Category Archives: Short Story

Fiction story I forgot about …

Wrote this for my fiction course at the U of U (I sure did get a D out of that course, so I won’t claim I’m great at writing fiction).

**Trigger Warning**  This story is dark and may be a trigger for any person who has had cancer or any person who lost someone to cancer.

 

The cancer came swiftly, and it took to eating every molecule of my existence with a passion.  “Terminal illness” was eating away at my mind, making me feel like a discarded, turned inside out shirt lying on the floor.

The day of diagnosis was like any other, the car still needed an oil change, people cut me off in traffic and milk and eggs were still on the grocery list.  But I felt it.  I felt deaths presence in the passenger seat, of my gas sipping car, and nobody else seemed alarmed by this visitor.

“How long do I have?” I asked the doctor.

“There really is no way to pinpoint a date, but I’d say no more than six months.”

I nodded my head, as though I just agreed to a Maytag extended Warranty.  I didn’t know any other way to react.

How do I tell her?  Babe, I got cancer, but you’ll be able to pay off the house.  There really is no way to properly bomb the innocent.

*****************************

I decided on chemotherapy, but it didn’t take long for the rebel forces of blood cells to launch a more precise attack.  Today is the six-month mark and I proved the doctors wrong. HA!  Even in this milestone I can feel the ache in my bones, the absence, and the void of cancer boring holes in my soul.  It won’t be long.

*******************************

I chose to die at home, I didn’t want to be surrounded by sterile white walls with whitewashed human beings dancing around my death.  I needed her to be there.  Funny thing about death, there is no rehearsal, you just never know if your last act is going to be Grammy Award worthy or a Rotten Tomato hall of famer.

*****************************

I could feel it, my organs dying.  I felt them sputter and put, needing more oil that would never be provided.  I was in and out of conscience, yet I kept seeing her face.  Sometimes she would be crying, other times she would be smiling.  I couldn’t tell if I was better or if I was worse and her face wasn’t giving me any clues.  Was it Mr. Mustard in the Library with a wrench or I in a hospital bed with cancer?

********************************

I had moments of clarity, but those visiting me in my room must have misunderstood.  They spoke as if I were already dead.  Can’t blame them really, I had all the looks of death.  What beautiful cheekbones you have.  Wow, your waist must be a size 23, and your hipbones are bigger than your breasts.

A lot of these strangers (or were they friends?) would use my room to talk about how sad it was she, the love of my life,  was dying of cancer as well and would die alone.  The misty fine fingers of cancer had caressed her body.  We tend to have common interest.

“Who will take care of her?”  the soon-to-be funeral guests asked.

“She’ll probably end up at the hospital,” the soon-to-be pallbearers said.

It was this night I screamed out to her.

“Please, come with me … not alone.  You can’t alone.  Looking after, to feed, hold.  Not alone!”  She just smiled and kissed me saying, “We’ll always be together.”  She never did believe in suicide.

***********************

Agitated.  Up was down, sin was good and pain was becoming pleasure.  Sweating, not wanting to go.  I felt a hand slip into mine.  I heard, “are you ready?”  The cold steel touched my temple and her warm lips locked with mine.

She whispered “Forever!”

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Freeway Philosophy: 2974

Freeway Philosophy; 2974

The blanket of gridlocked cars belched out CO2 and congested my brain.  The sullied fumes of gas and oil battered my nose.  My cuff dragged across my sweaty brow.  My watch hammered away at hope and no one cared.

“Welcome to a beautiful morning in New York City!  WNYC weather forecast for the day is sunny and beautiful …”

The dead woman, sitting in her sleek, shiny, morally correct BMW, twirled her long blonde tresses in her nimble fingers.  The sway of her little neck confirmed that she listened to something agreeable.  She kept rhythm with her palm on the steering wheel.  Eyes, perfectly centered on her face, were murky with self-absorption.  Hot vomit threatened to land in my lap if I continued to stare at her.

I spot the man, piss stained and shoeless, flat on his back in the tiled doorway of the boarded up business. Wild Turkey and Mad Dog 2020, landlords of misery, ensure he pays his nightly rent.  I’m no voyeur; I can’t watch him get fucked.

Sun drenched windshields winked at me, taunted me, and made unwanted passes at me.  No movie, no wine.  Forced to linger in the harassment of traffic.

I close my eyes and breath deeply and tap my fingers on the doorframe.  I could feel impatience, like ivy, creeping over my nerves, slow and strangling.

Flipped the radio station to more ads, with cutesy hip-hop beats, that ordered me to buy, shoved me into being just like every other neighbor, friend and politician … keep up with culture.  High art now equated with hip-hop beats and consumerism.

The tailored suit felt like a straight jacket, tethered my thoughts and limbs to my body.    My suits reassured my clients, as if my taste in clothes reflected my skills.  But the weekend sweats fit me like a glove, kept my mind cocooned from the sharp pangs of a life wasted on other peoples wants.

Cotton equals the fabric of our lives.

I tug at my starched collar (choke chain?) and I’m reminded of the poor dog at the apartment.  Like my dog, I’m Pavlov’d to believe that the door open means something wonderful is about to happen and that the piece of cheese is one more hallway and corner away.

The horn grates on my already frayed nerves.  Where the fuck could we go?  We were all stuck.  Stuck in a gridlock of dollars, deadlines and deeds.  Dysfunction disguised as business deals.  Deals disguised as success.  Dollars disguised as security.   Security had all of us drowning in the quicksand of society.

The canary colored cab inched closer to the bumper of the morally dead blonde.  She didn’t care; she still swayed to the mindless rhythm of the masses.  The cab driver flopped his tan furry arm out the window.   His other hand strangled the steering wheel.
“Move god damn it …”

God didn’t care.  He was busy winning football games and saving convicts from damnation.  God was busy condemning soldiers and fags.  God didn’t give a shit about rush hour traffic or the woman in the cab trying to make it to the airport on time.  He wouldn’t help her shove her luggage into overhead compartments or hail the next cab for the ride home.  He sure as hell wouldn’t be able to explain the broken out back door and the $20,000 worth of technology that now graced the underground.

She would still pray later that night.

I want coffee.  Good coffee.  Guatemala handpicked coffee.  My mouth is tired of cardboard masquerading as java.  Snappy green logos don’t ensure good coffee.  It only signifies that you are a mindless twit who keeps up with “the Jones”.  Wake up.  Everyone around me, sitting in their foreign made cars, wake up!

Hit snooze one more time.

The monster that kept shop in my stomach fired up the twist and turn machine and howled.  I hungered for something real.  A true caress of caring, a quick squeeze of reassurance, and a handshake that really sealed a deal … something authentic.  I moved my hands to my lap, that way I could deny all of the lies they had spread throughout my life.

My legs ached to run to nowhere (or maybe everywhere.)  They ached to stretch out of a shallow life.  Run from village to village, to find out if industry had ruined each port.  Run into women, into friends, into assaults.  Maybe blood would prove I was still alive.

Run to catch the rabbit.

The dust swirled in the gutter and was a nice change from the comatose drivers that surrounded me.  The dust had no arrogance and didn’t want to plead to a misdemeanor.  It had no set pattern.  Some clusters of dust were left behind, but it kept swirling in and out of the polluted gutters.  The breeze lifted up the discarded newspapers, read the headlines and tossed them aside.  Natural ways to create chaos.  Aren’t we all just dust in the wind?  How cliché.  Am I just a speck of insignificants?  Did I drink the Kool-Aid each time I took this harrowing drive to the city?  My life swirled around a vortex of bullshit, day in and day out.  Cashed paychecks signaled the racers to ready their positions and start it all over again.

The dead blonde lumbers from her cave; her long legs pushed open her car door.  She points to a cloud of smoke in the sky.  Her slack mouth, dangling limbs and rigid spine are enough to get the other cavemen to emerge into the light.  I let herd mentality have its way with me and I shoved open my door. The shimmer of glass, black billowing smoke and bright blue morning sky stabs my eyes.  I lean in my car window and listen to the radio.  It always has the answers.

Well that and TV, right?

“This is WNYC AM 820, and online at WNYC.org.  The time is 9:03, good morning and I’m Mark Highland and we are back now with uh, not really to many additional details of what is ah really happening downtown.  You can more than likely see it if you are anywhere in the vicinity.  EXCUSE ME!  Uh.. I’m getting …. Ummm …  a report here … our host Steve Sullivan, on um … Morning Music FM, although our FM station is off the air … actually Jude, I’m sorry, Jude is is is sitting in front of the microphone right now to tell us what he has seen.  Jude”

“Ok.  Umm …..” 

Silence.

The AM station just as dead as the FM station.

The world had just shut down.  The hum of existence had stopped and a city held its breath.  The dance of deals interrupted by the screeching of records.  Even the dust, once twirling in the gutters, understood and died out, at a loss of how to continue to move.

Thousands of shiny windows and the beautiful glow of fire. Like a train wreck you couldn’t stop watching.  These buildings swayed above a city of people.  I picked up my phone but had no one to call.  What would I say?  What could be said?

The wind, as it brushed past my face, increased with each stride.

Run and catch the rabbit.

The soft blue and red lights bounce off the buildings like balloons on a Macy’s Day Parade.  With each step on the concrete and asphalt of my ancestors, a new enchantment unveiled her face to me.  Slivers of sunlight began to rain from the building and the metal begins to wrap around each other, holding on one last time.  Plaster, cob-webbed with instability, slowly descends down the halls of money and greed and down the face of democracy.  Deals, deeds and security, engulfed in flames, flippantly fall on the city streets.

Suit jackets, hung on the back of office doors, sway to the symphony of destruction.  One floor eats the other and the ravenous beast can hold back no longer, devouring all in its path.  Chairs swiveled towards the massive black hole, taking the secretaries and fax machines along.  The body of leaves floats to the streets below, no park grass to cradle their falls.  One huge ticker tape parade for the people, by the people, of the people.

Firemen, vigilant and energetic, run from their candy red trucks.  Quietly curled hoses, wrestled from slumber, are a futile hope.

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