Short Stories

10/19/17                        Eddy The Model E (Part 1)

Photo by welcomia/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by welcomia/iStock / Getty Images


     Running a big rig and hauling Sweet crude up and down the back roads of West Texas for a little more than twenty years now, Rhett Anderson was used to encountering assholes on a fairly regular basis. Forget daily, we’re talking hourly, if not minutely here. It was just a given, a part of the job. It was akin those stuffy types who only worked in an office who always had to deal with Karen and her gossip, Rhett had to deal with his own handful nuts who didn’t know how to drive. Except for his nuts always came in a variety pack of different shapes and sizes and Karen, well, was always Karen.
     As sharp as Karen’s wit could no doubt be, his highway nuts were just a hair more dangerous than the office variety. Rolling down the highway with a full load sloshing around in tanker behind you alone could tighten any sphincter, now throw in the fact that damn near every person flying by him giving him the finger also had a phone in front of their face while doing so, you’d be lucky to squeeze out a chili fart. It used to be that the minivans full of rambunctious kiddos with a soccer mom behind the wheel were the most courteous and forgiving of the drivers, but nowadays even they had a finger out the window to thank him for his efforts.
     Driving westward at sundown was definitely one of Rhett’s least favorite times to drive and for the most part, he avoided it altogether when he could. Today, however, he had one more haul to unload before he could stop for the day and go visit his new grandbaby Jenny Sue Dewitt, 9 lbs 4 oz, and he wasn’t about to take a break a now. A decision he would be likely to regret only a few short minutes from now.
     As Rhett began to crest a small hill in his Peterbilt the sun peeked out over the top of the asphalt. He had to simultaneously squint and turn his head to not get blinded by the sun’s rays and tried to look through the corner of his eyes and the slits his fingers made in his raised hand to find a way to keep seeing the road, or anything for that matter that wasn’t bathed in orange light.
     The sun was in the perfect sweet spot to make the truck’s fold-down visor useless, similarly useless was the brim of his worn out John Deere cap as well. He pretty much had to bloc out the entire windshield just to see a sliver of the road. With that great fireball in the sky seemingly riding on the grill like an electric hood ornament, there wasn’t much Rhett could do but slow down. This had apparently angered the tailgater he had been dancing down county road 652 with for the past few miles judging by the blaring horn that was zooming past his window at the moment.
     Thirty seconds ago Rhett had bet himself a dollar to donuts that the guy swerving behind him trying to pass at every moment no matter what the solid yellow lines on the highway called for that when the jacked up pick up truck finally did get his shot to pass there would be some sort of a sticker on the back windshield declaring to everyone who saw it that either he was a pipe-liner, welder or the all-inclusive oilfield trash. He imagined the stickers went right along with the jacked-up suspension, KC lights, exhaust system and the half shriveled up pecker that was no doubt shrinking even further under the steering wheel they were overcompensating for.
     Rhett stole a glance out of his side window as the pickup raced by and since the back window was in the shadow he was able to make out the incredibly large letters that were plastered over the entire back window that he somehow knew would be there.
Oilfield Trash it is then… Just gonna have to take my word on the other part. Besides that just how in the hell could they see anything to pass me? It’s like we’re on the actual surface of the sun here.
     Rhett already knew the answer to the question he asked himself, knowing they probably couldn’t see a damn thing just like he couldn’t but mashed the pedal to the metal anyway because ‘hey that can’t happen to me right?’     
     Luckily for Rhett’s eyes and the fellow travelers on 652, going down the backside of the first hill they just went over he was back in shadow, but he knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long once he started going up the next one. Rhett was on a stretch of highway he liked to refer to as the tres amigos run. The highway had been carved out of a set of three hills, each taller and steeper than the last one, as long as you were heading west that is.
     Looks like I gained another sucker fish, Rhett thought as he checked his side mirror seeing a tiny silver car, one of those rice burner jobs, peek out from behind the back of his truck with the left turn signal blinking. Rhett was in a relatively jolly mood today, what with the new arrival of his granddaughter just a few hours ago and all so he figured he would do the little Honda or whatever it was a favor.
     He reached out his right hand, gave one of the knobs on the stereo a twirl to turn down a commercial on talk radio 550am. Once his hand was back on the large pizza-sized steering wheel covered in leather grip tape, he used his left hand to crank the silver plastic handle quickly about five times rolling the window down just far enough to stick his arm out. As he angled the truck over to the shoulder a tad, something he normally would never do, he jabbed his arm out and made big looping circles in the air gesturing for the car behind him to go ahead and pass with his unsought after blessing. The top of the window rubbed his inner bicep every time his arm went on the downswing.  
     Unfortunately, though, the car behind him was having none of it, and just kept on cruising right along behind him all but kissing the rear of his truck. Just like the jacked up jerk before it kept swerving in and out like a kid about to jump into a double dutch routine with an already twirling jump rope. Rhett decided to make the circles with his arm bigger in case the driver didn’t get the hint. He added the turn signal for more effect but since his left hand was outside of the cab flying about through the air, he had to let go of the steering wheel with his right hand, reach over and through the wheel, flick the lever up lickety-split and grab the wheel again.
     Come on ya moron, pass already.
     His cusswords usually had a bit more of a sting to them than the word moron, but his wife had been hounding him lately about his language, constantly nagging him on and on normally to the tune of something like “We’re about to be grandparents now, you can’t go around cussing like a trucker around our grand-babies.” This had been driven home him so much that it had finally started to infiltrate not only his spoken words but his thoughts as well. 
     “Suit yourself, idiot,” Rhett said out loud to only god and himself as he yanked his left arm back into the cab, rolled the window up and resumed his rightful spot on the road. By this time Rhett’s truck had started up another hill numero dos of the tres amigos while the small car behind him kept playing peek a boo with the non-existent oncoming traffic, so far.
     Just as they were both nearing the top of this second hill, the point where you had no view of what was coming at you just yards on the other side of the peak, the same point where the sun decided to pop it’s bright face up and out again, was the point when the tiny gnat of a car finally made its move.
     Seriously? Rhett thought as he threw a hand up in the air in disbelief, now is when you decide to grow some balls? What a friggin ig-mo!
     This time Rhett was forced to pull to the side, hugging the loosely held together side of the shoulder where gravel met grass, afraid that the little car was going to smack head-on into an unsuspecting vehicle coming eastbound up the hill. He stood on the brakes slowing the massive hauler as much as he possibly could without losing control of it as he noticed the top of a car coming over the horizon, one of his worst fears becoming reality.
     Rhett normally wasn’t one to give in to road rage but enough was enough and he wanted to give old rice burner down there his two cents, or one rather, so he gave him the bird with his left hand, right hand still steering the behemoth down highway 652, along with a gritted-teeth mouthing of words he was no longer allowed to say at home. A glare from the sun bounced off the side of the car’s frame right into Rhett’s eyes as it veered in front of him, narrowly missing the oncoming car and the front end of Rhett’s truck by mere feet.
From Rhett’s point of view, perched up high in the rig, looking down into the passenger side of the car as it passed he wasn’t able to make out if the driver was a guy or girl, neither would have surprise him, however. Not that it mattered, either way, the old saying about women drivers wasn’t exactly the case anymore, nobody could be trusted these days.
     Up in the Peterbilt, Rhett could peer down into the cars and trucks as they passed, the passengers unknowingly giving him a glimpse of whatever they were so intently looking at on their phones or tablets. And although the angle was off in the smaller cars he could normally at the very least see the legs of the driver and make out if it was a man or a woman behind the wheel. Although this time mostly he thought because of the glare he wasn’t sure, but he could have sworn that he hadn’t seen any legs at all.
     Dollars to donuts, Rhetty boy, he thought to himself, it was the glare is all. There has to be a driver. I think you may be letting the stress get to you like Beth Anne’s been telling you is all. Of course, there’s a driver, has to be.
     Rhett repeated those last words out loud but in a different order as he leaned over and looked into the rear-view mirror and staring momentarily into his own eyes, “There has to be a driver.”
     With the sun going back behind the next hill as his truck was on the second decline, he brought his gaze back out to the road in front of him and to the car that just about killed themselves and whoever in the heck else that was in the other car as well. This is when Rhett realized another odd bit about the car, he had never seen that particular model before. Which of course was nothing new for Rhett per say, he wasn’t necessarily a car guy or even knew that much about them, but this one, he didn’t even recognize the name of the maker before.
     Edison - E were the only words he could make out on the back of the car. Edison - E in those stylized, shiny, metallic press-on decals that pretty much every vehicle had.
     Edison, huh? Thought he was the light bulb guy, didn’t know he had anything to do with cars. Hmmm, I bet it’s one of them electric doohickeys.
     Rhett figured he was about as eco-friendly as the next normal neighborly redneck, but never got too deep into it considering he relied on hauling oil to pay his bills, and his kid’s bills and now Jenny Sue’s bills on top of that. He knew one day that the oilfield would eventually dry up and go the way of the coal miners, and horse-and-buggy makers before them when the cars were invented. But he hoped like hell that wouldn’t happen until long after he retired, and then maybe he would consider hugging a tree or three. But for now, it was all oil, all the time.
     The sun was beginning to creep lower into the sky as he began ascending the amigo numero tres. Pulling a full load like he was tonight the truck struggled to climb most hills and some steep overpasses, even with the monster Paccar engine roaring under the hood. Usually, this is when the cars or trucks in front of him would get smaller, their light loads making it up and over easy as can beezy. But the Edison Model E stayed the same size and the same distance away from his front fender almost to the inch. All the while the brake lights never once lit up, making Rhett figure the dummy was just using the buttons for cruise control in order to coast or speed up which irked him like no other. If there was ever a time in your life when you wanted to let people know that you were braking, it was when there was semi hauling a little over eight thousand gallons of crude oil that couldn’t stop on a dime even if that dime was the size of a football field.
     Then all of a sudden, as if it heard Rhett’s thoughts, the car came to life and blazed up the blacktop, out of sight up and over the hill number three in under two seconds.
     I thought those electric deals were only grocery-getters, but that sucker has some serious cahonies under the hood.
     Now that the sleek and silver electric idiot was gone, Rhett leaned over and cranked the radio back up allowing Rush Limbaugh’s voice to pour out over the speakers as loud as they would go without distorting, which on Rhett’s old speakers was only 13. Just as he was starting to lean back to his normal upright driving position he came to the top of this last hill in the tres amigos run. This last hill, the third amigo, had been the steepest and also had the sharpest angle at the top before riding back down to the flat ground.
     The rear wheel of his tanker hadn’t fully made it to the top of the hill, yet, as his front tires started pointing back down again. Pointing directly at the rear of the now stopped Edison Model E in the middle of the road. It was at about a 45-degree angle facing away from him with the caution lights blinking out a sporadic distress signal to all passersby.
     Rhett had to slam on his brakes for the second time that day in almost as many minutes, and swerve to the right as sharp as his old truck could handle it without flipping over, which wasn’t much with two hundred barrels of fluid pushing him from behind. However, he knew that if he did nothing that whoever was in the car right now if there was anyone in there, (this thought coming from nowhere and echoing in his mind eerily) would be smashed flatter than, his wife, Beth Anne’s pancakes. He knew he had to do whatever he could to save them and himself.
     His front passenger side tires went off the shoulder of the highway and for a second Rhett thought he could feel the truck tilting over and held onto the wheel with a death grip hoping like the dickens it didn’t flip. The scene playing out in his mind of a police officer calling his wife and daughter while at the hospital, forever turning his granddaughter’s birthday into a day of mourning. 
     The soft dirt of the shoulder grabbed at his tires forcing him farther off the road, but luckily for him and his family, the ground began to level out where he was at, the ditch turning into just flat ground. Now that he was for sure not going to ram through that little electric idiot and the flipping fiasco was over, it was all only about stopping the truck.
     Rhett feathered the air brakes, little by little, each time he did so the oil in the tanker being towed behind him would slosh to the front pushing the truck forward that much more. By the time he finally came to a full stop he was roughly 200 yards past the Model E. With flop sweat covering his brow and his heart bursting dang near through his chest he threw his own caution lights on, and jumped down from the truck’s cab and slammed the door behind him.
     First, he needed to check and make sure that everyone was okay, and once he that was taken care of he was going to pummel into the ground whoever the driver was for being such a gosh darn eco-loving moron. On the eastern side of Tres Amigo Run, it had seemed like sundown was right upon him, but on this flatter western side of the run, Rhett could reckon that there were still about 30 minutes of daylight left. Rhett started to put a little pep in his step as he got closer, cringing every time he thought he heard the sound of another engine coming over the top of the hill. Scared to death for himself and the occupants of the car all over again.
     Another car never came however, Rhett just figured it was the that little electric job’s engine revving up he could hear, but then he remembered how those things supposedly ran silently. So either his mind was playing tricks on him, or maybe he was hearing his own truck’s engine idling, echoing out back to him over the mesquite bushes, coyotes, and tumbleweeds.
     Yeah, surely that was it.
     The Edison Model E’s blinkers were no longer on, although Rhett would have bet another dollar to donuts that the emergency caution lights had still been flashing when he first hopped out of the cab.
     Now that he was closer, almost 50 yards or so to the car, Rhett started to get the feeling like someone was watching him, the tiny hairs on his neck began to stiffen and tingle as a cool shiver ran down the length of his spine.
     Well, of course, someone is watching you, ya twit. You’re walking up to a stranger’s car stopped in the middle of the highway, don’t be an idjut.
     He turned his head around to take a quick look back at his truck on the side of the highway to see how far he came and also to double check that no one was coming up on him from behind. When he turned back around the silver car’s right blinker was on, sending out a constant flicker of yellow light in his general direction.
     Now the jerk is just screwing with me, well haha turd bucket.
     With the sun hung low and the sky starting to bruise to the color of a plum in the east in front of him that single flasher made the hairs on his neck go rigid again, for no real reason that Rhett could discern. Now that he was closer he could also see into the car a bit better, and to him it looked like whoever was in there pushing buttons or levers or whatever is in those new fancy machines was slunk down low in the seat because from where he was walking, now standing - stopped in his tracks, it looked like there wasn’t a single soul sitting in that car.
     Rhett stood there for another long second as the turn signal kept clicking off and on, off and on, off and on. Rhett swallowed the silly fear now rising in his throat and took a step forward but as he did so the signal blinked off but this time didn’t come back on. Just then the front of the car lifted off the ground a few inches as the rear sunk down a few. It was a weird sight to behold, seeing a car burning rubber, the tires squealing off a yelp before they grabbed the road, and not a single sound coming from the engine, like a golf cart burning rubber. What was even weirder was it doing so with no one behind the wheel.
     The weirdness of it all fell away fairly quickly however as Rhett realized the driverless, electric car was aiming right for him. He turned around to make a mad dash for his idling truck unable to remember the last time he had run, never mind sprinted, what looked to be close to 150 yards or so.
     The thought, probably boot camp, went racing through his mind as he started picking up his boots, heel-toe, heel-toe, as fast as he possibly could, which wasn’t all that fast for a former marine, but for a trucker of the last 20 years, it was actually pretty decent. All four caution lights were back on blinking yellow warnings out to Rhett as the car sped closer to him. Close enough now to give off a shadow of his running body with every flash as Rhett dove off to the side of the highway into a thicket of mesquite, dang glad it was this city cruiser running him down and not that off-roading tiny-pricked jerk from earlier.
     That city car may have some oomph, but it won’t hack it out here in the sticks.
     Rhett landed hard in the middle of the bushes and felt something hot and wet on his inner thigh. He rolled over onto his back to take a look at his leg as the Model E squealed to a stop behind him. He leaned forward and propped himself up on his elbows and was staring at one hell of a goat head thorn sticking out of his wranglers as a solid trickle of blood began to run down his curled up leg into his crotch.
     Just as before when the car came after him, he saw the front end of the car raise off the ground a few inches as the Model E began to lurch forward at him whether Rhett was ready for it or not.

To Be Continued…

10/26/17                      Eddy The Model E - Part 2

     Rhett Anderson laid bleeding on the ground looking up at the front end of the Model E. Just as he thought he was toast, that the silver city slicker’s car was actually going to go off-roading to run him down, it stopped dead in its tracks. The blinkers clicked off again and Rhett wasn’t sure if the engine had been turned off or what considering it had never made a single sound, to begin with.  
Maybe the battery died.
     Rhett knew he was too unlucky for that to have happened just as it was about to make him roadkill, but something changed. There had to be some reason that the car stopped.
     He looked down at his crotch, where the small trickle of blood from the thorn had begun to pool and soak into his jeans. He knew if the guys back at the shop could see him now they would all get a gut-busting laugh out of it for days, if not weeks, to come. First, Rhett had been scared senseless from some hipster in an eco-mobile and now here he was on the side of the road looking like a chick who forgot her tampon when aunt flow came to visit.
     Rhett yelped out in pain as he adjusted his legs, splaying them out in front of him so the blood would no longer run to his crotch. When he did so, the massive goat-head thorn that had been sticking into his thigh was ripped out when the new slack in the once tight denim bunched up at his knees.
     The thorn must have landed in just the right spot on his inner thigh because now he could feel a steady squirting of blood pumping out of his leg with each heartbeat. Which seemed to quicken just as this realization hit home. Now that was exactly Rhett’s type of luck, bleeding out on the side of the road from some stupid thorn.
     Once a marine, always a marine, though, and Rhett finally fell out of his haze and jumped in action. Well, laid down into action that is to say. Laying flat on his back he raised his right leg, considerably heavier than he remembered it to be just seconds ago, and rested it on the small twig of a branch of a mesquite tree. His steel-toe wellington work boot made quick work kicking the thorns away. Now that his leg was elevated he quickly lifted his waist off the ground while he unbuckled his belt. Once it was unhooked he yanked it hard out of his loops like his daddy used to when he gave him back talk. The belt couldn’t have come loose from his waist loops any quicker even at the hands of Indiana Jones.
     Rhett winced as another shot of pain came radiating out from his leg as he wrapped the belt around the gushing wound using it as a makeshift tourniquet. As skinny as Rhett’s waist was, however, it was no near as thin as his thigh, his wife always giving him a hard time, calling him chicken legs on the few times he actually wore shorts. There wasn’t a hole to be found on his belt within six inches of the buckle once it was wrapped around.
     He knew if he had a chance of keeping it tight he would have to do something besides just holding it with his hand. With his left hand, he felt in his pockets, and let out a boisterous “Dammit,” when he realized he had left his pocketknife up in the console of his truck.
     It’s ok, he thought, it’s ok, I can make it work.
     Rhett fancied himself a redneck McGyver of sorts and looked around the divot he made in the weeds around him as sat up, wishing he had stretched more over the last 20 years. He could barely sit halfway up with his leg raised only a couple feet off the ground resting on that branch. He remembered a time when he could touch his toes while sitting down on the ground like he was now and didn’t think he could make it much past his knees at this stiff age.
     He hadn’t been able lean forward far but had made it far enough to spy the goat-head thorn that caused this mess in the first place on the ground in between his legs. He grunted as he made a final push to lean forward just enough to grab it off the ground, careful enough to not poke it through his fingers. Rhett eyeballed a spot on the belt that he figured would be good enough to keep it tight around the wound and with his left hand holding the belt in place, he used the right to work the thorn like a top and dig a hole into the worn smooth, decade-old leather of his belt.
     Once he got a hole going he threw the thorn to the side and work the belt back over the wound and cinched it tight, the rough hole in almost the perfect spot for the clasp to slide through and keep it tight to his skin.
     Rhett had been stealing a glance over to the car every now and then as he worked the task at hand, but now that he was bandaged up as good as he was going to get out here his eyes never came off the Model E. He plodded his foot down off the branch with a thud and reached up carefully to that same branch to help pull himself off the ground. Getting up off the ground only using his left leg proved about as difficult as touching his toes but once he was fully on both feet, the Model E moved in reverse and backed up about ten feet from the side of the road. As if giving Rhett the after you gesture but without hands.
     Obviously, Rhett wasn’t picking up the hint quick enough so the Model E flashed the headlights at him and then once those clicked back off, the left turn signal started up again. This time pointing the way back to Rhett’s truck which was still down the road about 75 yards or so.
     Now Rhett was certain he was being toyed with, but there wasn’t much else that he could think to do but try and make a break for his truck, busted leg or no. It was either that or sit and wait for someone to drive by and offer help. It was normally a busy road but Rhett had figured that at least five minutes had to have ticked on by now and not a single other vehicle had passed them. Plus with Rhett’s own experience with being stranded on the side of the road with flat tires and more than his fair share of engine troubles, the likelihood of anyone stopping to help a north of middle-aged man like himself was slim to none. Unless he had long legs sticking out of short shorts or cleavage from here to Carlsbad or both, there was no chance of anyone stopping, not out here in the boonies.
     So it seemed his only option was to hightail it back to the truck on one leg and grab his trusty sidekick and let the chips fall where they may. His old partner riding shotgun wasn’t the fold up pig-sticker he left jangling around in the ashtray of the cab. No, right now he was thinking about making it back to the truck and grabbing and the only good thing his dad ever left him, a Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum revolver. The kind of gun that Dirty Harry made scumbags stare down the business end of while saying “go ahead, punk”. He had only pointed it at watermelons and milk jugs before today, but he hit dead center every time he pulled the trigger. Back in the USMC, he was the original Hawkeye, before that black leather vest wearing pansy with the bow and arrow in the superhero movies sullied the name.
     Only the eastern sky had been starting to bruise when he was walking toward the car earlier, now the entire cloudless expanse was turning a deep purple, although there was still a sliver of orange in the west holding out. He could even start to make out a star or two overhead and new that without the lights of the city glaring out into the sky, it wouldn’t be long before it was completely pitch black out here so he needed to get a move on it. The Model E’s headlights flashed on and off again, the blinker still pointing the way.
     “Yeah I get it, Eddy,” Rhett said and added an extra, “you asshole,” before spitting out a thick glob of dehydrated slobber in the direction of the waiting vehicle.
     He wasn’t sure when he started to refer to it in his mind or out loud as Eddy but really it didn’t matter. It was just a way to direct his anger and fear. By now, though, he was certain that there was no one behind the wheel and didn’t delude himself any longer by trying to think otherwise. He had seen it from every angle just about now and either it’s world’s shortest person driving it, or it was being driven remotely. What Rhett hadn’t begun to consider at this point was the third option, that there was no one controlling, at least no person that is.
     The barely-there shoulder of the two-lane county road was almost as treacherous as the overgrown landscape it was paved on. The shoulder was a rugged zig zag of asphalt, the edge crumbled away in most spots leaving hunks of the road on the outskirts of the knee-high weeds.
     The pain from the wound was barely there, although that would soon change once his adrenaline started to wane, he was still fearful of damaging his leg too much more in an all-out run. Rhett decided he needed to perform an experiment of sorts before he got back on the road to make a run for it.
     The closer he got to the pavement, the quicker the light would flash on the car’s left turn signal as if beckoning him in the right direction. The car’s way of saying yeah that’s the ticket old Rhett, old buddy, old pal of mine, right this way and I’ll lead you home.
Rhett limped another step closer to the road, now only a step away from making contact with the highway and the blinker, that was no longer just a blinker it was a solid yellow light coming from where the blinker should have been, lighting up the road behind him.
     “Let’s see whatcha got Eddy,” he said as he grimaced from putting all of his weight on his right leg and stepping forward with his left, the left boot coming down hard and quick on top of the gravel so he could lean on it all the faster.
     Before Rhett could breathe a sigh of relief from taking even a minuscule amount of weight from his burning leg, Eddy lunged forward at him. The only sounds being made were that of the tires spitting up gravel.
     This caused Rhett to stumble backward in haste, scared to the point of throwing his hands up in front of his face like he was about to be punched right in the schnoz. As he shuffled back, however, he was just barely able to gain his balance before careening back down to the ground. Thankful for keeping his feet after a glance back showed him that this time he would have landed on a cactus bed instead of a bed of weeds between two mesquite bushes.
     What he was also thankful for though, was that old Eddy was once again backing up in reverse, slowly but surely. The blinker back on, flashing in a dull cadence now, with two sometimes three seconds in between each burst of light. No doubt just another trick to lull him back onto the road he knew. Eddy’s way of telling him “Hey buddy, I was only fooling with ya, come on. Come on back up here, I’ll leave ya alone this time, honest, horn to God.”
     Rhett didn’t know if he was losing his mind to go along with all the blood still running down his leg, naming the electric car trying to run him down was one thing but giving it a voice in his mind was a whole nother ball of earwax. One thing was for sure however, he wasn’t stepping foot back on the road until he absolutely had to. And if luck was on his side at all today, Yeah right Rhetty boy, good luck with that one, the passenger side door to his truck would be unlocked and he wouldn’t have to at all. He could climb on up from this side of the road and grab the piss-maker, as he liked to refer to his gun sometimes because when Rhett did pull it out it sure wasn’t to make peace, he only pulled it out to make piss run down whose ever leg he was aiming it at. Then he would put as many holes in old Eddy there as he had bullets to do so. To his knowledge that was only 12, six already loaded in the revolver and another six in a speed loader kept tucked in with the gun inside the leather zip-up case under the seat, but he figured 12 would do this job well enough.
     Rhett stomped his left down into the weeds in front of him, walking parallel with the road only about two feet shy of it, checked for anything that would make him stumble and then dragged his right foot behind him. He repeated this motion over and over, the truck seemingly n closer than it was when he started although he knew he had to have at least gained some ground. The hole in his leg was throbbing something fierce now, making him grit his teeth so hard his jaw was beginning to ache right along with his thigh.
     Every clumsy limp and drag that he made, old Eddy was right at his side the whole way, keeping pace no matter how slow his trot.
He lifted his left foot and out again only this time the toe of his boots clipped a chunk of asphalt that had broken loose from the road and was hidden all too well in the weeds and the ever darkening sky, causing him to nosedive into an all-out face plant. Thankfully for his sake this time there were no goat head thorns or mesquite bushes where he landed. But as he landed he had jutted his forearm like a running back readying for a mighty blow from a defensive lineman.
     The little space in between the two knobs of bone sticking out of a bent elbow known as the funny bone rammed hard into the corner of road that sent a shockwave of pain through his body so ridiculous that all wanted to do was get up and run around in circles while cussing until it went away. With his bum leg, however, all he could was try to laugh it off, maybe that’s why they call it the funny bone because there is damn sure nothing silly about it when you ding it.
     Before Rhett was able to think too much more about his elbow he heard that familiar sound of gravel being kicked up behind him with a short, barely audible squelching of the tires before they grabbed the road and launched the car right at him. Rhett was able to roll away from the road just in time to not have his elbow ran over. He had been so close to the tire he would have been able to read the recommended psi in those tiny raised rubber letters had it not been spinning so fast as it flew by him.
     Right about now Rhett Anderson looked and felt like a sad sack of potatoes heaped on the ground, now laying flat on his back again on the side of the road, rubbing the pain away from his elbow with a belt tied around his right leg to staunch the blood flow from a stupid thorn of all things. With this last bit of fun over with he knew that as soon as stepped foot, or elbow for that matter, back onto the blacktop, Eddy would be there waiting to run him down.
     For whatever reason that Rhett couldn’t make out, The Model E wither would not or could not go off the road, even a foot. Although Rhett had rolled away, just in the nick of time, he was still close enough to the road that even a little Mazda Miata roadster could have clipped him if it had really wanted to. Either the little electric boogaloo didn’t want to dent its rims, or there was something, a program or whatever was controlling the darned thing keeping it from doing it altogether.
     An onboard computer or something?
     Rhett didn’t know anything about anything when it came to gizmos, especially ones the size of a car, but that sounded like as good as a reason he was going to be able to come up with. Rhett gingerly picked himself back up off the ground, reaching down and refastening the belt around his thigh that had come loose during the fall. As he stood ramrod straight, whether it was to stretch out the muscles in his back or to prove to the little tyrant of a machine that wasn’t to be taken lightly he wasn’t exactly sure, but there was no machine around to prove it to any longer.
     By now the sun had all but disappeared behind the distant mountains on the horizon, hundreds of stars were blinking down at him in the weeds off to the side of the road but his truck was the only thing he was able to make out anywhere around. When he gazed at his truck, now only about 25 yards away, a chill went down his spine like a centipede slithering from the back of his neck to his ass crack as the red caution lights on the tail end of his tanker blinked away at him casting everything in an eerie intermittent glow. 
     Rhett shook off the shiver and again started to make his way back to the truck, without making a single attempt to get back on the road, Eddy or no Eddy, not yet anyhow. Two steps further down the road, Eddy heard something coming from behind him that made him put a little giddy-up in his hitch. Without stopping he turned his head around and saw two headlights cresting the ridge coming at him, about where he was when he had seen the Model E stopped caddy-corner like in the middle of the road when all of this trouble started in the first place.
     The only thing Rhett could hear now was the adrenaline pumping through his veins and his heart pounding in his ears as the pair of lights came careening right him.
     How in the hell did he get back behind me like that?
     Rhett must have looked like the infamous one-legged man in a butt kicking contest everyone talked about as he rumbled down the side of the road towards his truck. AS it got closer he grit his teeth and clenched every muscle in his body knowing this was about to be his last second on earth thinking that whatever was keeping Eddy on the road didn’t matter anymore and he was going to sail through him and end any chance of seeing baby Jenny Sue ever again right here and now.
     Just as Rhett began to send up a prayer just in case there was someone up there listening, after all, the lights whizzed right on past him giving him a short and sweet double honk as if to say I see you but I’m not stopping for you. He opened his squinted eyes just in time to see a minivan blur by, swerving into the opposite lane to give him and his truck a wide berth.
     After swallowing his heart back down to where it belonged he continued on limping back to his truck.
     By god, something finally went your way, Rhetty boy.
     He thought as he tugged on the passenger door handle on the cab of his truck, hearing it click and give way toward him was the most satisfying feeling he had felt in quite a while, other than the feeling his wife gave him from time to time of course.
     Not wasting any time, Rhett climbed on up into the cab, scooted his butt behind the steering wheel and put the behemoth in gear, grimacing and gritting as he had to press down on the gas pedal. Besides the van that just passed him, Rhett couldn’t see another vehicle on the road, up ahead or behind him, and with the hills out of the way, there was a long stretch of road in front of him that he could see down for miles.
     He didn’t think it had taken him that long to get back to the truck after Eddy tried to take his left chicken wing off but time had a way of playing tricks on you when you were in a panic. Whether he believed it or not, the evidence was before his eyes, not a single pair of lights on the road beside his and the van’s.
     Rhett was raised with a solid work ethic, this coming from his mom, but knew when it was time to call it quits. To hell with the last load, Jenny Sue get ready to meet your Paw-Paw, he thought as slowed the truck down just enough to turn onto a caliche oil lease road so he could turn around and head back to see his new baby grand-daughter, and maybe have the nurse take a look at his leg while he was there, just in case.


or is it?    

10/12/17    'Til Death, But That's It...


      “The husband totally did it,” Tom said as he forced another handful of popcorn into his already full and fat mouth. Janet had to swallow a sudden urge to slap her husband as pieces of bitten off popcorn flakes floated out of his mouth and onto her side of the bed. She played it cool as if their nightly ritual of watching Dateline and a late snack in bed just before they went to sleep was the only thing she could possibly want in this world. She wasn’t that great of an actress, however, Tom was an idiot.
     “You’re an idiot,” Janet said while pushing the 30-second forward button on the remote 6 times in quick succession with a practiced ease to skip through the commercials and right on cue the show started back up without missing a beat. They had been watching these murder in the suburbs shows every night since the Y2k scare was a thing and yet Tom still didn’t seem to get it. He fell for every red herring the producers put on air. She pushed the pause button and turned towards her well-meaning, but stupid husband of 20 years.
     “You always think it’s the first person they interview, it’s never the first person Tom. How have you not figured that out yet?”
     “Sometimes it’s the first person,” he said back to her in that whiny kicked puppy voice of his that he purposefully used to try and make her feel guilty about what she said, or the way she said it.
     “Yes,” Janet responded in her normal too quick-tempered way as she threw the remote down onto the bed with a flick of her wrist, landing in the DMZ right between them where neither of them had the semblance of a yearning to cross in almost 6 months now, “Yes, you are so right Detective Tom. Sometimes it is the first person they show, but never when it’s the husband. When it actually is the husband who slew the soccer mom they normally wait until halfway through the damn show if not the last 15 minutes and most of the time he is wearing the jail jumpsuit leaving absolutely no doubt who did it. I mean geez Tom, do you even pay attention?”
     “Are you seriously getting mad at me right now because of Dateline? That’s a bit of a stretch even for you Jan.”
     “Oh don’t you Jan me you sonuvabitch,” Janet said picking up the remote beginning to frantically scroll through the DVR list not paying any attention to the names of the shows desperately wanting something for her hand to do so she didn’t slap the man she had at one point in time been so hopelessly and foolishly head over heels for, “You know I hate that name.”
     When she got to the bottom of the list, she thumbed the up button until the cursor was back to the top highlighting America’s Funniest Videos and then brainlessly clicked right back down to Z Nation and repeated this several more times all the while thinking about how she would be one of the women on Dateline that got away with the murder of her husband.
     “And no, I’m not upset over Dateline, Tom, or your horribly pathetic whodunnit skills.”
     Am I? No, surely not, she thought as her thumb tapping the button so rapidly that the cursor was having a hard time keeping pace.
     “It’s just that you don’t pay attention.” There ya go, that’s the ticket. “You never pay attention to anything, to me, to the house, our bills, nothing! Thank god we never had kids you probably would have left our baby in the back of a hot car because you wouldn’t be able to pay attention long enough to realize that he was there in the first place.” Janet hadn’t realized that she was yelling out the words more than saying them, so much so that by the time she was done her throat was a bit sore and was left panting trying to get her breath back.
She wasn’t proud of it but there had even been a few times she practiced her interview in the mirror after a long day, her hairbrush standing in for Lester Holt. “I don’t know, I just came home and there he was, naked as a newborn sprawled out on the kitchen floor,” she would say under the three bulb vanity light, or her personal favorite “Of course it was in self Defense, Lester. I would never have beaten him to bloody pulp with the electric guitar I bought him for Christmas 5 years ago during his I wanna be a musician phase.” Even though it was only for her show she would add under her breath he part that he had only picked up the custom Les Paul a few times eventually giving it up altogether because it hurt his fingertips too much.
     But that’s also why she knew that with Tom, the in self-defense tactic would have never worked in real life. Tom would never hurt a fly, she knew this from experience being the only one who used the fly swatter over the years. 
     “Did you even notice my nails?” She continued in on her shell-shocked husband who was still sitting there in the divot on his side of the bed, cramming popcorn into his mouth, only now instead of watching the TV he was watching in awe at his wife’s latest meltdown. She dropped the remote again and flared her fingers apart like she was teaching their nonexistent newly dead baby the number five. She fanned her nails in front of her husband’s face, “I even told you I was going to the nail salon today and you still haven’t said anything.”
In actuality, it had been over a week since she went to the salon, and she wasn’t really sure if she told him about it or not, but still, that just drove her point home further for her.
     It’s been over a week and nothing, he probably even believes I told him about the salon this morning too, he’s so stupid.
Tom sat there with his mouth agape, not exactly sure what his next move should be, his perpetual state of being, and remembered something he had heard somewhere before, on a podcast or radio show or something along those lines. Whatever it had been on, the point was this, that sometimes women didn’t necessarily want their men to fix everything for them, they just wanted someone to listen and empathize with them. They didn’t want a hero, they wanted a friend.
     Tom leaned to his right side and placed the stainless steel mixing bowl he used as his nightly popcorn holder next to an intricately designed framed picture of his wife from their wedding day on the bedside table and then leaned back towards his left raising his left arm up into the air. While doing this he nodded his head up and to the right giving her the come hither gesture with his chin.
Janet just looked at him like he was crazy and crossed her arms defiantly with a head movement of her own, only this one was more akin to a go eff yourself gesture than a come here and give me a hug one.
     How did I marry someone so friggin stupid? If he thinks I’m about to lay on his chest so I can listen to him smack his damn popcorn in my ear, not to mention I don’t want to be any closer than I have to be to that sickly sweet odor his breath tends to have after that bowl of popcorn was demolished but before he brushed his teeth. I’ll be damned if I sucked that in through my nose tonight, not tonight. 
     If only Tom had been paying attention to what he was listening to the other day maybe he would have realized that now was not one of those times that didn’t need fixing. Janet did want him to fix this, and in fact, was waiting for him to step up and be her hero, or at the very least a man.
     “Come on, Jan, bring it in,” Tom said and patted his chest to show her just where he meant with the hand that wasn’t currently hanging in the air waiting for her to lean towards him and bring it in.
     At the sound of the nickname she hated more than almost anything else, thanks to rerun after rerun of The Brady Bunch being her babysitter growing up, a silent lightning bolt of rage began to spark inside of her chest. As the electricity flowed in her veins her hands started to feel like pent-up pit-bulls that were bred for fighting with the scent of blood in the air, dying to bust loose from their cage and latch on to the next thing that moved in their general direction.
     “Babe, seriously, just tell me all about it,” Tom said, thinking he was he was doing the right thing, having no clue that he couldn’t be further from the truth.
     The last word that came out of his mouth had a friend as it traveled through the air. A tiny white puff from the corner of a piece of popcorn flew from Tom’s mouth and Janet could do nothing but watch in a disgusted horror as it defied physics and made a beeline straight to her face. She felt it land on her right cheek with a crash as if it had been a freight train bearing down on her from a thousand miles away. She looked down to her cheek at the faint white outline she could barely keep in focus from being so close to her eye.
     Janet could finally appreciate what the women on Dateline meant when they said they just couldn’t take it anymore something inside of them snapped. The lightning bolt in her chest was let loose along with the thunder rolling from her mouth as the pair of pit-bulls at the end of Janet’s wrists clamped onto Tom’s stupid turkey neck. She wasn’t quite sure how she had jumped onto Tom’s chest so fast, her thighs straddling his belly button as his arms flailed about. The same arms that were just moments ago welcoming her in for hug. She was hugging him alright, she hugged his throat with her hands until those stupid arms attached to his stupid body with his stupid popcorn-head on top of it stopped reaching out and fell to his sides on the bed.
     Perched atop Tom’s chest Janet finally called off the hounds and let go of her husband’s neck. Janet had only two thoughts rolling around her mind as she looked down at his lifeless body. The first was more of a question but an all-important one, one that could make all the difference in her future as she well knew from the countless episodes of the murder mystery hours she watched, How should I make my voice sound for the 9-1-1 recording. The second thought was just as self-serving as the first, but perked her up nonetheless, I just may get my interview with Lester Holt after all.      


10/6/17       One Bad Mother Biker


Tony and Jermaine had been running buddies ever since Jermaine’s family moved into old man Jacobs’ house, that was across the street and two over from Tony’s, about 4 months ago at the beginning of summer. Tony’s mom, who was always one to spread some gossip along with her butter, at dinner one night had said they must have got it for a steal. She was probably right considering it had been vacant for over a year after old man Jacobs hung himself from a rafter just above the attic access in his bedroom closet.
     His kids had been desperate to sell the joint when it was first put on the market, and maybe it would have sold faster had they ever come by to check on him and 2 weeks hadn’t gone by before his next door neighbor called the cops after smelling something ripe while walking her dog. The smell that sent her dog on a yapping spree combined with the overstuffed mailbox and newspapers piled up in his driveway gave Rose enough of a hint at what that particular smell might be. Of course, maybe if his kids had come by more often they wouldn’t have needed a reason to sell the house in the first place, but then again, who knows.
     Jermaine was supposed to be out with Tony right now cruising the streets on their bikes, but the Bad Mother Biker’s club was only half in attendance today because Jermaine’s stupid mom had grounded him for a month. Which really sucked because Tony wanted to test out, for the fourth time, Jermaine’s new Huffy he got for his birthday. It was the new kind with the fat tires that made you feel like you were riding around on a motorcycle if you squint your eyes just right anyway.
     Jermaine was on mom’s house arrest after getting caught last week lighting up a brick of Black Cat fireworks and tossing the whole thing into a dumpster about 3 blocks over. Even if Jermaine was let out on bail anytime soon, Tony’s mom warned him that he wasn’t to play with that little firebug anymore. What Tony’s mom didn’t know, however, was that it had been Tony’s idea all along, his fireworks even. How were they supposed to know that some idiot had just thrown a metric ass ton of grass in there from mowing his yard two days before? Those two days had been long enough for the grass to get nice and dried out but not long enough for the lazy garbage man to come pick it up, so really it wasn’t even their fault if you thought about it.
     Of course, the one day the Bad Mother Bikers weren’t on their trusty steeds was the day they needed them the most. Once the flames began to leap up out of the rusted out bin, they both knew they were about to be in some serious shit. Tony was as skinny as a rail and fast as flint while Jermaine was quite a bit on the chubby side and was the type to get winded even after only a few go-rounds of the pedals. What was the joke his dad used to say before he went splitsville?
     You don’t have to be faster than the bear, just faster than anyone else around ya, kid.
     Unfortunately for Jermaine, some nosy neighbor had peeked out of their back window just in time to see only Jermaine beating feet down the caliche alley off Franklin street.
     Probably that same idiot who threw all the damn grass in the dumpster in the first place.
Tony had to really give it up to Jermaine though, he never squealed on him, not once. This made him down right chill in his book. 
Just when Tony started to think he might roll on over to Jermaine’s house and knock on his bedroom window to see he if could borrow the new beast for a bit, a van turned onto the street he was currently riding in the middle of. Annoyed at this new development, he angled the bike over to the right a bit, but just a bit. He wasn’t about to let this jerk think he could make Tony, a founding member of the BMB club no less, ride his bike on the sidewalk.
     Sidewalks are for sissies, might as well throw some training wheels on the back
     About a foot from where the smooth grey concrete of the gutter made contact with the rough asphalt was about as far over as Tony was gonna get. The van continued its way down the street towards Tony but slowed to a crawl as it got closer. The windshield, along with every other window, had been tinted such a deep black that Tony couldn’t see inside. This made him briefly wonder how in the hell the driver was able to see out.
     Tony wasn’t about to be intimidated just because he didn’t know who or how many were in there staring back out at him and gave the occupants, or occupant, his best menacing stare down as it crept closer. It was the same stare that made dumb Jimmy four-eyes pee his pants at school last year. The van was a golden brown, and now that it was closer, close enough in fact that Tony could have reached out and slapped the side mirror if he wanted to, Tony could see it was one of those vans with a half-decent mural painted on the side.
     After seeing this particular artwork, however, Tony was glad he skipped the mirror slapping for today. Looking right back at him from the side of the van was painted a wizard in full garb; a purple robe, purple floppy-brimmed conical hat, and long grey beard. The wizard’s hand was reaching out like Darth Vader did in those geek shows when he wanted to choke someone from a distance. Behind the wizard was a galaxy of stars swirling into the center point of the Wizard’s back. But what Tony couldn’t get over, so much so in fact that his bike was now stopped and his right foot was holding him up on the top of that sissy curb, was the Wizard’s piercing silver eyes. 
     It was like one of those paintings he saw on some lousy field trip last year to the town’s art museum, where the eyes followed you no matter where you walked. Only now, the eyes were the ones moving as the van kept inching onward making Tony feel, if only for a quick second, that he was the one hung on a wall as the Wizard walked passed him down the hall at some stuffy museum.
Tony had to shake loose his taut nerves once the van finally passed him as if someone had just stepped on his grave sending shivers down from his head to his hips. Before Tony could lean back to the left and straighten the bike up to get going again, the van’s engine revved up and roared to life behind him halfway down the block.
     He craned his head around quickly to look back at the golden brown van with the world’s creepiest wizard painted on the side and could feel his adrenaline start to pump as his brain, unbeknownst to Tony, was thinking about which mode to switch into, fight or flight.
Tony watched afraid and amazed at the same time as the tires belted out a thick white smoke that was normally accompanied with a loud eeeeeeeeerrrkkkkk sound, the way tires did on those Youtube videos he liked to watch where people did donuts in parking lots, or sometimes when he was going fast enough he could get his bike’s tires to do the same thing when he laid on the back wheel’s brakes and gave it a little sideways whip action at the same time leaving a bad ass curved skid mark.
     “That was the only time it was okay to be on the sidewalk,” he once told Jermaine, “cuz you c’aint leave no mark on the street like that, least not with a bike.”
     The only thing was though, there was no eeeeeeeerrrkkkking sound like he had expected to hear. All he could hear was the engine revving, but even that was getting fainter even though Tony could fully see that the van had done a 180 right in the center of the road where he had just been and was hauling ass at greater and greater speed barreling down right on him.
     Tony’s brain finally got its ass in gear and figured out that flight was the only mode to flip into now and in one fluid motion with his right foot he pushed off the curb and then brought it down hard on the pedal making his bike do an unintentional wheelie. He was going to have to remember to show Jermaine the new trick he figured out to go along with the tale of his daring escape from Creepy McCreeperston here.
     Once he got his bike under control and began to build up some steam Tony could feel something warm on his back, and noticed that he could also see his own shadow long and lean in front of him like the sun had just broken through the clouds to shine a spotlight on him alone. Except he was heading west, not that he knew what stupid direction he was going in, all he knew that his heart jumped up into his throat when he looked up and saw the sun on the horizon in front of him, along with his shadow that was growing shorter with every revolution of the gears.
     Tony figured the driver was probably just messing with him and threw his headlights on bright or something and that was making this happen but risked a glance backward just to be sure. As he did so his foot slid off the pedal causing him to rake the toe of his already heavily marred converse across the blacktop wearing out an instant hole in his shoe and possibly the nail of his big toe right along with it.
     The pain in his foot never crossed his mind, however, only the image of what he saw behind him when sneaked that look back. The van was in the middle of doing another 180, this time in the opposite direction with the door slid open so that the Wizard was now at the back of the van instead of the middle. But instead of a bunch of fiddly fingers waiting to grab their next victim, there was only a gleaming bright white light pouring out of the opening in the side of the van. The way the door was slid back it made it look like the light glaring out was coming directly from the Wizard’s painted force choke hand.
     Tony could feel the pedals getting harder to push on as if he were heading up to the top of a parking garage downtown so he could coast to the bottom, but it was flat for as far as the eye could see down this street. The side of the van was now only a few feet from snatching up Tony, halfway through the arc of the donut it was trying to lay down on the asphalt, because bike tires may not be able to leave much of a mark behind but cars, vans with wizards painted on the side especially, damn sure could.  
     The heat on his back resembled what he had felt flare up on his face that day the fire started in the dumpster just as Tony had the brief realization that he wasn’t going to be able to show Jermaine that new trick he learned. 
     The van rocked to a stop, the white light faded as the door slid close on the track by itself with the Wizard taking it’s rightful place back in the center of the Van. Just as there were no sounds as the tires were peeling rubber in either the first 180 it did to turn around or the second one as it gobbled up the founding member of the Bad Mother Biker’s club, bicycle and all, similarly there were no skid marks left on the ground.
     No sign of its existence had been left behind at all as the van trundled away down Thomas street at the speed of an ice cream truck minus the summer song. 

Anthony “Tony” Torinno was reported missing on 10/4/17.
Child last spotted wearing a purple hoodie with a bulldog logo, blue jeans ripped at the knees, and white converse while riding his bike, brand unknown, near the intersection of Crestview and Thomas sometime around 7:15 pm. No new leads at this time.  

9/29/17 Quick Bite @ the LD

Sand Dunes.jpg


     Dave thought it was a horrible idea to stop at the Luckwell Dunes for a picnic on the way to Angie’s parent’s house for Labor Day weekend. Who wants to have a damp bologna sandwich in the middle of Mother Nature’s litter box, he thought. Dave, however, didn’t say that, he just said what he always did to make sure another argument didn’t immediately follow his words, “Sure honey, sounds great.”

     When they got out of the car and stepped into the stifling, arid heat of West Texas he had wished for a second that he had spoken his mind for a change. That was until he saw the face of his 4 year old daughter, Kat, light up with wonder at the seemingly never ending mountains of sand. Dave figured that some grit in his teeth and grains in his butt crack was a worthy trade off to make sure she would squeal with excitement a few more times.
     Of course, that had been 45 minutes ago and their quick stop for a bite and a break in driving to chop the travel time up a bit was turning into a trip in it’s own right. Here he was, a quarter of the way back up the tallest sand dune Kat could find, dragging behind him some old, worn, and chipped plastic disc that he’d found at the top of the hill that he figured some other dad must have left behind, tired from lugging it around all day. He had gone down the slope first to show Kat, and his squeamish wife for that matter, that there was nothing to be afraid of. Although the little ramp of built up sand at the bottom of the hill had made for a dicey finish, but nothing had been sprained or broken and all was good.
     Just about the time Dave was telling himself that he needed to get back into the gym, not even halfway up yet and already out of breath and on wobbly knees, ya fat ass, Dave heard a short but loud yelp coming from the top of the dune. When he looked up he wasn't able to see his wife or daughter peering down at him like he had imagined them doing all the while as he panted and huffed his way up the hill. Just then he was pelted with a small cloud of sand as if they had tossed a bucket of it down over the edge at him. Before he could decide whether he should get mad or play along a blaring braaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwppp rang out through the air like a semi-truck’s horn blasting in the middle of the desert.
     He wasn’t sure what trick they were trying to play on him with that, or how in the hell they did it, but he hurried his pace just a bit in order to find out. As he did so he could swear he heard Kat crying in big heaving sobs, and he was definitely sure of what he heard next, a high pitched and frantic “Daddy, Daddy! Where’s Momma? Daddyyyyyyyyyy!”
     Trick or not this sent a chill running down Dave’s body, as it would any parent, and he started clawing at the steep hillside with his left hand while digging the plastic disc into the ground with his right, using it like a makeshift climbing axe. This time he had been looking up when the burst of sand came floating out over the edge at him, followed by another loud roar reverberating above him, braaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwppp.
     In full panic mode now, Dave’s ticker was working overtime as he crested the top of the hill afraid of what he might find. What he saw was more bewildering than terrifying, though terrifying was right up there as well.
     They weren’t there. No one was. Nothing was there. Dave turned around in place, turned around again furiously looking for them, hoping they were just hiding behind a mound of sand they had built up and once he found them they could all laugh about how they got him and how silly he was being. But there was no mound, no laughter, only hills upon hills of beige stretching off into the distance all around him.
     Just as he began to call out for his wife to knock it off, it isn’t funny anymore, he noticed that he was up to his ankles in the sand. A half second later he was unable to move his legs, the sand already swallowing him up to his waist. Still holding on to the disc he stabbed it into the ground in front of him with both hands not knowing if he was doing so to hurt what was beneath him or to use it as a brace to keep him from being swallowed whole. It did neither however and Dave’s world went dark and gritty.        
     Although no one was around to see it, or hear it, this time a dull green chipped and worn plastic disc went flying into the air right along with the large puff of sand, landing only a few feet to the left of where Dave had found it in the first place. A moment after the disc thudded lightly to the earth the dry desert air echoed out another long, thundering burp.

9/26/17 Out With the Trash (100 word story)

Dark Alley 1.jpg

Carly wasn’t just annoyed with her stepdad, she was utterly pissed. Making her take out the trash again while Brian, her step-brother, was just sitting there playing Call of Duty, as usual, was bullshit. She knew if Mom was here at home, instead of working another double, Jerry wouldn’t have the balls to pull this shit in front of her.
The anger boiled so fervently in between her ears she wasn’t able to hear the rustling behind her as she walked back. Carly reached for the gate handle as a shadow turned solid and yanked her off of her feet.

This was a story written for