Jinxed jesting jejune junior jobber...
just jabbering gibberish (A - J)
Again, another awkward ambitious
arduous attempt at alphabetically
arranging atrociously ambiguously
absolutely asinine avoidable alliteration.
Because...? Basically bonafide belching,
bobbing, bumbling, bohemian beastie boy,
bereft bummer, bleeds blasé blues, begetting
bloviated boilerplate bildungsroman,
boasting bougainvillea background.
Civil, clever clover chomping, cheap
chipper cool cutthroat clueless clodhopper,
chafed centenary, codifies communication
cryptically, challenging capable, certifiably
cheerful college coed.
Divine dapper daredevil, deft, destitute,
doddering, dorky dude, dummkopf Dagwood
descendent, dagnabbit, demands daring
dedicated doodling, dubious, dynamite,
deaf dwarf, diehard doppelganger, Doctor
Demento double, declaring depraved
daffy dis(pense)able dufus Donald Duck
derailed democracy devastatingly defunct.
Eccentric, edified English exile,
effervescent, elementary, echinoderm
eating egghead, Earthling, excretes,
etches, ejaculates, effortless exceptional
emphatic effluvium enraging eminent,
eschatologically entranced, elongated
elasmobranchii, emerald eyed Ebenezer,
effectively experiments, emulates epochal
eczema epidemic, elevating, escalating,
exaggerating enmity, enduring exhausting
Freed fentanyl fueled, fickle figurative
flippant fiddler, fiendishly filmy, fishy,
fluke, flamboyantly frivolous, fictitious,
felonious, fallacious, fabulously fatalistic,
flabbergasted, fettered, flustered, facile,
faceless, feckless, financially forked,
foregone, forlorn futile fulsome, freckled
feverish, foo fighting, faulty, freezing,
fleeting famously failing forecaster, flubs
"FAKE" fundamental fibber fiat, fabricating
fiery fissile fractured fios faculties.
Gamesomeness goads gawky, gingerly,
goofily graceful, grandiloquent gent, gallant,
genteel, geico, guppy gecko, gabbling gaffes,
gagging, gamboling, gestating, gesticulating,
garlic, gnashing, gobbling, gyrating,
gruesomely grinning, grappling, gnomadic
giggly, grubby, gastrointestinally grumpy
gewgaw gazing gesticulating guy,
geographically generically germane,
gungho, grave gremlin, grumbling, guiding,
guaranteeing, guerilla gripped gatling guns
Hello! Herewith halfway harmless hazmat,
haphazard haggard, hectored, hastily,
hurriedly, harriedly hammered, handsomely
hackneyed, heathen, hellbent hillbilly, hirsute,
hidden hippie, huffy humanoid, hexed, heady,
Hellenistic, holistic, hermetic, hedonistic
heterosexual Homo sapiens historical heirloom,
homeless, hopeful, holy, hee haw heretical hobo.
Indefatigable, iconographic, iconic, idealistic,
idyllic, inimitable, idiosyncratic, ineffable,
irreverently issuing idiotic, indifferent, inert,
ineffectual, ingeniously iniquitous, immaterial,
insignificant, indubitable, inexplicable, ignoble
itches, ineffectually illustriously illuminating
immovable infused ichthyosaurus implanted
inside igneous intrusions immensely
Jovial jabbering jinxed January jokester
just jimmying jabberwocky
justifying jangling jarring juvenile jibberish
jubilantly jousting jittering
jazzy jawbreaking jumble
justifying, jostling, Jesus;
junior jowly janissary joyful Jekyll
joined jumbo Jewess jolly Jane;
jammed jello junket jiggled
jeopardized jingled jugs.
I let the soot stain my fingertips ashen grey, pinching the corner of a splintered log as I toss it further into the metal pit.
I imagine how tired the flames must be. Most refer to a fire as raging, as angry as a hellhound biting at the confines we try haplessly to keep it within.
But would a fire not burn so bright, not burn so fiercely that it wishes to rest? Because as the flames turns to ash, the wood burnt something terrible there squats it's assailant, blowing on its ruin and trying to catch carcass to cardboard.
I try to clean up its disarray with my own, and it feels as though helping a comrade to its feet around the shrapnel of stainless steel.
I tend to this fire as though its a tangible peace of me, tend it solely until it shows sign of exhaustion, and smile when it lets out a relieved sigh as I douse it before bed. Watching it twirl and dance above the sky top of the tent, feeling just the bit lighter for it all.
Character is Everything
"Do you swear in your writing?" is not really the apt question. It is more illuminating to ask, "Do my characters swear?"
Some do. Some don't.
My story "Rideshare" follows an angry, shallow, and lonely young corporate type . Here he is, drunkenly offering his Uber driver money to hang out with him:
“Look… Luis—glad your fucking nametag’s there—Luis, Bill Murray is the coolest guy in the world. Hands down. There’s this night out in LA, Bill Murray is going to a club or a movie or wherever the fuck a Bill Murray goes, and he takes this cab and the driver says he plays the saxophone, but Bill Murray talks to him and learns that he never gets the time to play. So Bill Murray says, drive to your apartment and get your fucking saxophone, and then they drove to a parking lot someplace and Bill Murray pays this guy for a whole night so he can just listen to him fucking play the saxophone on the hood of the cab. Now I’m not as cool as fucking Bill Murray, but I got some cash, man. How much you make in a night?”
He's glib. He's boastful. He makes a show of how impressive and manly he is because he tries, desperately, not to reveal what he really feels. (Full story here: https://www.sleetmagazine.com/selected/love_v13n2.html) He swears the way a child would, peppering his speech with an excess of profanity that does not make him as tough as he thinks. The Uber driver never swears once. He is a family man, empathetic and grounded. They are different people; if they are to be real, they need to talk differently.
By way of contrast, here's William Mumler in my yet-unpublished novel, justifying his practice of photographing people with deceased spirits:
Mumler watched the flame, coming forth steadily from the brass.
“Jonah told as destined. He gave the people the message they needed from the Lord,” Mumler said. “The Almighty knows all: my sins, your sins, what will become of us, what would become of Jonah and the Ninevites. Though He knew He would spare the city, He suffered Jonah to spread the message of its destruction. A small untruth in service of a greater truth.”
He appealed to Guay’s unmoving face. “Prophets must serve the truth. That is what I have learned. One cannot choose to be a prophet, Mr. Guay. One cannot choose even the details of the message. The truth chooses the prophet. There are spirits, manifesting in this new age. We must serve that truth, or we will be swallowed.”
If a profane syllable left that man's tongue, his entire character would crumble like a clay-footed statue. In a moment of crisis that could destroy everything he holds dear, my Mumler might use the word "damn," though if anyone heard, he would feel shame.
The character, the narrative, the style determine the language I use in my writing. I am perfectly content to write an academic analysis, or to drop an f-bomb if it makes a joke funnier. I'll write that businessman out on a bender or that photographer who reads his Bible nightly. My task is to write them true.
2012, August 13, in the thick of the hot season
Amit hurried through the streets, running a hand through his hair. It was dry and cut too short. He’d refused the coconut oil his grandmother had insisted he apply for his first job interview.
His first real job interview, she had reminded him, tsking as he had hurried out the door.
Amit had glanced up at the painting of Krishna above the door frame and offered up a silent prayer.
Now, he dodged a tuk-tuk on the street. The driver honked and swerved, but Amit stayed the course.
It wasn’t his first job interview.
It wasn’t, in fact, a job interview at all.
He ducked in a side alley and ran, dodging lines of hanging wash and piles of fly-infested garbage.
The whole place stank, mixing with the scent of his own sweat through his stiff velour coat.
Another good reason not to add coconut oil to the mix.
Deep in the ally, he stopped, tucking his tie into his collar.
The cover had been necessary. Painstaking. His work required that.
The sounds coming from the other side of the door: a chair spun across the floor, then slammed into the wall, followed by a gagged scream.
It must be going well.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
December 12, 2013
It isn’t so much the morning air, as the dogs, barking at our heels.
It isn’t so much the dogs, their matted manes and yellowed teeth, nipping at our shoes, as it is the stench from the pig pens which barely hold in the odor nor the piglets nor the overflowing piles of dung.
But it isn’t even so much the stench, filling our nostrils and making us wheeze, as it is the feeling in the air, like the fallout from an atomic bomb or the devastating aftermath of a Tsunami.
We stop to stretch.
He, slower and built; me, with more years ahead of me to catch up on those pounds.
The humans all around us: they actually live here.
I reach my hands down to my feet, feel the twinge of my hamstrings. This is good.
For him, it’s normal.
He lives here too.
Not here, in the filthy sweating lean-tos on the trash-littered beach, but here, just a few blocks inland, away from the storm surges and the worst of the winds.
He’d survived a Tsunami three years prior.
But Bohrs has never talked about it.
“It’s here, too,” I comment.
The people. The mothers. I see them. I see myself in their reflections. The children are already coming out of the lean-tos, though the sun is barely a glow on the southern horizon.
Their eyes are hungry. Their hands are out.
“Here too,” says Bors.
He nods his head toward the furthest hut, the one closest to the swanky hotel jutting out like a pearl on the south side of the beach.
A little girl comes toward me, with eyes like that of a wolf, hungry.
“White lady. Give me money.”
She is ugly, her mouth turned down and dirt caked on her face. She despises me.
I shake my head.
She jolts her hand further outward as if to force the question.
If she had a knife, she’d probably pull it.
I squint and spot the telltale sign on her scalp, just covered by her hairline.
She has it too.
I purse my lips together and look at Bors, the question in my eyes.
Where is this coming from?
That’s what we’ve come to find out.
2012, August 13, still hot as ever.
Still in the Thick of the Heat.
“Just in time.”
Amit stands in the doorway and observes.
His hands aren’t crossed.
If he hadn’t seen this many times before, if he hadn’t had that part of him carefully numbed, he would feel a shiver run down the length of his spine.
And then back up again, coloring his face, making his heart pound.
Instead, he takes a step forward, then another.
The woman is in front of the four men, eyes covered by a black cloth, face turned upward, head leaning against the back of the chair, mouth open, panting hard.
He leans in to the closest man and lowers his voice.
“What did she say?”
There is blood trickling down the corner of her mouth.
He had told them not to ruin her face.
A malleable character, full of potential.
It was the shorter man, the one with a clean shave. The one who looked like he could be selling Saris out of his uncle’s bridal shop.
Which he did in the evenings.
Amit shakes his head and puts on the voice synthesizer. If she survives, it will be useful for them if she doesn’t know it was him.
Neha was not meant to come to this. But if she must, she must.
He takes a bat from the hand of the less-clean-shaven man, the one who looks like he might do this sort of thing for a living, and he lifts it behind his shoulders like he’s a cricketer about to swing.
“Neha,” says Amit.
She can hear the frustration in his voice, even through the strange tone of the voice masking. It’s probably the way he’s talking, through slitted teeth.
Her shoulders tense and her head shakes the tiniest bit, like a baby refusing food.
“I don’t want to have to do this. I even wore my best suit, added a silk tie. But…”
The prayers and his grandmother were long forgotten. Or were they?
Amit tightens his grip on the bat and looks toward Neha as if she were a ball about to be bowled toward him.
Neha whimpers and then chokes. A bit of blood comes out of the corner of her mouth. It’s unbecoming for a lady.
Amit shakes his head.
“Neha,” he says. “I’m asking you one last time.”
She is sobbing now, fighting, trying to get her hands out from behind the chair. It’s like she knows the end is coming.
“No, please…I don’t know…I can’t…I can’t…”
The blow comes hard and fast and Amit feels the satisfying crunch of bone on bone, as something small and white and bloody flies out of her mouth and across the room.
She’s blubbering and spitting up blood and leaning her head forward as she tries not to choke.
Her hair is a mess now.
Amit watches, the end of the bat balanced on the floor, the hilt of it between his hands.
He spreads his legs.
“Plea.…ple.. please…” she pleads, saliva choking her words.
“Oh ple- ase,” she chokes, “Please God.”
She looks up, and for a moment Amit wants to laugh, picturing her five months ago, done up in reds and whites and yellows the day of their engagement.
END OF NOVEL EXCERPT
As it eventually will with every young man, he sees her and is struck. He is struck by her beauty, struck by his own youthful incapacities, and struck by the giddy paralysis of a fear so deep it can only be known by one whose own status is deemed by themselves to lie below that of their infatuation’s. “I cannot,” he reasons as he gazes upon her, “be worthy of her. Yet who else would ever love her as I would? Who could?”
“But, how to make her notice me?” He wonders, until presently it occurs to him to display for her that one thing that he can do well, as that one thing might somehow reveal to her the feasibility of other, hidden potentials within him which she, and only she, might manifest within him given time… if only she would look at him now.
And so the boy shows himself off to her. He is young. His skillsets are few and mostly outlandish, but he is completely unmindful of what the rest of the watching world may think. The urge is strongly upon him to somehow impress her in ways which he has not yet had time enough in this world to formulate, but he will try. He must try. And if the lad has wit he will manage it in a convincing and winsome enough manner that he will gain some however-so small affection from her... a smile, a touch, a peckish kiss. Any of those would be enough for now, as he would have been seen.
It began two Thursday’s ago, and has not let up since. Out of the blue the boy began showing up nearly every day, some days two or three times a day, dribbling his basketball on the sidewalk out front of Trisha’s house. He could only bounce it, as there is no basket out there to shoot at, so sometimes he bounces it up high, or sometimes he dribbles it down low, wrapping it effortlessly behind his back and then scissoring it between his legs, spinning the ball on his finger, and then on his forehead, and then dribbling it some more and more and more as he spins and jukes and out-fakes invisible sidewalk defenders.
Oh, she sees him all right. Trisha watches him through the window slats, her face a torpid mask meant to hide her curiousity away from sniggering parents. The boy was actually quite good at bouncing his ball, so she waited to see what tricks he might do with it next.
He made dribbling the ball look so easy that once, when the bouncing boy had finally gone, Trisha went out to the garage, where she picked up her brother’s ball and tried dribbling it herself, but her hands moved awkwardly, and the ball was too heavy. It always bounced too high, so that she couldn’t even begin to do the boy’s tricks. In fact, it was all she could do to keep the stupid ball bouncing near enough to her that she could bounce it again. She quickly discovered that what the boy made to look so easy was really not so easy at all.
Of course, at least initially, it wasn’t just her parents, but even Trisha who found the bouncing ball annoying. The infernal thump, thump, thumping of the ball drug her to the window from her daytime bed where she laid listening to music, or from the couch when she was watching television. The thumping was out there during supper, and when she was dressing, and all the time it seemed. When she could do so without it being obvious Trisha would sneak over to peek between the blinds at him dribbling the ball, and spinning it, but the boy never, ever looked over at her window, or even towards her house, but only dribbled his ball as though neither she, nor even her house, were even there.
But our girl Trisha was no one’s dummy.
Who was he, she wondered? And why was he doing this? It seemed to be a very strange thing to do, but then it also didn’t. At first it had appeared to be a random act, as though her house just happened to sit on his route home from the basketball court or something like that, but it quickly became obvious that there was a greater purpose to his dribbling here, that it was for someone’s benefit, and her vanity allowed her to suspect that the someone he was doing it for might be her, not that she really cared about the boy one way or another. She didn’t even know him. But why else other than to impress her? Why did he always stop right here in front of her house every day? And why bouncing a ball? If he was truly coming to impress her, or any other girl for that matter, why bring a basketball? Why not sing, or dance, or anything more romantic than bouncing a ball? It was a curious mystery, but then… she did enjoy a curious mystery.
Regardless of their intent Trisha came to look forward to his visits, her heart leaping at the first thump. She no longer felt the need to go peek every single time, though she did it quite often anyways. It was enough just to know he was there. After all, she knew very well by now what he looked like, and what he was doing, and she suspected that she was the reason, so there was really no need to peek, was there? If he truly was coming here to dribble in front of her house in an attempt to impress her then not peeking was almost a form of playing hard to get, wasn’t it? A way of showing him that she had more important things to do than to watch him play with his ball? So she shouldn’t make herself available to him every time, should she? The boy might get the impression she was easy, or uninteresting. No. She could not allow that.
Still, most times she peeked. She couldn’t help it. And when she did so she wondered if he noticed the break in the blinds, and if that break gave her peeking away? Sometimes she even hoped that he did see it. Trisha was alone a lot, which did not make for a particularly happy girl, and during those times when she was not peeking she took on an unconscious habit of brushing her hair until the thumping echoes of the ball faded away into the twilight, and of smiling as she brushed.
Oddly, Trisha began to wish the boy was out there even when he wasn’t, and she found herself discouraged when he was not. Depressed even. She began to wonder where he was, and what he had found that was more interesting to do? And then she would hear ghost balls thumping on the sidewalk. She would run to the window but the boy wouldn’t be out there; this seemed always to happen while lying in her bed at night for instance, or when she was naked in the bathroom. And even more strangely, she found herself peeking out when there was clearly no ball out there thumping, hoping that the boy might be just down the street, bouncing it up the sidewalk towards her house.
”Is that boy a friend of yours?” Her father finally asked her. “Why don’t you go out there and make him stop?”
Go out there? Was her father a fool? She couldn’t go out there! Going out there would break the magic. The boy would see that she was not so special, that she was just a girl and not so pretty, and was infinitely awkward at that.
”What’s the matter? Scared?” Her father taunted, making fun when there was nothing funny about it. But was she scared? Scared of what? Of a boy bouncing a stupid ball? Of course she was not scared. She would show her father. She would go out there! But first she would go see how she looked. Once in front of the mirror she touched her hair a few times to little effect, but it wasn’t really her appearance that she wanted to see, was it? What she needed to see lay deeper than that, so rather than primping she gazed into her own eyes, gauging their strength, asking them if this was truly what she wanted, to meet this boy whose attention she had somehow attracted, and to take a chance on driving him away? Wasn’t it better to leave things alone, and to keep this little thing between them as it was? The eyes in the mirror told her no. Trisha saw in them a readiness, almost a hunger to meet the boy, to find out who he was. Taking a deep breath, she hesitated no longer.
It was actually a relief to find herself on the tiny front porch, and to hear the door click shut behind her, and to see that he had not noticed her there yet, but there was no turning back from here. She was committed.
The ball got away from him for just a second. It was a little thing, but it was the first time in all her peeking that she’d seen a fumble from him, which meant nothing really, while also meaning very much when she considered her own continuous fumbling in the garage when she had attempted to dribble her brother’s ball. Trisha’s initial thought had been that he was a boy, so dribbling the ball was easier for him, but that was not right. He was obviously athletic, but where did that come from? Was it genetics, hand-eye coordination handed down from mother or father, or both? And how did speed play into that, and balance, and dexterity, and strength? No, he could only reach the level of skill he had achieved through diligence. She wondered where he found such a thing as diligence, and why?
He was really not very big, seen from a closer perspective, not much taller than her actually, yet he looked strong, if lithe. He caught up with the fumbled ball and tucked it under his arm as he turned to face her, his weight balanced evenly on both feet, his chin held high in an exaggerated, almost comically masculine posture.
“Hi.” He did not smile, though his expression was soft, his eyes kind. His voice was surprisingly deep for such a youthful looking face.
“What are you doing out here? Why do you keep bouncing your ball in front of my house.“
The boy shrugged.
“You are driving my parents crazy.”
There was a pause as she considered her answer. Her eyes refused to look at him as she gave it, though she longed to see his response. She had never suffered rejection and didn’t know if she could take it, but she had a feeling that she needn’t worry. He instilled in her that feeling. “Yea, I guess you could say that you’re driving me crazy, too.”
With that said she did look up. He wore a brilliant smile now, which she could not help returning. “Good, then I’ll be back tomorrow.” He said it as he turned to go.
”Hey!“ His still smiling face glanced back at her call. “Why don’t you try ringing the bell?”
The boy nodded and took off running down the street, the ball thumping expertly at his side.
*tick tick tick*
My fingers fidget at my sides, my leg bouncing up and down. Constantly moving, waiting, thinking. My thoughts spiral, going farther down every second that I wait here, seated in patience.
*tick tick tick*
I sigh and lick my lips, glancing at the clock. It has only been three minutes since the last time I checked it. I rub my sweaty palms on my jeans, still waiting. My thoughts grow in fear, continuing on their rapid spiral down. Down into straight insanity of this aching, wretched waiting.
What if it is a "yes"? What if it is a "no"? What if I never get to see my family again? What if I can live for more years? What if my time is up? What if I have all the time in the world? What if tomorrow is my last day? What if I have an infinite number of days ahead of me? What if... what if... what if...
*tick tick tick*
The clock ticks, continuously but it is as if time has stopped moving altogether, making me wait with this biting anxiety. This anxiety and waiting that will kill me.
A woman walks in with a clipboard, and I can feel the tsunami of tears waiting behind my eyes, ready for what she has to say. Ready to hear that dreaded news that will either make my day or end it.
She comes over to me and holds out her hand with a smile of great compassion. "Your safe," she says. "The cancer is gone."
Relief floods in me, and tears stream down my face, instantly washing away my anxiety and fear. I have more time with my family. God has given me more time to live and love.
DOWN TO EARTH
I was in paradise. I had my shoes off and felt the cool runnings of the clear water between my toes. The current was brisk, underscored by the smoothness of the variegated stones beneath my feet.
There was a tingling sensation, too, but I trudged on.
I set my sight on a horizon of sorts, the top of the stream source flanked by trees. My goal. To cover the entire expanse. To conquer it and make it mine.
Inexplicably, I grew shorter.
My heels were gone, forcing me to balance on those parts of my feet where toes met foot. I rose to the challenge. I reviewed my progress. This part of my conquest was easy. It was low-hanging fruit. Who needs heels anyway? Just ask Achilles.
I grew shorter, still.
Victory over my task was getting more arduous. It was only fair, though. You cannot take and take by taking it for granted. I had to earn my progress. Soon I found I was walking on stumps, and no longer on my feet. But it didn't hurt. Not at all.
What lurked beneath? I did not care, for I was above it. I could not be stopped. I made manifest, destiny — to reach the source of the water, no matter what. What drew me to my goal? My destination? I did not know. I did not care. But I would know it when I got there.
I grew shorter again.
I was walking on stumps which were my ankles. I adjusted my center of gravity to new and strange proprioception. I adapted. I was malleable. I pressed on.
I grew shorter, yet again.
I was walking on the midshafts of my shins. Strangely, there was no pain. No blood. And, surprisingly, no alarm. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. After all, I was making progress.
In this world of life-giving water and clarity, my quest began getting muddied. I was walking on kneecaps now, and as if in judgment of me, by the stream, the water was growing deeper. The prospect of a tight race between my shortening and the water's depth was exhilarating. There is life in peril; without it there is no living!
I sauntered on my hip sockets. Amputational karma haunted me, but I was not afraid. I was confident and resolute. It was I, after all!
I AM THE ONE WITH THE QUEST. I AM THE CONQUERER FOR THE TASK ASSIGNED ME. BY ME.
The to-and-fro of my pelvic girdle was as a dance with the water. It was choreography. I imagined hearing music. Terpsichore held my hand, but Melpomene watched from behind us. I churned what remained of my mitigated gait. The water grew deeper. I pressed on. I would win this race!
Now I had only my shoulder girdle to support me. My heart was gone — sacrificed to my holy mission. And with it my conscience. My entrails trailed, leaving a trustworthy tracing for those who would follow, to follow. They would think of me. They would know that dominating this river, née, stream, was possible because it had been done. It had been me who had succeeded.
The rapids ahead did not frighten me.
My only means of locomotion was my skull, its mandibular articulations providing the thrust to send me forward in spasmodic fits and jerks. Finally, when that final joint had disarticulated, sending my jaw under the froth, I was as just my head. My mind. My obsession.
It was indeed a tight race, as the turbulence tossed what was left of me, who sputtered and spit, to breathe.
I sank below the cresting tide and was one with the Earth. The Earth won.
My biggest mistake wasn’t trying — bravely or foolishly, or both — to do it without toes, feet, hips, shoulders, or jaw. My biggest mistake was not being wise enough to know what I was up against — that some agendas are bigger than me.
Kashi jumped around, throwing her hands in the air along with the crowd screaming the lyrics at the top of her lungs. She laughed, spinning in a circle. A friend offered her another can of beer from a table on the side. It hissed as she popped it open, and she downed nearly half in a go.
“Go Kash!” Her friend whooped, her black curls bouncing as she bobbed with the music.
Encouraged, Kashi smirked, walking purposefully to a table nearby. She flung her jean jacket onto the floor and climbed up onto the table, cowboy boots and all. “What about now?” she shouted to her friend, as she launched into a complicated series of dance moves. People turned from the floor to watch her spin and jump. She smiled upon hearing the whoops and cheers. She finished off the can in her hand.
“You’re next Sierra!” She jumped down, motioning for her friend to jump up. Sierra didn’t hesitate, grabbing Kashi’s hand to support her as she hopped up to take a turn.
“Looking for this?”
Kashi spun around, the corner of her mouth quirking up as she beheld who was letting her jacket dangle from a finger. “If I’d known someone as cute as you were here, I’d rather you, but I’ll take the jacket too.” She flirted, grabbing for the article of clothing.
“Ah-Ah!” He chided, smiling back, pulling it out of her reach. I want to dance first. Besides, why cover up those pretty arms with a jacket?” He stepped up closer to her. Her breath caught, but he broke her gaze and tied the jacket around her waist. “Now that you have your jacket, can I have my dance?”
“If I absolutely must,” Kashi said with a shrug. As he took another step back she got a good look at him. Tall, moderately built man with a strong jaw. But most definitely a farm hand from the look of his boots.
He grabbed one of her hands, putting the other one on her lower back. “You know how to dance, right?”
“Of course I do,” Kashi said, almost offended, “Did you not see me just moments ago?”
“I mean this kind of dance.” Without warning he raised her arm and sent her twirling around, then back into his arms. He raised his eyebrows and smirked. “So you do?”
Kashi smirked back, her gaze trailing along the outline of his face, just barely avoiding eye contact. “How much more do you know? I only dance with exceptional partners.” She met his bright eyes. “Better start working.”
She knew it was going to work. The moment the words left her mouth he picked up his steps and eased into complicated footwork. Kashi followed expertly, leaning into the twirls and dips, speeding up with the tempo of the music. Their boots kept time, tapping with every step.
She let a glimmer of surprise show as he placed both hands on her hips and lifted her expertly. She leaned back, putting her arms out. The people who had backed up to watch started to cheer as he spun her two… three times before setting her down.
“Damn, you can move!” She smiled, pushing one of his shoulders with her hand. “How come I haven’t seen you around here before?”
He slid a hand to the back of his neck casually, “usually I got better things to do than party it up with a bunch of ranch kids.”
“Better than to be a ranch hand.” Kashi smiled. “Who do you work for around here anyway?”
“James or Hudson?”
“James,” he responded, “There’s two Thompsons?”
Kashi lifted a brow. “You must be real new. They’re brothers who have been feuding over land and such for quite a time now.”
“New to these parts, not new to ranches.” He shrugged, “Been working them my whole life. I just decided to try them on this side of the state.” A smirk spread over his tanned face. “This side doesn’t quite live up to the work I’ve seen before.”
“Well when the time is right you’ll see just how hard James Thompson will work his hands and harvesters. He just expanded his property. This year marks the first harvest in the new fields, but he didn’t hire many extra hands. Trust me, you have your work cut out for you.” Kashi said, walking to get a bottle of water.
“No more drinks?” He asked, following her off the dance floor, blue lights casting shadows all over.
“I have work tomorrow.” she said, the cap to her water clicking as she took it off.
“What? Daddy won’t let you use his money? Gotta’ work?” He teased.
“I manage my daddy’s money, boy. More money than you’ll ever see in your lifetime.” She took a long sip of water. “So run along to wherever you’re staying, I've got bigger things to do.” Kashi strutted out of the barn towards the rows of trucks and cars parked outside on the grass.
“Hey now don’t be like that, come on.” He said following her outside. “One more dance.”
“What’s your name?” Kashi asked, turning around, realizing she never asked.
“Carr.” He responded. “I’ll give you my last name if you give me a dance.
Kashi rolled her eyes and turned her head away, unable to conceal the smile. What a tease. “Nah, it’s two in the morning. If I get home much later my dad might catch me. He gets up around four.”
“Sneaking out, are we?” Carr asked, following her.
“Almost all of us. Besides, Whittmore’s old barn has been our party spot for over a month now. The police will probably figure it out pretty soon.” Kashi continued to walk towards her truck, tugging her cropped tee down a little.
Almost as if on cue, blue lights that weren’t coming from the barn flew up the hill.
“See? Come on!” Kashi shouted to Carr, ducking behind one of the rows of trucks. The police flew by towards the barn without noticing. She dashed to a bright red truck, looking almost brand new. “’I'll give you a lift.” She offered.
“Thanks but I got my own ride.” Carr smirked, jogging off into the dark.
Kashi shook her head, but jammed her keys into the ignition as everyone flooded out of the barn. Sierra and a few others scrambled into the bed of her truck and she peeled away from the parking lot. Sierra climbed through the back window onto the seat beside Kashi.
“Who was that boy you were with Kash?” Sierra asked, tilting her head to the side with a suggestive grin.
Kashi smacked her friend’s shoulder lightly. “Sierra, he’s a new hire for my dad!”
Back in the days...
of my emerging adulthood, when I lived with my parents my mother (deceased nineteen years come May 5, 2024) served as a go between for my father, who demonstrated bellicosity toward me (the second of three offspring, and only son) linkedin to chronic unemployment state of mine and plus additionally being emotionally detached from family, particularly my remaining mum regarding inquiring about everyday welfare on behalf of those individuals, whose instance of physical intercourse begat me approximately early/late March of nineteen fifty eight, and could in their wildest (whet) dreams imagine how their singular male offspring would exhibit non social behavior when unnamed said progeny attained the age of legally defined adulthood, he would mutely bear the wrath of his Dad’s infamous midnight lectures, which I dreaded every malevolent utterance when father requested he speak not about some choice topic de jure that brought a twinkle to my eye, but that all to familiar monologue finding me standing like stone wall hearing, tuning out with equally predictable trademark demurely meek pose with hands crossed against chest of the then easily intimidated guy despite feeling effects of utter ennui and fatigue attempted to stand tall against the tsunami verbal typhoon itching to drown out said battle creek when asked capisce? comprende? farshtayst? looked blankly at floor well nigh, or pretended to stare at something extremely fascinating on the kitchen wall for he may as well asked if I understand in an unfamiliar language such as greek most likely getting successful results yammering away at common house fly possibly seething inside (p’raps equally swatted) ready to lash out into a brawl, held back by fear plus in comparison to me pop – just a itty bitty pipsqueak, who felt onrushing of overpowering desire to collapse and cry compounded by growing urge to urinate from that natural urethral call spoke nada word, nor gave hint of hearing from loathsome blather that did reek like decomposition of fetid dead living entity that began to putrefy, which offal to mine ears, tugged impetus under warm blankets to crawl!
I sought refuge on the roof of our sprawling ramshackle domicile (once a stately mansion during the heyday of the early nineteen hundreds - before the first World War - known as "Glen Elm" incorporating at that time about one hundred wooded acres including a pond, where Canadian Geese flocked, but the onset of urbanization witnessed vinyl city to usurp once pristine preserve, whereby memory houses soul asylum vestige, where complex edifice once anchoring venerated Glen Elm demesne once stood, now nothing except ticky tack cookie cutter little houses on the hillside that look all the same, nevertheless I recall breathtaking, expansive, incredible numerous, tremblingly awe inspiring views billion miles (slight exaggeration) heavenly sights comfortably ensconced, while perched high atop sadly long since demolished complex edifice anchoring Glen Elm demesne – summer mansion property captain Leiper (circa early nineteen hundreds) more'n century ago once encompassing hundred plus acres whittled to approximately 2.42811 hectares upon purchase February twenty eighth ninety sixty eight by papa Boyce Brandon Harris, insync with help courtesy paternal grandpa Aaron Harris, the former who invested blood, sweat and tears, when not yoked, tethered, obligated... to incumbent duties consonant with assignments linkedin, when gainfully employed as top notch mechanical engineer at General Electric, he slaved away gentrifying neglected fixer upper (matter of fact single handedly reshingled roof) that same exterior hideaway offering solace against imprecation, ostracization, ultimatum... damnation, humiliation, laceration, (albeit verbal lashing against yours truly), when exhibiting no motivation to work (courtesy thank debilitating, immobilizing, paralyzing anxiety/panic attacks), now though still plagued with same understood as congenital (possibly in utero) malady, yes an abominable, execrable, implacable..., nemesis which unpleasant memories haunt me even to this day, whereby nothing but utter failure cast dark shadows analogous to edge of night oft times accompanied with suicidal ideations, whereat damned, continually bereft, abysmal bereft legacy testimony marginally functioning as the token "scapegoat" throughout twelve torturous years yielding absolute zero aptitude unable to comprehend, (I strongly suspect die hug noses along high functioning autistic spectrum - case in point youngest of two sweet progeny (both daughters) afflicted with yepper aforementioned cognitive learning disability, she benefited social services since birth, and can attest to much more positive academic, and socialization endeavors well on her way living clear and free empowered at twenty plus five orbitz round the earth.
It Should Be Green
As I stand by the side of the road, which is as close as I can get right now, I look out at the woods I know so well. I spent my childhood in those woods – exploring, hiking, climbing. Those trees, the rocky dirt trails hidden under their branches, the stream that runs through them – they hold so many memories.
Somewhere under those trees is the spot where I fell in love for the first time. I can remember staring up at the stars as he timidly reached out and took my hand in his. I was so nervous that I couldn’t stop giggling.
I caught my first fish on the lake just a mile down the road. I was seven years old. I can remember standing on the lake's shore with my dad’s hands on mine, pulling my pole back and letting it fly. I can still feel the excitement at the first tug and my delight as I posed for a picture, my proud dad all smiles behind the camera.
My first real injury happened there too. I broke my ankle when I tripped on a rock. I remember tears streaming down my cheeks as I was carried down the trail.
I almost lived there once. After a fight with my mom, I packed my backpack with snacks and a change of clothes, grabbed my jacket, and left the civilized world behind. As the sun set, I thought I had found the perfect life – nothing but the stars above me, the ground beneath me, and the clean, open air around me. I went home six hours later, soaking wet from the rain.
I know those woods better than I know my own family, my own house. They have been my home when I felt like I didn’t have one. Those trees were alive long before I was born, and I always believed they would long outlive me.
But now, as I stare at that familiar tree line, only one thought crosses my mind.
It should be green.
Not red-hot with orange flames engulfing everything in their path and thick, black smoke rising into the air, blocking out the sun and the blue sky.
It should be green.