Chapter 1: Maria Diaz

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Chris cranked the dial and Jerry Garcia’s guitar rang out into I-95 wind. Bob Weir sang over the loud Challenger engine.

“Me and my uncle went ridin’ down
To South Colorado, west Texas bound…”

Chris’s boot kept time, stomping Florida mud all over the black mat. He put one hand over his cowboy hat as he stuck his head out of passenger window. The wind held his red bandana in his nose. Spit soaked into the cloth as he sang along.

“West Texas cowboys, they was all around,
Wheat liquor and money, they loaded down”

He felt a punch on his leg and fell back into the leather seat.

“Would you knock it off!” Mark said, “You’re going to draw attention to us!”

Mark turned down the music and slammed the Challenger into fourth. They passed a Chevy with a “Make America Great Again” bumper sticker.  The driver nodded. Chris smiled back. Texas boys always know their own.

He pulled down his bandana and lifted his hat. His fingers slid over his greasy blonde hair and he dropped the Stetson back on.

“I’m Sorry man, it’s just all this. …you know, the music, what we just pulled off in this Stolen Challenger! I don’t know about you, but I feel like a real outlaw!”

He grabbed the volume again. “Woooooooohhhhhoooooooo!” he yelled out into the Atlantic. Chris banged his hand outside the door. He halted again to another shot in the arm.

Mark turned the dial and then popped the knob off. “Well we ain’t out of the woods yet. It’s still a hell of a drive back to Ft. Worth.” Mark said. “Plus, we still have to make the drop at Jimmy’s slaughterhouse.”

Chris’s smile left his face. He was right. His cowboy boot stopped tapping, even though Jerry kept wailing on his guitar. Chris turned his head to Mark.

“That guy gives me the creeps. Kerry told me once, he watched Jimmy string a guy by his ankles. I guess he owed him some money or something. But apparently, he sliced his caff skin to the bone and started pulling the skin down until the guy gave up something.”

“Yea. I heard that too.”

They both got quiet. Mark pounded on the gas as they jumped into the left lane. They passed a green sign signalling 15 miles until Jupiter.

“Isn’t that where the Turnpike is?” Chris said.

“I think so.” Mark slid his hands down the wheel and stared at the dash. “Shit, I gotta stop and get some gas. We won’t even make it to Orlando. Look around. Did she leave a credit card any where?”

Chris pulled down the visor. A business card for MAC cosmetics fell down. He examined it.

“What are you gonna get a make over?” Mark said.

“No I just didn’t know what it said.”

“Sure.”

Chris rolled his eyes. Mark kept smiling and continued.

“For the record, I think you would look good with some blush. It would really bring out the outlaw look.”

“Shut up”

Chris bent down and opened the glove box. He shifted papers around. There was nothing but old registrations and insurance slips each made out to Maria Diaz. Chris slammed the vinyl door and looked around the gear shift.

“Wanna check the trunk? I bet there’s one in there,” he said.

“Probably not a bad idea.” Mark said.

Mark signaled and they turned off at the next exit, Blue Heron. Mark cut a few turns past a Walgreens and down an alley. He pulled up the parking break and bend down to hit the trunk latch. Chris grabbed a water bottle and stepped out of the car. He stopped to kick some more mud off his boots.

Mark kept the door open and paced over. Chris waited until he arrived before opening the trunk. The sun lit up and there laid the Cuban girl.

She bound wearing nothing but her matching bra and panties; both labeled Pink. The flower bed sheet peaked through the wrapped duct tape and sweat flowed off her like a fountain. Her brown eyes squinted at first but grew large once they adjusted to the light. On the opposite side, in a glass fish tank held a Red Coral snake. It hissed at the light.

Chris grabbed the girl and pulled her up. He removed the duct tape from her mouth.

“HELP!!!” She creamed.

Chris placed his hand over her mouth. “Do you want this or not?” He said, shaking the water bottle.

She held still. He removed his hand and fed her the Smartwater. Mark started rummaging near the glass tank. The eyes of the snake followed his arms as unzipped the Lois Vuitton. He pushed around a few empty prescription bottles, make up containers, and a tide stick, before he pulled out a small matching clutch. Cards lined the inside of the Italian leather. The snake’s head stood up, as he slid the bag back.

The girl almost finished the entire bottle, when Chris pulled back. He poured the rest over her head and body. The girl breathed hard and tried to say something but Chris put the tape back over her noise maker.

Her eyes got real wide again, and mirrored sadness. She tried to resist laying down, but he forced her shoulders down. He slammed the trunk shut, muffling her murmurs and turned to Mark.

“We can’t leave her in there. She’ll die of heat stroke, or worse, that fucking snake will kill her”

“Yea I know.” Mark shook his head and gripped the designer bag. They both walked around the black racer and got into their seats. Mark stopped and looked back over at Chris.

“Look, it’s about 9 am now. Jimmy wants her and the snake by tomorrow night.”

“Right,” Chris said.

“So, we’ve got to stop for gas anyways, keep your eyes open for a Walmart. I’ve got an idea.”

“Alright”

They both slammed their doors. Mark shifted into first and the Challenger bolted back towards Blue Heron.

 

…To Be Continued

The DART Review

I walked past the American Airlines Center my way to train station yesterday. A well edited video played on the giant screen outside showing the wonders of the DART rail system.  It was shot like a dream where these two hipster girls and a black guy (cause they had to hit that quota) run around the city having a blast. They board different trains, go to the record shop, and windup downtown at some rooftop patio. The end says something like, Make your next trip a DART trip!

Now I don’t know how many of you have been to Dallas, but let me tell you something, THE DART IS NOTHING LIKE THIS.

It’s more like you get to the platform and have to pull your shirt over your face to block out all the stale cigarette smoke. The train you’re waiting for is always at the farthest platform, so you have to dodge three incoming trains from both directions just to wait. Along the way, you’ll meet a homeless man named ‘Slick J’ who tries to sell you AA batteries out of a plastic bag. A steal at only two for a dollar.

After you politely decline a few times, the train dings and you get on board. A fare inspector asks you for your ticket because we’re Dallas. We don’t want to copy how NYC or Chi-town collects fares. There systems may have been in place for decades and work but we’d rather pay someone to walk around on the train and hand out $200.00 tickets. So you try to pull up the DART app but it crashed and you get kicked off at the next stop, while they call for backup.

In conclusion, I would definitely make my next trip a DART trip!

7 out of 10

The First Time I got Laid as a Writer…

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The first time I got laid as a writer, she smiled when I asked to smoke outside. I don’t think she heard me over the bar chatter. She just saw me leave into the patio and came with. I lit a Newport in-between October wind gusts while she filled the silence.

“So what have you been writing about?” she asked.

“Well, I applied for a non-paid writers position at a satire magazine on campus a few weeks ago. My friend told me about it. She gave me her editor’s contact and told me to send a sample of my work. Right now, I’m managing/designing a protection scheme for the school’s solar car. It’s my senior project, one of the most difficult Senior Engineering projects in the school’s history. Between that, not missing a game of the Cubs historic 2015 playoff run, and getting yelled at by my restaurant manager who hasn’t been laid in 20 years, I found time to write the sample,” I said.

The cherry on my menthol lit up my face as I took a quick break from my speech. I exhaled and continued.

“I showed it to every one I knew. I mean EVERYONE. My roommate, my lab partners, my fellow engineering nerds, my friend that worked at the magazine, the girl I had a crush on at work, the girl I had a crush on in my History class, and etc. I got a lot of notes. Some I implemented, some I didn’t. I re-wrote the damn thing four times. Waited to the last minute to send it over,” I said.

“Wow” she said. A piece of grey ash smeared on her blue dress. “So what happened?” she asked.

“Well, days went by. I’d check my email but nothing. I’d hear a ding on my phone, only to read flights from Chicago for only 79.00! Orbits bastards. I got asked by everyone that helped me if I heard anything yet, but I had to give them the same lame answer.

Then a week and a half later, I saw an email from an address I didn’t recognize. I quickly pulled it up and read it.

Dear Darby,

Although your piece was entertaining, we don’t feel you’re a good fit here.

Take care

“Oh I’m sorry to hear that,” she said, ” I know writing can be tough thing to get into.”

The wind from the maple leaves rustled and almost blew out my half smoked cancer stick. We took a couple steps back behind a side of the bar.

“You’re not kidding, I ran into my friend who works there. I asked her what the editor thought about it. Now we’d been friends for a while, but she didn’t come clean with me until later in the conversation. Apparently, they spent the first 20 minutes of their meeting talking shit about it. The word choices, the grammatical errors, the sad attempt to be funny. I became a running joke, ” I said.

“Oh my god!” she said. “Did they really?”

I slammed my butt on the ground and looked at her brown eyes. My head slightly nodded.

“Yea they did. I guess one guy kept calling me a no talent ass clown. He even got up and drew a picture of his interpretation of said ass clown. He scribbled the face with red marker and the hair with green. She took a picture and showed me.” I said.

“Wow,” she said. She swayed back and worth trying to keep warm from the chill fall weather.

“Yea I was pretty hurt but what can I do? I just need to get better. You know, work a little harder. I decided to open up a shitty blog. I’m also reading articles about the craft and asking questions daily on a forum.

So as of right now, that’s what I’ve working on,” I said.

She looked back at my wide eyes. Her words hesitated to exit but I already knew what she was going to say.

“Do you still have the piece? Like, do you mind if I read it?” she asked

“Not at all,” I said.

I grabbed her hand and we walked two blocks to my apartment.

Things I have a Better Chance at than Winning the F(r)iction Flash Fiction Contest

-Meet a sane woman off Tinder

-See MSU win the NCAA Tournament

-Have Greg Graffin pull me on stage at the Bad Religion concert next month and let me yell out the “Yah Yah Yah” part on 21st Century (Digital Boy)

-Meet DT and have him not be a dick

Run into Dirk at 7-11 again

-Meet my neighbor at 303

-Move back to Florida

-Actually meet a real person off kik.

-Win the Powerball on Saturday

-Tell everyone to fuck off at work on Monday when I win the Powerball

-Beg for my job back on Thursday when I realize they pay a Million Dollars in increments that make the amount to be less than what I make now

-Actually learn the grammar and spelling rules I should’ve learned in 3rd grade when instead I daydreamed about playing Jimi Fender Strat

-Write a bunch more stories because I actually enjoy it

-Submit those stories to other contests, thus starting a never ending cycle

The Neighbor and Shape

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Dear Neighbor at 303,

I believe your name is Hannah, or at least that is who the March issue of Shape is addressed to. Although we’ve never met in person, this magazine was sitting in my mailbox a couple weeks ago. I meant to give it back to you then, but I became enthralled with the issue. Majority of the shit I read is a mixture of bad online dating profiles, technical work shit, and lots of fiction. Needless to say, it was a breath of fresh air when I read the 62 ways to nurture my body and brain. Apparently I already do number 36, so I’m ahead of the game.

Unfortunately, not everything is gold in this zine. On page 28, they say Go Bold with your Tights Game! This is horseshit. Every bimbo at L.A. fitness in the DFW area is doing that right now. Fashion is an expression and they’re saying with that is “I got dressed in the dark and I’m replacing my fashion sense with squat reps.” Don’t be that girl. Nobody likes that girl. Also on page 2, they have a picture of Shay Mitchell from the cover standing in a tall grass field when it’s obvious she just had a Brazilian done before the shoot. Kind of a dick move on the photographer’s part, don’t you think? I would imagine her thighs would be itchy enough without the wind rubbing tiny blades of grass on them. But I’m a guy, so what do I know?

Anyways, I apologize for having this for so long, but technically you’re still getting the March issue in March, so I think your still making out okay.

Sincerely,

Your neighbor at 302.

PS. To answer your lingering question: Yes, I was loaded when I wrote this.

Flash Fiction Fridays: The Wake

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Engrid buzzed the intercom telling me Mr. Hoggins is in the lobby and would like to sell his coffin back. I spit up my coffee. I’ve been in the funeral business for 20 years and never heard anything like this. A family member changing their mind from metallic to Wood, sure. But never anyone wanting to return their OWN coffin. I started wiping the spit and coffee off of the stack of invoices below me as I told her to send him in my office.

The steel knob turned and in walked a healthy Sam Hoggins, without his usual green oxygen tank in tow. This was not the same man I had met several months ago with terminal stage four lung cancer. My eyebrows raised to show off all the whites of my eyes, as he took a seat.

“Hello Sam. How are you?” I said, trying not to laugh at how confused I sounded.

He smiled put his palms out in a ta-da fashion around his face.

“I’m great! Actually Beyond great! My cancer is all gone!”

I stood up in my chair listening intently. “How?”

“About a week after I purchased this coffin, I drove into the city to for an experimental procedure. At the time it was a long shot, but if there was a chance I’d promised Martha that I would take it for her!”

He continued on with the complicated medial jargon of the operation. I was in utter awe. It was one of the most miraculous things I had ever heard. This man was a goner, but fought tooth and nail to live. Eventually he changed the subject.

“As you can tell I have a new lease on life! I want to surprise Martha by taking her down to live in Boca Raton. Will you buy my coffin back? It’s never been used.”

“Of coarse!”

I began drawing up the paper work, while I had one of my staff get the coffin out of his Dodge and place in back in the showroom. We both signed and I shook his hand.

“Good luck on everything Mr. Hodgins!”

“Thank you! But could you do me a favor?”

I leaned in close.

“I have to run a few more errands before heading home. If Martha calls, could you not mention this? I would like it to be a surprise.”

“Absolutely!” I answered.

He got into his Dodge and roared down the drive way. I sat down at my desk and got back to work on the invoices.

A few hours later Engrid buzzed again saying Martha Hodgins was on the line. I looked at myself in the reflection off the window. Remembering what to do, I picked up the black Cisco phone.

“Mrs. Hodgins how are you?”

There was a giant sniffle before the voice spoke. “I am as good as I can be, John.”

I smiled as I played along. “Understandable, what can I do for you?”

“Well, I’m still at the hospital and they are about to the pull the plug on Sam. His brother Bobby said he would take the coffin over to you for prepping of the wake. Did he make it there yet?”

My jaw hit the floor.

 

If Tinder Profiles Were More Than 500 Characters: Pt. 2

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Part 1

-I don’t want you to come straight over to my apartment to watch Netflix

-I don’t want to send you $5 on Venmo for naked Snapchat pictures

-I want to meet at a coffee shop or bar

-I want you to get upset at me for being late because I thought we were meeting at a different spot down the street

-I want to hear about your day over glasses clinking and the faint murmur of 90’s alternative music

-I want to interrupt with various jokes that show off your perfect snorty laugh

-I want to hear about your superstition with ghosts and how you once saw a figure in black when you worked at the Old Adolphus Hotel

-I want to whisk you out of the bar and wonder around the city looking for other haunted buildings

-As we walk, I want to tell you how much I love to write, despite the amount of times I’ve been told my writing sucks

-I want to hear the passion that gets your blood pumping

-I want to finally find a dark building and make up a story why one light is still on

-I want to get so lost in our conversation I miss the last train home

-I don’t want to get super “handsy” when we stand behind your car, just bask in the tension of our eyes lingering during a pregnant pause

-I want you to say awkward things because your happily uncomfortable in the moment

-I want to interrupt by pulling you in for a kiss and breaking it off before you reach to bite my lower lip

-I want to say good night and walk an hour back home, past our haunted building, thinking about how excited I am to see you again

If you can’t handle any of that please swipe left