In sociological studies people connect, divide and disappear.
Loud print shirts and thin tank tops became moist against many-hued skins as people teemed through humidity. On the sidewalks and boardwalks people moved through neon and harbor lights, some men quiet, some cat-calling. In response some women preened, corrected their posture, and licked their lips. Others smiled and giggled and looked down at the sidewalk. Others were more firmly expressive.
Physical appearance could be deceptive. Carefully honed perfection manifested in throngs wearing thongs. Gods and Goddesses cruised for Eros, yearning for entities with which to collide. Anthology>>
Heat and Ash
A looming Southern California wildfire brings up issues.
The home was Southwest minimalist with Mission furniture pieces. The walls were painted in deep yellow and red-brown tones. The master bedroom faced Sycamore Canyon and the San Bernardino foothills to the east.
“Do you think the fires will spread here?” the woman asked the man, as they lay in bed looking through the sliding glass doors at the distant orange glow.
“No. There’s considerable distance and concrete between us and the fires. I think we’ll be okay, Janice.”
On the nightstand she lit sandalwood incense. “Would you like to spend the night, Ray?”
“Sure. I could use a cigarette.”
“Could you please smoke outside? Please don’t let the cats out.”
He sighed and sat up, threw his legs over the edge of the bed and stood. He took a Marlboro and lighter from a nightstand, walked across the room, opened the sliding door and stepped out onto the deck. He closed the door. Swirling ash dusted his bare body and long hair as he smoked and paced and coughed. Anthology>>
Bodies of Water
Homicide detectives Strode and Harris investigate a well-known New Orleans author.
Miles east of Cancer Alley moist air carried mysterious odors through my window. I sat at my desk. The sun imposed through open blinds, its light enhancing the wood grain of my desk. I didn’t use coasters. I had a bad ‘zine habit. Stacks of paper lay about. My drawers were disorganized, the small paper clips mixed with the large. The pens and pencils co-mingled.
I was back. N’awlins seemed another planet after life in LaLa Land. Southern California had little weather to speak of. The forecasters got big bucks anyway. It had little humidity; N’awlins had lots. The men there were prettier than me. They got big bucks too. Me, I was a cop. Anthology>>
Tina and Lucille
In the Thelma and Louise-inspired story, Tina and Lucille hit the road.
“Lucille, don’t look now, but there’s a police car behind us.” Lucille took a left turn off an I-40 frontage road, cruising the gauntlet of apartments, duplexes, and ranch-style homes. They viewed a perversion of nature: harsh desert turned lush by extensive watering systems. Some homeowners simply rolled out astroturf. Others landscaped with stone. Anthology>>
‘Cashmeres’ Must Die
The Metzlers enjoyed hot dog casserole, The Twilight Zone, plastic on the furniture, and cashmere.
Stuart Metzler sat in his 1959 Pontiac Chieftain on his Maple Street driveway. Mmm . . . that new car smell! One day they’ll bottle and sell it. He pulled a small memo pad and pen from a suit pocket and made a note. ’New car smell — replicate and market!’ He took in the car’s interior. ‘Dashboard needs more knobs! Bigger!’ he jotted. As a Strategy Formulation consultant, he had diverse information and ideas but felt occasionally envious as he watched clients succeed in their projects. He experienced random, uncontrollable urges to lie, and enjoyed gauging reaction. Stuart anticipated the day’s work, and wondered what his secretary Vicky would be wearing. Anthology>>
Monroe experiences her last summer on earth.
“Oh, I absolutely love negative ionization. It makes me high!” Marilyn squealed. She wore a low-cut black silk dress and black heels. Her skin well took the sun. The tip of her nose had been shortened and narrowed; concavity below her cheekbones had been enhanced by the extraction of a few back teeth. Short platinum blonde locks contrasted with tan skin, like vanilla frosting on a caramel cake. The mole on the right side of her face seemed an asymmetrical accent to her physical perfection.
“Marilyn, darling, are you sure it’s not the margaritas?” laughed her small blonde companion.
“Would you believe who’s here tonight? Am I hallucinating, or is that the president of the United States standing near the buffet table?”
She laughed. “Perhaps you ARE hallucinating.”
A couple vacations at a Louisiana bed and breakfast, encountering the ghosts of Tennessee and Truman.
A dark man in a white linen suit, brown wingtips, and white Panama hat chain-smoked Pall Malls, downed Wild Turkey and animatedly talked to a small blond man seated opposite him.
“Just listen to them go at it, would you? Their paroxysms of passion make me positively dyspeptic. It’s always the same, people from the other side inhabiting our special places and invading our space! And entities capitalizing on our names. The Southern Gothic. Indeed! How long have we been here now? I wouldn’t have predicted qualities of the afterlife. It takes a period of adjustment. ”
“I suppose. I was here for weeks before I figured it out. I have difficulty keeping track of things.” Anthology>>
The Road Killers
Culinary bikers travel the American West.
The Road Killers had a growing rep. They’d kicked a bunch of *ss at a bar outside Tulsa. They’d been minding their own business, having a dance together when the local opined on their motto. ” ‘Waste not, want not’? What kinda sissy stuff is that? Y’all one a’ them anti-litterin’ groups?” Anthology>>
A Southern California screenwriter works and plays.
Darkness was beautiful she thought: the deep reds of roses and blood and wine; the tan-to-brown of bread and chocolate and human skins; the dark liquid of brown, drowning-pool eyes pulling one in. Anthology>>
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