Deliveries

The delivery trucks were lined up on Main Street as he took his morning walk. The doors opened up. The ramps came down. People began walking down them.

It wasn’t encouraged to stand and gawk, but slowing, he watched with a sly side gaze. The newcomers seemed like an older lot and mostly white, which gave a grimace to his face. He preferred it when they brought in young people, especially when they brought in young men. Spilling out on the sidewalks, they had the befuddled look that he’d seen before on others, the look that asked, “Where am I? How did I get here? What’s my name? Do I know you?”

He wondered who they’d be, and whether any would become friends. Ambivalence hedged his thoughts about the answer. On the one hand, he wasn’t supposed to remember these things. Meeting a new delivery always fueled temptations to share his secrets with them. He wanted to whisper to them, “Psss, did you know that you died and were resurrected? You’re just like Jesus.” He always wanted to giggle about it.

Not that it was a laughing matter, having a dead population that was always being resuscitated and put into communities to give them a lived-in look. That’s how it goes when you lose the war.

The victors dictate the terms for peace.

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Book Light

She loved reading books, and not just reading them, but researching what to read next, talking about her reads with her friends and family, and prowling book stores with her book list in her hand. Non-fiction, fantasy, young adult, historic novels, mysteries…they were all on her list. She read everyday, often reading four or five books a week. Finding a new author that she enjoyed was her greatest pleasure.

Then her mother died, her mother, who’d always encouraged her to read, introducing her to The Three Detectives series and Nancy Drew Mysteries, her mother, whose idea of a day out was taking her girls to the public library, where each was allowed to check out one book.

With her mother gone, she no longer wanted to read. It was like her book light had gone out, and would not come back on.

In Fits.

The start

seeing

noticing

talking

flirting

friendship

lust

sex

love

trust

The relationship

trust

sex

love

support

compatibility

complacency

ennui

questions

regrets

The decisions

disagreements

betrayal

anger

arguments

fights

threats

tears

compromise

counseling

separating

praying

choices

The end

together

apart

resigned

accepting

hopeful

dismissive

optimistic

pessimistic

loving

trusting

hoping

Death.

 

 

 

ATM

His turn, at last, just when he was about to explode from impatience. That woman ahead of him had taken, like, six minutes.

As soon as she walked away, he strode up. Spreading his fingers, he put his palm to the ATM’s cold, dark screen. A pulse rose through his fingers. Blue light limned his hand. Sharp tingling nibbled at his skin, and the hair everywhere on his body stood on end.

He tapped his foot, waiting for results. Like thirty seconds later, the ATM began printing sounds. More seconds passed. His hair flattened and then the pulsing faded, the light dimmed and disappeared, and the tingling ended. As he removed his hand, a slip of paper scrolled out. Finally.

Taking the paper with, he perused the print out. “You done?” the next person in line said.

Nodding with a grunt, he walked away, perusing his print out as he did. The bottom line was what he first went to read. It said, “Warning: your karma points have reached the minimum balance. Be careful what you do.”

A car horn blew. Looking up and around, he found the offending driver and gave them the finger. As soon as he realized what he’d done, he grimaced. Crumbling the paper up, he shoved it into his pocket and started walking fast. Of course his karma points were low. How the fuck were you supposed to get points in a world like this?

Getting into his car, he started it with a burst of smoky revs, shoved it into reverse, and punched the gas. His rear tires grabbed traction with a chirp. “Hey,” an old man shouted behind him. “Watch it.” Selecting drive, he scattered pedestrians as the car jumped forward. Cutting off another car, he started speeding down the street.

“Minimum balance,” he said, selecting another radio station and turning up the volume. “Fuck that noise.”

Lighting a cigarette, he went on down the road, speeding past a girl in the crosswalk. Minimum balance, right. How was he ever supposed to get karma points when the world was set against him?

As his father always said, there’s just no sense in trying.

Eavesdropping

You ever get sucked into listening to another group’s conversation – people that you don’t know, in a public place – and then they lean in and drop their voices, making it difficult to hear them? Doesn’t that just chap your nose? It chaps my nose because it puts me in a bind. I’m invested in their subject. I want to hear what’s going on. Asking them to speak up usually doesn’t work, and moving closer to them often interrupts the discussion.

Thank the flying spaghetti monster for the technology that lets me listen from a distance. Yes, I mean, bugs. You can just point and hear. Relatively inexpensive, they’re easily found on Amazon, are now so discreet that nobody ever notices.

The things I’m forced to do to satisfy my curiosity.

Meet the Beatles

With snow blinding me and an icy wind using a scalpel on my face, I thought I’d made a stupid fucking mistake. Lowering my head as far as I could behind the windscreen, I kept on the throttle, hoping that I wasn’t passing the trio or that I’d run ’em over. I should’ve been on them by now. I’d seen them on the cameras at the two hundred yard marker. They were almost stopped then. Since, the snow’d come on proper. No way they’d gotten closer to the house, I was sure.

I wasn’t completely stupid, though. I’d tied a rope to the garage ‘fore I left it and another to the buggy’s rear bumper. Even if I didn’t find the three, I’d been able to get myself back to the house. This had gone past being a rescue thing, acquiring an aura of a personal goal because I was remembering the time I’d failed. I wasn’t failing again. I hadn’t fought to live and survive just to fail helpin’ others. No.

Almost running into the pole I’d planted years before as a marker helped orient me. I’d deviated from a straight line by ’bout forty feet. Turning right, I squinted against the swollen battering flurries and drove into the wind, cursing myself, the weather, the people, my humanity, and my stupidity. Then, like a chance as I was passing ’em, a blue garment flashed at me on my right.

Jesus, I was passing them. Dropping off the gas, I swerved right and swamped the buggy in a snowdrift. Righting it with a combo body-lean, wheel turn, and burst of throttle, I twisted right. The blue loomed up. I aimed right for it. As I did, I saw obscured shadows that had to be the other two.

On their knees, the blue-clad figure was waving their arms at me. Wind tortured hair around an exposed white face. A mouth yawed open below dark, hopeless eyes.

I pulled the buggy in amongst them. Between me and blue, we wrangled the other two onto the buggy’s back. One of them was such dead weight, I was leaning ninety degrees toward the certainty that they’d died. I didn’t wanna drag a dead person home, but since I didn’t know indisputably, my course was set.

With them in the buggy’s shallow bed, and blue on the buggy’s passenger side of the sole bench seat, I grabbed the rope up and hit the gas for home. It was damn slow going, as I had to keep pullin’ the rope in and adjusting my course. My speed had to be kept down lest the buggy’s bumpy ride tossed the three rescuees out.

Dusk was grabbing the land and I was frozen exhausted by the time the rope led me home. Back into the garage, I pulled the door to and closed it up, just about shutting out the cold and the shrieking wind. Blue became livelier then, gushing tearful thanks at me. The other two were in greens, grays, and blacks, pants, sweatshirts, coats, hats, and scarves, anything, I guess, to be warm and protected. Still, it seemed like scarce stuff to be wearing in that shit outside. I wondered where the hell they’d come from, why’d they’d been out there, and why’d they’d been coming my way. With blue’s help, we got the other two out of the garage and into the house.

Gasping, sniffing back snot, wiping her nose, and pushing her dirty blond hair back, blue introduced herself as Lauren. Her friends were Gwen and Shalla. Shalla proved to be the unconscious one that I thought might’ve been dead. All looked like they’d missed soap and food.

“I’m Bill,” I told ’em, not my real name, but part of the wild Bill persona I’d created for myself. Don’t know why I used it instead of my real name but it felt right. The animals had come in to see what was going on, so I thought I’d introduce them, too. “Meet the Beatles. The shy cat hanging back is Ringo, and the darker tabby is George. Their mom is the bigger tabby, Paula. The husky is John.”

“The Beatles,” Gwen said with a wan, teary smile. Dark banks shuttering her face, her head dropped forward. As she fully slumped onto the floor, Lauren did the same, like the heat was melting ’em down after being out in the cold. In seconds they seemed as unconscious as Shalla.

The animals went about sniffing the comatose new arrivals as I gaped, grappling with what I’d need to do. They were the first people I’d seen in three years, the first women I’d seen in almost four. Though I didn’t really enjoy the prospect, I had to get ’em out of those cold, wet clothes, and into the bed by the fire. Once I’d done all that, I’d have to mark my calendar, cause it was an auspicious day, the day that three female survivors met the Beatles.

I just knew it was going to change my world.

Lost in the Words

I pray for hope

I haven’t kept you too

long as I know that you’ll

always be the drink for

me and you, it always

seems like we’re getting lost in the

words can make a difference, especially how

they come and go through the spirals of

our changing lives and times because

what was once familiar has become

strange that I think of this now in

conjunction with where we’ve been and

where things have

gone are the expectations and

dreams are what keeps me

going for the goal that

I pray for hope.

 

Looking Forward

Digging into his pocket, Chasm pulled everything out, dropped it on the counter, and took in the lifetender. Her neck and arms were lean and bare. Alabaster skin and sculpted coal black hair accented her blue eyebrows, green eyes,  red pearl earrings, and brown lips.

Leaning forward, the lifetender watched Chasm’s discs take on green, gold, and silver. Her name holo said she was Kymeri and she was not available.

“You got something,” Kymeri said. Her long, flashing red fingernails raked the discs into order as their denominations came up. “Thousand dollar goldisc, a D, silver century, a wide array of greendiscs.” Her fingernails flashing gold, she tapped the individual discs. Each spoke its value. When she’d tapped the last greendisc, she clicked her fingernails together. Changing to green, her nail said, “Seventeen hundred sixty-seven dollars.”

Just short of a day’s pay, a reflection of the six hours Chasm had worked. “What can I get for that?”

“Night room, joy doll, two squares, dozen drinks, new clothes.”

“What would that leave me?”

“Depends on particulars.”

“Of course. There a budget package?”

Shaking her head, Kymeri said in a low voice, “You don’t want a budget. Get a deluxe, at least. You can afford it. Budget drinks are well liquor or piss beer with compiled food, and the clothes are plastic.”

“Can I budget and then upgrade the drinks to IPA? I don’t need many, maybe three bigs.”

Her fingernails flashing green, the lifetender said, “Okay, a budget room is a bed with a pop out commode, access to the ionizer, private sink, standing space and one chair.”

“Bedding?”

“Included. Joy doll?”

“No. Trade in for the clothes?”

The lifetender shrugged with a dispassionate scan over his black plastic-encased torso. “Your stuff isn’t much. Probably a ten.”

The negotiations were continued. When it was done, Chasm had spent eleven hundred. It scared him to spend so much.

He was ported into his pod. Soft white lights came on. No windows, one large monitor, doublewide bed, chair, sink, port token switch for the ionizer, and popout commode, as promised.

Squirming into the chair, Chasm guzzled his first IPA. Decent stuff, but most importantly, cold. Tension sloughed out of his shoulders. It’d been a good day. He’d found work and was promised more. He was off the street, had a clothing credit, two meals paid for, along with the IPA and water, and still had almost five hundred in discs.

Life was good. Kicking off his shoes, Chasm unfolded his laptop from his hip pocket and plugged it in to play some games.

For the first time in at least a year, he was looking forward to tomorrow.

 

His Opinion

She used love and hate extensively. “I love pizza.” “I hate peas.” “I love Ricky Gervais.” “I hate heavy metal.”

He couldn’t remember her saying that she liked something. It always seemed like either love or hate. They seemed like narrow borders on a broad wasteland.

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