Birthday Wishes

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“He’s not old enough for live ammunition.” As if settling the issue she said, “He hasn’t even made his first communion.”

“He’s a good shot.” The boy’s father turned up the stairs. He wrapped the box of bullets in teddy bear paper and stuck a yellow bow on top. He never had been good with bows. But he knew she wouldn’t wrap it. Not after that tirade.

Timmy’s kindergarten buddies would come sit around the festive table. His father set the ammo carton near the cake, pride trumping judgement, fear overcoming reason.

She would pray for them both.

Alabama Justice

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A pregnant woman approached the battered wooden desk at her hometown police station. “Charge me with endangering my fetus.”

“You’re Buck’s wife.”

She nodded. “He’s the one endangering.”

“What you do to git him riled?”

It was always the same. They wouldn’t take a report.

“I read it in the paper today. He was mean when I married him. I’m ready to pay for my crime.”

“You got any marks?”

“Not yet. Just threats.”

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it, Mrs. Buck. Go on, now.”

A woman officer came in. She made the arrest.

Remind Him to Laugh

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Dash had slept with countless women. His old friend, Anne, called it trying to prove something. He became himself with Grayson. They’d been together forever.

Their big empty house had a “For Sale” sign in the front. Not for long. San Francisco real estate moves fast and Dash was motivated. Dash’s retirement party was tomorrow. Anne would call him “queen” at the airport. She was the only one left who could. She’d help him grieve, find another life. Sell the house, tie up loose ends, deliver him to the ashram to reinvent himself. Most important, she’d make him laugh.

……..

Find “The Vow” which features Dash, Anne and Grayson at https://www.paloaltoonline.com/short_story/short_story_33/adult2.php

The story took second place in the 2019 Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest.

Grow a Mind

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“They grow around here.”

“You identify mushrooms?”

“Yeah.”

Markus had read something about depression and psychedelics. He was depressed. Still, I couldn’t imagine him taking psilocybin. A guy who drives a truck with a gun rack and operates power tools for a living doesn’t seem like the right demographic. I said I’d watch. I had my notebook ready. I could write something. The ravings of a man high on drugs would do. 

He was quiet, calmer then I’d ever seen him. He opened a sketch pad and started painting with water colors. I wished I’d joined him when he offered.

There’s an App for That

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Tunnel Vision for a relaxed viewing experience. It’s an app. Easily available for download from the not-evil-less-good purveyor of such things. Said app is guaranteed to shield your eyes from unwanted images of, among other perfidities: measles, ecoli, drought, floods, and politically apocalyptic weather conditions. Also: locusts, wildfires, and plagues of hailstorms as revealed in Revelations.

We never saw it coming and, once we did, we took it as God’s will. Surely the End Times. Most definitely nothing to do but pray. Pray or prey on. Better not to look. They say death by freezing is rather like falling asleep. 

L’Chiam

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Snow symbolizes death. Check out twentieth century fiction. I’m living in twenty-first century America, looking out the window at snow in June. Banks of it cover the summer ground. Carbon flecked flakes fall from the sky. Opening the door of my isolated cabin, where it’s safe to stay for now, I look out on the garden. Poles push out of the white landscape. They have labels: potatoes, carrots, turnips. Shriveled apples hang from a tree. Inside the house, basil and thyme grow fragrant, adding their flavors to the root vegetable stews that make up my post climate change diet. L’chiam.

Stormy Weather

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The Pineapple Express thundered in last night, dark, weighty, pouring rain into soggy ground late into summer. In the morning, you pull on yellow boots, a raincoat, grab an umbrella, and step outside. Splashing through small puddles, avoiding big ones, your legs pump, hoping to reach the station between outbursts.

A lush jungle, California’s changed. Waiting at a light, feeling the air blow warm through your hair, you remember the cool contrast of Midwest rainstorms and muggy summer days. You think California could get used to April showers in August. You know the climate is evolving. Here comes the train.