Friday, July 29, 2022

2 Mins. Go!

It's easy to feel hunted when you're surrounded by cameras, but there are benefits as well. Used to be, you wanted to ruin somebody, it wasn't too difficult. It boiled down to one person's word versus another's. It's harder to stick a lie on somebody when they can prove you wrong with video.

Cops wear body cameras to protect the public. I wear one to protect myself. You want an example?

She was a slippery character. She lied out of both sides of her mouth and punctuated the lies with a little twitch of her ample bosom. It was an effective strategy, for sure. I'm sure she was used to it greasing the rails everywhere she went, but there were things she didn't know about me. Hell, there are things I don't know about me, for that matter. 

I took on her problem because the money was right, but I didn't trust her for a second. 

Lucky me, I found the guy she was looking for. She got her jewels back. And then she tried to stiff me on the final payoff. She spread a few rumors around, stoked them until they turned into gossip, and then stepped back and let the mill do the rest of the work. 

I noticed the evil eyes first. Then, drunks wanted to fight me. More than usual. And finally, I heard it from an old acquaintance who hated me, but who knew I was no rapist. I dug around and got the full story. Then, I sent her a copy of all the footage I had. Sure, I could have omitted something, but you can't fake that smile and bounce. And you don't give that kind of smile to someone who hurt you. 

It helped that the footage also included her saying some ill-advised things about certain power players in town. It was an open and shut kind of thing. I got my money and a bonus. The gossip stopped soon after. 

The money never lasts, though. I'll be back at it soon enough. But in the mean time, this whiskey ain't gonna drink itself.

Friday, July 15, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

The black car approached the stop sign slowly and paused, but didn't stop. Folks used to call that a California stop. Maybe they still do. Folks say all kinds of shit, though. Sometimes it's hard to listen to. Anyway, the black car - it was a muscle car, maybe a new Charger - it just rolled through slow, right. Then, all hell broke loose. There were so many shots I couldn't even tell where they were coming from. 

Everybody on the street hit the deck quick. Folks might have been screaming, but it was so damn loud all you could hear was the bangs. Sounded like we were in a goddamn war zone. The action was aimed at the black car. The windows exploded. Then, you could see the bullets hitting the body of the car. Little holes popping up all over. Then, it stopped. 

My ears were ringing like crazy. I saw people talking, but I couldn't hear nothing, and I doubt they could neither. Now, this next part, I don't know how I noticed it, but I did. Across the street, in the first floor window there was an old woman just staring out the window with the strangest smile on her face. It was shocking. Like, everyone is freaking out, but she looks like she's watching the Macy parade...or like she was looking at her grandkid finger paint. Like, touched. Proud. It made my blood run cold.

Now, I don't want to make this next part seem like I was being brave. It wasn't bravery. I don't know what it was, but it sure wasn't bravery. So, anyway, I ... not decided, it wasn't a decision. I felt like I had to go look in the car. Maybe there was a woman in there. A young kid. Maybe they weren't dead. I've had a little medical training, and maybe I didn't want to live with the knowledge that some poor SOB bled out while the cops were on their way. 

I was scared shitless if you want to know the truth. Scared because I didn't want to see anything terrible and scared because I knew I was walking into a potential death trap. The shooting had stopped, but I doubted the guns had evaporated, you know? I didn't want to die. It was fucking stupid, truth be told, but I did what I was compelled to do. Like I said, it wasn't necessarily a choice. 

So, I'm walking up to the car, and I start getting this funny feeling. Like, uncomfortable. Squirmy. But I couldn't stop myself to think. It's like my brain wasn't mine anymore. I wasn't making the decisions. It's hard to explain. This next part you're not going to believe, but I swear it on a stack of whatever the fuck you find sacred. 

The car was empty. 

It was shot to hell, perforated, really. Holes in everything, but no blood. And there was nothing inside the car. No box of tissues. No trash. No smokes. No old cokes. If it wasn't for the holes, it would look showroom, see? No blood trail out of the car, either. And I was looking at it the whole time, minus the thirty seconds I saw that creepy old lady. 

I freaked out. I turned around and started running. Next thing I know, I'm pounding on the door of the old lady's apartment. The door opens and it's a goddamn supermodel. Most beautiful woman I ever saw. I stood there for a minute trying to figure out what to say. She just stares at me. So, finally, I say "the old lady. Where is she?" This woman looks at me like I'm crazy. No old woman lives there she says. 

Then, I heard the most terrible noise I ever heard in my life. Sounded like a rusty gate being torn off its hinges. It just keeps getting louder. Like it's coming from everywhere. If felt like it was tearing me apart. I covered my ears, but I swear I could hear it in my skull just as loud. I didn't even look at the supermodel. I just got out of there. 

Outside, everyone is covering their ears, same as me, and they all have this terrified expression on their faces. Just like I had, I figure. Then, like their heads were all on a string, they look up at the roof of the baptist church across the street. You're not going to believe me. I don't even believe it. Sitting right on top of the brass cross is a raven. Shining black. Screaming its head off. And ... shit if that raven wasn't six feet tall. 

I guess my mouth must have about hit the sidewalk. And just as fast as it started, the sound stopped. That raven looked up and down the street. I looked where he was looking and, when I looked back, he was gone. 

I figure you'll hear about the same thing from everyone. If they're honest. If they don't mind sounding crazy. I don't care if you think I'm crazy. 

It happened just like that. 

Friday, July 8, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

You can’t open your eyes. Your mouth is dry and rancid. In the back of your mind, there is a shadow of a memory. You chase it, try to grab it by the tail. It won’t work. It will slip through your mind’s hands and disappear. 

The pain is an angry red glow. There is panic, too. You know you should remember, but you can't, and part of you doesn’t want to. Part of you thinks if you don’t ever open your eyes, you’ll never have to face it. You can live here in this awkward middle ground, aware but unaware.

The pain is an electric misery. It is a hurt so deep that it turns into sadness before you can stop it. You feel the tears building in your eyes, and you will them back. You hear people speaking softly, and you want to say something. Before you can, the darkness expands, pushing the pain far away. To a place where you can observe it without serving it. 

Pain won’t be your master.

It’s a reprieve, but brief. The pain will be back. But for now, find a cozy place in the darkness. There will be time enough for meeting it in the light of day.

Friday, July 1, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

The moonlight was a thick yellow, almost nauseating. The sound of the train thinned out as it moved toward the mountains. Sarah had her sleeping bag tied to the bottom of her backpack. Inside the backpack, there was a loaf of white bread, some American cheese, and a bottle of water. She wore sturdy boots and denim. There was enough dust and road miles on her and her gear that it had all become one uniform color. 

Security wasn't necessarily tight, but she knew she needed to get someplace where she could curl up inside the sleeping bag. Soon, she would try to get a tent, but who knew when soon would be. She had no money, but she could not go back home. The only thing to do was to keep hitching rides, riding trains when possible. 

She had to get west. The town wasn't important. The politics? Politics was everything now, and she had become used to entering towns, states, and conversations with care. Some were red. Some were blue. It was pretty easy to see who was who.

Back home, she knew her parents were missing her. She also knew they were angry. She did not know which of these would win out, but she hoped that love would prevail. 

If she had a dog, at least, she wouldn't feel so lonely. Wouldn't feel so scared. She sniffed a tear back. There was a big outcropping of rocks back the way she'd come. Half a mile. She could do half a mile easy. She started putting one foot in front of the other. 

She didn't look pregnant. That was a blessing, right? She did not know what would happen out here on the road to a pregnant woman. People pay more attention to pregnant women. It would be so hard to hide. But she was resolute. Go west. Get west, and get it done. 

She was running out of time.