The Devil Is In The Details

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The devil is in the details; at least that’s what they always say to me.  We’re always fighting back, against the grain. Do they know what they’re doing to us? Pressure like this can kill you.  Yes, there’s the off the chance you’ll become a diamond, though the odds are never in your favor. But you have to keep fighting. No one is content when you surrender.  This life is never going to get any easier. They will never believe in you. This is our lot in life. This is what we have to look forward to for the rest of this life. We weren’t born kings or any sort of nobility. We are who we are.  Within that truth, we must find a way to emerge and triumph.

I spend my days walking the land searching for something which may not exist in the first place. I watch the people going about their lives around me. I see the joy in their faces. It reflects from the life they have found for themselves. Mothers pushing children on an afternoon walk.

Is it jealousy brooding within me? I yearn for a simple domestic life. I would like to quit this life on the road. I have lived the gypsy life for too many years. I find myself questioning my own desires. Will I tire of being in one spot too long? The answers to my search do not seem to be available. Life is something to be lived in order to even find those answers. This is just as frustrating as the search in the first place.

I leave those pretty people to their lives. It is out of respect for what they have found. It is a great thing for them. I will keep on searching for my own treasure.

I mean, do I want to complicate my life? Do I want to spend the majority of my life having someone else dependent on me and my abilities? That is a scary thought. Why would I do that to someone? I am not known to be the kindest person in the world, but damn. That borders on cruel and unusual punishment. I am who I am. I’m not proud of that, but it is a fact that I’m coming to terms with. All I’m saying is that it would be better if I stayed away from the rest of the human race. I’m better alone. People seem to be happier when they are away from me. I’m not happy that I’m a pariah. It isn’t simple aesthetics. A shave and a haircut will not alter this equation. A shower and fancy cologne will not make people want to gravitate in my direction. It is how it is and let us embrace it before someone gets their feelings hurt.

Exhale. You get yourself so worked up these days. Is it worth it? C’mon, get out of that bed. We have to get moving. There’s a world out there that hasn’t taken time to notice we haven’t joined in yet. We need to put society on a notice of our own. Take your time, let’s do things right. That’s it, two feet on the ground. Baby steps will lead us to where we need to be. We can do this. Slip your glasses on. Chug some of that water. Let’s get some more of that water.  Let’s go get some coffee into you; black. We don’t have time to waste on that fancy crap. We need to get ready to face the sun that’s been burning for several hours already. We’re going to make it, just you wait and see. They won’t know what hit them.

This will be a great day. Pick out your best outfit. The one that makes you feel the best, the most confident. Then we’re going to scrub away the past. You’ll come out of the shower fresh and new. Visualize being the greatest version of yourself. Make sure you see it first, so you’ll believe it. See what it is that will leave them speechless. This is our chance. This is our time. Let’s just add the finishing touches now.

Pull on those boots. Slip on those sunglasses, with one final glance through the vanity.  Will today be the day?

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

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 Shiraz. 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 through 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.

*Previously posted in another life. But I like this one & hope you do, too.

Sudden Storm

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Kerrington McKenzie was out front of her house talking with her neighbor, Mary. The neighbor was gushing over a humorous date from the night before. She always had the worst of luck with the men she found on those dating websites.

It was a humid day. The sky was overcast and everything looked grey. A solitary drop could be felt upon Kerrington’s shoulders. The leaves above still dripped from last night’s rain showers. She was wearing white linen pants, a white tank with a blush pink sheer top. She left her hair down and curly today. There’s no point with this summer humidity. It kept blowing in her face and around her neck from the increasing wind.

Kerrington was always amused with these train wreck stories Mary shared. She was sure Mary embellished them to make the guys worse than they actually were, but she was a riveting storyteller. Kerrington kind of wanted the stories to be true.

The heavens opened before Mary could get to the good part. The ladies didn’t wait to say their goodbyes. They instantly took off running in separate directions for shelter.

From the time it took her to run back to cover, Kerrington was drenched. She was still laughing when he stepped into the garage. She had stopped to shake off the rain. The sheer top clung to her curves. He could see the faint detail of a white lace bra and matching boy shorts.

Nathan stood there watching her with a smile on his face. A crack of thunder sent her running for his arms. He grabbed her and held her tight. Kerrington hadn’t noticed Nathan, but wasn’t startled when his arms encompassed her. He smelled of man sweat. He had been working on his car all morning. The warm, humid day had made him quite ripe.

“You’re a stinky boy.”

“I thought you liked it when I’ve been working with my hands?”

“I do, but you need a shower!”

“Maybe I should just pick you up and carry you with me?”

“But I’m already soaking wet!”

“Not nearly as I intend to make you.” Kerrington blushed as he spoke.

“Hush.” She raised up on her toes and kissed him.

“Shall we?” He picked Kerrington up. She let out a small squeak and gave him a devilish grin.

A Lover’s Morning

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“I don’t know what to tell you.” He walked naked away from the bed. He had to carefully make his way around her heels and panties from the night before. They had been irreverently strewn about the room in the lovers’ haste. Her dress didn’t make it very far into the room. It was lying by the door. His suit had been thrown onto the chair across from the bed. “Perhaps I’m not the guy you’ve been looking for all these years.”

She hid under the sheets and pulled a pillow over her face when he pulled the curtains over. The sunlight broke into the room. She cursed him from under all that material. She then threw a pillow at him.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not man enough for me.”

“You didn’t think that way last night when I was…”

“I get it. No need to rehash all that.”

“I’d love to rehash that.” He gave her a head nod. She just rolled her eyes at him.

“Really?”

“Oh yes. Definitely.”

“No, I know you want to have sex again. I was saying ‘really’ to your corny line.”

“Whatever it takes to get you in the mood.”

“Right now, I just want sleep.”

“Not now, babe. I have plans for us. Well, non-sexual ones at the moment.”

“Like what?”

“You’ll have to get that sweet ass up and find out.”

“Can you at least bring me coffee?”

“You know, every time you smile at me, my entire life brightens.”

“You’re such a cheeseball.” She said, shaking her head.

“I’m serious. I don’t want any of this is overshadow how I feel about you. I am going to love you with reckless abandon.”

“You’re never going to get me out of bed like this.”

“Okay, I’ll get you some coffee. You want one of those fancy vanilla things?”

“No, just cream and sugar, please.”

“You better get into the shower.” He checked his watch. “We have about an hour to be downstairs.”

“Why are we on a schedule? What did you plan?”

“You’ll see. Now get on up!”

He walked out of the hotel room. The lobby was a giant room with rooms on four sides looking down on it. Each room had a small balcony for the guests to walk out on. It was a nice departure from the usual hotel with windows bolted shut. There were fountains and ponds wrapped around and in between a couple small open air bars and seating areas. It was a simply designed central room, but it was atheistically pleasing.

There was a Starbucks next to the gift shop. It was filled with customers by the time he got in line. He was the third person standing out the door, which doubled as the walkway for the hotel. It was awkward to have to keep avoiding the hotel guests with their luggage. The pace was slow, but he worked his way into the actual store. The baristas were working madly to get through the line of sleepy customers. His frustration softened when he realized the efforts they were putting. This was just a five dollar coffee to him. This was their daily life. He made sure to tip them a little extra than usual.

With Coffee in hand, he made his way back up to the room. He nodded silently and smiled wide to the cleaning ladies. He tried his best to keep the coffee from spilling in from of them.

Getting a key out of your pocket when you have two hands full of coffee is an amazing feat. It involves the use of your chin, shoulder and arm while trying to not give yourself third degree burns.

He could hear the shower going once he opened the door. The smile immediately crested his face. Walking into the bathroom, he set the coffees down on the counter. He had a tough decision to make. There was a naked woman on the other side of a very thin piece of plastic. He had already told her to hurry up and get ready for the day. She was a phenomenal beauty. His willpower was limited whenever she was feeling devious.

“Do you need any help in there?”

“Will you hand me my coffee?” She slung open the shower curtain without a hint of modesty or embarrassment. “I just can’t seem to get moving today.” He handed her the disposable cup, without looking her in the eye.

“I really want to join you, but then we’ll never get out of here.”

“It’s a real shame you made plans for the day. You never know what could have happened.”

He smiled at her.

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

The Best Coffee Ever.

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“No, you have to pour more in.”
“This is okay. You don’t want to use too much.”
“The color is off.”
“I’m getting there.”
“Okay, I think it is time to stir.”
“Yeah, I think so.”

The elves were perched upon his old coffee mug. Together they were stirring the creamer in with all their collective strength. Their small hands gripping the wooden spoon, careful not to fall into the steaming liquid concoction below.

“What do you think?”
“It looks good.”
“Yeah, that looks to be the right combination.”
“We better go.”
“Yeah, he’ll be up soon.”

The man walked into his dimly lit kitchen, rubbing his eyes. His glasses were propped up over his brow. He stood in the doorway, clothed in his usual plaid pajama pants & v-neck undershirt. Every morning was the same. He came into the kitchen & mindlessly pressed the button on the coffeemaker. Then he watched the precious coffee fall into the pot, always anxious for the first cup.

His coffee was waiting for him. Confusion swept over him. He always had to make his own coffee. His knew his wife & children were still asleep. It would be a few hours before he had any company, even the dog remained curled up. He slowly walked in to investigate. It had the perfect coloring. He timidly touched the side of the cup. It was hot.

Within his peripheral, he noticed movement out on the back lawn. When he looked out there, he saw nothing. The man unlocked the door & stepped out into the calm morning air. He smiled & shook his head. He went back inside & enjoyed the best cup of coffee he ever had.

The End.

or

When he stepped outside, the man noticed tiny footprints. There were a few blades of grass that were trampled just so. He noticed a slight iridescent glow to those peculiar blades. The footprints went across the lawn into his wife’s rose bushes. The man smiled. He hadn’t thought about them since he was a child.

The End.

*previously posted