Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Short Fiction: Slow Monsters

Authors Notes: This story may or may not have been published already. I signed a contract but they were not so even so kind as to tell me if it made the cut or not.. So I publish it myself. Again. Maybe? 


My parents named me after some princess. If you sound it out in sections it sounds like: Ann-eh-stay-gi-a. The original was from a famous family in Russia that I really do not want to know about. My family is from France; not Russia and they migrated from there when part of the population decided the other part should be killed for something-or-another. They packed their things and boarded a tall ship to avoid massacre. After the sea and the inland travel they eventually landed in this spot and have lived here for generations. I could attempt to tell you how many generations but that would just be a guess; perhaps even a lie. Ever since we contributed to building this place plank by plank. It is beautiful although I really possess no knowledge of anything to compare it with. There are villagers from other nations as well and a mix of blood from the Original tribes. The tribes showed us how to survive here and I guess during those times romances blossomed. 

We constructed gates made of forged iron at each of the entrances. They are patterned in curls and look like protective gargoyles. They are black gnarly things, mask-like with eyes hidden in their grid work. The tree line serves the best protection though. It has grown old, even during my lifetime, and stands thick and high now like an army of green soldiers with arms swaying above their heads. It is here that I tell you of what lives beyond them. 

 "... but between truth and fairytale there is existence."

Around here legends colour things, so do myths and old people who like to blend stories for amusement and greater effect; but between truth and fairytale there is existence. People tell stories of large creatures that inhabit the land just beyond our tree line. The creature’s character has been repetitiously defined by their enormous size and slow movement. Any person in the village will tell you that the creatures can be clearly heard moving across the land when the winds are quiet. 

This legend is about giant creatures that amble through the forest just beyond our sight. They walk on all fours. They have long necks and eat at their leisure. The myths say that the creatures are from a place beyond our skies that machines left here to record information. I have heard the stories my whole life but they have never bothered me any. I named them Slow Monsters. 

It is my job to tend the gardens. The food is for everybody and is set in a clearing beside the creek. I managed to set up a basic irrigation system so the plot is self-watering. As a village we are named into our jobs and it seems that I am most comfortable with turnips and green beans. I grow mustard seed for spicing the hams and pride myself on vegetables with the most colour. The weeds grow aggressively this year and the beans have invaded spaces beyond their designation. Rain fall has been good though and the garden is lush. I suspect the turnips prefer somewhat dryer conditions.

I can hear the creaky moan and deep treading vibration of the Slow Monsters. Never venture beyond the line. I know that, I answer myself. People are afraid of unnecessary things like the dark and falling in their dreams. To date the slow monsters have never entered into the village. Not in any stories I have heard anyway. 

I jerk my head up from my work suddenly. The sounds seem closer somehow. I can hear tree branches snapping and feel the warmth of eyes on my back. I fight the urge to turn around but instinct is overpowering my self-control. I wrap my cape tight around me and turn-
“Levy? Levy can you hear me?”

 “Levy? Levy can you hear me?”

“And when I count back from five you will awake Levy. Five, four, three,…two…one. And awake.”
The leather from the couch is cemented with sweat to the skin on my shoulder. Golden afternoon sun pours in from the wall length windows that have been cranked open to allow for fresh air. The room smells like rain. I can hear cars outside that drive past the ground floor of the building as they crash through puddles. I sit up and recognize my surroundings. Doctor Belcourt is fussing with the corner of her shirt. 

“Welcome back,” she tells me.

“Thank you.” I answer. “It must be two o’clock.” 

“Yes- almost two. You were screaming again.”

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Short Story Fiction: The Phantom Silver Bicycle

The Phantom Silver Bicycle

A touch occurred on the left side of my head. At first, it seemed minor- a brush past the ear, everything intact and mostly undamaged. A fast brush past my ear, it clipped the edge of my earring knocking it hard to the floor with the sound of a sharp and brutal blow. 

A single bullet painted the impression of concentrated arrogance, a zealous attempt on my life, an unscrupulous zigzag of death-dealing silver. I never dreamed that I would be so important to anyone. I discovered later that shootings are never a matter of passion but demonstrate a simple and impractical act of possession. 

I cried at first, sobbed until my eyes felt as if they would fall off. For a long and undetermined amount of time the tears continued as there was nothing to stop me from doing it. I cried until my sinuses were completely swollen as if stuffed with cotton. I cried until the tears constructed tracts of saline that hardened completely and fell off my skin like strange coral pieces from deep beneath a forgotten reef. The emotional storm subsided, the clouds parted and I feel much better now. I will never admit to you or anyone that I was hurt. In reality the physical damage was a short, red line raised on the skin surface. A small bandage may have been in order.
Your ex-girlfriend a waitress at the café on the island. Your ex-girlfriend a waitress at the café who knew exactly where the security gun was. 

I ran, then jumped in the water and started to swim back to shore. The island we were on had been so beautiful, so sunny and warm. A giant swan stayed nearby all afternoon. Our old wool blanket set up carefully, covered in mismatched food containers with lids and pretty acrylic drugstore dishes for eating. I thought how humorous you looked in Hawaiian print shorts and that big crazy straw hat. The image amused me for such a good while, only sad now as the humor fades like a drunk's return to sober morning. We argued on the road towards beach. It was over the television or the kettle or something so small. We tore at each other, not because the subject was important but because of a simple power struggle. You produced a small, un-housed razorblade, all silver with black capital letters printed on it. I was not interested in your cruel tactics. Perhaps you were just finally disappointed by my lack of reaction. 

When I reached the other shore an hour later and some mile and a half away, I collapsed into the sand. I was winded and breathing so heavy, my skin cold from the water, sand particles coursing in my now heavy underwear. The mainland was covered in tourists. Big umbrellas and seas of terry cloth and cotton blankets, the winds polluted with smells of coconut sunscreen. I was like a blind woman fumbling for something to grab. I opted for the packed ground beneath me. It was all I could find and fall too with dignity. Two children speedily jaunted over to inspect my remains, to see if I was indeed a jelly fish like the ones they had poked with sticks. I flashed my eyes open briefly and glanced at their kaleidoscope picture. They turned tail and ran away with the sounds of screams trailing off behind them.

After a while I knew some authority would be contacted if I didn't rise from this sandy grave. I rose slowly, painfully avoiding ceremony. I bent my knees and pushed off from the ground. It's a long way back to where we were. I am a long way away from you. 

 "I am a long way away from you."

I carefully tug and unravel the bank roll stuck inside my bra. It’s a soggy, tight wad from all the water but no worse for wear. It would get me even farther from here or further from you. Yes, we won it together. You cracked the house while I chatted up the dealer. Remembering, it was all sixteens and gut-hunches but I loved you most of all.

I stopped at a sidewalk stall alive and blowing with cheap, printed summer dresses and parted with my first ten dollars. Another five peeled from the waterlogged onion skin of cash for a pair of leather beach sandals. The fifteen dollars allowed me a passable appearance, the option of a taxi and passage to a coastal hotel room. I slammed the door on the taxi and tottered up the New Mexican style walk. I stopped short of the hotel entrance and dropped my damp bottom onto the blanched retaining wall. The sunlight and shelter from the breeze was a gift. It was warm and redeeming. Lizard like, I sat there resting, soaking it in, totally oblivious to pending reactions of well suited men and designer clad fashionistas. The god-given heat began to repair my exposure to the cold waters, even drying my damp undergarments. The ice crystals collected in my core would eventually melt as well. 

The history of us is as such, and I apologize for idolizing you. I told you things like 'I need you to be Mr. Right' and 'You are my Everything'. I can not rationalize my thinking at the time. The swelling in my chest tore my imagination in forty directions or more, love bleeding for every year you had lived. My traitor soul opened its giant ethereal hands and placed you up so high; way in the clouds with things greater than us. I saw you larger than the sun, greater than every known constellation and star. Perhaps, I thought your love for me required such sustaining. 

In exchange for this, I collapsed in on myself. I was in the last and final stages of a black hole. I wilted, evaporated, fell over limp with rotted, dirty green and black edges. I recoiled at my own image and looked to you for every cue. I fell from the grace of my own mind. I no longer wanted to collect pieces for our lives together because I believed only you knew how to do it the right way. I forgot how to be fierce. I totally forgot who I was. 

I remember when we were children and I was given that fabulous Siamese fighting fish for my birthday or some ridiculous occasion. We were both so impressed with him and with ourselves for the privilege of fostering. He was so pretty, so showy; fins gracefully draped, exhibiting their famous royal patterning. His crown tail was only trumped by the spots that ran along his sides and your innocent affection when you said they reminded you of my freckles. We both knew he could never play with other fish, but agreed with each other that it was okay. 

"We dropped the fish into the tank and started feeding him with the unadulterated, 
totally engrossed love that children possess."

We dropped the fish into the tank and started feeding him with the unadulterated, totally engrossed love that children possess. It never occurred to us to stop. The water surface was covered with pellets, the soaked ones floating slowly down to the bottom. The fish started to eat and did so, without us looking, until the next morning. My heart broke to find him bloated with our bestowed love, floating on his side. Had we been more extravagant children we could have named him 'Nemesis'. 

Our history of intricate and entwined days, your miracle cure, my madness subsiding finally, and our love my dear clearly explains the greatest of all our miracles. It fascinates me how the blinding beautiful light of love's glamour can flip to total darkness. A constructed existence based on another person may eternally prove precarious as it becomes a tumbling tower of confusion and falling stone.

I watched as you began to relapse again. I stood helpless as you ran towards and made a graceful dive off the high cliffs. I couldn't stop you. I knew it had been on your mind, like painted ladies with cheap smells and big, boisterous qualities. I watched you run headlong, off the tips of the water rippled rocks as if they were somehow completely irresistible. I watched as you succumbed to the current, a sell-out for bliss and nihilistic, roulette style self-destruction. It has a euphoric reality no one can give, a stab clean through my heart. I looked down on my own fallen angel, lying splayed and badly hurt with a snake headed devil to battle. It was a magnificent display of destruction like a Phoenix combusting, lighting up into full flame.
I looked up from where I sat; clouds glide past like white dragons and create random divisions in the sky. I am thankful for dry land, thankful to break from our torrential and all-consuming matters of the heart. My skin commences its return to smooth states. I sort my thoughts into mental folders and smooth out my skirt down the length of my thighs. I need to forget. I need to run from you. I told you once my greatest fear of love is pain. I found both with you and here I sit alone. 

I must have fallen asleep with my eyes still open. I am probably not fooling onlookers with appearances; evidence of recent events still plastered on my person. I suddenly feel the exposure of my breezy garment, the fragility of the five dollar sandals. I have bits of seaweed in my hair and really need a shower. I walk in a no-bones stride and enter the hotel lobby ready to face question-marked faces. I am done paying for your mistakes. I will not accept refusal at this point. I enter the hotel lobby like it's a dark and red velvet stage of grief and imagine how we practiced our lines in college. 

'Can I help you?' The voice outside interrupts my internal oratory and snaps me out of my dreams.
'I will require a room for the night- maybe longer.' I hear my own voice state.
'Please.' I add and by some miracle, the groomed desk clerk places a key in my hand. Holy Mary, I am delivered. 

" 'Please.' I add and by some miracle, the groomed desk clerk places a key in my hand.
 Holy Mary, I am delivered."

I think about the morning on the island. Open arms wrapped in brightly colored blankets for the last time, hugging each other tightly while rushing fevers build, amassed passion from our morning struggle. Pressures rose unconstrained and ardent. Denim seams scrubbed leaving sticky, adhesive deposits. Both our skins are soft on the other, fair and familiar. You tasted like love, kisses dissolving like sugar. You move like a consecrate guardian. 

I run the bath in the hotel room, grabbing every towel I can find and throw them on the floor. The sand must go. The chill must go, the smell of the sea water and kelp. I sting in my middle parts, still unrecovered, still engorged with disgust. The heat of the water crashes with the chill of my bones. Where are you? Did you make it out? Slowly, I slide myself into the big white receptacle and pray for rebirth. Silently, I pray for us both. 


No one is afraid of a meadowlark. It is beautiful by nature. Your fire-breathing image was at stake the moment the light began to shine in your eyes again. It is unavoidable that love would soften your edges and bring you back into the world. That bullet was meant for you but I took it. Who knew she would be a waitress at the breakfast lounge? Your past life embodied, walked over to serve us post-love making coffees, croissants with jam and small refrigerated rectangles of cold butter. Our breakfast served up promptly with a shiny chrome gun from the back room. It is a good thing that she was a terrible shot. There will be no scar left on me, lest you prove unable to return to my side. No visible scar anyway.
This is a phantom silver bicycle that a fish can ride. From inside the bath I hear a soft knock on the door. This time, I know.

Monday, 27 February 2012


The Spontaneous Ignition Of Fire Of The Souls
(Legally Available In 9 Days)


Making dinner
Boiling water
Scrape a sticky patch off the floor
Sex seems continents away
I miss you.

Left-overs it is
A rehash of empties
Recycle all that glass
There has got to be 5 cents a piece.

Nine days of practice
Mourning still
I won’t wear black though
Too obvious
Far too obvious because really
There was no death.

A near miss
Gabby Gifford’s madman shooter-
She needs a year
Nice to see her walk
Off with her husband like that.
Make-up all done

No grief for Tuesday
Take in small doses
As slow as monsters can
If you can still see
Do it again
Just to ensure it’s working properly
On your tear chemistry.

It’s a damn shame
What people do to each other.


-These days.
That ex-boyfriend’s sharp-as-glass-shards words
Surface from the subconscious
Bubble up
Thick liquids.

I wipe it off again
Like the stove counters
Move on, move on.

There is sun in the room
It reveals
Food splatters from
Our fights
I am embarrassed
To be left
With the memory.
Hanging from the wall paper
The flowers
Disfigured by
Now brown
On the beige texture
Topped with a noodle
Grape soda
And potato.

I get to clean it
I get to remember
Thought I would choose to ignore the situation
Maybe drown it out with music
A bit
Cleanse my palette
Arrest the phantom telephone ringing
To where I snap off the radio
To check
And see if it is.

I believe I will catch some
From it all
Catch my breath
It escapes me
Red balloons and knives
Black poison forming
In the rot of the food
In the absence of you.

7 Days

I try cleaning this mess
With my opposite hand
It’s not so bad
I won’t die
Your love at first bite
Your luv eat first bite
My kitchen
Your heart
A bowl full of mixed vegetables.

Skully Cross Bones and Performers

I wander
Slow motion through the sanitized mall
My reflection
Long tan coat
Tall androgynous looking figure
Respectable enough
To walk through a mall
Still oddly shaped though;
Spiky geometric shape
A type of wobble
Hard to measure
Or calibrate
I figure
A shape with a curved bottom and two or three peaks on top.

The shop girl arranges the t-shirts
The janitor has a gaze as silent as my own
I turn at the smell of toasting bread
Some faint dill dressings float by my nose
There are cans of soda I just don’t want.

This place
Was designed
By rodeo clowns with a glass fetish.

I freeze in place
Stick my arms straight out.
No one blinks.

Three (Forests)

I miss the green
Laden with snow
The moan of the weight
The crows all bugging each other.

I can’t tell you
How big the sky is
I write from home
The papers from the note pad
Are small
And flying
All around the room.
I pull off each sheet
Then the next
And another
Et cetera.

But seeing only this
Macrovision texture on bark
The stick of pine
No smog darling
No cement big city
No argument
Harsh collision
No cramped quarters
No cut in line
Only movement
In response to

I duck behind branches
Hide from nothing
Shelter my face
From sharp ice
A stinging slap
A very rude forest
A clever ruse.

When it snows there is a real quiet.


How many worlds can I meet you in?
Dive through the waters
And deeper
Get’s darker every minute
Strange fish, older than we’ve ever been
A watery grave
Us dancing
Arms hooked 
Turning like slow motion
The silt
Knowing to surface
Will give us the bends
Crippled on the small
Life boat
Exposed like turtles
Bellies in the sun.

Growing Up

Its eMaggeddon
The real Maggeddon
Tornadoes in January
Lost puppies
I can not stop crying
There are no borders
It is leap year
And I am supposed to ask you to marry me.

It is popular to witness
The moral melt down
A move towards
Women with nothing to say

I am half-way
My life span
Our world
Incrementally smaller and smaller
New York Nashville Toronto
All in
One place now
A world of wires
Faster than we blink.

We collect in puddles
No more wait
To cross ponds
Some so challenged
To see the view
Right in front of their eyes.
I pour sand on my steps
To make sure no one slips
Tokyo cleans the windows
Polished surfaces
For perfect vision.

It is a marathon for morality
A search for similarity
Groups seek same
Like a hotel full of cowboys
We find our own
Like wolves
Weird children

Say nothing for how.
We recognize our own
By taste
Same flavour
Same markings
Representing something intangible.

I get leg cramps
Every single morning
Evenings the same
Pretty much oversize at birth
My mother wondering why
And now
Beyond saving
Manufactured jeans will never fit
Blend in with coloured dots
My clan
Cloaked ephemeral cyborg
Often in shadow
In puddles
Each of us with one toe
In the water.

It is a new language
Double entendre
A thank you for the dance
A bing sound
A vibrate
The Russian Pavlov would drool himself.

We find each other blind folded in the dark
That there were more
Message sent
By means of pony
Or pigeon
But no more than that yet
No secret handshakes these days
We rely on recall
Like fictional spies
From black and white movies.

Shoveling Snow

It is still cold here
But the sun is out
Some power in the dark
Winds gust
Snow blasts by
Like ghosts
I have to dig us out again
Solid blocks of ice
Only charming for things like sculpture
Everything immobilized by
Glassy covers.

It is pretty
A lovely cleanse
Kills everything
A snap purification.

In the clean though,
is the task of moving.
That damn taxi has been
Outside my house
With the meter running
For seven days now.

A backwoods trailer
Looks appealing right now
The rage stems from
Not being
Able to hear
Or see yourself
A kind of blindness
Inability to sort through thoughts:
Mine from yours
Yours from theirs
Like socks
It is so good
So good
All artists now report to the Big Machine
Big minds work for bigger giants
Making it all up
Not for God or love or
The human condition
But to tell you
Happiness is wrapped in plastic only 7.99.

The resulting vortex is fearsome
Lost nuance
No suggestion
But command
Washing our clothes
Washing our brains at the same.

The spider grows too
The evolution
Of web
Created as fast as nothing
It’s desires


I inherited a push broom
And heard the opera at the same time
Lost in a sea of inconsolability
Returns her cursed ring to the Rhinestone Maidens
Valhalla is burning
I sweep the floors
There are piles of junk and sneakers
Refused invitations
Candy wrappers
Stuff is everywhere.
I dream of an enormous dog outside a window
It attacks children but there is no blood from bites
I refuse to stand down
And usher the children inside.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Short Fiction: Vicious


There was a great storm, a black moving sky and we were wolves. I nipped at your tail as we ran through the woods, my heart pounding, my hot breath escaping from my lungs to the damp ground beneath my nose. The daylight shifted quickly from bright to dark; the moon emerged and vanished again in cycles. Thin twigs whipped back at me as you rushed ahead. I eluded each one at first but still I absorbed the small stinging backlashes. The senseless strikes of our fast paced and frenzied dash served to increase my adrenaline and permit me to move even faster. 

I watched all of my trees fall, one by one. The tall, arching beings appeared to contain shady gods to me. Each bore secrets of great mystery and could retell the history of our lands. They created all the shelter we ever needed. They were protection from the big snow and gale. They were tall guardians standing erect in finely created entropic rows, forming a cathedral for us to observe white cloud formations on nights when our breath was frosted ice.

Our end was announced with the arrival of the great black and yellow crawlers. Their entrance was quite unforeseen and they revved loudly, spewing black from their top pipes as they proceeded to methodically eat each of the trees. Humming machine coils and sharp chains ripped and tore apart our pillars until there were none. Still, we remain wolves. We bolted away from the crashing and razing until the only sound was quick pumping blood rushing forced through our pointed ears. It was no less tragic than a plague or airborne virus that could resist all cures and foreshadow the absolute and final end of the world. Once our run commenced by departing our first and only home, I never wanted to stop. I don’t believe we could have stopped any longer if we wanted too. We are running, homeless wolves now.

Bad spirits started to appear on the land and my feelings of happiness evaporated. The spirits morphed and shifted in gliding motions, transformed themselves into ungraspable wisps and chilled, misted shadows. I could spot them out of the side of my eyes. I could smell their sulfuric burning, like matches and ashes and rot. They spooked both of us in different ways. I watched your hair involuntarily bristle into a ridge of sharp quills. They caused an astonishing confusion in your mind. I tried to explain to you they were real and very dangerous. I tried to tell you. 

Once when there were trees, and sunlight streamed down in patches on our fur you asked about my past. You asked if there had been other wolves. You asked me about my travels. I wanted to tell you but I could not remember. A wolf's life is short and time never allows explaining all that we want. I cannot explain anything to you now; not even in whispers, not even telepathically because of the spirits. I am limited to reference, speaking in a sideways and abstract manner. It is the language of wolves anyway. 

Here is a story I can tell. It is a tragic one all the same. I knew a creature named Selma and when she was young, she walked very proud. Her precocious confidence was captured in step, her long elk-like legs pointed comically straight one after another. She was in the line of the fawn. Selma was my senior and had already mated with a creature named Herne. He marched along side her for a time. His magical charm was airy and mercurial. He brimmed with foolhardy sparkle. Herne claimed dominion of all four winds.

Courtship and friendship ensued between the two for sometime. They were always in concert, marching tall through wild ferns and grasses. Herne was the first creature I ever saw in pursuit of love. He was also the first creature I ever knew that died. His magic did not save him from the fall and the attacking animals. His legs buckled after the first few swipes and his blood poured out like the small creek. Black birds managed to clean up the remainder of his corpse, but they could not help Selena whatsoever. She stopped speaking and eating and then walking too. The birds returned at that time to help. They cleaned up for Selena.
I still have you beside me though. We are much stronger animals perhaps, less afraid of being close to the dirt on the ground. A small amount of blood trickles and streaks in lines from our fur, but still stops and crusts over. I am so tired and want to rest but I am thankful. I am thankful for what we have, thankful for my four legs that still run, thankful again for you. 

We push back in manners we can. Through more wet and dark branches we push and maintain our pace. I realize in an instant that we will be separated at some quick turn. The trail we blaze like sweeping fire will split apart in two, like two halves of a fruit exposing vital seed and flesh. This is not what I want. I take no pleasure in the idea. I see the turn up ahead and know I must take it.
Two wolves are harder to catch, our odds doubled and our hides twice as safe. I wonder when you will discover my absence. I wonder if you will hate me for my departure but I whisper to you, just keep moving and hope you hear. So often we communicate in that fashion; when too many other ears listen, when what is said is not what is actual. Please forgive me. I know you hear me. Hear me now wolf even if you do not understand for the moment. Just keep moving. 
Blood cakes on my paw. The dried brown gel has collected deposits of leaf particles and pine needles. I realize the blood does not belong to me. It is yours. 

I want my thoughts to be of how rich we were. We had night sky and breeze to stir our coats. I lived like a child in joy. We had soft nests on the ground and time to yawn and sniff things and nuzzle. We were robbed by these giant monsters. We were robbed and for this round, there will be no justice. I will howl at the moon in our memory. I will grieve with tar in my soul. I will send message to the universe and pray it delivers vengeance. 

I hear a sound new to my ears. It is metallic and clanking and reminds me of the farm church's bells. I open my eyes and realize I am no longer running. It is day again. My legs are curled beneath me and there is not much space to move. Bright silver bars cross each other in front of me and form a diamond pattern. I cannot get out of here my love, I can not leave. 

There are other animals here, wherever I've landed. At first, I think the other animals are cows. The land looks ruined, the mess is great. The smell is stronger than cattle though. I can see them moving from my cage. I decide they must be pigs. They are dirty animals, stomping around in their own filth. The farmer here will have no means to employ an animal like me. I resign to die here without remorse.

My spirit sends a whispered message to you as agreed: After the time of the humans ends wolves will reclaim the continent. As top predator, they will repopulate the forests. New born packs will move from east to west, returning from the mountains. They will refill the forest where they were once hunted to extinction and reclaim that which was taken. It is then the universe will truly see to our burgeoning. The vicious rule this world. I will see you there.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Short Fiction Story: Sundown


I woke up this morning an old man. I can’t explain to you when it happened but it did. It feels like some kind of joke and I missed the punch line. The whole ordeal must have been gradual because I didn‘t take any notice. Age snuck up on me and started to kick hard. Feels like how the first big storm of the year always seems to surprise everyone like no one has ever seen snow before in their lives. Its much like when a season decides its done and it will be winter now. 
I finish washing my face, place my soap back in its place on the shelf and quickly shut the cabinet mirror door above the bathroom sink. I take one more look at myself. You are old now, I mouth to my reflection. I leave the small bath, no bigger than a closet and move down my dim hallway. I walk squinting into the daylight. The screen door swings closed behind me on the front porch and gives my ears its familiar slam sound. I step my half-way caulked walk to my bicycle and get on. What’s it to ya, I answer myself. I push the left pedal first because its my good leg and follow it with the right one because its partly crippled these days. 
The weather this morning puts me in high spirits. The fall sun is just strong enough to warm my back but the air is clean and cool to breath. The soft heat is like a woman’s sigh and feels redeeming. The sunlight is amber coloured and everything looks golden. The evenings are alright too, when the sun sets behind the row of identical wartime homes across the street from my own I imagine there is something glorious beyond it.
I ride my bicycle down two blocks and across one more to the market stores every day for my supplies. I greet the checkout ladies and pretend interest in their concerns. 
“Apples one dollar ninety this morning Mister Kocher”, the girl tells me. I have heard the girls call me Mister Masher when they think I am out of hearing range. I believe that to be what this one thinks.
“Nice day it is.” I say back to her and smile through my mess of crooked, yellowing teeth.
The check-out girl may not think much of me. Come to think of it they may not think much at all. I know who I am and I still require supplies for my cupboard. I knot the stuffed bags to the handle bars of my bicycle and push on back towards home. Routine can keep you alive. 
Pastimes I fix up old bicycles and sell them for a couple of dollars to the kids around the neighborhood. More often than not they look at me sideways like I’d be some type of debaser. I look past it though and ask if they’re buying or not. Best ask your folks first, I tell them. Better make sure it’s okay before you go spending all their money. Drop mention about the parents. Always seems to shut those brats up. I don’t want trouble over bicycles. And get yourself a good lock, I tell them. Better looking at it than looking for it. 
I look for Lenny down by the coffee shop. He haunts the place like a ghost that don’t know he’s passed to God. He lost most of his vision back twenty years now from pulling up lime in glass tubes for Can-Co Company test samples. I would watch him while he put his lips on the tube and suck the lime up to the top of the rim and think that can’t be good. Lenny is still around though standing outside the red brick café building on the dusty sidewalk. An old bastard in old rags not much different than myself. That can’t be good either. 
Lenny was raised same as me in a big family; six siblings and a bath once a week. The bathing orders always came the same too; youngest child to eldest in one tub of hot water from the stove and by the time you got your turn it was chilled cold and brown. When Lenny and me was kids we’d ride our bikes like terrors around the neighborhood and go as far from home as we could before we’d run half-ways out of steam and have to be saving some to get home again. We would ride over the train tracks and down the gravel roads that run beside the river where Billy Samuel was found face down, bloated and bobbing like a log. We loved pedaling as fast and as far away as we could; long before we’d sign up to work for the shipyards or began to look like men. Mothers then had a common means to rid themselves from children under-foot. It was to show you the door and say be home by sundown. 
I was in love with Lenny’s second youngest sister Jenny. When she passed away it was alright with me. Love lost to one evening. I caught her entertaining another gentleman partly through her sliding backyard patio door. Up until that time we visited regular nights; me and Jenny. I can see her swinging her long brown hair over her shoulders and laughing while we played cards in her kitchen. We’d have conversations over cups of coffee or sour tasting gin until we were silly with one or the other and it was time to retire.
I was a spry man at that time. I was fit and bulked with muscle from hauling metal casings at the shipyard, fired up with excitement from watching the minesweepers roll out of our harbors ready to defeat naval mines. If a ship came in touch with a naval mine horn it would blow a hole in it so big as to send it to the bottom. Our shipyard could barely keep up with production. The work pace was lightning fast because apparently our enemy was as good at sinking ships as we were making them; sometimes better. 
I didn’t think much of what happened that night. I grabbed the man with my rough hands and squeezed his neck with them, tighter and tighter. My heart didn’t complain once as I wrung the life out him. I watched the scene from somewhere outside myself during the few minutes it took for the man to die. He looked so shocked as the lights escaped from his bulgy eyes. Even when dead on the ground his face still held a look of surprise. Jenny screamed all the while like she was being killed herself. I turned to her and said You got to keep out of trouble Jenny. I felt she needed me to tell her. I dragged the man’s dead body down the dirt and pebble lane by one of his arms and buried him somewhere I can’t never say. When I finished with the burial I went back to Jenny’s house. I came back the same ways I left and found her in the shadows sobbing in her hands like women do. In the dark kitchen I sat down in the chair next to hers. As soft as I could I explained to her how it would be best if she would keep quiet about the whole mess for good. She threw her hands up in protest then and moaned something that sounded like an agreement. I walked out her door and never went back. 
Its almost four thirty now and I lay in my bed fully dressed and wait. My small television tries to sell me some walk-in bath tubs with chairs built inside them and motorized scooter chairs. I don’t know why everybody wants to sit down so much. I enjoy the light that shines through the glass despite the dirt on my window, through the dingy sheers that were white fifty years ago. It is almost time for old men like me to have their supper.