The entire world had gone mad. Completely bat-shit crazy which was really saying something in this over-sexed, social-media crazed, smartphone obsessed cesspool that made up modern life. Douglas Garuder had long been a man whose time had passed him by. Hell, he still had an ancient flip phone with a long, spidery crack up the screen. Not that he ever used it. Since Joan had passed away some five years ago, there really wasn’t anyone he cared to talk to. Most of the time if he even remembered to look at the damn thing, he always expected her to call, reminding him to pick up eggs or some other mundane item at the grocery store. That feeling was always followed by the crushing, black sadness that he would never hear his wife’s voice again. At least not in this life anyway.
Liam paces the floor of his “study” which is a bedroom in the home that he and his wife Eileen are renting. The new addition screams its head off. He wishes the thing would shut up. Not the thing. That’s terrible. The girl. The baby. They cry constantly, babies. They cry because they’re infants, then they cry because they’re teething, then they cry because they’re in the ‘terrible twos.’ It seems different names for the same dreadful screeching. He has no idea why anyone would have a baby. He has no idea how he ended up with one.
The garden has faces. No one has seen them except me. At night, after serving my boss and his family dinner, I sneak outside to see the Dracula orchids, the Coxcombs and Proteas. “My friends!” I bow to them. “Forgive me. Everyone is in a bad mood. I too am in negative spirits.” The Dracula callas started speaking recently. One night they told me I looked like a corpse who wept himself to death.” I went to my assigned room, looked in the mirror and watched my tears turn yellow in the lamplight.
Fred Furk is mowing the grass when all asudden KABOOM! Next thing he knows, he’s spread out on his back clean across the yard. Lucky Girl, his Black Lab, is licking his face, and Doris is standing over him. She’s moving her lips, but he don’t hear a thing. Then it all goes dark again.
Yet again I start with our wishes going to innocents caught up in madness!
Barcelona has become another victim of a sickness we are struggling to cure or even cope with.
Daniel crawls through a mixture of mud and clothes. The pungent smell of jet fuel and acrid smoke fills and burns his nostrils. There is something else in the air. Something he tastes as he breathes: a human smell. He spits, before he continues to crawl past open suitcases and broken, twisted pieces of metal. He hears the sound of a gas issuing from somewhere, the crackle of a fire, and then a woman’s moan. He looks over his shoulder at the fuselage. He hears another moan. He stands, turns, and staggers back to the wreck.
In the dream, all I had to do was keep going until I got to the center of the city and then turn right to get to Grand Central Station. Before that I had been in L.A. where some cultists were convinced the world was going to end in another two days. They saw the signs in the street and were all standing around and pointing at a string of lights laid out in a certain way. My boss, Steve, thought they were crazy. He, or someone else, was telling us about a new service, a van set up as a portable office at the airport where you could sit for a while and do your business. Someone handed me a pile of photos which Steve wanted to see so I handed them to him and he found one of himself and his wife and there was a visible reaction that showed me they were very close. Before that I had been standing on my lawn and about a hundred noisy kids were living next door and someone had come by to replace my cell phone and he wanted to know if he should remove the loudspeaker. The further back I went the more complicated the dream got. In any case it must have been Steve who sent me to Grand Central. He liked to have us exercise, so there was someone else from the office out walking too, a woman, but she turned off where there was a fork in the road, following an arrow, while I continued straight through, catching green lights all the way.
Eric Ward was never the same man when he put on the suit. It was a three-piece, black pinstripe with a notched lapel. A silk kerchief, deep crimson, sat Presidential in the jacket pocket with a tie to match. The Homberg on his head carried the proper tilt. He never checked the mirror. It just felt right. This was a suit for winners. A deal closer. That’s what his father would have said: a suit you wear when you want to Get Things Done.
This story was inspired by Rosa Amelia Zilkie
My friend Leonard Gerbrandt was wiry and tall for his age and he had big dimples and a giant Adam’s apple. His mom worked for my parents at our little bakery and she was an elegant beauty reminiscent of the movie star, Hedy Lamarr. She was dark haired and slender with high, rouged cheekbones and large brown eyes. I was just a little kid, but I felt weak when she was near; the scent of her perfume confusing me through a kind of permeating intoxication, although I would never reveal it. Especially to Lenny, who was as tough and unyielding as a Manitoba March storm.
The Gerbrandts were made of stern stuff. Lenny’s older brother was gaunt and menacing – his unblinking stare was like a violent shove. Their dad was an ex-cop. Mr Gerbrandt had been a good baseball player and was a big rugged guy, like a young Robert Mitchum. Mitchum married Lamarr and they begat sons and daughters, including Lenny, who, in later years, taught me how to roll a corn silk cigarette and do a catwalk on my bike. Lenny’s dad was the town cop but then joined the army and when he came back, he was not the same anymore. He had run out of whatever it was that made him Robert Mitchum, the big raw-boned cop who got Hedy Lamarr. Instead, he sat alone in the Hartplatz men-only beer parlour and got quietly loaded every day.
Her name was Aika and Christian had been obsessed with her the moment she transferred to Willowbrook High. In the first week, he managed to hear every hint and rumour there was to know: her second name was Hisama, people were sure she’d moved straight from Japan, and she hadn’t spoken a word to anyone. In the beginning, students thought maybe Aika wasn’t great with English, but those looking to cheat in class saw she wrote fluently. In fact, she appeared to be some form of prodigy, always having the correct answers. During lunch hours Aika spent her time in the library with her head ducked down over a Japanese language novel, and she made a point of being in the classroom before anybody else. Her physical appearance only served to magnify these oddities; her skin was pale, and her long hair hung down to her waist. Kids took to calling her Samara like the girl from that creepy horror film, The Ring. Except never to her face. Strangely, in a school notorious for its bullies, Aika maintained a wall around herself.