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A short break for a Conversation In The Gallery

“It’s just a pile of rocks.” “Says who?” “I’m saying it. I’m looking at it. It’s a pile. It’s rocks.” “Think Smithson, think, Maria, think...” “Flintstone.” “This is my submission.” “Even thought I’m telling you there’s no chance this will be curated into the show? Even though I’m saying, right here, right now, I wont take it...” “My work is in Art In America.” “Show it to them.” “I received the Yanich Initch Itchynich earlier this year.” “There’s a cream for that.” “You’re saying you don’t like it.” “Bingo.” “Have you really looked at it.” “I’m afraid so.” “Is it that bad?” “Oh boy.” “But you show crap. I figured, crap...” “I don’t do angry artist well.” “That’s’ a fact.” “Have you tried next door? They’ll love you next door.” “I just came from there.” “It was nice to meet you.” “Meet me? Margret, you represented me for six years, what are you talking about?” “I thought you looked familiar.” “I really need this. It can bounce me back.” “Try rubber bands.” “Is that Dino over there?” “Yep.” “He loves my stuff.” “He…

Nervous Wreck - part 2

“It’s not encephalitis,” said Major. “I’m pretty sure it’s encephalitis,” replied Shine. “My head’s killing me, the light is just so painful” Major waved a hand in the air and stirred the dusty sunlight. “ So bright! It’s a bright beautiful day.” “For you. You don’t have encephalitis.” “Maybe he has meningitis.” “It’s warm in here. Is it warm in here?” “I”m confused.” “It’s the swelling.” “If he’s confused it might be meningitis.” Binky stood on a chair. “Meningoencephalitis!” “Is that possible?” asked Shine. “I didn’t know...”   “See, this is why hypo-group doesn’t work! Who had the idea? All we do is share diseases! Two hypochondriacs in one room is a problem, four of us is... four is...”  Major closed her notebook quietly, pushed her chair back just enough to take in the whole circle, the circle of four. With her included, a circle of five, which more closely resembled a crooked square. “Shine, it’s bright in here. It’s warm in here. You’re confused because...” “Because you’re always confused, …

Nervous Wreck - part 1

People called him Shine, and those that knew forgot to smile and those that didn't wouldn't have anyhow, but the fact was this: Shine was short for sunshine, which was, at least poetically, the inverse of cloudy, which had connotations of dark and stormy, or just plain gloomy, and that was what he was most of the time - dark, cloudy, or stormy - and that's why no one called him Gary, or Gimpy, as his father and brother had before the two of them drowned in the bottom of the duck pond, soggy in the Dodge with a dead bottle of Jack pierced through the windshield like an ugly reminder of a bad idea.
Most people who met him were happy enough with not calling him anything, or pretending at least that they didn't notice the damp, dim shadow of his presence. An embarrassing ploy on an elevator but he couldn't  blame them. He thought about it some mornings while he stood in front of the bathroom mirror drawing black marker circles on the glass around the dark-ringed reflect…

The Crate - part 4 - the end

Fidget stopped grasping at the strip of cloth and offered the narrow end of it to Cramp with his mouth and nodded for assistance. When Cramp drew it away Fidget said, "Oh, the crate? why? You think it will be the end of us?"
     Cramp looked over the ledge and squinted. "It's likely. I wouldn't ask, I mean under normal circumstances." They both hissed painfully from the humor of it, "But we're so close now, and I don't feel like we'll make it, not after that bear, not with this." Cramp toed the crate, "Look at us."
     "Foolish, I suppose. We should be near, wouldn't you say? Seems like maybe a few miles will bring us into contact."
     "I agree. Maybe hours. Unless...."
     "you'd figure we'd see planes, lights, something. We still have the flares..."
      "We do, but still," and they came back to the crate.
     Fidget limped up to the ledge, leaned against the c…

The Crate - part 3

The fifth evening fell quietly and both men shared the feeling that the dawn would either make them survivors or the last victims of a long suffered catastrophe. Any observer of the pair, with knowledge of their circumstances, would suppose that a conversation was due; some planning, crisis management, tactical discourse, perhaps a final assessment of stock and strategy. But it wasn't until after a small tangle with a large bear much later that evening that Cramp found a moment to discuss the crate.
     The conversation took place as they stood against a stone ledge, teetering on a broad plateau, overlooking a subtle expanse of empty terrain below. Moonlit hues of iron-grey, plum, and blue emptiness painted their isolation in serene certainty. The sky above read black, ignoring the bright moon, with no lights above or below to signal civilization.
     While wiping his own thin blood from his forehead Cramp noted, "It had to be your right hand, huh? As if the bear knew…

The Crate - part 2

Somewhere beyond Skull Pass, but before Blind Drop, Cramp lost a toe. He didn't make much noise about it, and Fidget was grateful for that. It was shorn off in a rockslide, and considering how badly that might have turned out, a toe wasn't such a terrible loss. At least that's what Cramp told Fidget as that little piggy got seared shut with the red-hot side of a Butchers knife they'd been using as a machete since the plane went down. "I suppose I should have pulled the crate over instead of pushing it that way," say Fidget once Cramp stopped screaming from the cauterization. "Might of still slid," replied Cramp. “...or I could have tried a lever, I don’t know.”    The fact was that Fidget had taken his own share of minor beatings on he trip as well. He had torn one ear almost fully off, and he’d split the flesh and tore tendons between his index finger and his thumb on his left hand; both injuries occurred while hefting the crate from one spo…

The Crate - part 1

Fidget and Cramp had packed up their belongings and swept out their huts before making sure that the small mountain ledge that they had called home since the terrible crash was as neat and clean for the next disaster victims as it had been for them. "Are we ready?" asked Fidget. "I believe so," replied Cramp. The early morning wind was up. Cramp eyed the solid, grey expanse of sky above them. "Gale up. Maybe worse." "Got everything?" "Enough." "I'll need a hand with something." Fidget ducked into his hut. A moment later Cramp heard Fidget laboring and the sound of something heavy hitting the packed earth within the hut. Fidget came backside-first out of the hut, dragging what looked like a small metal trunk into the clearing. "What's that?" asked Cramp, rubbing one elbow like an alarm. "Nothing," responded Fidget. The two of them stood silently with stares stuck on the dull metal box. "That'…

Lights Out

A story originally created as a submission to "The Big Ugly Review", for which I never received a receipt notification. It seems my little story might have simply been the last ugly straw for a seven-issue flash.
Here it is so I don't feel like I totally wasted a handful of small words.


“We were robbed.”  She pushed the words forward against the carpet as she crawled. “We what?” “Robbed.” Rusty wiggled around on hands and knees, nicked his chin on the edge of a side table and hissed, “This is what I’m talking about, Mare. This kind of thing, it’ll ruin us!” He pulled the black mask up to his nose, felt the damage and eyed his wife angrily.  In the unfamiliar room, soft moonlight crisscrossed with sharp shadows over her black bodysuit. Her full, pouting lips struck through the hole in her mask – those bright blue eyes - Mary filled the image of everything he loved about her in that very moment: the daring, the sexy innocence, the romantic thrill-seeker. She’s killing me, he thou…

that guy - part 14 - The End!

That guy, crooked with simple hatred and half blind with a new found passion for life (in the shape of Babe), raged behind the gimpy pair on the stairs, tangled himself in the procession and was stunned when the bloody body of Gus smashed headlong into the cheap pine box.     When Crawly squealed it was Crimp who let go of his end of the crushed pine box first. Swine let go when the weight if the load snapped his index finger. Crimp tumbled onto Gus and Swine skid into the heap and the busted box gave way and caught hat poor guy Right in the forehead . He stuttered and burbled as the world spun. A word came out of him and Babe leaned into the coffin at the top of the stairs to get a better angle on the sound. The pressure it put on Crawly there, still bleeding beneath that filled box, was enough to crush the last few intact ribs on the little fellow. "What was it?" asked Babe over Crawly's wails.     "Babe," said that guy. A trickle of blood ran down his forehead, w…

That guy - lucky 13

It was crawly screaming as the door came off the hinges, battered down by the weighted coffin but buffered slightly by the wedge of the scrawny boy stuck half beneath it.
"Gettim off me! Gettim! Off!" he squeezed it out, flailing, eyes bulging, blood seeping from a gap in his teeth, through one shredded lip, spattering the filthy landing. Gus staggered over the coffin and into the hallway.  "My own son! Hell! How's about that!" Old Gus, he looked both pleased and sickened as he climbed up on he coffin to get real close to his boy, sweetly riddled as drew the long, bloody, stainless steel blade from a sliced organ deep inside of him, just to the belly-roll side. His spleen he thought, maybe a kidney. "I was going to show you," he slurred, "show you some magic!"      Gus hiccuped blood, smiled into his palm and wondered what he was looking for, but before he had an idea Babe gave him a shove from behind and fell over the pile of creepy, crawly, and…

That Guy - Part 12

That guy lay in his bed that night, cringing, fitful, elated, filled with new ideas, new anger, new joy - as new as baby blood - and the roiling turbulence in his gut was fear wrestling promise. It gave him the nerve to bellow and boom, “That's it! Fuck you! I'm coming up there!"  And he meant it too, standing there on the bed, bouncing, trembling with hatred, hiking himself up in the air on invisible steps, inches from the ceiling as it shuddered and boomed back heavy with railroad ties and anvils threatening the beams. Up sweaty close, through the hammering, nailing, smashing about, that guy could hear Creepy cursing and Crawly shouting, pounding, fighting like maniacs thrashing at death through the darkness.  And that guy there. That little guy. Snapping his teeth at their heels. "Shut it! Shut up! I'll kill both of you!"  Momentary  silence.  Then, across the ceiling, heavy dragging, and again, the same sound without the anvils, with a bit of a pause…

that guy - Part 11

Later she said, "thanks for saving me," . That guy, he got a sliver of babe over the pink and purple range of swelling against his right eye. Words were right there, but his tongue and lips just quivered up nonsense. Babe leaned over, her bed gave a nice bit. "Is this what you do? Spend your time falling off the planet, mopping your blood about, and saving girls like me?" "Whas rot nit," he said through the swelling, "Ron nuh rill in," "Kill him? you may have to anyhow." and babe told that guy the whole story. When she was done she leaned over and kissed him gently on the mountainous ruins of his eyes and lips. Before she kissed him again she paused, silently, and the look on her face was one of gladness, peace. That was a look that crawly could have profited from, in fact it could have been a game changer. Instead, that bit of eden, and the bit offered so gently within it was a gift for that guy, the one who really did save babe. Funny how…

American Dream

When you have a job long enough, and work hard enough, and care just enough about everything there is to care about and do the right thing just enough to get into heaven with the platinum invitation, you can say to yourself, “I’m ready for the American Dream!” You work hard, very hard, and earn millions for the Boss, and for that he cheats you on your insurance, cuts your salary, and doubles your workload. You scratch enough money together to put a downpayment on a house, and when you look around for one, you find that there are more home’s you wouldn’t want to be murdered in than those you’d like to live in. The mortgage broker robs you, the previous owners despise you, the real estate agents - well, there are not enough words to describe that kind of disease - and the sub-contractors who will fix up your dream falsify their credentials, lie about their ability, deceive you about the scope of work, and are generally the kind of people you are trying to keep out of your home instead…

another break for some - Big Art Business

“We want something light, L-I-T-E like, you know - you know?” “I think I know. Like.” “Things that are very big, that’s light, right? Those big flowers, or those big dolls, or those big toys...” “Big sculptures. Big pop-sculptures.” “Yes.” “We put them in front of buildings, in parks, on the medians, perhaps you’ve seen the most recent works on Park Ave - I love saying Ave...” “...Giant cupcakes...” “Is that what they are? Haha, I thought they were rocks. Giant rocks.” “Boulders.” “No, I thought they were, like, giant rocks.” “Giant rocks are boulders...” “Now you’re just teasing me.” “Dick Dirkens.” “Yes, fabulous.” “He murdered his wife.” “But he got off.” “Ah, did she get better?” “Like?” “When he got off, did his wife get better, cause...” “She’s dead.” “How much are we talking about?” “Forty-five thousand.” “How big?” “Make it touch the sky.” “Everything touches the sky.” “They said you were difficult.” “Who are they?” “Everybody in the program.” “In this state?” “Public Arts projects are valuable, they help…

that guy - Part 10

Tick... A memory, before the fear that came with Gus’s love - that’s right - It took a while  but that tiny crawdad got the best of the old man, and with love came the fear he never had for himself; fear of what the future had in store for his fragile boy, the hurt, the disappointment, the sharp promise of despair, failure and to top it off, the disease of death that already ran through his veins. So Gus hadn’t killed Crawly, no, he slowly tortured him with his love. His was a promise to inure the boy against the pitfalls of life; a plan to keep the boy’s head as low as possible, eyes down, close to the ground, with bruises and stumbling incorporated. That was Gus’s love: Bruises and Stumbling Inc.. Tick... But before all that there was something else, a pleasant feeling, one that came without the residual violence after the vice. It was the nearness of that feeling and the close threat to it, in the form of that guy - suddenly that stinking, lousy guy sneaking out of Babe’s place - that …

That Guy - Part 9

Of course it was Crawly on the staircase with half a mouth full of petrified bannister as that guy stumbled over Babe’s warmth and out the door. Crawly: one-half an angry inch from a dynamite-belt strapped to his own head, half that distance to dreams of explosive peace - a memory of something soft and compelling, a comforting space torturously tied, gagged and wrapped in fear. Ah, there’s nothing like a firm, well-ruled childhood! Tick, Tick... “You, you’re that guy from the first floor - what’s the guy from the first floor doing with Babe there? Huh? Guy from the first floor?” That guy still had his hand on the sweaty frame of Babe’s doorway, hadn’t even had a chance to expel the last breath of her surroundings from his lungs before he found himself stuck using that air to defend himself. And he did it, did that, using that very air, he said, “Crawly? You’re the son,” he said, quietly, nudging a soft cheek upward.  “The other one up there - Babe said so...” “Babe said what!?” spat Craw…

Now, a quick interview with a famous artist of the day

“...Well, Thurmond Theery was unkind. My work, “String”, the first “String”, was a monumental statement about the inconsequential - or, more perhaps - a translation of the monumentality of the inconsequential - You know, as much as a room full of string can say about such a thing.” “You speak about a work, “String Three”, this one, a work where you literally string the continents together, literally. How so?” “Airplane and a big spool of string. Monumental spool of string. Strong stuff.” “I see.” “Do you? Really? Can you see it? The string, bakery string, draped hundreds of thousands of miles, over homes and forests, and tigers and little poor children starving to death - no one is absent in my art! - over oceans - give it a yank and draw up an ocean! Magnificent!” “Theery says you are a buffoon...” “I wrap time around my finger like one end of a yo-you string and bounce space up and down with a flip of my wrist, Theery can kiss my bank account!” “Still, he claims that your work is past it’s…

that guy - part 8

Gus couldn’t even tie a shoe without thinking of murder. A smooth lace around one index finger turned him into a lust-red-hobgoblin with visions of garroting, asphyxia, other types of hostile bifurcations. Drawing the little knot tight, that gave him tremors, pushed little bubbles of delight from the tight corners of hate-box. It didn’t matter: waking up, eating marshmallows, there was violent murder in all of it. Acts of kindness simply led to anger and hatred then betrayal and death by murder. He’d often skip the middle stuff and go straight to the murder part. “Hello!” and a sharp knife across the throat if the sun was right. The sticky part was the thinking, the poetry. There was never legitimization; nothing like excuses, diseased thought processes, not that kind of lunacy. It wasn’t sex or thoughts of sex; roundabouts, daisy-chains, pink bugaboos or snakes that looked like the old man weeping. Gus was just fucked-up sick in the head and burbling death-throes looked li…

that guy - part 7

“It’s okay,” her saying it making it so, her leaning against him, nudging him with each careful dab of the cotton swab, so familiar, forgiving, allowing him to breathe, speak. “I don’t know what happened, I must have slipped…” “You cut your head on the door,” said Babe gently, “when you passed out.” “Think of it,” his heart tipped, “I came to ask if you needed help. Me!” He wiped more vomit from the face-down side of him and spoke through the side of his mouth without the bruise. Once he started talking he couldn’t stop. He told her what he’d seen, told her how awkward he felt, how awkward he was and had always been, in fact, how uneasy he was with simply being alive. “It’s not that I am afraid of life, it is just that I am uncomfortable with being alive, always have been. There’s been a mistake - this can’t be mine, this life.” It ran out over his lips and onto the floor. He did it with bitter pride. He spoke and she listened and the more he spoke the more softly she attended t…

that guy - part 6

It took the rest of the night, diligence on all sides, to get the whole thing stuck in order. In fact, there was more order than expected, more than could have possibly been dreamed of. An extraordinary batter of festering neuroses, desperate fantasies, depraved aesthetics and simple bad luck went into creating this particularly deadly delicacy. A heartless putty of sweet dissimilitude came together that night and it was nothing less than a perfect sum of parts that pushed the dawn, belching grey and beaten dim, into the early morning sky that following day. Index finger from chin to buzzer - two-feet? and a half? Really, how long is it shoulder to wrist? Watching it traverse the short distance gave him the hiccups. Watching the sick crescent of chewed nail across the top of it bob and weave along a miniature horizon gave him gas, on the spot, hot farts, burps like lesions. He’d shoveled himself across the hall where history and future collided there on the landing; a cosmic…