The Souls of Beautiful Monsters - Lucy

“Turquoise? I can't even say the word without falling down. You want me to spell it?” “No, no. Just describe it.” “Describe turquoise? The color or the stone?” Lucy laughs and scratches her head. “Hmmm… I suppose it doesn't matter,” she says. Stephen twirls a finger around Lucy's bare foot then traces her toes gently before glancing up. “Hang on,“ he says, “it’s the same problem!” Stephen was fascinated by Lucy's ability to confound the simplest notions with an ease that surpassed the remarkable agility of her practical mind. It was what first sent shivers up his spine that first week in thesis for biomedical engineering. Dr. Shirkfield, the startling young star professor, had asked for the students to share their topic concepts for the attendant research course. When no one took the bait, and an uncomfortable silence grew in the room, the young woman in the front of the class raised her hand and flopped it about. “Ah! One fearless target… I mean, student!” The class g…

The Quiet Car

On the quiet car there are signs about how to be quiet; directions, suggestions, vague pleadings…
     On the quiet car there are announcements about the quiet car; how to recognize that you are in the quiet car if you've missed the six or seven signs hanging from the low ceiling along the aisles.
     The quiet car is mostly quiet. Mostly. This alone is a fair indicator that you have found your way into the quiet car if you happened to wend your way onto it by accident or, as is the case on many occasions, you never even knew there was such a thing as the quiet car.
     There are occasionally other things beside quiet on the quiet car. There are brawls on the quiet car; screaming matches, arguments, altercations and insults – a lot of insults… oh boy.
     Even though it is the quiet car, there is enough noise and hubbub to go around.
     The quiet car is an experiment in human behavior: It is an experiment in perception, a study on relativity, a closed environment within …

The Souls of Beautiful Monsters - Fredrick

     He was burbling, wrestling the words as they rushed out of his mouth and losing balance, falling over then righting himself. No one heard the words. They were all too busy stepping over the shadow on the sidewalk, too disgusted, distracted and too burdened with the next step and the one after that...
     “The passage, unseen in plain sight – the door is formless and nowhere and everywhere and the key to the door is emptiness. Here…”
     He holds out his filthy hands, cupping nothing, smiling and squinting into the sun, blinding white hot above the black shadowed shoulders of rushing figures.
     “Mama, look!” exclaims a tiny girl draped in a hibiscus summer dress.
     “This way,” replies Mama, fingers our, distracted, thumbing her phone and grasping for Papa.
     “The restaurant should be over here, wait, no, over there… Lucy! That's a crazy man, yes! See him? See the crazy man? Cuckoo bird! Ok, this way!”
     The miniature dress blots out the sun in a low…

Cause For Alarm

There is cause for alarm at nearly every moment. The universe is tremendous, violent and all encompassing, while we are tiny, soft and mostly irrational.
     This is what is bugging you. This is the cause for that horrid sense of groundlessness that attacks you just when you think you've put everything in order. This is the sudden, momentary dread that grabs you between the sugar packet and the spoon as you fix morning coffee.
     If you bang your head in the shower at six am, you could be dead before noon. This is the way it works.
     We are tiny drops of water mixed with tinier bits of clay and rock, glued together with specks of sunshine…
     If only we were less distinct. I know, I've thought of it. If we, as individuals, were less solid and more fluid in both space and time – less individual really  – then we really wouldn't be as concerned about things that might grab us off the planet: a sudden aneurism caused by a bump on the head in the shower,  spontane…

Revenge of the Family Idiot - part 1 (Horrible Marriages Collection)

There were Stacy, Tracy, Lacey, Casey and Lola, in that order, from first to last. Lola because Lou, the father of the five girls, had prayed this was the last one, and as such, wanted to have a say in naming the closer. He loved the catchy tune on the radio, never realizing what it was about, or who the Lola in the song had been.
        Stacy senior, Lou’s wife and mother of five girls, was too tired to argue. Lola it was.
        It was Lola who started the trouble. Stacy, Tracey and Lacey had already been married to various local men for a number of years and Casey was dating Luke, a plumber from two towns over, when Lola introduced Grant to the family.
        “Oh, he's a handsome one! You’re a handsome one!” Stacy senior passed the looks and the smirks like a card dealer passes bad hands around a card  table.
        “Mom, stop it, your embarrassing him,” said Lola, quietly.
        “Oh no, that's ok,” said Grant, scanning the dining table and the family of young…

The Hit (Horrible Marriages Collection)

“It's not that I never liked him – I liked  him enough -  if it mattered anyhow, which it doesn't,” she hissed.
        “I want him dead. I want it to hurt. I want him dead and then bring him back so you can kill him again, right away, right now…”
The hit-man squinted. “That's twice the cash, even if I could… I'm no expert, but even if I could, it ain't right...”
She smiled and the words sliced through clenched teeth, “You have no problem killing him once but..,” she said and shook her head.
        Stupidity. Killers. Assholes. Dropouts – they make it look like something in the movies.  A hit man is a losers loser: Bad breath, bad manners, dirty, filthy, stupid third-grade dropouts.
“Listen to me! Every week goes by I have to pay that schmuck to live, to breath, to exist in this world just to bust my ass and remind me of what a god damned fool I was in the very first god-damned place. Every check, every dollar in every check - every single cent in every doll…

Sweet Little Things - Part 2 (Horrible Marriages Collection)

Part 2

        I braced myself for the attack. It was a ritual.
       “King of the mountain! King of the mountain!”
I am the mountain. No one ever won that contest. The mountain tumbled every time.
        They'd gotten as far as they could before I scooped them up and rolled them, elbows over giggles onto the soft, Persian  rug.
        “Your getting slow, Lurch!” Squealed Simone.
        “You're getting heavy!” I replied, honestly.
        I was Lurch; from the Adams family. They found that unlikely association hilarious. Especially when I tried the voice.
        After nuggies, a belch contest, and silly how-do-you-do, the girls composed themselves. I received a years worth of catch-up in a six-minute, stereophonic, high speed summary, which ended with four handed vote that my hairline had receded, and it was a sad state of affairs for my nonexistent love-life. They then slowly gravitated  to the photo wall.
Annette and Simon  reviewed their achievements without blinking or…