Why can’t you read, write, and drink? Where’s the problem? It brings happiness to this life of yours. I’m cool with it. Are you cool with it?”

“Most of the time I think so.”

“When aren’t you content with your life?”

“Well, every once in awhile I think about…about…her”

“Mary? Are you serious? It’s been two damn years!”

“It’s not that simple.”

“I’m more worried about your addiction to her.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“What do you think it means? It has been two years and you’re still thinking about her on a daily basis. Do you really think that is healthy?”

“Hey waitress, can we get another round? Thank you.”

“And you wonder why people think you’re an alcoholic? Are you always going to avoid life with alcohol? When was the last time you went some place?”

“What’s with the twenty questions?”

“I’m just trying to help you out. I’m concerned about you. I know you can have so much more in your life than what you have now. I don’t want to see you give up on living life because one girl didn’t see that you were such a great guy.”

“I haven’t given up. Why do you always say things like that? I was in love with Mary. I’m still in love with her. That may sound lame to you, but it is how I feel. I just haven’t met anyone I want to see more than once.”

“In two years, you have not met even one girl? Are you serious? I could go find fifty girls better than Mary right now. It’s not that difficult.”

“Why do you have to be so mean to her? She never did anything to you.”

“She what? Excuse me, she didn’t do anything to me? Do you not remember how she hated me and wanted you to stop being my friend? Dude, she was psycho. We should have called an exorcist or burned her at the stake. Do you think she would have floated?”

“She was just jealous of how close we are. She felt threatened by our friendship.”

“Well, in that case I should have bought her flowers and candy. Remind me why you’re defending her again?”

“I’m not defending her. I simply want you to understand her better.”

“There is nothing simple about that chick.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you are frustrating to talk to?”

“All the time.”

“It’s understandable.”

“Are you serious, you’ve never met a single girl you’ve been interested in during the past two years? That’s quite a long dry spell, even for you.”

“Do we have to keep going over all this?”

“Just answer the question.”

“Well…actually there was this chick I met briefly. But it wasn’t much of anything. We barely spoke.”

“Was she hot?”

“Yes very much so, but that’s not the point. The way she looked at me. It was amazing. No one has ever looked at me like that before. It made me feel like I was worth looking at. It was kinda like how I felt in college when we used to get all those girls. They used to flock to us.”

“College girls are easy.”

“Will you shut up? Are you trying to ruin all of my confidence?”

“I’ll try my best. Cheers!”

“Cheers. So anyway, this girl was just awesome. We bumped into each other as I was walking into this store. As I was helping her pick her stuff up, our eyes locked onto each other. It was an amazing feeling. Something swept over me. I wanted to talk to her, but she ran away. She seemed embarrassed or something. I couldn’t figure out why she left so abruptly. I’ve been thinking about her some. I wish I could have gotten her number or something. Oh hell, what am I going to do?”

“You’re going to start shopping at that store everyday, huh?”

“I think so, yes.”

“You’re pathetic.”

“Yeah? Well, I hate you, so it’s okay.”

“I know.”

“Well, as long as you know.”