Tag Archives: Short Story

White Christmas

Short Story Updated; Originally Published as Part of My Collection, Emotionless Souls

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Uncle Jay took the last of my coke. Alright I said it, still doesn’t help me. Now how will I get through this holiday charade known as Christmas Eve? Uncle Jay is standing across the room staring at the over decorated tree with glazed eyes and a cocaine induced grin. I wish he would die this instant.

Three feet away is a speaker blaring Christmas music that sounds like Barry Manilow, but I’m not sure. To be safe I begin walking across the room toward Uncle Jay; balancing my Jack on the rocks in my right hand as I maneuver past an ill placed holiday basket containing ten thousand nut variations. I approach a small table where Jake and Pete are playing Black Jack. Every year another piercing appears on Jake’s face. This year it’s the left eye brow. It’s one of many family secrets in the open that no one talks about.

Jake and Pete are discussing what girl would cause the biggest stir if she were to appear on Bangbros.com. Pete quickly says “Britney Spears” and he is so proud of his answer he hits on eighteen, predictably busting in the process. Jerry seems content with the answer, but not very impressed as if he was anticipating Pete’s response. Jerry pauses for dramatic effect and then says “Jessica Simpson”, then adds “The shock value alone”. This response draws an agreeing nod from Pete.

His form of a concession speech.

I continue past, taking a drink in the process, resisting the urge to yell out the correct answer because this would cause quite a stir.

Uncle Jay is standing alone when he spots me moving toward him. He smiles smugly causing me to get angry and trip over Aunt Carol’s new Gucci bag.

I put my hand in my coat pocket and feel the empty cellophane bag. Nothing. Less than a hour ago Uncle Jay borrowed my coat to go smoke a Lucky Strike and now my coke is gone. Aunt Carol looks up at me as I continue balancing my drink, but she doesn’t seem to mind that I kicked her bag because this gives her a chance to show everyone her new bag, for the third time this evening. A fifteen hundred dollar purse with less than twenty dollars inside.

I watch this travesty as Aunt Carol tells the story of how she saw it and had to have it and then I turn my head because there’s movement across the room where little Todd, my three year old cousin, is pulling on the tree causing ornaments to fall off. Uncle Jay just stands there laughing.

My Aunt Joyce jumps out of her seat to announce that she’s making Bloody Mary’s. Not any ordinary drink, these are made with Aunt Joyce special ingredients she stores in a leather case, stowed in the trunk of her Corolla.

Aunt Carol’s display has started an accessories fashion show. Now Aunt Sharon has to sit up and display her bright red Marc Jacobs bag, smiling proudly as if it were a child. Tabitha, a friend of the family (so I’m told), giggles when everyone looks at her asking her to show them her bag. Although reluctant at first, a confidence beams out of her as she grabs her new gold Fendi bag. A hush falls over the room until Aunt Carol asks “Is it fake?” Tabitha quickly replies saying, “No, it’s real, isn’t it great?”, followed by Aunt Carol reiterating that “Well, it still could be a fake. You never know.”

Aunt Joyce returns with her Bloody Mary, sits, and takes a big drink.

I finish my Jack on the rocks. Aunt Joyce quickly notices my empty glass, stands up and runs to the kitchen to fetch me another one before I can say a word. I stand there waiting, my head spinning from the six drinks and two grams I’ve consumed today.

My cell phone is vibrating so I answer it and it’s Jackson, my friend who’s in town for the holidays and he wants to know what I’m doing tonight. I explain the family situation and the Barry Manilow and then he tells me I’m creeping him out so I stop. Jackson asks if I want to go out later and that sounds tempting, but then I find out he’s out of coke so we decide not do anything because it really wouldn’t be that fun.

I look back at Pete and Jerry, Pete is still trying to think of someone to top Jerry’s pick, but he’s at a loss for the obvious. Next to them my nieces Jill and Candy are playing with a scarf, throwing it high into the air and crashing into each other as it falls down. Aunt Joyce comes back with a fresh drink for me and a brandy chaser for herself. She has something white under her nose which makes me think she just did a line, but then notice it’s not powder, rather foam from egg nog she was probably drinking in the kitchen.

Continuing to walk toward Uncle Jay, I have a clear path until Carl, my brother in law, stops me and asks me what I’m driving. I tell him “Same Nissaan” which doesn’t matter because he’s not listening, but rather waiting to tell me about his truck, the new F150. He asks me if I want to see it, and I tell him I saw it last year and then he tells me that last year he was driving the F110, not the F150. A Lionel Ritchie song starts playing on the radio so immediately Aunt Sharon goes over to Grandma and starts rocking her back and forth. Little Todd is pulling on Grandma’s leg, Aunt Sharon continues to rock her back and forth and Grandma is shooting darts out of her eyes at anyone watching. This is enough of a distraction to walk past Carl.

Finally I approach Uncle Jay and I tell him “We need to talk.”

“Okay, but hey first can you see if you have any gum in your jacket? I think I may have left some in there when I borrowed your jacket.”

Gum. Right. I put my hand in my pocket and there’s nothing buy the empty bag.

“No, check the other one.” He says.

I put my hand in my left pocket, finding a half pack of gum and another bag, my bag of cocaine. I let out a visible sigh and hand over the gum.

“Are you okay?” Uncle Jay asks.

I look across the room. Aunt Carol is now holding Tabitha’s Fendi bag and shaking her head, Grandma is kicking at Todd in an attempt to get him to go away, and Pete has a perplexed look on his face.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” I say. “I guess.”

“So what did you want to talk about?” Asks Uncle Jay.

“Oh.” I pause and take a drink of Jack Daniels. “It was nothing. Merry Christmas.” I hold up my glass and then realize he doesn’t have a drink.

We both stare for a minute at the family and chaos ensuing.

“I’ve got some coke.” Says Uncle Jay.

“Oh?” I reply.

“Yeah. I’m just saying, if you want…”

“Cool.” I say.

Walking past Pete I lean down and whisper “Olsen Twins” into his ear. His face brightens as he hears the words, knowing that in a minute he will be able to show up his cousin, and once again be on top. Uncle Jay and I leave the room and head to the bathroom, humming a Lionel Ritchie Christmas song along the way.

 

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[Fiction] Another Quiet Evening At Home, Part III

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I’m working on a song about lost love, but bigger. Having trouble concentrating because Weekend At Bernies is on my mind, those bastards.

Knock, Knock

Sherri is back, she brought over a quart of vodka, good girl. She asks me if I want a drink, but before I can answer she’s in the kitchen and has two glasses out. She pours half vodka, half water from my faucet. “Did you know Colin is super rich?” She asks. I tell her no and she brings the glasses out to the couch where we sit. It takes five minutes of back and forth to realize she’s not talking about the same Colin.

Knock, Knock

The two guys that came over with Colin are back and they are holding a bag of meat. The one that got shot is still not wearing pants. They quickly move to the kitchen find a skillet and tell me they need to cook up steaks fast. I’m ready to throw them out when one of them offers me a beer. I pause and then one of them asks me if I have bloody Mary mix. Sherri walks up and pours them both vodkas and they are happy.

It’s around noon and the guys continue to fry steaks on my stove top. I don’t know how many they have and how many they plan to eat, but the smell is something awful and the vodka is almost gone. Sherri does one more check around the apartment, looking for stashed women and then leaves. The steaks continue to cook…

Knock, Knock

Colin is back and he brought his guitar, “I’ve got a song I want you to hear.” Colin hasn’t slept either and still isn’t wearing his shirt. He starts to play and then pauses, “You cooking steaks!”

Knock, Knock

It’s Sherri, she has another bottle and half of it is gone. She is screaming at me and starts running through the apartment, once again tossing everything I have, looking for something that’s not here. At least I don’t think it’s here, I’m having trouble keeping track right now. I grab another beer. It’s now early afternoon and I’m ready to kick everyone out and get some sleep.

Knock, Knock

Before I reach the door Sherri comes at me with a knife. Lucky for me, the guy that got shot is showing me a steak and is the one that gets stabbed in the arm. As he screams really loud Colin rushes over, removes the stabbed dude’s shirt and then puts his mouth on the wound. While he does this he removes his pants and makes a tourniquet.  Sherri looks at Colin and laughs because he’s definitely not a rich Colin and then tells me to fuck off and leaves.

Knock, Knock

Two guys with their noses pierced tell me they are ready. I ask for what and they tell me while drunk at a party two nights ago I agreed to go to a car race with them. I hate car races and tell them to get the hell out, but then I look around my apartment, hear Colin ask me if I want to hear his new song, hear the sirens getting close again and smell steak that now has a rancid reek and realize car racing sounds pretty damn good, so I leave…

 


Tech Junkie

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Tonight was different. Every other night was the same, me, working late in an old office building in the sketchy side of Cleveland. I work for New Dreams Accounting, a software company that goes by NDA. This confuses potential clients who immediately think Non-Disclosure Agreement. The company isn’t doing very well, hence the lean IT support team that has been weaned down to me and guy named Jayson with a y and refused to be called Jay for short. Jayson refused to work after 6pm, leaving me mostly alone except for a security guard who was usually sleeping or masturbating in the executive bathroom. There were rumors of messy run-ins regarding the latter.

Most nights I handled 30 to 50 tech support calls related to application performance, incorrect passwords, random Java script errors and more performance issues. Performance issues were always the worst and most frustrating for the end users. After three years, I gauge my customers’ dissatisfaction by the number of “fucks” during our call. Performance issues typically resulted in three or more “fucks.”

It was sometime after 9pm when he showed up, crashing through the unlocked door, staggering toward me. Dirty hair, baseball cap, non-funny zombie eyes and a grey short sleeve tee. He was waving a small pocket knife and had strings hanging from his arms which after closer review were tracks from shooting heroin, or something strong used to forget. He yelled something about being sick and needing a couple bucks. I had no cash on me. He started yelling louder as he approached my desk. The eyes were unfunny from a distance and were now frightening as they appeared to be full of blood. I looked around for anything of value wondering if the security guard was near climax in the john. I grabbed my laptop and slid it over to him, “take it” I told him. He looked down and stopped yelling, inspecting the laptop “Is that Windows XP?” I nodded. He put away the knife, “what the hell am I gonna do with that old thing? I can’t get 2 bucks for that man.” I put my hands up, “I have nothing, sorry.”

“Pills, do you have any pills?” I didn’t but it did trigger a thought. I asked him to sit for a second. I didn’t ask him to sit still because he was in heavy withdrawal and there was no way he was going to be still for anything. I go to the kitchen area, just steps away and open the refrigerator. I reach into the far back corner and pull out a bottle of champagne, left from a celebration over a year ago, the last time we signed a new client. On my way back I grab two coffee mugs. At my desk my guest is watching me and then looks back at my laptop, “you should upgrade man.” I pop the top, pour two cups of champagne and we both drink them down. He asks me what I do and about the company. I explain and his response is “Like Non-Disclosure Agreements?” The phone is ringing non-stop when I pour a second round. He proposes a toast, “to NDA and burritos smothered in cheese.” Sometime during our second drink the security guard shows up and takes my new friend away.

I shut off my computer and fill up my cup, emptying the bottle. Maybe tomorrow I will ask for an upgrade. I take a drink and leave the phone ringing.


The Queen

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Sasha was 25 when she finally confronted her mother. Mom, mom – just tell me, was I adopted? Who is my father!

You weren’t adopted. Sasha’s mother goes to the bathroom. When she comes back she sits back down at the table. In front of her sits Eggs Benedict, whole wheat toast and a glass of scotch. Sit down, it’s time you heard the whole story. She takes a long drink, finishing her glass. Sasha moves across the room and grabs the bottle, pausing to look out the open door of their 21st floor apartment terrace overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, there is a refreshing fall breeze pouring into the smoke filled room. She refreshes her mother’s drink.

It was the early nineties, before Cobain killed himself and cocaine was still okay. Partying was second nature and my hood was the Meatpacking District, specifically Gansevoort and Hudson. At first, it was just a scene, something to do. Get all dressed up and go out. Then the drugs came. I know you’ve seen my sober chips, it’s been many years. Sasha’s mother takes another drink. The chips aren’t for this, for something much worse. You see, before I was your mother… She finishes her drink and reaches for the bottle, filling her glass half-way… I was a queen. This is where I met your mother and we hooked up one night. A few weeks later she found me and told me she was pregnant. She never wanted a baby, but I did so we had an arrangement and after you were born you were mine. She pauses. I’m not your mom, I’m your father. A few years after I had the operation and became who I am today. I don’t know how all this happened. Your mom… Your birth mom was really into cookies and pills and unfortunately it was the pills that eventually took her. She always said there were ways of killing yourself without killing yourself. She wasn’t totally wrong. She was a good person, made of marshmallows and sensitivity.

Sasha stands up and throws her arms into the air. You are just telling me this now and you are so calm, what the fuck?

Her mother stands with glass in hand. She drains her glass and then grabs her breakfast. You want drama kid? She runs out to the terrace and throws the Eggs Benedict off the terrace. There, now what? Now what am I supposed to eat? Go to the deli and get an egg and cheese on a roll like a savage? What did you want to hear? That’s the truth.

How did you know I was yours? Sasha is tapping her foot on the floor as her mom comes back inside. Her mother sits back down at the table, Sasha sits. You don’t want to hear about what I did to get by; you don’t want to hear about the million blow jobs, do you? Sorry Sasha I’ve always been a person that needed excitement. The eighties bored me, too John Hughes for me, plus, I was a leash baby. I wanted to be bad. The yogurt craze wasn’t enough. I just knew. I knew you were mine.

Sasha walks over to a cabinet above the sink and grabs a glass, comes back and pours herself a drink. She says nothing, draining her drink in two gulps. After, she looks at her mom and then walks onto the terrace, slowly walking to the edge and leans over the railing, looking down on the traffic. She laughs and looks back at her mom. She yells, what was your name? Her mother yells back, Christopher. Sasha smiles and then walks back inside, kisses her mom on the cheek and sits down.

They both pour another drink. It was going to be okay. Right now they need to figure out what they are going to have for breakfast.


Short Story: Casting Call

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Jesse is from the Midwest, his hobbies include jumping and collecting sombreros.  What a fucking idiot.  A pile of Jesse-type resumes and head shots lay in front of me.  A pile of want to be reality stars for a new show where they will compete for chance to compete in an egg toss, or if Jesse is lucky, jumping.

Without asking the bartender brings me another Vodka rocks.

Debbie works as an exotic dancer.  She considers herself conniving and nice and believes she would be a good player for the show.  Plus, she has great tits.  Her words.

Reading her bio reminds me of the other day I was walking on Venice Beach, looking out at the sunbathers.  Ten years ago there was  study that showed at any given time one out of every ten women on Venice Beach were active or had done porn.  Last year this same study was revisited and found that the number was now five in ten.  Alarmingly High!  Thank you Mr. Internet.

I drink another vodka rocks.

I drive my car, an older BMW with a tree deodorizer hanging from the rear view mirror.  I find Jesse first.

Jesse is living in a bungalow in Marina Del Rey.  When I come to the door all I have to say is I’m with casting for the show and he lets me in.  He offers me drink, food, anything I want.  The desperation is sick.  We sit on his couch, a soiled piece of furniture that leans to the right.  Jesse explains his motivation for being on the show, believing this story matters he is full of passion, but it’s not real.  How can it be?  We’re talking about reality television here.

He shows me his sombrero collection, I try one on, when he puts his hands up to straighten it I grab him and throw him to the ground, take the sombrero off my head, and strangle him with the string of his own sombrero.  He tries to jump, but I use my weight to keep him down, then there is nothing.

Debbie is dancing at the Seventh Veil on Sunset Boulevard.  When I get there she is dancing on the main stage, I grab a seat and put a dollar in her G-string.  Working the pole: slide up, then down.  She crawls slowly toward me.  Purring.  Licking her lips.  Rod Stewart’s “If you think I’m sexy” is playing.

After her three songs, Debbie offers to give me a private lap dance.  Once she finds out who I am she offers to fuck me in my car.  It will be days before anyone notices she’s gone.

My next stop is on Crenshaw Boulevard, to see Timmy.  He is gay and wants to use the show to show his fierce side.  We are talking in a bar, he excuses himself to use the bathroom and I follow him.  Timmy is startled when I open the stall, and even more surprised when I knock him off the toilet.  I lift my foot, ready to come down on his head when I feel a nudge. It’s the bartender.

“Closing time, do you want another one?”

I nod.  He looks down at the stack of Jesse-type head shots, now covered in my drool.  “Any good ones in there?”


Short Story: Dopeman

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My mentor always told me this was going to happen.  Why do you want to deal anyway?  This is the stressful side of the business.  Users, now that’s the rush, the relaxation.

Staring at a gun in my face.  Pleading. Begging.  Bargaining with one of my clients not to shoot me.  You have the bag, keep the dope.  Keep your money.  Just let me walk away.

I spit out the two twisty bags of crack I was storing in my mouth.  “Take-it!”

Eventually, they all get greedy. They are junkies for Christ sake! This is what my mentor told me.  Listen, to me, I’m trying to teach you.

I was listening, just never took his words seriously.  Every user is your friend at first.  You are more important than their family and friends.  You are their God, their savior.  Once using turns to addiction, your relationship, it changes.  No longer is your client prompt with crisp dollars.  Now, it’s crumbled stained dollars and even bags of change.  “It’s all there, trust me”.  Never let a customer slide, it shows weakness.  My mentor told me this, but I never took his words seriously.

Stress is looking cross-eyed at the barrel of a gun pointed between the eyes.  More stress is when you hear the gun engaged one slip from the end.

If a client ever turns the tables on you, tell him what he wants to hear.  My mentor’s words.  At this moment I am speechless.

The blue flannel pajama top with ivory colored shorts is an odd combination.  Once you lose the grasp on using, nothing else matters.  My job is to notice this, to prepare.  Unfortunately I was too consumed in just showing up, collecting my form of a check without taxes.

I am afraid to move my head to the right or left, but I suspect other junkies are lurking, seeing what is happening.  At this point, it’s too late.  I’m finished.  Even if he pulls the gun away, I’ve lost control.  Occasionally you need to let your clients know who is in charge-send a message.  I didn’t understand at the time, but now it is clear.

My last ditch effort are the tears I force out.  I tell my client I will give him all the drugs I have, plus ten thousand dollars.  I say I will do anything.

When a hand holding a gun begins trembling, this is a cause for more stress.  I am seconds away from passing out when he slowly pulls the gun away and asks, “You serious about anything?”

I tell him yes.  He puts the gun down at his side, unzips his pants and says, “Well, let’s get started…”

I reach behind my jeans, loosen my belt a little bit, enough for me to pull out my gun out of my pants and with one swing of the barrel knock my client on the pavement.  I scream to let all watching know what is about to happen.  I pull the trigger, sending a message.

If you don’t pull the trigger, someone else will.  My mentor’s words, months ago.  This is before he started using and became an over zealous junkie.  I’m going to miss his words.


Short Fiction: Open Door Policy

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Maybe it’s because I drink Red Bull, maybe because I’m the newest member of the team. I’m not sure the reason, but I know I’m not one of them. Maybe, this is initiation.

They stand around the Phaser 2000 laser printer and drink coffee, they do this every morning. No words, just standing in a circle, drinking coffee, and collectively taking deep sighs. There is something else I’m not telling you.

Dale doesn’t have a right ear. Well, it’s not that he doesn’t have any ear; just most of it is gone as if he lost it due to disease, or lost a major bet. Jason? He doesn’t talk; I’m not just talking about the circle, but at all. He only mumbles occasionally and drinks his coffee, black. Chris is bruised. Not “ran into a door” type bruises, but deep bruises. The ones that hurt mentally. Then there’s Andrew, scar face. No one would ever say this, but everyone is thinking it. Someone took a knife and slashed an “X” on his face, probably foster parents, I hear this is common.

Supervisors come and go. Reviews and Updates. The bruises and scars, they stay.

I talk with Lola, our boss, who tells me this happens a lot and that I need to just get myself acclimated to the position, eventually I will fit in she tells me if that’s what I want. I tell her I do.

Days, weeks pass. Each cubicle the same. Beige carpeting, white filing cabinet, Post-It notes. A stapler. Lola approaches and asks if I can work late. I look at the others, standing by the printer, drinking coffee and nod.

In the evening Lola changes into snug jeans and a tight white T-shirt. I remove my tie. Lola proposes we finish up at her place; it is close by and more relaxing. We can sip beers she tells me. I agree quickly and we walk (three blocks) to her building. Ignoring the concerned look on the door mans face, Lola grabs my hand as we walk up to her apartment.

When her door closes and she removes her T-shirt to reveal no bra she tells me she never wears underwear, any kind. I blush and she laughs. Without turning on a light Lola leads me into her bedroom and lays me down on her bed. Still wearing jeans she moves over the top of me slowly, then removes my shirt, and then kisses my chest lightly.

It’s so dark I can’t see Lola, but I hear the question, “Have you ever fucked your boss before?” I don’t answer because I can’t talk nor can I see where she is at. I get off the bed, stand and turn until I can sense that she is standing in front of me. She takes my right arm with her hands, slides down and holds my right hand.

“I asked you, have you ever fucked your boss before? Are you going to answer me?” I nod and then mumble something that she takes as a yes. She laughs; actually it’s more of a cackle. Still wearing jeans, she pushes her body against mine then slowly moves down my body, removing my pants and boxers. She works here way back up and backs off.

On a table near the bed Lola lights a candle. Just enough light to see where we both are. She comes closer and we kiss. She spreads her lips and I kiss her hard, that’s when I feel it. Cutting into my tongue, cutting into my upper lip.

I quickly push back. With just a little light hitting her face I see her holding a razor blade between her teeth. Still manages to cackle at me. Blood runs down my face. I look for my pants, but she kicks me in the head, I land on my back. I feel the whip crash against my chest. I scream.

Fighting off the whip, I finally get to my feet and run out of her bedroom. Lola hits a switch that activates the lights throughout the apartment. I leave my clothing behind, run through the living room, and then I see it. The wall.

On the wall are at least a dozen different leather whips, chains, and knives on display. Most look used and never cleaned. Some are in glass cases. In the middle is a small glass case with something inside. I look inside, Dale’s ear. Under the case, is a plate that reads DALE.

When I come to the door I pause because I’m naked, enough time for Lola to whip me one more time across my back. I open the door and leave, down the steps, past the doorman, covered in blood. On the street a police officer sees me and turns the other way. When a naked man is covered in blood and half his upper lip is hanging no one wants details.

The next day in the office I park the Red Bull. Grab a coffee and walk over to the printer. Dale is the first one to see me. He nods and moves over, making room in the circle. I was now officially part of the team.