Random Writing: One Day…

Image result for 1953 indian motorcycle“He was heading down to Success when he tried to moon that trucker.”

“Hogs. Hauling hogs. And he weren’t trying nothin – he mooned him good.”

“Well, I suppose,” Bill looked up from his coffee, “However righteously you moon somebody, I think you lose points if you die.”

Edgar folded his large hands on the formica table top. “Nobody knows he died.” He squinted at Bill. “Folks in Biloxi say they saw him just last month.”

I interrupted. “So, let me get this straight. Caleb Jones may or may not have died mooning a trucker?”

“Hauling hogs.” Edgar squinted at me, the wrinkles around his eyes disappearing under his ball cap. “Musta cut him off. Caleb was a bit militant ’bout the need to share the road.”

“Nice bike,” Bill added.

“Indian. Somebody ought to drag the river.”

A lone fly was playing chicken with the ceiling fan. Edgar had finished the scrambled eggs he’d topped with an alarming volume of hot sauce. Bill nursed a coffee. I was having orange juice.

“Vicksburg Bridge.” Edgar continued. “Caleb took that big beautiful Indian, think it was a ’53, on his business trips.”

“And like Ed says, trucker hauling hogs must of cut ’em off.” Bill continued.

“So Caleb, who always was a bit of a hothead…”

“And more than a bit of a showoff…”

“Pulls in front of the trucker…”

“Stands up on the saddle of his Indian…”

“Nice bike,” Edgar mused.

Bill, warming, soldiered on, “Stands on the saddle, going 50…”

“60!”

“And dropped trou!”

Edgar and Bill shook their heads in amazed, admiring tandem.

I was trying to follow. “So a man in his 70s riding a classic motorcycle traveling at high speed on the Vicksburg Bridge, stands on the saddle and drops his pants because a trucker cut him off?”

“Hauling hogs,” added Edgar.

“Indian. Nice bike,” said Bill.

“Damn racoon,” Edgar muttered.

“Now Ed, what the hell would a racoon be doing out in the middle of the Vicksburg Bridge?”

“Who the hell knows why a coon does anything? I saw him!”

Bill shook his head. “Next thing you know, Caleb and that beautiful bike of his are spiraling off down toward the muddy Mississippi.”

“Pants around his ankles. Head over heels.”

“Missed all the stanchions.”

“Always was a lucky sumbitch.”

“Don’t know where this supposed racoon got to. Just disappear?”

“They do that.”

Silence fell. Edgar and Bill glared at each other.

“So, you both saw this? Why didn’t it make the news? Why is there no police report?”

“Ed and me was working on an engineering study,” Bill began.

“Infrastructure. Deferred maintenance.”

“We was in one of those painter car things, hanging off the north side of the bridge.”

“Perfect view.”

“Happened pretty quick.”

“Dunno if anybody else saw it.”

“The trucker, for one.”

“Hauling hogs.”

“Probably thought he was hallucinating.”

“Yep. And anyhow, tell that story, and they pull your license.”

Success MS
The Ghost Town of Success, MS. 3 hours southeast of the Vicksburg Bridge. In case you were wondering. 

Wednesday Flash Fiction & Writing Update

(Doing these flash bits first because they’re fun, and second because I’m way behind having a million words of fiction to throw away.)

He had thought this whole life-flashes-before-your-eyes thing was a myth, but here he stood, illuminated by the growing red glow on the towering view screen, watching the reel run:

  • that time he handed his little brother the cat, then jumped in the crunchy leaves just so the cat would freak out and claw his way free.
  • his first girlfriend at age 15. Oh, boy.
  • that game-winning shot, the only one of his life, for a team and coach that didn’t care.
  • the blur of college, with girlfriends 2 – whatever as mere punctuation.
  • the deep hollowness at the center of having crushed his competitors and graduated summa cum laude.
  • the odd edge of emotional failure that somehow tinged his ultimate success – acceptance on this mission.
  • the day his wife left him. How his kids didn’t cry.
  • the unnatural calm with which he watched the coronal mass ejection on the view system speed its way toward them.

He snapped back to the present. Claxons rang. They had been ringing for some time, but he had tuned them out. He’d also turned off communications. The panic and pleading and cries of the colonists were not helping his thought processes. He was a dead man anyway you sliced it, stuck on the soon-to-be-irradiated Array. Hard radiation, and plenty of it. Who and what else were going to die was the current question.

The Fresnel Array would not survive if he ran it long enough to push the lightsail far enough out with enough velocity to give those mewling colonists a decent chance of survival. Even then, if they did survive, they’d have to somehow tack their way back to the inner system without the aid of his lasers. Would be years, maybe a lifetime.

They’d all kill each other before they pulled it off. If they could pull it off. If they didn’t starve first. Hadn’t they murdered Williams already?

His lasers. That was the issue. Destroy his lasers trying to save a bunch of murderous cretins. Or save the Array for future batches of murderous cretins. Were any on the way? Would they draw near, counting on his lasers to decelerate them for capture, only to see ruins as they helplessly sped past the system into almost certain slow death among the stars?

He could broadcast a warning – but that could propagate only at light speed. Too slow, too late for any already in route.

He could be a hero to at least some people for at least a little while, he thought bitterly. That hero bit hadn’t played out too well with his wife and kids. He had been seriously miscast. His whole soon to be over life was a case of poor casting.

He made his decision, and retired to a suspension pod. Might as well sleep out his own death. A hiss as the pod sealed itself, then silence.

The command system processed his orders.

A blaze of light illuminated the heavens.


 

Working on the families who people this novel I’m pretending to write, had a bit of a breakthrough – figured out who they all are and how it all has to work. Way cool. Now, it’s making sure I understand, in detail, how it all ends, and backing it up through the generations so that it seems right. But as far as personalities and events and crises and challenges, I’ve found a gold mine.

Now, let’s see if I can actually do this thing.

 

Sunday Flash Fic

Again, following my policy of being unread in as many venues as possible, here is the vignette I threw down today at Sara Hoyt’s blog.

Prompt: Somewhere.

She moved the ether. A parade of black holes were displayed in 4 dimensional glory. She did not see what she sought. Tesseracts arrayed themselves across ‘time’. No good. Time knots and threads, masses of quantum-entangled particles, even physical space – she probed and found nothing.

The entire universe, rent, folded, linked, punctured, lay bare before her mind, every nook and cranny of space and time and things beyond space and time.

Nothing.

“Now, where did that boy get to?”

Tuesday Afternoon Flash Fiction

(Somebody in my Chesterton reading group suggested Platonic Noir. They shouldn’t have. They *really* shouldn’t have.)

The dank streets of Athens stank of sweat and shattered dreams. Or maybe that was just me, an old stonecutter with attitude, questions and an inexplicable following of handsome young men. Yea, I had some questions, questions that needed answers.

Uptown was lousy with Spartans, so I’d headed down to  Piraeus. I needed to deliver something to ‘the Goddess’, and thought I might as well check in on some old friends. Besides, I have a soft spot for the horses, and I had it on good authority they’d be running that night.

A page boy saw me and delivered a message. Polemarchus wanted to see me, which was good by me, as a few of the questions I had were for him.

“Socrates, you old goat!”

“Good to see you, too, Marc.”

“For crying out loud!” Polemarchus drew up short. “Did Xanthippe hit you with a chamber pot again? The gods are OK with bathing, you know.”

“That is not why I am here,” I cut to the chase, “I’m looking for justice.”

“Aren’t we all.”

“Word on the street is that you have some ideas how a fellah might find some.”

A crowd of the usual suspects had begun to gather. This might take some time, time I might not have. And I had my doubts. In this hellhole of vice and luxury, I’d be lucky to find a decent condiment-free wheat cake, let alone justice.

Sunday Flash Fiction/Vignette

(cleaned up a bit from what I posted at Sarah Hoyt’s Sunday Vignette for today.)

Like a swift knee to the crotch, rosy-dactyled Dawn broke Morpheus’s headlock. I fell off the office couch onto the floor, slamming my eyes shut against the brilliant morning light.

I open them slowly. A pair of million dollar ankles above some near-death-experience heels came into blurry focus a few inches in front of my face. They were attached to a set of billion dollar gams. After that, things got expensive.

Her hand still gripped the gadget that opens the blinds. She glared down at me, “Do you work for me or just drink your advance money?”

I looked up. My head hurt. Her baby blues could launch a few hundred ships by themselves. A thousand for the whole package was selling it short.

“I don’t see why I can’t do both.”

Friday Afternoon Flash Fiction

Two long multi-jointed arms wrapped themselves around the dessicated remains of Julian, pulled them away from the serrated syphon that served the creature for a mouth, and carefully deposited them in the murky shadows with the others. The arms rewound themselves up against the black bulk, and rested.

Linda didn’t scream; a few of the others among those not mercifully unconscious emitted feeble whimpers. In a little while, maybe an hour, maybe 6, those sames arms would feel about the other victims glued to the wall and floor, pick one, and deposit him in the feed trough Julian had just now vacated.

She heard a muffled chuckle, and craned her neck against the sticky but not quite solid excretion that held her in place to turn toward the sound. It was Albert. She remembered how he’d lobbied to get a spot on the longship, how he’d learned everything he could about the selection process, how he’d worked on ingratiating himself with the influential people on the board. He’d spent his time out of stasis grinning like a fool, like a truant kid skipping through the woods on a spring day. Now, after 20 years subjective and centuries earth time, after finding the needle in the galactic haystack that is a habitable planet around a stable star, he was waiting to die with the others.

The legs uncoiled. Now there were a few sobs from the trapped colonists. Again the appendages reached out toward the dwindling collection of live meat. They poked and felt among the victims and settled on Albert, and began dislodging him.

“Damn,” he said as he was lifted free, “I thought when I got out of D.C., I’d escaped politics…”

Monday Morning Flash Fiction

(Please forgive me…)

As she settled back into the control pod and closed her eyes, Sr. Mary Joseph, O.P. felt her senses merge with the Array and extend outward, touching and possessing the ion cannons atop Castel Sant’Angelo. The physical attack is always, in the end, a distraction, she thought, even in war. Responding to her will, the cannons fired, dimming lights throughout the Municipio I, reducing the incoming Rods of God  into a rain of tiny flash-cooled drops of tungsten.

The bulk of her attention, however, was on monitoring the Vatican’s black ice. There you are, thought the elderly religious, spotting a cleverly concealed virus packaged within the low level routing data on some routine diplomatic correspondence.

Gracious! she thought, somebody is behaving very badly! She deployed countermeasures.

Continents away, a roomful of hardware began to smolder, then burst into flames. Two operators, fleeing the growing inferno, escaped with their lives but earned themselves a week’s worth of splitting headaches. “How?” muttered one shaken neo- Pelagian, a drop of blood evident on the hands he held over his ears. 

“Sorry, boys, but you aren’t allowed in here,” Sr. Mary Joseph said aloud to the men she ‘saw’ through Array. She fired off a quick Ave for their souls. Although she never enjoyed hurting people, she had found to her surprise she really liked her job. Nothing like the teaching she had signed up for. And all because she’d volunteered to run the AV at St. Hyacinth’s all those years ago…

A Short Story for Today

Sometimes, what one is thinking and feeling is best put in a story. Here, we are checking if this is one of those times:

____________

The cows moved into the living room once my gunny neighbor ran off the Idiots and Fools. Oh, well – I hated that carpet anyway. A few months later, we tore down the sheetrock between the living room and bedroom. The smell wasn’t too pleasant, but since the water heater had died, we weren’t really in much a position to complain. The cows were unlikely to listen anyway.

I finally came to appreciate the golf course this corporate McMansion backed up to. First off – grass; second, a well system that drew water from some aquifer for all those sprinklers; third – and this is just crazy – a backup generator to run the pumps, with enough fuel to keep it running for years if what you’re looking for in a lawn is more ‘not completely dead’ as opposed to ‘Augusta National’.  I suppose the backup generators were cheap insurance, given what a round will run you on a PGA-level course.

I named the cows after Enlightenment philosophers – seemed only fair. I whiled away quite a few days sitting on the back porch, watching my small herd of cows graze on the back nine, rifle across my lap. I pondered how the Idiots’ and Fools’ stupidity, cowardice and bucket-of-crawdads tendency to eat each other has resulting in us mostly being left alone. Continue reading “A Short Story for Today”