Brianna Jones was good at running. She attributed it to her nervousness, a fearful quality present since before she could remember. It was easy to grow up scared in her household. It was always loud, and not a warm, hearty, people-at-a-Thanksgiving-party loud. It was an angry-shouting, glass-shattering, door-slamming-in-the-background loud.
He wasn’t the guy we expected, that’s for sure. He looked like he’d never worked a day in his life.
“The idea is to make everyone fall in love with you, understood?”
“Easy enough,” he said. Cocky bastard.
They had clothes and stylists galore waiting for him. He ignored most of what they told him as if he knew better. Maybe he did. Charisma is a very indefinable quality.
The first time he walked out of the back and I got a good look at him, I was floored. He was drop-dead gorgeous. I nearly forgot what the hell we were there for.
I see ghosts. I hear their voices. Watch them move across my vision. Sometimes they talk to me, but it isn’t them. It’s people from the past. They’re frozen in my memory. A word, a touch, a phrase. The what if’s and what might have been.
Tiny clots of tissue and intestine trailed down my driveway and snaked around to the backyard. Before the touch of day, I’d let Shiva out to run free from the house and I. Two hours later and still no sign of her. She’d usually come back to the front door scratching and whining to get back in; negative 42 degrees had a way of making animals panic. The cold couldn’t bother me anymore, but the sun still did—it was too bright. I grabbed a jacket anyway and headed out to look for her. She had no problem jumping the metal fence around the property. And when she didn’t feel like jumping, she’d dig her way to freedom.
This is a story from way back in the mists of time. Adam West’s Everything Happens for a Reason is another one chosen by the brilliant Leila Allison and this is what she said:
Well here we are at week 207.
It must be a good seven days since our last posting. (Or a pish seven days for those readers in Scotland.)
I was listening to some Blues when I began to write this and John Lee Hooker came on with ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer’ and I just thought that this was in the wrong order. The Bourbon would argue with the Whisky and you would end up enjoying neither of these. The song should be ‘One Bourbon, One Beer, One Scotch’ that would be more tasteful.
I see the guitar case first, full more of hope than of the hard currency of shining coins. The kid sits on the pavement, half-hidden in the shadow of a low granite wall. He’s doing a pretty fair rendition of Hey Joe, working a beat-up acoustic guitar. The thing needs new strings, but he’s getting it done. That strange magic, the universal language of rock lyrics, washes away the kid’s Austrian accent. The chords walk down the neck, Joe kills his woman, the crowd ignores the kid.
Steam played across the water’s surface in lazy swirls, nudged by the breeze and stretching away like cigarette smoke. Behind the hedge, lips pressed to her kneecap’s polished, taut surface, she could taste salt on her skin and, somehow, it mingled with the vision of dragon’s breath steam above luminous water to punch a sudden ache in her throat. Smelling chlorine, she longed for the sea, for sand that grew cool as she dug her feet deeper, and her father’s hand on her bony, eight-year-old spine, walking her towards a quiet tideline.
The grass was wet round the back of the job centre; ten am here was a damp ass and frozen toes. Stella pulled a 70cl bottle of Gordon’s Sloe Gin that she didn’t pay for out of her bag, slotted it between her thighs, and rolled a cigarette she didn’t plan to smoke.
November 29, 2018, 10:31:03 a.m.
Interview room at the Sports League of America (SLA) headquarters in Dallas, Texas. The room has video and audio recording equipment, a conference table seating twenty, water in plastic bottles on ice with glasses and napkins. In attendance is a court reporter, a camera operator, Elsa Dayton, Chief Investigator for the SLA; John Henry Brown (JHB), running back for the Kansas Kings; Abigail Thornton, attorney for JHB, Tucker Borden agent for JHB