0 0 0

Ghost Story

I admit that it had the makings of a good ghost story, and more than capable of starting an urban legend. Especially when one ignored the fact that it all made sense. It was too bad that I failed to buy it, but that didn't stop me from losing sleep over it.

It hits me like a tonne of bricks whenever I find the time to reflect on the incident - everyone spends their lives concentrating so hard on what is present and visible yet more often than not, it is the intangible, missing and invisible whose absence, shakes world at its core. God, love, oxygen and a truck hauling thirty tonnes of steel pipes. Having worked in the transport business for as long as I had, I supposed I had grown much too accustomed to hearing strange stories - crooked cops who demanded pay-offs and bandits who raided fuel tanks in the night - I had heard it all. As it happened in this case, I heard no such story and my mind failed to register the absence for what it was, a warning sign.

The week before all hell broke loose, it had been business as usual - thirty tonnes of steel piled up behind the horse of the twenty-first century. The driver had been cracking a joke I didn't find funny as the pump attendant poured diesel, for what seemed like an eternity, into the truck's greedy metal belly. Three-and-a-half litres for every kilometre, I knew it didn't  sound right for a truck that was less than a year old but I let it slide. As I said before, I was used to hearing strange stories. I also sympathised with him. I knew the feeling all too well, the one one gets from the knowledge that your supper was scrounged from the crumbs off someone else's plate. And that was the reason why it made sense that a trucks carrying thirty tonnes of steel had disappeared into thin air.

It had taken ten days for the customer to ask the supplier when to expect the thirty-tonne load. The question had been the spark that triggered that fateful chain reaction. Customer, supplier, policemen and insurance agents had kept me and my telephone busy, asking questions I couldn't answer. HOW DOES A TRUCK WITH THIRTY TONNES OF STEEL JUST DISAPPEAR?!! But I didn't know. The driver had disappeared along with the truck. What could I do? The question had sent one Sales Manager into a frenzy, screaming that the day I would get away with this would be the day pigs fly. I fought hard and just barely managed to throttle a stupid "swine flu" joke. Throughout the barrage I wanted to scream back, I had lost my best truck and was smarting from the situation as well, but I bit my tongue and apologised over and over again. I think that may have saved me the hassle of searching for a new contract.

After the tempers had simmered down and the dust had settled, I wondered about who the driver had sold the steel to, what he had done with the truck and how he had managed after leaving his family and his friends without a single word. And, as far as I know, the going rate of steel pipes on the black market isn't enough to last a lifetime yet, in his eyes, it had been worth it. That is the only way I can make sense of it. I suppose I'm just too old for ghost stories.

0 0 0

The Old Familiar Places

He ducked through the doorway, gently closed the door and pressed himself against the wall. The house was empty. He waited there and tried to slow his breathing. What sounds had to be made he made as quietly as possible. The drumming in his chest slowed but each beat echoed loudly in his chest. He waited. All was quiet, both in the house and the outside world he just disappeared from. The vehicle was just as silent as it approached. The tyres crunched the gravel underneath and the engine mumbled quietly to itself. Footsteps approached gingerly. He heard a whisper, but couldn't make out what was said. Torchlight shot through the dark, slim slivers making it through the gaps in the blinds. The light moved on. So did the vehicle and footsteps. He let out breath that had been waiting patiently in his lungs. He stepped across the room with a thief's caution. Looking around, the darkness slowly took form and the realisation of where he was dawned on him. He had taken refuge in his childhood home. The wallpaper was failing, there were holes in the floor and someone had relieved the house of it's copper wiring long ago, but it was the home of his younger days. It was strange though. He felt no swelling of nostalgia. He could only recognize it as a building. There was no homely feeling. No childhood memories flooding back. He felt like an atheist in a church, not able to connect with what the house represented. There was no use trying to relive those days. That life was gone. The feelings with it. He made his way to the back door and opened it. It still required a bit of a kick when it caught on the tiles. He pulled it closed and made off into the night, jumping the fence and looking over his shoulder occasionally. They would still be looking for him.

0 0 0

a c o n s c i o u s n e s s

smudges of pale blur develop familiar angles, grey becomes colour, demonic figures and discarded figments of imagination slowly morph into things; a lamp, a book, the leg of the bed... as diluted photons -tired, perhaps? it is a long way from the centre of the solar system; imagine over 170 thousand years of emission and fusion from and into ions and atoms just to be created, just to be ejected (alone) into the universe- seep through the pores of a hanging fabric to infinitely -or perhaps finitely- carry on 


materialisation; the coming into being (what is being?)


perhaps the universe is an energy


and it starts, the crossover; the transition from restless numbness as the photons bounce off inches of skin, as the nightly manifestations of the mind evaporate, as the life -merely hours ago- fluttering over an unconsciousness clasps and possesses... pain is it the head? the shoulders? the limbs? not sharp, not piercing: existent.


pain as the blood that circulates and mobilises, dull yet heavy like balls of lead that has long made a home out of the fingertips, the toes, and the heart

a synchronicity of connected-detached happenings; the waking of the world (but it never really goes to sleep) and that of the voices, the hollow within; it has a face and an existence, and sometimes it speaks through a once familiar vocal apparatus

perhaps it is a parallelism of things

in any way, whatever it is, however it may be, the stream of the indefinite continuous progress of existence brings forth yet another 'day'

2 0 2

Smuggling, Sins & Synnove

I dragged myself from the water to the beach to the swing where all our stuff was. Synnove, from a long list of lovers whose names started with sultry, subtle S, had laid down my towel down and pressed her feet down on it to keep it in place, partially, while the wind blew. It was unusually windy. We had walked along the beach and discussed American politics — despite neither of us being Americans or living anywhere near there — and my trademark brown hat had gotten blown right off my head and into the sea. Synnove laughed while I ran after it. The water was just cool enough, though further out it looked pretty treacherous. I cut my foot on a buried brick when I leaned out to catch my hat. It was unusually windy and in the end we kept all our things in her backpack, which she kept by her feet.

Synnove sat on a swing that was part of the dive school’s compound, lightly swaying herself forward and back, forward and back, but her sandy feet never, ever left the towel. She had blonde hair that looked highlighted. She was Scandinavian in color, that delightful pale skin. I lamented and argued when she said she wanted it all tanned by the time she got back to Sweden. Synnove was taller than I was by about three or four inches. She found it funny and cute. I found it a little embarrassing. We had known each other maybe two days.

“Why don’t you want to swim?” I asked, breathless, settling down cross-legged at the far end of the towel. I had to look up to see her, but the sight pleased me. The island we were on was Ko Lipe in Thailand, a relatively obscure tiny island resort off the coast of the restive Thai south that’s had begun to start its campaign to be in the same sort of league as Phuket and Ko Pha Ngan, as “the Maldives of Thailand.” Diving paradise, apparently. Neither one of us dived.

She looked like she was going to say something, but in the end she simply said, “Sharks will get me,” with a queer sort of smile. We had known each other maybe about two days but I kept bringing it up to her. I called it the European smile. Sweet, seductive Swedish Synnove with her silly European smile.

“There are no sharks here.”

“They don’t have to be here, they’ll come swimming from all the way in India, I’ve got a heavy flow.”

I laughed in a ha-ha-ha way. The self-aware laugh of someone who’s trying hard to have his own unique charming leading man laugh.

“I’m serious. Does it disgust you? That we haven’t fucked yet but we both want to and now we can’t? Or does it just make you frustrated and sad?”

We heard the waves hitting Lipe’s Sunrise Beach. In the distance you could see much larger islands, all mostly uninhabited. The Tarutao island chain was protected marine park territory. You could visit but not stay. Synnove had invited me to join her for a boat tour around them but I had had to turn her down. You’d have been fooled by me, but I was there (mostly) for work, not pleasure.

I lifted from the towel and joined her at the swing. She lifted her legs and tilted in her seat and placed her legs, dainty feet and all, laterally across my lap. It left her a little unbalanced. She held the fraying rope of the swing’s suspension with her left hand and gripped my shoulder unevenly with her right. I feigned swinging myself away. She squealed in surprise as she nearly fell. “You know, it’s funny how you say that, because I’m not afraid of a little blood, you know.”

“Well, a lot of blood in this case. Terrible. I don’t know how I got so much.”

“So then I’m not afraid of a lot of blood.”

“Really? Have you ever?” Pause. “Been with someone while she was on her period?”

“Yes, and I ate her out and enjoyed it.”

She took her legs off me and placed them down on the sand. With nothing keeping the towel down except her backpack in the center, the sides flew and blew and swung. “I think you’re a… a…”

I waited for her to complete her sentence. She pursed her lips and finally, finally, came up with the word she was looking for, which she mouthed in her smile. “Pervert. Yes. You’re a pervert.”

I shrugged, and tilted my head towards her hand on my shoulder, trying to lean in and mock-bite her fingers. “I suppose I could be called that. But if I had to be a pervert I’d like to be a sexy one. Would you say that at least, for me?”

“You’re a very sexy pervert. The sexiest pervert I’ve had the chance to meet.”

“Thank you.”

There was a pause, but eventually she slowly said, as if almost hesitant, “I’ll suck your cock but we can’t fuck.”

“You’re not really bleeding. You’re just saying that.”

“I didn’t know you knew me so well as to know when I would be lying and when I would be telling the truth.”

I laughed. Ha-ha-ha. Eye contact and the tiniest shake of my head. “Wouldn’t need that. I don’t smell it on you.”

“And this is because you are a shark?” She dug her fingernails into my shoulder.

“The sexiest.”

She hopped off and sat on the towel. Her hands reached for the zipper of her backpack. “What have you got?” she asked me, pulling out packs of cigarettes and cans of beer.

“The cigarettes are all Marlboro Lights, I think. And the beer is Carlsberg, Heineken or Tiger. Don’t touch the candy. Those are mine.” I smuggled an unholy amount of smokes, beer and chocolates from duty-free Langkawi, just a little way away in Malaysia, and Customs — both Thai and Malaysian — didn’t even so much as take a look at my rucksack, even though they rummaged through my travel partners’ luggage; I came with my photographer, my boss, who also brought along her girlfriend, a university student about twenty years younger than her and about the same amount of years more intellectually mature and responsible.

She went through the cigarettes first, digging through the two dozen or so packs I had. 

“These aren’t Marlboro,” she said, showing me a few orange packs. She read them out. “Peel Menthol Orange.”

“That’s the one that tastes like orange and smells like shit.”

“May I?”

“Only if you join me for a swim afterwards to get the smell off you.”

“No. Sharks. We can shower together.”

“Before or after the fulfillment of your promise to suck my cock?”

“Does it matter? Before, after.” Her eyes twinkled differently each time she smiled her smile. “Don’t be so worried.” Synnove took her sweet, dainty time in unwrapping the foil in the pack, pulling a cigarette out. “Iam going to suck your cock.”

We moved to the restaurant on Sunrise Beach near the dirt path that would eventually lead to our hotel. Ko Lipe is small enough that there are only a handful of hotels and chalets and inns and lodges, mostly dotting the three beaches of the roughly triangular island: Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, and Pattaya Beach. We were both at the Bundhaya Resort, probably one of the nicer places there, which sat along Pattaya Beach.

In the low season Ko Lipe is hardly occupied. The waters were too rough at Pattaya Beach, with a red flag flying warning swimmers to stay away, and Sunrise Beach was the best alternative; Sunset, we discovered, was almost completely abandoned. Sunrise had a nice sandy strip of beach, good water, and a great view. Little wooden  fishermen’s boats anchored down. The best restaurant on the island was here, creatively named Sunrise Restaurant. That was our destination.

We had only been here a few days but the people who ran the restaurant, a family of four — friendly talkative father, wide-hipped mother, tanned teenage son and braided younger daughter — already knew what I was going to order. “Pad thai,” the father said, grinning, “And Vanilla Coke.”

Synnove had pineapple fried rice and some French fries, but no drinks. I figured she already had most of my smuggled-in beer, so there was no need to spend any money for drinks. Maybe it was because Ko Lipe was so far away from the mainland, or because it was relatively untouristed, or maybe it was because of the low season and the lack of business, but things were fucking expensive in Lipe. Just a Coke was sixty, seventy baht.

“How exactly did you bring in so much good stuff in here?” she asked me, once her order had been taken. We knew it would take a good half an hour before we’d get our meal, even though there was only one other table occupied. It was a French couple, the man middle aged, the girl almost underage, and the man had bought some Marlboro Lights off me on my first night. He gave me a little salute and a “Hey there,” when he saw us get here.

“By accident, that was how. I didn’t really intend on buying anything, since I don’t smoke or drink, but my boss wanted me to carry some cigarettes and beer and wine—”

“Wine! Where is the wine?”

“My boss had it last night.”

“Boo. I like wine. It makes me dizzy and funny and sexy. I’m sorry. Go on.”

I continued my story. “Well, so we were in Langkawi, and Langkawi’s a duty-free zone, so there was beer for like one ringgit. That’s like 20 Euro cents. If you have cents in Euros.”

“I’m Swedish. We don’t use Euros. We use krona. But that’s cheap.”

“Very fucking cheap.”

“I know. Go on. Please, I’d like to hear more.” Our food arrived and I started on my pad thai by wrapping the noodles around my fork, pasta-style, poking the prawn and cashew nuts before dropping it into my mouth for a big bite. In contrast she ate carefully. Synnove pushed rice with her fork into her spoon, and made little dainty swallows. Her eyes never left mine.

“I got this idea in my head that Ko Lipe would be expensive and that I could probably use my quota to bring in cigarettes and beer and chocolates and then sell them later here. I was right, I guess. Lucky me.”

“I’m so fond of entrepeneurs,” Synnove replied, a little more like a non sequitor than an actual response. We sat on a worn, wooden picnic table. Below the table, while we ate, Synnove played against my shins and my knees and my thighs with her feet. I smirked a little but made no comment. She huffed and gave up afterwards. We ate in a contented silence, and as she ate she smoked. The tangy orange flavor engulfed our table. It wasn’t a scent I enjoyed.

From her habit of going one for another for anotherc, Synnove was practically a chainsmoker. One cigarette would lead to another would lead to another would lead to another. She was orange all over before we were done with our meals. “Where to, next?” I asked idly, watching her inhale in a slow, purposeful drag.

“How about… There’s a temple in the middle of the island, want to check it out?” Drag. Puff.

“Nothing there. My photographer and I went to have a look and take some pictures. A little shrine for the locals by the path leading from the intersection to Sunset Beach. We went in the late afternoon yesterday to catch the best light. Pretty creepy, if you ask me. It’s all quiet.”

“I haven’t seen Sunset yet. Why would it be empty?”

Sunset Beach was a long walk from the center of the island, where the local sea gypsies, or Chao Lei, lived. There was also a little strip in the center called Walking Street, where restaurants, massage places, eateries and internet cafes were. I had visited Sunset Beach earlier in the morning in a bout of wanderlust. “I don’t have a clue,” I admitted. “But all the lodges are closed and there’s a ton of trash everywhere and packs and packs of wild dogs.”

“I read a brochure saying that they host the Full Moon Party there. We just missed it, it was last Saturday.” Synnove emphasized her point by taking a bunch of folded brochures out of her backpack, showing me the exact Tourism Thailand brochure that had mentioned the party she cited.

“Then it must be post-party depression,” I quipped.


“Never mind. A stupid pun. Let’s get going.” We paid separately for our orders and we walked along the dirt path in the direction of Walking Street. She slipped her hand in mind and winked at me but said nothing.

There are no cars on Ko Lipe. No roads can accommodate cars, in any case, and there are few motorcycles. I estimated that it would probably take about an hour, maybe two, to circle the island by the coast, but I didn’t try. Bundhaya Resort often ferried its guests back and forth from the hotel to Sunrise Beach in front of Sunrise Restaurant, where the speedboats from the mainland dock.

“Back to our rooms, then,” I decided. “There’s sand all over us, and I hate that.”

Synnove pulled her room key out, swinging it around her finger with the key ring. “You got upgraded, right?”

“My boss got two deluxe chalets when she decided the standard one wasn’t lush enough for her. I was perfectly happy with the first, but I’m not going to complain. Generous is her middle name.”

“And what’s yours?” she asked, all too serious.

“B. And before you ask, it doesn’t mean anything. Just B. Whatever you want it to B, I used to say.”

“That’s weird. Mine is Karin.”

“Synnove Karin.” Those were syllables to relish and repeat. “I like your name.”

“I like yours too, but the B thing is weird. Anyway, I was talking about the bungalows earlier. Yes. I hear the garden deluxe bungalows are a big improvement over the standard ones.”

“They are.”

“Is it also true they have an outdoor shower?”

“Yes.” I watched her eyes turn into that wicked, coquettish look.

“Then I want to go to your room.”

I was bunking with my photographer in the chalet, but I knew I wouldn’t see him until dinnertime. Unlike me, he was on duty. My boss had wanted him to take photos while she and her girlfriend enjoyed Thai massages at a variety of parlors. I stayed back and said I wanted to interview the Sunrise Restaurant people, but I had bumped into Synnove and we spontaneously decided we would spend the entirety of today together instead. My interview was a hasty mess that would never get into the eventual travel article I wrote about Ko Lipe for the magazine.

It was true: the garden deluxe bungalows (and I would keep calling them chalets, out of habit) were a huge improvement over the standard fare. Wooden panelling. Glass sliding doors. 

We even had a TV, if ever we felt the need to watch Thai soap operas, and there was a minifridge and a glorious queen-sized bed that we immediately started crawling all over. The shower had been forgotten for the moment. We devolved to kisses and caresses and scratches and bites. “Fuck your nonexistent period,” I growled, pinning her down on the bed, “I want you.”

She groped me through my shorts. I bit at her neck. “Can we have that shower first?” she asked, in a whisper, a whimper, this sudden vulnerability coming over her dark orange breath.

It wasn’t hard to accommodate her request. I pulled up, pulled her up, and took her by the hand past the bathroom, which had a  toilet and a sink and a spartan-looking shower over dusty tiles, to the outdoor shower area, grass below us and only an eight foot wall keeping our privacy.

I turned the shower on and the spray hosed us both down. It was a shame it only came in cold. She slipped out of her clothes with prodigal speed. Her t-shirt came off first, then her shorts. She took her swimsuit off next, ugly little yellow two-piece with garish blue patterns. She wore a pad underneath; she hadn’t been lying. It fell to the floor in an ignominousplop. I pressed myself against her, still dressed in my t-shirt and my unbuttoned, partially unzipped shorts hanging loose at my waist, and she made this amazing moaning sound when I dipped my hand across her front, going down from her breasts, perky little things with pale pink aereolae, and down to the darker blonde thatch of hair that shielded the destination of my fingers. The water washed over us. Our hands distributed it all.

She turned around to face me while I lightly crossed fingertips to the hood of her clit, which made her stand up straight, closing her thighs in tight over my wandering hand, and she kissed my chin and asked, “Here?”


Sex in the shower is less magical than it might seem when you bring practicality into the mix. She had to hold onto the shower pipes to keep stable as I moved in behind her, spreading her legs apart. Synnove groaned a deep, lustrous tone in the slick instance I entered her. I held her by her waist and by her shoulder, slow strokes, cautious rather than gentle.

Synnove spoke her words in Swedish, expressing passion in umlauts and accents and diacritics I didn’t have in my language.  I had a throbbing hardness in me that pierced her, in and out, in and out, and though I didn’t bother to look, not with my fingers plying the tension of her collarbones and her shoulders, I could feel the red viscosity in her.

Our friction reached a heat that the cold shower couldn’t kill.  I grabbed onto her hair, forming a blonde ponytail that contrasted starkly against my dark hand. She pressed her face to the wet wooden wall behind the shower she held onto, inhaling, exhaling. She smelled like sex and the lasting tinge of orange menthol cigarettes.

It wasn’t too long — or was it? — before I felt that creeping, edging boiling point close in on me, inching its way right to the tip of my cock currently trespassing her tremulous waves, the ribbed sensation inside her, and I bit down on her collarbone and moaned out, telling her we had to go back inside, to the bed, so I could look her in the eyes and fuck her the way I wanted to fuck her. I withdrew from her and she took my hands and pulled me with surprising swiftness back towards the room.

We fell to the bed and we resumed our proceedings with legs intertwined. I had no idea if my photographer would be coming back soon. Fucking her consumed all my thoughts. We looked upon each other at first, and then she closed her legs and repositioned to her side, and I held her as I fucked her from her side.

Fucking Synnove was an indulgence in all seven deadly sins. It was lust; I held down my hand to the blonde thatch above her pussy, running fingertips to her clitoris, stroking in staccato slides. It was gluttony; I drank in her eyes and drank in her scent. It was wrath as we got rougher, comporting ourselves in less than the gentle sexual compatibility we had exhibited earlier — the touches and strokes became grabbing, groping, scratching, slapping. My chin rang in a red warmth from  a slap that had hit me half there and half to my lips. It was envy when I almost bitterly coveted how she was able to crescendo and cum every few minutes while I would be limited to a single explosive end. It was sloth; she pushed me down and rode me and I sat up and let her set the pace, holding her waist and feeling the sweat-and-shower dripping moistness running down her. Pride was obvious from the way I grinned with a wicked arrogance, knowing I was deriving so much pleasure from this and providing tenfold.  I matched the pace she had been riding me with deft, deep thrusts upward, escalating to my incoming climax. It was greed when I gritted my teeth and murmured, “More, more, more,” and groaned as I emptied out inside her, our sexual singularity, bathing her with warmth from inside her as I jerked and twisted and was overcome with the sensation.

We immediately segued to the post-coital pleasure of inhaling and exhaling heavily together incongruously, her in her orange breath, me in a hint of mint, and she entwined her hand hand with mine on the bedsheets and moved it to her blonde mound, dipping lower, extracting rich red on our fingertips. “Fuck! I’m so sorry. I ruined your bed, I’m sorry!” she squealed, but her eyes twinkled no sincere apologies, only a glimpse that enigmatic European smile. That’s okay, I told her in between panting gasps for air, every battlefield is bloody.

1 0 1

Shades of Sleep


That bloody handmaiden with toiling fingers....

heartlessly black and unholy.

A miscreated changeling fouling screams...

my screams.

Those never heard.


A clutch to life held by will alone.


Strange glimmers

revealing unearthly collusions of scent and sound....

of harm and every threat.


Destroyed and devoured by a thousand claws.

Ripping and tearing and grinning....

Always grinning.


The telling of the fall.

My fall....

from hope, home, love...

Into the obliterated cavity of

my own grave.

4 0 4


I am wishes spent and birthday candles ruined, the last note gone sour at the end of the big parade. I'm all those little things that creep in at night and whisper "are you still there?"  Pounding and blistering, these tiny questions are still frayed like the edges of a soaked bathroom carpet. I'd beg for more but it seems I do nothing but stand in heavy water these days. Bathtubs are merely sunken canyons where we sit and wait, waiting on bigger promises that barrel down like the violent shatter of ungodly tidal waves. I hope some day the waves just pick me up and swallow me in. I want to know where the ocean sleeps and beats quietly under the scattered gaze of a billion diamond eyes.

1 0 1

Descriptions laid out in memoirs.

Czarina Evelyn S. Harper. The only daughter among five children of June Harper and Christine Harper. Born early morning of May 7, 1988. A Friday tragedy— a Saturday miracle as the doctors called her. 

As Detective James Bordeaux read her file encased in a green clear folder that has been thoroughly documented by Dr. Bright; Harper’s psychiatrist.  The dossier he held in his hands contained detailed accounts on her, from little details to day to day conversations  between Harper and Dr. Bright.  Fragments of tiny fragments of her pass slowly pieced up to form a puzzle Dr. Bright has been trying to solve all these years.

What captured his attention are the notes made by the doctor. They are attached between the pages and photos. He has certainly committed most of his time and effort communicating with Harper. 

Bordeaux requested to take the files home with him for further studies which the old doctor gave the green light. Czarina Harper has been reported missing the day she got her free pass from Fair view Correctional. 

That night he sat in his favourite lounge chair he had bought after his first bust. With a cup of coffee in the end table beside him and Harriet, a tabby cat he had picked up from the street years ago silently rested at his feet.  He began to read Harper’s files hoping to shed some light of her disappearance. Picking out the first note the doctor had written; it was bathed in amber and written in blue ink. With “EYES” labeled into the top corner of the page. He read the doctor’s words carefully:


Her eyes are of pale amber. Almost in comparison to the sun as her aunt  has always told her. Though she had always hated her eyes and had always wished for a change. 

What people perceived as beautiful she had described as “different.”
When she was 12, she had always hated how the the other children will tease her how they are blinded by her whenever the light drove through her gaze. I’ve seen for myself how her eyes shined against odd reflections and prisms. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before. There is something oddly unique about her. 

And the after a couple of sessions talking about her eyes 
she finally confessed how there was an instance she had almost killed a person because of her eyes. 

She had never know his name, nor sent him any apologies or flowers.  She could never felt guilt that all she did was “look” and he of course looked back. And as they locked gazes for a while he had lost control when the glare from her eyes blinded him momentarily which caused him to swerve right into the bookstore by 5th and 36th street. The bay window was shattered into pieces and he was bed ridden for about 3 months.

Though still she could not feel any remorse.

Bordeaux set aside Harper’s file for a moment as Harriet scratched his ankles.

“You hungry now huh? Come on. Let’s eat dinner.”

He sat and ate with the thought of her eyes shimmering against the shadowed window.

1 1 0

Bitter-sweet Chocolate

You slam the door. The room shakes.  Ignore the knot in your stomach, the worm of self-loathing that taunts your loneliness.  Grab the boom box from your room, plug it in, and turn it up.  Drown yourself in the music.  Feel the tightness in your hips as you dance around the room.  Glance at your reflection in the window, and sink into the forest green desk chair.  Put your face in your hands and let the wisps of hair that have escaped  your braid tickle the tips of your fingers.  Open the desk drawer and pull out a manila folder with worn edges, and a fading label of “deserts” written in delicate cursive.  Find the small card and run your fingers along the serrated edge where it was pulled out of a magazine, probably “Cooking Light” or something like that, even though this recipe could hardly be considered “light”.

Glazed Fudge Brownie Almond Pie

1 unbaked pastry shell

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

¼ cup margarine or butter

 1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

½ cup biscuit baking mix

2 eggs

½ to 1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake pastry shell 10 min; remove from oven and frantically puncture the holes that have bubbled up in the crust.  Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
  2. Melt chips with margarine. It barely fits in the bowl.  After 30 seconds only the outer layer of each chip has melted and they sit slightly shiny in a puddle of sun yellow butter.
  3. In large mixer bowl, beat chocolate mixture with sweetened condensed milk, biscuit mix, eggs and extract.  Strain your biceps to lug the bright red mixer from the cabinet.  Shove magazines, a pile of mandarin oranges, and some miscellaneous papers to the side of the counter.  Carefully select your spatula (the faded blue one with scratches up the wooden handle).  Scrape the glass bowl, and drizzle the chocolate into the mixing bowl.  Watch how the light reflects off the dark surface.  Scoop out the biscuit mix from the large glass jar that your father keeps it in so he can make pancakes every Saturday morning. 
  4. Rummage through the freezer, cabinets, and pantry.  Find some almond slivers buried in the freezer, add all of them.  Watch the mixer spin and hear the crunch as the slivers split in half.  (Find out that all the almond slivers sink to the bottom when it is baked, don’t add them next time).
  5. Pour into pastry shell.  Hope that it doesn’t over flow.
  6. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until center is set.  Feel the knot in your stomach slowly untwist. 

Survey the room: watch white powder float down to settle on ocean sky blue linoleum floor, drips of hardened chocolate create a Hansel and Gretel trail across the room from microwave to mixer.  Collapse once again into the desk chair and let the sharp smell of almond extract and the heavy bite of chocolate waft through your nose.  Breath in and out.  Notice how the radio is still playing some P!nk song, you don’t feel strong enough to sing along.  Drown your sorrows in left over chocolate chips.

Chocolate Glaze

  1. Melt 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with ½ cup unwhipped whipping cream.  Feel bad that you have used half of a 72oz bag, but pour them in a bowl anyway.  Realize you’re going to need a bigger bowl.  Reach all the way to the back of the cabinet to get the big glass bowl and transfer the chocolate chips.  Listen to the way they pelt the glass like dull beads.  Pour the whipping cream over them, it contrasts white, with dark.  Don’t measure the vanilla, that’s lame, pour it from your spoon and watch the stain spread like an ink blot through the whipping cream.  Set the microwave for a minute, when you take it out be concerned at how it doesn’t look melted at all.  Stir it anyway.  The whipping cream will slosh back and forth, threatening to escape and the chips will stick together just slightly.  Put it back in for another minute, and this time the chips have begun to soften.  Be careful not to scald the chocolate. 
  2. Stir until smooth. Stir. Stir. Stir.  Feel the burn in your arm, like the sting of fire ants, the wetness at the corner of your eyes. Will the cream to somehow mix into the chocolate. Stir.
  3. Once smooth, immediately spread over pie. 

Don’t wait for it to cool, cut the slice of your reward—the chocolate will overwhelm the bitterness in your mouth.  Decide it needs a counter balance and bring out the other mixing bowl knowing it will add to the dishes already piled precariously in the sink.  Pour the rest of the whipping cream, and a dash of powdered sugar and set the mixer on high.  Watch the whisk spin, each carefully bent wire, in the elaborate dance of a whirling dervish.  When the cream has the consistency of cotton, take a dollop and add to your pie.  The cool, crispness balances out the rich, chocolate laden fudge.  Eat until your stomach is full, and your tongue is heavy, coated with sugar but the knot of bitterness still sits at the bottom.  

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            I looked back at my mom and it hurt. She was scrubbing dishes in the yellow light of her old kitchen. Mom went grey early because of me. It could be argued it was my dad’s fault. Part of it was, but Jesus, I was a bastard. Not literally, they were married see? But I was an awful child and she tried and tried and tried to make a good man out of me, but I was just so angry all the time.

            I went out to the porch and looked out over the forests, the mountains, lakes and rivers that I’d spent my childhood running away to. I watched the sun go down, the sounds of the sink and dishes clattering and soft footsteps coming through the screen door and I could feel her occasionally looking out at me, frowning. All her life had come to was raising me, and I wasn’t turning out so great myself. I knew it too and the part that hurt the most was that I couldn’t make myself care. I was too scared.


            “Please don’t be like your father,” he said, not an accusation or a criticism. She was begging, tears in her eyes. “Don’t be that kind of man,” she said. I picked up my old guitar that I’d left sitting out on the swing at the end of the porch and sat on the steps, stringing a simple old song, the first I’d learned. I watched the blue of night force out the red and orange and yellow of daylight, the mountains darkened in the glare of the setting sun and I played my guitar. Stars poked out of the blue, blinking white and the birds went quiet, the insects too, listening to me play I guessed.

            “I don’t think I can do it. I don’t want it,” I’d said when she told me that. She reached across the kitchen table for my hand but I pulled it away. “She wants to have it, and she’d want me to marry her if I stayed around. I don’t want to marry her, mom.” She started crying then.

            “Oh Jamie,” was all she could say, hands over her mouth. Tears dropped onto the table and I looked away. I hated seeing her cry. I’d never really done a thing she wanted me to do. I played football instead of studying, went to the Marines instead of college, went into firefighting even after that, but of all those things she wanted me to do, I wanted this least of all.

            “I can’t do this mom.” She stood up and started the dishes, she couldn’t look at me. I couldn’t blame her. You’re a useless piece of shit, I thought, you really are. You did the one thing you said you’d never do. You became like him.


            I told myself that, over and over again as I sat there and played, played and played long after it was dark and my fingertips were red and the dishes were done. I looked once more at the shadow of that mountain. I’d climbed it a hundred times and more. I’d played this same guitar, sitting on top of it. If you could feel freedom in your bones and your blood, you’d feel it sitting on top of that mountain. That would all go away if you do this, I thought to myself. You wouldn’t be free anymore.


            I looked back at my mom. Then I thought of the girl.


            She’s a good girl. She deserves so much more than you, you son of a bitch. You’re about to let her become your mother, about to become your father, your worthless, nothing father. I thought of the day my father left. I was five and mom cried for a week. She cried a lot after that too. All the time still. I really was like my dad, good-looking, charming and not really worth a damn.


            But you’re not your dad, I said. No. No I’m not.


            I got up and went inside, leaning my guitar against the wall as the screen door shut behind me. Mom was sitting at the table, head in her hands, work-hardened, worn out hands holding a face that shouldn’t look nearly so old. I sat down at the table, looking down at my own hands as I spoke.

            “I… I kind of hope it’s a girl,” I said. She lowered her hands and looked at me. I couldn’t look back.

            “Why do you say that?” she asked, trying to pull her voice together.

            “We sure don’t want the little bastard to turn out like me, do we? We’re going to have enough trouble as it is.”

            “We?” she said hopefully. I looked up at her finally and wished I hadn’t, seeing that look in her eyes. I nodded.

            “Yeah, we.” She got up and so did I and she came and put her arms around me and I just cried. I didn’t know what I was crying for or why I hugged her back but I did and damn it all, I just cried because I was so scared that kid would grow up like I had and I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t walk out on him. I couldn’t walk out on my son. I couldn’t.


            “I love you mom.”