30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: When We Were Six

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He pounded on his younger sister’s door until his index knuckle cracked. That finger started doing that after his sister slammed him in that fence, all those years ago. He shook out his hand and knocked again. He heard the brass lock click and paused. His shoulder rested against the side of the house and he shook his hand once more. The door opened like a sloth, but he expected that.  Sarah had been through a lot in the past couple days.

She kept a stale face and didn’t say anything. She left the door open and walked down the hall. It was noon on a Wednesday, yet she was still wearing pajamas. One of her pink slippers was halfway on her foot, exposing her dirty heel, as she stepped into the kitchen. He followed behind, noticing the coat rack with her blue Arctic jacket– overkill for a Texas winter. Below it still laid the matching gloves, alpine climbing harness, and bag filled with various camp supplies. Everything was unmoved from the last time he visited, when they had their last argument.

He entered in the kitchen. She was standing with her arms cross by the pantry. Her hair was messy in the same way he use to do before family pictures. He knew she hadn’t been outside since the funeral, and was surprised to see mascara still stained on her cheeks. He pulled out a chair at the table.  She noticed him check out the climbing stuff and attacked before he could sit down.

“Go on, say it!” she said.

“Say what?” he said.

“Tell me to get rid of the gear out there!” she said.

He adjusted himself in the wooden chair.

“I’m not here for that,” he said.

She took a few steps closer. She rested her hip against the stove, and crossed her arms again before chiming back in.

“So, why are you here then?”

“We’ve been trying to call you since …you know-“

“Michael’s death. You can say it.”

“Okay. Yea. Since Michael’s unfortunate death,” She rolled her eyes as he continued.

“I just came over to make sure you were alright Sis. Mom tried to call you, Dad tried to call.”

A laugh burst out of her mouth.

“We both know Dad didn’t try to call. He hated Michael! He couldn’t stand him. He’d tell me all the time he hated our climbing adventures!”

He let out a little smile and looked back in her eyes.

“Okay Sar, you got me there. But he still loves you and wants to make sure you’re alright.”

She peered away into the microwave on the counter, as if she was waiting for popcorn to finish. Time paused. He jumped back in to fill the silence.

“Are you okay?”

She took a deep breath.

“Am I okay?”

Her volume rose at the end of the sentence, like she was gearing up for a street race.

“Do you know what it’s like? Do you understand? LOOK AT ME!”

She pointed to her face.

“I was SUPPOSE to FUCKING be there next to him climbing, OKAY? I was suppose to help him tie his harness. That’s what good wives do. Do you get me? We sacrificed weekends, holidays, hell, your son’s birthday party! All to Tackle Everest!”

She stood up straight and walked towards him. Her head tilted as she used her hands as exclamation points.

“And for WHAT? For me to get sick a few days before and not pass the physical. Y’all can chalk it up anyway you want, but I already know it! I KNOW IT’S MY FAULT. I SHOULD’VE BEEN THERE!”

He lifted to his feet and grabbed her arms.

“Don’t do this to yourself Sarah!” he said.

A tear ran down her face as she tried to look away from him. She snorted a giant gob of snot and freed her arms.

“Don’t you tell me what to do! You and your fucking high horse! You don’t know! Just. Just. JUST GET OUT!”

She punched his shoulder. It was like they were six again and he stole her teddy bear. Get out! Get out! She kept screaming. More punches flew into him and he just stood there. Tears broke out and all words were stifled. She collapsed into his shoulder. He started patting her back. No forethought as to why, just a reaction. He looked up at the white kitchen ceiling.

He didn’t know what to do in this situation.  All his life, he barely knew what to say to his sister. They had only really started to get alone once Michael came in the picture. He liked Michael. The guy understood Sarah, which was weight off his shoulders. But everything was different now. No more avoiding this.

Sarah wept harder. He wanted to say something, anything, but decided against it. Instead, he kept rubbing her back. He figured the words would come when he needed them.

30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: Oscar

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A week ago, the gray cat showed up on my porch again. It’s Jerry’s from next door. I hate this cat. He claws at my fertilizer bags by my garden and occasionally tries to sneak into my house. The jingling of his collar always gives him away. I’ve talked with Jerry about this, he said he would keep an eye on him. Jerry lied. Before my early run, I chased it’s sassy ass back into his yard. Jerry must have been up, a light was shining through one of his blinds. Once I got back, the gray bundle of joy wasn’t anywhere near my blue lilacs, or even Jerry’s overgrown bushes. Mission accomplished.

A few days later, the same gray cat darted from underneath my Yukon.  I hit the panic button by mistake and he barreled into my legs. Coffee flew all over my red shirt and I had to change. On my way back, I found the gray cat rolling in the yard and grabbed the back of his neck. I carried him past my fresh cut grass to Jerry’s dandelion field. He hissed as I dropped him by the oak tree. I walked past the growing oil blob underneath the Dodge Neon to my yard. Jerry had really been letting this place go. I considered knocking on the door but I had to hurry if I was going to make it to work.

Saturday night was game night. I was playing Yahtzee with my nine year old. I slammed the dice down on the wooden table and began adding. She yelled “Kitty!” and pointed by the window. The gray cat meowed and ripped the wire mesh with his claws. I slipped out and blocked the entrance into my house with my foot. The gray cat peered at me and let out sassy taunt.

I marched past my yard and into Jerry’s property. His tall grass made my shins itch. I could see the same light shining through his blinds. I stomped up the small stairs to his faded white door and pounded my fist at the wood. I waited for a moment… No response. This time, I screamed out “Jerry!” and tried to put a hole in the door with my foot. Seconds passed… Still no response. I jiggled the bronze door knob and found it was left unlocked.

Slowly, I cracked the door open and yelled, “I’m letting your cat in Jerry!” The cat crept in the open crevice and a rank smell punched me in my nostrils. The odor was like a mixture of rotten egg and burnt hair. I coughed out and stuck my red elastic collar over my noise. The door creaked fully open and I found Jerry hunched over his kitchen table. An orchestra of flies played around him. A sliver gun lied on the floor below him and I made out a blackish-red stain all over the front of his Hanes crew neck. To his right, the alphabetic magnets on the fridge spelled out “I’m Sorry, God Forgive Me”.

Without thinking, I grasped the phone from my pocket and dialed the police. As I waited for the operator, I felt something push against my leg. The gray cat stared up at me. I reached down and started petting his head. He meowed with delight. My fingers made their way down the back of his head to his collar. I grabbed the jingling chain and looked at the oval shaped tag. It had Jerry’s address on the top line and below it read Oscar.

30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: Nouns & Verbs

 

The last non-broken kitchen light flickered overhead as the fan circled around. The other two bulbs were taken out by a thrown coffee cup. Mark sat at the table below, sipping his Budweiser. He hadn’t moved much during the whole fight, only to cover his head. The once clean checkered tile was covered with broken dishes, beer bottles, and plastic bags from Target. B.B. King played over the stereo in the other room. He was surprised the record didn’t skip as she stormed off to her sister’s house.

Mark put the bottle to his lips. “Was it affect or effect?” He thought. I’m pretty sure it was affect. Affect is a noun, that’s how I remember. Effect would be more like how she effectively left that damn door open again– the thing that started the whole fight. He looked over by the edge of counter and saw it still open. The wind forced the blinds into the air. He let out a half smile as he set the beer down. They’d been together for 10 years and she still had a way of getting under his skin.

Mark adjusted his posture. The worn leather chair made a popping noise. Carrie hated that, but she hated that they still had this old kitchen furniture more. It was Mark’s job to find a new set and she liked to remind him more frequently now that the rest of the kitchen was fixed up.

“Effect is normally used as a verb. I know it. I watched a Schoolhouse rock on it back in grade school.” He thought. See, I don’t have to teach 3rd grade like you Carrie to know my nouns and verbs. He crossed his boots under the table and kicked a Campbell’s Chunky Soup can. It rolled on the floor until it got stopped by a box of spilled elbow macaroni.

A meow came from the open door behind him and a black cat slithered its way to the table. It stopped at Mark’s chair.

“What?”

The cat meowed again.

“Not you too.”

He reached down to pet his head. The cat ran towards the fridge.

“Oh great, just like Carrie. Figures. You are her cat after all.”

He grabbed the bottle and pointed the end at him.

“You know I didn’t want to start arguing. I had a long day at the factory. Michael was on my ass from the moment I punched in. I wasn’t the one who came in here yelling about some ass hole at Target and how it effected, or affected, or whatever the hell.

Who gives a shit!

She did that. She’s the one who left the damn door open. If she would’ve closed it, I wouldn’t have made the joke about how letting in the cold was effecting the heating bill. How was I to know that it would lead to a blow up about money and how I haven’t been pulling in my fair share.”

He was about to say more but B.B’s guitar made him stop. He took a giant swig of his beer. Foam poured on his stained white t-shirt but he continued on.

“B. B. gets it. You know, she always acts like this is all my fault. She didn’t seem to give a fuck when I was gone working all that overtime. We had all types of money for the kitchen then. But now? Ha, the broken dishes affected that!”

He picked up a piece of a bowl from the table and hurled it towards the wall. The black cat darted into the other room. The record skipped, interrupting “The Thrill is Gone”.

“Damn cat!”

Mark stared down at the bottle and flipped the label towards him. It said, “Mass conception of Alcohol can lead to impaired judgement and other hazardous effects.”

“Shit.”

He tipped the brown bottle back and felt the last of the warm suds hit his throat. He placed the empty bottle on the table and a half smile came over him. “ Well fuck me, effect is the stupid noun. She’s right,” he thought as he stood up. The chair kicked a piece of a plate. He stepped over fallen Fruit Loop’s boxes and walked to the closet. Mark grabbed the broom and started sweeping up the broken porcelain.

Welcome to Livin’ in the City

When you first move to the city, you feel sorry for the homeless.

You give what you can, to this person shivering, with blood and puss coming out of their face and think about how your helping.

Then weeks go by,

And the same homeless people are sitting in the same corners.

With the same blood and puss stains.

Leaves fall

Snow hits

And they are in the same spots,

doing the same thing.

Almost like a job.

So you stop feeling bad,yet at the same time,

you start feeling bad, because you don’t feel bad anymore.

You look through these people,

through their eyes,

the sores on the side of their face.

You ignore their questions,

bury your face in your phone.

Then,

after awhile,

you don’t feel anything,

which is worse part of all.

 

Greatest Invention Ever

Every time I use the oven, the smoke alarm goes off.

I’ve tried everything

I’ve taken the batteries out, but then the maintenance man bitches

I’ve moved it to the other side of the kitchen, but then it picks up smoke from the neighbors

I’ve placed a fan towards the vents, only to have the alarm go off.

I guess somethings are meant to be annoying.

The only combatant I have these days is headphones.

Beep Beep

Neighbors pound and shout “WHAT’S GOING ON IN THERE!”

But I only hear Tom Petty running down a dream.

God Bless Bose

Business Ethics

 

business-1753098_1280If you’ve been around the OL dating game at all you’ll probably start to notice all the complex relationship statuses. The shit labeled like it is straight out of a math book, with poly- and mono, and all the three letter acronyms. One that always cracks me up is

“Ethical Non-monogamy”.

It’s not polygamy, which any idiot can deduce from the non part of the monogamy section.

It’s ethical dammit! These people make it sound like Mormons don’t have any ethics to them.

Adding the word ethical is what makes me scratch my head at the entire identifying statement.

Why does the person identifying with the label need it to be “ethical”?

If I walk down to a bar at 10 am on a Sunday and order a beer, I don’t say I’m an ethical alcoholic. Oh no, ethics has nothing to do with it. Nor do I give a fuck what anyone thinks about it. Moscow mules taste just as good in the am as they do in the pm.

But this Segways into a bigger picture to why the word is added for the person. It softens the phrase by giving their brain a positive idea to latch on.

Personally it makes me think that on some level they think what they’re doing is wrong. Whether or not they are conscious of that idea is irrelevant, but it’s stands out like a 70 year old European in a banana hammock.

When you truly are indifferent about something you just put it out there and let the other person deal with it. It’s like handing someone a blank canvas with a color palette.

But a throwing out a leading phrase like that is like handing someone a coloring book. You can use any color you want, but it’s still obvious what the picture is.

On a subtle level, it clues me into how the person thinks about this particular concept. We all generally accept various connotations of words.

But in reality is nothing is black and white, just grey. Our brains place shit in categories for us to help digest these bigger complex ideas. This is how the human race has evolved.

The thing is, when you take a stance on a widely accepted issue, you’re going to get scrutinized.

It’s instinct to want to push down the nail that sticks up above the rest. It is, what it is.

So at the end of the day,

that is what bothers me the most about the “ethical non-monogamers”.

I don’t give a fuck about how many people you are in a relationship with.

I just want you to leave the ethics for your Social Studies class,

and be proud of who you are.

Riddle Me This

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Her profile reads:

Paul’s height is six feet, he’s an assistant at a butcher’s shop, and wears size 11 shoes. What does he weigh?

There’s multiple levels to a good riddle.

99.9% of the time the answer is always in the question. But the smartest thing you can do is keep your eye on the big picture.

Two are measurements, one is an occupation, and the question is a measurement.

Add in the fact that it’s a riddle, and you can start to see why one phrase sicks out above the rest.

Also why the other three have to match.

Misdirection.

It’s a great tool that helps bring novelty to the familiar, but this post ain’t about relationships. It’s about a bio.

Now I’ve read a shit ton of profiles, but ones like this really stand out to me. Most are generic, not because people don’t like to talk about themselves, but because most people don’t give themselves permission to be themselves around strangers. The ironic thing is, the finger prints of your personality is all over everything you do.

What you write,

or what you don’t write,

What you wear,

What’s in the background of your picture

These things speak in volumes.

And much like the answer to the riddle, they aren’t on the surface.

Which is why this sparks my curiosity.

So why a riddle? Why this one? When did she hear it? Does it mean anything to her?

Now I’m not retarded. The odds of the stars aligning, us meeting up, her looking remotely like her pictures, so I can even get the faintest opportunity to see if she’s the person she claims to be is fucking terrible.

It’s the never ending Zeno’s paradox of online dating.

But I guess those minuscule odds is why I like to play the game.

I type:

Paul weighs meat. Who doesn’t love a good riddle?