Sunday, September 30

Stars Of Fear, Skies Of Hope

“Mama?” The only reply was the rhythmic metallic squeaking of an electric fan. Sarah set her schoolbooks on the dinette table, knocked over a vase of plastic flowers. “Mama?” she repeated, not without a little fear.

The tiny kitchen was as she had left it this morning: breakfast bowl and juice glass in the sink, cherry print tea towel draped over the faucet to dry. She made her way to the back of their home, through the cramped living room where she slept, down the narrow hallway past the bathroom with immaculate linoleum tile. She paused in the doorway to the bedroom, praying for sound. It was only after she heard a papery sough of breath that she realized she was holding her own.

“Mama? Are you awake?” The woman on the bed didn’t respond. Her chest rose and fell like an irregular tide, an ebbing and flowing of life. Sarah crept to the side of the bed, felt a damp cheek. Her mother stirred and opened her eyes. For a moment there was nothing, then: “Sarah, child.” A weak smile.

“How are you? Do you need anything?”

“Just make me some nettle tea. Then I will be fine.” The eyes closed.

“It doesn’t help, Mama. But don’t worry. If we can’t pay the doctor my friends will help.” There was no response. “Mama?” Silence except for a stuttering breath.

The mixing bowl next to the bed was dirty again. Sarah dumped the blood and sputum in the toilet, rinsed the bowl in the tub, and placed it back on the nightstand. She shut the windows halfway against the coming night’s chill. In the doorway she watched the chintz curtain’s lively flutter, watched the thin quilt’s quaking rise and fall.

She prepared for the evening. She made herself dinner of macaroni and cheese, washed the dishes, setting them to dry in the wooden rack. She did her homework at the dinette table, putting the flower vase in it proper place when she had finished. Toward sunset she laid out her clothes for school, scooped up a blanket from the sofa, and went outside, careful not to slam the screen door.

She unfolded a lawn chair and hugged the blanket close The wait would be long. The sycamore leaves were trimmed in yellow, swaying in the cool breath of approaching autumn. To the north, stars presented themselves in purple velvet twilight. Sarah stared at them, only a little afraid now. They always came from the north. In her mind she pictured her friends floating down from the sky, bringing miracles and hope with them. They would come. They had to.

Saturday, September 29

The Weave Of Esteem

This is a work of fiction. Copyright © 2007 Bolt, Ink. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this work may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated,
or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.

The Weave of Esteem

Meeting the boss every Tuesday was like lying on a blanket infested with fleas. Richard sat in an uncomfortable trendy chair. Across the desk Drew scrabbled on a tablet with a gold pen. The computer screen beside him glowed, awaiting use. It would glow and wait all day, because the boss had a secretary. Richard waited, patience wrestling with the desire to be elsewhere. After a few minutes, the boss folded his hands on the exotic wood, showing the sleeves of his tailored and pressed shirt. Silver cufflinks winked in a shaft of sunlight.

“I don’t have anything this week. Whatcha got?”

“I called the Temecula office. No one in town will extend credit to Wagner Promotions.”

“Yeah, I heard about that. The manager there was pretty pissed at you. He said the client was insulted by your phone message.” Richard stared, determined not to show any trace of insecurity.

“I decided based solely on the facts. I already said no to the account executive and the sales rep. Wagner still wouldn’t accept it, so I explained my reasons.”

“A sales guy like me and the rep would have handled it different. But that’s how you accounting guys are, and you do it well. I support your decision. I’ll handle damage control. What else?” Humility burned Richard’s skin. Drew’s monogrammed collar burned his sight.

“I thought about your advice over the weekend. I don’t like the way Bill treated me, but I don’t want to damage our relationship. I’ll let it go.”

“You might have screwed up on that one. You could have called him on it. But I support your decision. Anything else?”

“No.” The meeting was over.

“Wait.” Drew tossed a pale blue rectangle. Richard caught it, recognized a finely woven dress shirt, company logo embroidered over the breast pocket.

“That should look better with your tie.” Richard thanked his boss and withdrew.

The evening commute was punctuated by an accident, a construction zone, and aggravation. The feeling didn’t diminish when he arrived at the rental he called home since he moved into town. He undressed, news mumbling on the television and dinner sissing in the microwave.

He stared in the mirror. It was a nice tie, colorful yet understated. The haircut was decent, if inexpensive. The shirt had a coarse weave, but it kept him warm under the air conditioning vent in his office. A bare light bulb glared, highlighted his efforts as cheap imitations. He unbundled Drew’s gift and put it on.

The tie did look better. Everything about him looked better. He removed the shirt, trying to reconcile worth with shame. The top button popped, bounced off the mirror, and hit him in the eye. Anger filled his arms, ripping the shirt from his chest. In seconds the offense lay in shreds at his feet.

Questions would come, but Richard would never explain. His shirts might come from JC Penney, but he was still the best damned accountant Drew would ever see.

Friday, September 28

Kingfisher The Schmuck

There's no two ways about it. Firing someone sucks. Even if they deserve it. Whether or not they grasp the fact that performance, or lack of, is their fault, you will always be "the schmuck who fired me." But beyond that, for a moment, you have control over a part of someone's life, and you are responsible for pulling the rug from under them. I always feel rotten for hours after doing it.

Time for a beer. And a Cazadores. And a Jamesons. And a Goldschlager. And a wuttuvyagot, bartender.

I'll forget for a while, but I will still feel rotten tomorrow for something that isn't my fault.

Saturday, September 22

Kingfisher The Awesome

My brother and I talked last night over beer, Jameson's, and trivia games about the states of our respective lives. We came to the conclusion, as evidenced by recent posts, that we are in the middle of a high douchebag tide. The moon's pull seems to have collected all manner of boors and idiots, various and sundry irritants, and piled them against us like so much driftwood. So it's no wonder I have been in a FOUL mood lately.

Then comes this post on Berate My Blog, which proves how totally freaking awesome I am. It makes me want to slap myself, say "get over it!" and take up the e-pen more often.

Sometimes the universe does love you (even if you do have neuroses.)

I feel so much better.

Big Thanks to Unica and Fiona, two ladies of exceptional taste, brilliant insight, and refined beauty.

Friday, September 21

The Score of Revenge

Kingfisher 3
Backstabbers 0

3 down, 3 to go
Will definitely lose one

Final record: Kingfisher 5-1, 83%

Bet on me at the Sportsbook

Tuesday, September 18


Sounds enticing, doesn't it? Like bon jour or bonne chance or Champs Elysees. Sorry. Nothing that exotic. It's Kingfisher shorthand for the chance you are a douche. To wit, the following douche/chance ratios:

Your name is Toby - 2%
Your name is Keith - 2%
Your name is Toby Keith - 98%

Wrestling fan - 67%
NASCAR fan - 87%
Raiders fan - 97%

Favorite movie is anime - 24%
Favorite movie directed by Quentin Tarantino - 64%
Favorite movie stars Chris Tucker - 84%

Jewish - 49%
Christian - 50%
Muslim - 51%

You live on the West Bank - 10%
You distrust banks - 12%
You are Tyra Banks - 92%

Hetero - 80%
Gay - 80%
Celebate - 81%

Chocoholic - 5%
Alcoholic - 79%
Workaholic - 94%

Dog lover - 11%
Cat lover - 21%
Goat lover - 95%

Bilingual - 5%
Bisexual - 69%
Bipolar - 0% or 100%

Goth - 99.7%
Emo - 99.8%
Performance artist - 99.9%

You have a blog - 64%
You post daily on your blog because you think people really care - 65%
You rate people with douchance on your blog - 101%