The Sunset: Part III

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The Sunset: Part I

The Sunset: Part II

 

 

 

The writing had started coming out again. The printed output was increasing with each day. A few stories had possibilities for expansion into longer projects. I was feeling good about it. The high altitude air was going for me. I was happier than I’d been in a long time. The need to create something, anything was the burden I woke up to each morning. The completion of that task always made me feel lighter, perhaps made me feel younger every time.

I sat in the one of the upstairs bedrooms. It only had an old desk in it. I moved the bed and the rest of the furniture out. There was a large oval window that looked out into town. I had tacked up with scraps of paper with thoughts on the walls. The room had become essentially wallpapered with endless notes and poems, hardly a spot of paint was visible. I didn’t want to lose a stray thought. You never knew when a lost thought could have been the key to something greater.

I could hear the trains coming into Downtown. The mainline followed the old Route 66 path. Interstate 40 had replaced it years ago, but it didn’t carry the same romantic notions of heading west like Horace Greeley had spoke of. Traditions could be stuffed out with simple changes. The world had changed before we knew we wanted to keep the old stuff. Kids these days don’t know what a dial tone is. It was a scary new world and bravery has nothing to do with it.

I was going stir crazy after being shut up in that place. I had some decent pages written. There were even more notes and scraps pinned to the walls. I started making piles and putting them in baskets for later use.

One day, I noticed I was looking shaggy when I walked past a mirror. My focus had been on the words and making sure they didn’t dry up. I had forgotten about small things like hygiene and sustenance. I noticed that the fridge was bare. I needed to get out of the house. I needed some fresh air to recharge my lungs and to refocus myself. 

I walked down to the garage and found an old powder blue ’68 Beetle. It was dusty and probably hadn’t been driven in a while. I look around and didn’t see many tools or auto parts. The owners weren’t those types of people. My best bet was to see if it would start, then worry about the maintenance it would require.

It took some cranking and I knew I was lucky when the engine caught. I let the car sit at idle for five minutes before I started towards town. It had been quite awhile since I had driven stick, but I figured it out after grinding the gears a little bit. Driving that thing was a lot more fun than I ever remember behind the wheel.

I pulled up at the little mom and pop market on the corner. It looked like it had been there for fifty years. As I climbed out, I realized the backseat wasn’t very big and there was almost zero trunk space. It took me a minute to figure out that the trunk was in the front. I must’ve looked rather dumb out there. I hope no one was watching.

I walked to Geno’s and grabbed a shopping cart. I filled it with the essential groceries, toiletries and found an aisle that had some cheap tools and household items. I was hoping I would find some oil and automotive items. They didn’t have what I needed, so I made a mental note adding that stop to my list. I steered the cart to the checkout.

“How are you doing, young man?”

“I’m doing well, sir. How are you today?” I noticed his name tag said “Geno” on it. That made me smile. Some how that made this town even better.

“I woke up again. How bad can it be?” 

“That’s a good outlook. You own the place?”

“That I do. We opened it almost sixty years ago, my bride and I did.”

“That’s amazing.” Geno finished ringing me up and offered to help me to my car. “No, thank you. I can manage. Besides, it’s not much.”

“Well, I hope to see you around. Have a good day.”

“Yes, I’ll be back. It was nice to meet you, Geno. My friends call me Q. I’m staying at the old Gurney place for awhile. I’ll be around.”

“Oh yeah? That’ll be nice. I knew them well. You must be a friend of James?”

“Yes sir, I am.”

“I’ve known him his whole life. He’s a good egg. I hope you enjoy your stay. It’s a great town. The weather looks like it’ll stay warm for awhile. Nice to meet you, Q.”

We shook hands and said goodbye. I liked this small town and the innocent comfort that it provided. San Francisco was a great city, but it could leave you feeling cold and alone. This was a completely different experience. My impression of Arizona was the arid desert with lots of dirt, cacti and no trees. Here I was seven thousand feet in elevation in the middle of a forest. This isn’t what I expected, but I didn’t know what to expect. I never thought about it.

I drove back to the house and put away my groceries and brewed myself a cup of coffee. It was early afternoon at that point and I was feeling a little sag in my spirits. I sat the small table in the breakfast nook. I stared out at the trees and the mountain slope below the house. It was a great view, I had to admit. 

Back in San Francisco, I always marveled at the power of mankind’s achievements in art and architecture. Here, I was blown away at the majesty of God’s creation. Life and the path to happiness wasn’t that difficult, if only you could stop long enough to realize it. Life was good. Every morning was a chance to be happy. Geno was happy to just wake up. He was grateful for it. I wanted that outlook on life. Maybe I could find it, but I realized that the desire for it was a big step.

I ran my hand through my hair and decided I was too scruffy. I need to go into town again and get cleaned up. My beard had grown out a little too far. Perhaps Flagstaff had a place to get an old school straight razor shave. I never had one of those. 

I pulled out my phone and Googled it. The third entry, The Barber’s Pole, was nearby in the same shopping center as Geno’s. I decided to take a shower and spare the barber the funk I had gathered on my body. It would be unkind of me to go like this. I had a peculiar smell.

After a shower and some clean clothes, I remembered to write a note to get the necessary supplies to change the oil in the Bug. On the back of a receipt I found on the counter I scribbled haircut, oil, filter and beer, just to be thorough.

The Bug started right away again and that put me in a pretty good mood. I was thinking that things might be looking up for me. I was feeling hopeful. The clear mountain air was doing wonders for my positivity. I was not used to it. I had always been a downer. I had always thought the cynical nature was part of my charm. In the recent past, it began to get tiresome. It was exhausting to always be so negative. I felt like I had to play the role and couldn’t get away from it. But out here, I felt free.

The little car sped through the streets. It was a new experience to be that low to the ground. The windows were down and I had the radio turned up to the local rock ’n roll station. I felt like a teenager again. I had fresh energy and a boundless smile.

“You the fella staying at the Gurney’s house?” The lady asked as I walked in. I was taken back for a moment.

“Uh, yes, I am. Word gets around quick, huh?” I said with a smile.

“It’s not that big of a town. It’s difficult to remain anonymous around here for long. Besides, most of the tourists stay over by the university. You sorta stick out over here.” She had a nervous habit of brushing her hair out of her face as she talked. It was distracting and endearing at the same time.

She introduced herself as Sarah Mae, with a soft, mellow voice, just a hint of a squeak. She was uniquely beautiful. I immediately noticed her tattooed sleeve. It was a floral menagerie with a crossed anchor and straight razor as the centerpiece on her bicep. It was magnificently tough. She had short, crimson hair and small rectangular glasses perched on her petite nose. She wore bright red lipstick, the color right out of a vintage Hollywood set. Her earrings were bold, and dangly. Sarah was the Molly Ringwold for the digital age. 

“So, what can I do for ya?” She was direct.

“I don’t know. It’s been awhile.”

“I can tell. Your fades are all gone,” she said as her fingers worked themselves through my hair.

“I guess, just clean it up a bit. I like it a little long, but just not this shaggy.”

We spoke sparingly as she cut my hair. I’ve never been much of talker with strangers. Small talk is downright painful to me. I’d prefer a barber focus on cutting my hair and getting me out of there. Social situations usually make me uncomfortable.

She washed my hair and then offered to put some product in it, but I declined. I left my old Giants ball cap sitting on the passenger seat. This wasn’t spoken of, I didn’t want to offend her by covering up her work. Perhaps I was reading too much into it. I had a tendency to do that.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, Q. If that is your real name?” I blushed.

“Nice, meeting you, too, Sarah.”

“I’ll see you around.”

“Definitely. I think I’ll be here for a bit.”

I stopped by the auto store and back to Geno’s for that beer. I couldn’t forget that. I was going to need some lubrication to keep the inspiration going. The rest of the day was filled with thoughts of Sarah. It felt good to have a woman on my mind again. It had been awhile.

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Nell’s Night

Nell Flynn walked down the dimly lit sidewalk. She looked over her shoulders from time to time. She wasn’t completely comfortable out here after dark, but she didn’t want to give in to the environment.

She thought of herself as a strong, independent woman. She didn’t want to have her life dictated by a patriarchal society. She also wasn’t dumb. Criminals don’t wait to listen to theories before hurting people. Nell was torn between what she believed and the reality of the situation.

It was a sketchy section of the city. Downtown Jacksonville was architecturally mixed with older, red brick buildings and sleek, modern office structures. There was a push to get rid of anything old. An element of the population wanted to tear down the grime and use the land to build up the shiny, new glass-faced buildings. The new buildings tended to bring in more revenue.

If Nell was honest, she didn’t really care either way. She didn’t live down here. She had no skin in the game. She just knew that the fancier areas usually had a larger security presence. Being a woman in today’s world was already dangerous. She didn’t need to risk her life to make someone else’s point.

The coffeeshop was sandwiched between two overpriced gastropubs. She was always amazed by what people will spend their money on. Nell preferred to route her cash flow into other, more permanent passions.

~

Nell removed her glasses and compulsively cleaned them on the hem of her sweater. She didn’t need to locate the people she was meeting. She could hear them before she could see them. They were already loud and obnoxious. The waitress looked annoyed. Nell avoided eye contact and tucked her short, blonde hair behind her ear as she walked past. She threw her book bag into the large, corner booth. She slid into the back and listened to the other writers rant and carry on. Nell wasn’t confident enough to join in, at the same time she wasn’t sure she wanted to. These conversations were going nowhere.

~

“No, I don’t read my own writing, especially not in front of people. What the hell would that prove?”

“It’s all about exposure, man. You have to get your name out there, once people know your name, then they’ll appreciate your words all the more.”

“That makes no sense.”

“I don’t make the rules. I just know how to play the game.”

“I’m sure if I sold my soul, I could gain some notoriety on the internet. But, that’s not what I want. I write to try and figure out something within me. I share it to try and connect with other people who are as confused and searching like me.”

“I’m not telling you how to live your life, man, it’s just a suggestion. You can write. You just don’t seem to know how to market yourself.”

“I’m a Capitalist, yet I refuse to include myself with what I’m willing to sell.”

“Your life. Your decisions, man.”

~

A neon sign buzzed and flickered above her. Nell stared at it and couldn’t look away. Thoughts poured into her brain. She contemplated life and what she was doing with it. She grew frustrated. Looking up at these guys, speaking in theories and other bullshit, Nell felt something let loose within her. She grabbed her book bag and slid out of the booth. The conversation never faltered, even with her sudden movements. She stood at the end of the table, listening.

~

“If I were a woman, I’d guarantee I’d have a million followers, you know what I mean, man?”

“Probably a million stalkers sending you dick pics, too. I’m not sure the tradeoff is worth it.”

~

Nell’s head hurt. These guys had been going back and forth for a few hours now. She wanted to surround herself with intelligent people to help further her own writing. These guys just yelled and tried to outwit each other. Her eyes had rolled so many times they hurt. This might have been what she asked for, but it didn’t turn out to be what she wanted.

Without saying goodbye or anything at all, Nell walked out. It was a mild spring night of Northern Florida. The bell jingled. The air smelled like fresh roasted coffee beans from the Maxwell House plant a few streets over. The restaurants were still overflowing onto the sidewalk.

She walked and kept going. She walked until she ran out of buildings down where the river curved up to meet the sidewalk. There was a park bench where Nell sat for awhile, looking out into the darkness of the St. John’s River. It was a little bit before she decided she probably shouldn’t be out there alone. Nell pulled out her phone and ordered an Über. No good reason to tempt fate.

 

 

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An Evening Rant

 

“I don’t know how to write down what I’m thinking. I don’t know how to breathe properly. I feel suffocated and I’m anxious. I feel my lungs collapsing in on me. I just don’t know what to do about it. I cannot come up the proper words to express what I’m thinking or feeling. Does any of this make sense?”

He took a few beats to catch his breath.

“I feel like I’m losing my mind. I can’t sleep. There is an endless reel just repeating and repeating. It is driving me crazy,” he said softer at the end. He hopped down from his barstool and started pacing. He ran his fingers through his hair, leaving it disheveled.

She poured him another glass of Scotch.

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“It’s okay, Babe. Just come to bed. We’ll figure it out.” She placed it before him on a crystal coaster. She stepped from behind the bar, placing a kiss on his neck. She let her bright red lips linger on his flesh, inhaling his manly scent. He felt her fingers reach his throat and loosen his tie.

She proceeded to slowly walk towards their bedroom door. Before she disappeared, she let her dress slip off her shoulders and fall to the ground. She looked over her shoulder to see if he noticed her standing in only her heels and his favorite pearls.

*previously posted

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. It’s becoming a tradition to post this every year.

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.

Bodega Highway

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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 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 coffee. When we left, both of our souls felt right with the world. The sun did come out that day. It always does.

Groper Rob

“That’s a fine timepiece.”

“Thank you.” Andrew Simons looked down at his wrist. He looked up at the man leaning against the side of the building. He was a scraggly guy. It wasn’t clear if he was homeless or a surfer. He was only wearing shorts. His blonde hair was an unkempt mess. He was a short, wiry guy. He wore knock-off Blue Blocker sunglasses. He gave off a strange vibe. He laughed at Andrew, revealing broken front teeth.

The doors opened, emitting the air conditioning as he walked through the doors. The lobby was fairly conservative. To his left was a small reception desk. The elevator was straight ahead.

“I hope you’re having a good morning, Mr. Simons.”

“Morning, Billy. How are you?”

“I’m good, sir.”

“Billy, please stop calling me sir.” Andrew said as he walked to the elevator. Billy O’Connor was a balding middle aged man. He was the concierge and building manager. He had been steadfastly working that counter the whole time Andrew had owned his place.

He pressed the ‘up’ button. The doors opened moments later. Andrew hit the third floor and the doors closed. He stepped out and turned left. The first door on the right was his.

It was a beachfront condo. He had bought it back in college. He had scraped together some roommates from the dorms and moved in. It seemed crazy at the time for a 20 year old to buy a beach condo instead of renting an apartment, but now he was happy that he did. Almost a decade later, he no longer lived there. He used it primarily for his office.

Andrew dropped his briefcase on the couch. He walked into the master bedroom to hang his suit jacket up in the closet.

He went into the kitchen to make coffee. He had a morning routine. Andrew woke up at 6:00. He wore a suit and tie and never had coffee until he arrived here. He always drank his coffee black. His grandfather had once told him that, “If God had wanted cream in coffee, He would have put it there.” That was one of those nuggets of wisdom Andrew lived by.

Andrew was a writer. He took it seriously. He didn’t want to mix his home life with his business life. This condo let him escape those domestic hours. He could focus on his work without being worried about household chores or the phone ringing.

Phones weren’t allowed in the office. He left his iPhone in the car. The internet was no longer hooked up in the place. He didn’t want to be distracted by the outside world. The only way he was going to succeed in writing something meaningful was to sit his ass in that chair and write. There was no shortcut to writing. There was no app for that. You could either write or you couldn’t.

He emerged from the kitchen with his coffee mug. Andrew had a desk in the center of the room, facing out to the patio. He sat his coffee on the coaster sitting to the right of the keyboard. It was the only thing allowed on the desk, besides the computer.

Andrew walked past the desk and opened up the French doors. The smell of the ocean filled the room. He had always loved the ocean. It helped to calm his mind and let him get down to real writing.

He didn’t linger too long at the doors. He walked to the bookshelf and turned on the sound system. The iPod had a mix on it filled with his favorite songs; Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, The Grateful Dead with assorted other classic rock and blues. He didn’t have to worry about what to listen or skipping tracks. He just pressed shuffle and it would play all day long.

He finally sat down at the computer and opened the current piece his was writing. Andrew reread the last pages to remind himself of where he left off. He closed his eyes for a few seconds before typing. Sometimes the words wouldn’t come to mind and he sat there looking at the screen without seeing anything. He let his mind go slack. He pulled at his tie to give him another inch to breathe. He massaged his neck, trying to get some words to fall onto the pages.

The grandfather clock in the foyer rang out the hour. That was his cue to get up and walk around. He never liked to get stagnant. Sometimes he stretched, other times he just refilled his coffee. He would keep drinking coffee all day long.

The hours passed with this cycle of writing, pacing and drinking coffee. The clock chimed five times, which meant it was quitting time. Andrew finished the paragraph he was working on and saved the document. He always shut the computer down before he left for the evening. There was no point in wasting the energy.

Before He left for the day, he always straightened the place up, closing the French doors again. He washed his coffee mug and wiped down the counters. A little effort in the evening always made the mornings easier to deal with. He enjoyed walking into a clean office. It eliminated stress. Andrew retrieved his suit jacket. He straightened his tie in the bathroom mirror.

Andrew grabbed his briefcase, making his way downstairs. He felt good. He had put in a solid effort. He had written for the majority of the time he was at the office. Distractions came, but were dealt with promptly.

“Good evening, Mr. Simons.”

“Hey, George, it’s good to see you.” George McDermott manned the desk in the evenings. He wasn’t as polished as Billy, but he was the right man for the job for that time of day. He looked like a mob henchman from Central Casting. He was intimidating, but a sweet guy to the residents.

Andrew walked out the front door of the lobby into the late afternoon. The sun was working its way to the horizon. He could feel the summer getting away from him. The temperature was already down to a comfortable level.

“Hey man, you got the time?”

“It’s 5:17.” Andrew said, before realizing it was the same guy that commented on his watch in the morning. The guy smiled a goofy, toothy smile. It was difficult to look at him with that orthodontic nightmare going on.

Andrew did his best to keep walking. He used the key fob to unlock his car doors. Before he could get to the door handle, a baby blue convertible Bug stopped behind his car.

“Andrew!” He turned to see it was Holly. Sweet, beautiful Holly Lang was a girl he had liked for a long time. She was one of the perkiest blondes he had ever known.

“Hey there! What are you up to?”

“I was just in the neighborhood. I’ve been at the beach with the girls.”

“Sounds like a rough life.”

“You should have been there. It was fun.”

“I’m sure it was. Beautiful women on a beautiful beach. What’s not fun about that?”

“Don’t forget the scantily clad, beautiful women part!” Holly raised her eyebrows flirtatiously.

“Oh, I’ll never forget that. Trust me.”

“Wanna get a drink with me?”

“Of course I will.” Andrew popped his trunk and tossed his briefcase in before walking around to the passenger side of her car.

“You always look so good.”

“Thank you, Holly.”

“Why do you always wear a suit?”

“I just want to feel like a professional. Sometimes I don’t feel like an adult yet, you know?”

“Yeah, I get that.”

“I think if I look good, I’ll feel good.”

“Why aren’t all guys like you?”

“Because there’s only one Andrew Simons!” He said smiling broadly. She smiled and leaned in to kiss him briefly.

“I’ve always liked you, Andy.” The tender moment was interrupted by a voice coming from the building.

“Hey Suit! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do with Miss Sweet Tits!” The homeless/surfer guy chortled to himself like he was the funniest guy in the world.

“Ugh, I hate that guy!” She put her arm out across Andrew’s waist. “Please don’t do anything. He isn’t worth getting arrested over.”

“Do you know him? He was here this morning.” They both looked back at the man. Andrew’s fists were balled up.

“That’s Groper Rob. He is always bothering all the girls on the beach. He thinks he’s smooth and funny. He’s just a creeper.” Andrew stared at her, then looked back at the guy. He was still chuckling to himself and for anyone around him.

“Why do you guys call him that?”

“Because if you get too close, he’ll cop a feel. One time he flashed us. It was gross. He has such a tiny dick.”

“That’s not right. Why don’t the cops do anything?”

“They always remove him, but he keeps coming back.”

“I’ll talk to Billy about keeping him away.”

“At least that’ll keep this beach safe. Thank you.”

“It’s no problem. We need to keep the beautiful women of the world safe!”

“Don’t you mean, we need to keep all the women of the world safe?”

“Why yes, Holly, that’s exactly what I meant to say.” Andrew deepened his voice for dramatic effect.

“What are you talking about?” Holly said as she laughed.

“Nothing, I’m just being silly.”

“You’re a strange guy, Andy Simons. But for being such a gentleman, let me buy you a drink!”

“You do realize that a gentleman wouldn’t let a lady buy a drink, right?”

“Well, we’ll work something out.” Holly said with a wink.

Shifting

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The more he thought, the tighter he gripped the wheel. His anger was getting the better of him. He knew he was right to leave. There was no way to win in that situation. He was seething with fury. This was no way to live. There had to be a way to not get this upset. He had to learn to control himself.

“Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen blared from speakers as he shifted his anger. His knuckles were turning white. The driving made him feel better. There was fresh air and endless opportunities ahead of him. The music surged through him, sending the speedometer needle around the dial.

He was over-accelerating by the time he reached the top of the bridge. The tires got squirrelly, but he held tight. Traction was regained through his tight grip. It was a smooth, downward curve out and away. His speed was getting out of his control. He made a conscious decision to slow down. There was no reason to end up dead before anything was resolved. He downshifted to third. The car shuddered as it slowed.

There was a red light at the bottom of the bridge. He was glad he had decided to slow down before then. He sat at the light, waiting for it to turn green. He could feel his heartbeat starting to slow down. The deep breaths were visible in the cold night’s air. He zipped his sweater up to the neck, sticking his face under the turned up collar.

We all have choices, he thought. I don’t want to live my life angry. The light finally turned green, but he didn’t move. The car just sat there with his hand on the knob. There were no other cars out on the street at this hour. The lamps were spaced too far apart and did little to light the boulevard.

He slammed his foot downward on the pedal, jerking the wheel violently to the left. He made the U-turn and kept his foot on the floor, shifting up through the gears to fifth. He was going back. There was no point in running. That wasn’t going to solve anything. He hoped she would still be there. He hoped she would listen.

It didn’t take him long to get back up and over the series of bridges crossing the rivers. His speed was once again out of control, though anger was no longer motivating him. The need to return and talk things out were at the forefront of his mind.

He pulled the car into the circular, gravel drive in front of her place. He rushed out and ran through the front door, glad she had still left it unlocked. He found her sitting on the floor, right in front of the fire he had build for their quiet night.

“I’m sorry.”

“I am, too.” Her tears were fresh. She didn’t look up at him.

“I’m sorry I got so mad.”

“You left me.”

“Yes, I didn’t want to argue any longer.”

“You left.” She repeated. His heart sank.

“Yes.” He wondered what was the wisest choice for his next words. He decided there were no right words. He just sat down beside her and reached out to hold her. She recoiled at first. He allowed a hand to just linger on her shoulder. “I’m sorry.” He paused before leaning in to wrap her fully.

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

Gotta Throw All The Words Out

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Gotta throw all the words out
No matter if they’re drivel or not
Get them high up into the sky
Possibly to cling to someone’s thoughts
Unconscious connections
Allow them to autonomously weave
Touching deep into a soul
& that we might once again believe