Archive for the fiction Category

SHE-DEMON

Posted in fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2012 by kimmy

He hadn’t known him long, but liked his wry sense of humor.  It helped lessen the otherwise suffocating atmosphere at work and made the time confined within the white cubicles more bearable.  It was over their shared wall that he first heard the suggestion that changed his life.

“Why don’t we have a few beers after work?”

They stopped at a local tavern later that afternoon.  A grizzled man was playing the piano accompanied by a sultry vocalist dressed in red.  She seemed out-of-place, like a cabaret singer from the 1960s stuck in a college dive.  It didn’t hinder her performance however, and by evening’s end, he was enchanted.

“You like her?” slurred his buddy.  “I could hook you up, you know…”

After her last set, she joined them at the bar and he knew, despite the beer fog, he was on dangerous ground.  She had a wide, little girl smile and smelled like cinnamon.   His pal lurched to his feet and kissed her directly on the lips.

“My friend here wants to meet you, babygirl…”  He squeezed her for a moment before offering his chair.  “I think he likes you.”

She sat down and looked up at her admirer.  “Is that so?”  Her voice was like a bell.

He took a swig from his bottle before answering.  Maybe his new-found friend was more of a dick than he thought.  He shrugged it off and changed the subject.  Compliments were easier to manage.

“Why, thank you, sir,” she said, a little more coyly than he expected.  “I didn’t think anybody was paying attention to my set list.”

They exchanged opinions about composers and old standards.  She was more intelligent than he’d hoped.  And before the night was over, he secretly planned a return engagement, one that didn’t include his mouthy friend.

“I saw the way you looked at her, bro,” said he, the very next morning.  “You know, I think the two of you would be perfect together.”

He slurped his coffee.  “No, I mean it.  She’s like my little sister and I want to see her happy.  Better you than that douchebag she’s with…”

With that, he sketched a brief synopsis of her life.  Married at eighteen, she was saddled with two worthless children and a dysfunctional husband who spent most of their marriage in rehab and on the dole.  She had a couple of stints as a back-up singer for national acts, but couldn’t spend any time on the road because of the demands of her family.    Eventually she gave up her dream and settled for local shows that paid enough to keep her home out of foreclosure.

The more he heard, the more anxious his inner white knight became.  Rescuing past damsels in distress had not ended well for him, but he itched for the chance to try again.  Besides, he was bored and needed a project.  He agreed to meet privately with her.

Naturally, she was everything and more than he had dreamed: Sensual, articulate, with just a hint of long-suffering that made her irresistible.  Coffee dates were followed by long phone conversations that dragged into the night, complete with sighs and confessions.  Even more exciting were those illicit moments of being alone together, her languid and warm in his arms, wondering if her silk promises would ever manifest.

He often thought about ending the affair.  He tried on several occasions, but was always met with her resolve.

“Don’t break my heart,” she begged.  “Don’t crush me underfoot like a grape.”

So he stayed, hoping rather than believing she’d keep her word and leave her husband.  He even saw the wretched man once or twice, a faded shadowlike man nursing a line of empty shot glasses at the local sports bar, and wondered what would possess her to stay with such a creature.  He listened to her stories of neglect and abuse, each one more horrifying than the next, until his ire rose and he longed to smite her foes.  Even those who resided under her roof.

One morning at work, the phone rang and he knew it was her.  He needed no caller i.d. to warn him that the voice on the other end called with bad news.  He could have scripted it for her:  I’m sorry.  It’s over.  I’m staying with my husband.  I owe it to him.  Goodbye.

He hung up the phone and stared into space.  Another botched quest for the hand of Dulcinea. He should have known better.  This princess preferred the dragon.

The office mail clerk rolled by, dumping a sheaf of envelopes before him.  He opened each one slowly with a silver opener, cutting through the paper like a knife across his throat and poured their white contents across his desk in a heap.

“What the hell are you doing?”

He looked up absently into the face of his cubicle cell-mate peering over the wall.

“What’s with you trying to meddle and bust up her marriage?” he whispered angrily.   “Why you do me like that, bro?  She’s family! She’s got kids and an old man at home who really loves her!”  He looked at him with contempt before sliding behind the wall.  “You’re the douche now….”

He sighed.  It seemed all would-be heroes become villains in the end, so he sold his condo and transferred to San Diego with the hope that his bad luck wouldn’t follow.  The sunny climate suited him and so did the office.  One promotion followed the other until he became regional manager and started travelling.

One trip brought him full circle, back to his hometown and smack into a storm of gossip and suspicion.  He learned that in the months following his transfer, he had garnered an unsavory name as a player and homewrecker.   Calls to old friends and acquaintances went unanswered.  Even his old office drinking buddy avoided him.  He was treated as a visitor and nothing more, as if his previous life never existed.

It was only during the flight home that he realized how he had been outmaneuvered.  Only the ruthless sacrifice others for gain. He smiled sadly to himself, recalling false promises made in the dark. It wasn’t enough that he was misled; he must be assigned the fault as well.

He reclined his seat and gazed at the clouds passing by his port window.  There would be no more quests in his future, for he had finally learned that not all fair maidens play fairly.

TAKING THE STAND

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by kimmy

 

If you had the opportunity to hear the whole truth and nothing but the truth about yourself, would you take it?  What if you were denied the right to answer the charges? 

Angie knows all about sanctuary when none is given.  She moved in with her mother-in-law last April after her husband died unexpectedly and left her penniless.  She didn’t intend to stay permanently, but the economic downturn made job hunting all the harder and she had no choice but to rely on the mercy of a woman whom wasn’t known for it.

She put all her possessions in storage and lived in a corner of the guest room.  Given the somewhat formal nature of their relationship, she tried to minimize her impact on the household by keeping a low profile and staying away as much as possible from the mistress of the house.

For that house was not hers and she was reminded of it daily.  Despite paying a good monthly rent, she never felt comfortable using any part of the house save the corner she occupied.  And when her part-time job folded, she was obliged to work from home… an unhappy fix, but one that was forced by necessity.

The arrangement lasted only a few months.  Angie moved out and drove cross-country to Chicago where I met her for coffee on Black Friday.  The Starbucks was packed with shoppers, but we found a table near the window where she spilled her guts and wept.

“She told me I’m a terrible disappointment to her,” she snuffled.  “I infringed on her and I feel awful.”

She wiped her eyes with a blue and white hankie.  An sweet old-fashioned touch fitting for a woman who was completely out of sync with the workings of the modern world.  “Did you apologize?” I asked, knowing full well the answer.

“Of course!  But I had the distinct feeling that she was actually enjoying my discomfort.  She didn’t relax until I started crying.  I think that gratified her.”

I smiled and patted her hand.  “Oh honey, what you don’t know about the failings of human nature is a lot.”

She looked up at me with bloodshot eyes.  “Kimmy, please.   She’s a good woman at heart.”

“No, Angie.  You are a good woman at heart.  She’s an opportunist.”

“That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?  I mean, she’s only recently lost her son…”

“… who  happened to be your husband!  All the more reason to cling to each other, not to act out.”

“Stop judging, Kimmy!  You don’t even know her.”

I nodded.  It was, after all, the least I could do for her.  Yet I wondered why she felt compelled to defend someone who had shown her so little kindness.

“She has been kind; she took me in.”

“She didn’t take you in like a stray kitten, Angie.  You paid her.  You have rights.”

She stopped for a moment and puzzled the idea.  It probably hadn’t occurred to her that she had the ability to lead her life as she saw fit.

“Look, Angie,” I said, leaning in, “you are an adult, not a child.  There’s no need to cower before people who refuse to see you as such.  They are the ones with the problem, not you.”

“But I do have problems.  I’m a mess!  She told me so.”

“No.  She found fault with you for being an independent woman.  You made decisions without consulting her, decisions which impacted her life very little, but her ego a whole lot more.”

Angie looked at me curiously.  “Have I really been behaving like a child?

I smiled, thinking about my own encounters with such people.  “Not anymore than the next person.  But even the worst criminal has a right to defend himself.  You had none.”

Angie smiled back at me.  “I wonder what the verdict would be if I had the chance to exercise that right…” 

We both laughed.  “That’s why it’s so seldom given.”

KALEIDOSCOPE

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by kimmy

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like this.”

She twirled around and flopped into a chair.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  What can one say after hearing the complete contents of a life?

“You don’t seem surprised.”  She lit a cigarette and exhaled.  The smoke shot out of her nose like a comet.  “Don’t you have anything to say?”

I really didn’t.  Speaking seemed out of context, like someone clapping before the end of a movement.  I shrugged and waved to our waitress.  Another drink was a better idea.

She deflated a bit and sank into the cushions.  “I thought that you, out of all the people I know, would be quick with a smartass remark.  You kinda disappoint me.”

That was the first time I was criticized for keeping mum.  “Well, if you insist,” I said, removing the swizzle stick from my glass.  It looked like a little sword.  “I have a hard time believing any of that bullshit.  You only think you’re oppressed.  No one really cares what you do… or have done for that matter.” 

She smiled and took another drag.  I wondered if she cared about the tar building up on her porcelain veneers.  “That’s more like it,” she sneered.  “I thought you mighta lost your touch.”

I sighed.  She was determined to pick a fight, so I decided to give her one.  “The only thing that’s touched is your mind.  Have you lost it?”

“Who could blame me if I had?  It’s not like you’ve been very supportive…”

“If support requires mindless encouragement and participation in meaningless activities, then you’re right.  I’ve been shamefully absent.”

“This means something to me,” she said, trying to keep her voice modulated.  She stubbed out the cigarette and picked up her drink with a claw.  “You know, you could think of someone else besides yourself!,” she hissed, tapping the glass with a red talon.

She understood me so little, that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  “That might be difficult,” I said, playing along.  What would I gain if I tried to explain myself? It was so much easier not to challenge her thinking. 

The ruse worked.  “You’re the most self-absorbed person I know,” she said, visibly relieved.  “You ought to consider the feelings of others sometimes.”

Reducing the impact of others’ feelings was actually my biggest hurdle.  Funny how as my alleged friend, she was so quick to forget it.  I realized suddenly that we had nothing more to say to each other.

“I’ll remember that,” I said, quickly bowing out of the match.  I didn’t care if she thought ill of me.  It was only artificial opinion anyway.  No matter how many times I spun the tube, she’d never see me as I am.  I would be endlessly refracted by the lens of her own perception.

NIGHT PROWLER

Posted in fiction, musings, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2010 by kimmy

The invitation was rescinded long ago, yet he continues to drop in unannounced.  He skulks along the perifory, either alone or with his unholy companion, until he sees an opportunity.  He leaps, but seizes nothing.  I’ve eluded him once again.

He’ll never catch me.  It doesn’t matter how clever he is, I always know when he’s around.  His presence is a toxic wave that sends its selfish intention before it.  That alone prompts me to action and I’m gone even before he steals in.

Confidence will be his downfall.  He overestimates his ability and thinks that he’ll easily regain what he casually lost.  He’s mistaken, but because he’s never been seriously challenged, he’ll continue his fruitless assaults until I confront him.

There will be no mercy when I do.  I will wield my sword and cut him down even before he can utter a word.

For I am weary of his intrusions and inflated sense of importance.  What he took was gotten by deceit and no pretty words will convince me otherwise.   Only his head, rolling free from his body, will guarantee that the nightstalking is at an end.

YOUR TIME IS UP

Posted in fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2010 by kimmy

“I’ve decided that my life is a do-over.”

Naturally.   Suzanne has always bent the rules to suit her whim; why should time be excluded?  But she is one of my most amusing, if unstable, friends and her adventures always make good read.  “What have you done that prompts you to start all over again?”

She looked at me from top of her reading glasses.  “If you tell anybody that I have to wear these, I’ll kill you.”

“Can you please stick to the subject?”

“I can’t be known as an old maid,” she said, taking a sip of her cosmopolitan.  “Josh thinks I’m only 25.”

“He’s the one that needs glasses…”

She ignored me.  “We’re going snowboarding during spring break;  Joshie’s parents have a house in Vail.”

I wasn’t sure what tickled me more, that she was dating a college boy or the vision of her schussing down a mountain on a glorified skateboard.  “I hope they both signed his permission slip.”

“You’re just jealous, Kimmy,” she simpered.  “I’ve managed to turn back the clock and you haven’t.”

“Let me guess.   He’s the reason you’re starting from scratch?”

“Why not?  Can you think of a better one?”

“A few come to mind…”

“He’s nothing like Neil,” she said with a sigh.  “He’s my boo.”

“You mean you’ve actually met this one?” said I, remembering her last breakup.  “He’s not one of your mental inventions?”

She made the best attempt at a frown that Botox would permit.  “Internet sites are passé.  I never use them.”

“So where did you meet Josh… in study hall?”

“As a matter of fact, I met him at the gallery,” she said archly.

The gallery, not just a random one?”

She gave me a stare over her spectacles.  “You’ve never taken my passion for art seriously, Kimmy.  I live for it.”

I tried to remember when last she visited an art gallery.  It must have been on a field trip of our own, way back in the sixth grade.  “Of course, I do.  I kept watch while you drew graffiti on the stalls in the womens’ toilet.”

She wasn’t amused.  “If you had any real appreciation of art, I might wrangle an invite for the next show… if you’d promise not to make a fool of yourself.”

“Like throwing myself at teenaged boys?”

“Josh is not a teenager,” said Suzanne, drawing herself up.   “He’s 20.”

“I’m relieved.  One more year, and you can share your drink with him.”

“Why do I bother arguing with a cretin?”  She closed her eyes and heaved another sigh.  “Age is irrelevant when you’re truly in love…”

Apparently the truth was as well.  “You shaved off twenty-five years from your real age, Suzanne.  That’s a lot of irrelevance.”

“So what?” she said breezily.  “It’s my time and I can do what I want with it.”

I smiled to myself.  Suzanne was a queen of reckless optimism.  “And when it’s up, what then?

“I’ll renegotiate with death.”

YOUR GRAVESIDE SERVICE

Posted in fiction, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by kimmy

It took me a while to realize that I wept not for myself, but for you.  You, whom I loved as no other, have walked into a hell of your own creation and I tremble for the sorrows that await.  I can do nothing but watch you enter, knowing full well you are completely oblivious to the consequence. 

Perhaps it’s best that you don’t know.  But you wouldn’t believe me even if I warned you, so what’s the point?   You are determined to carry out your plan until the bitter end.  And that, I assure you, will play true:  It will be exceedingly bitter. 

You like to think yourself master of your domain, but it’s the domain that has mastered you.  You can’t help it, really.  You’re caught up in patterns upon patterns and not even aware of your true nature.  They hold you fast in a web that you’ll never escape because you refuse to acknowledge it.  But closing your eyes to fact doesn’t make it go away.  It will linger, growing worse until it is addressed.

The day you discover it is the day I dread.  There will be no one to help you past the despair and self-loathing because I will be gone.  I will not watch you implode.  I will not stand witness to your self-defeating schemes; you have plenty of others for that task.

Instead I mourn for you now, for all that you’ve lost and for the test you failed to pass.  It may be millenia before we meet again and you will feel that expanse of time acutely.  I wish I could help you, my dearest, but you’ve made your decision.  Take these flowers before you go; I don’t want to see you lie in that grave alone.

PERSONAL DISCIPLINE

Posted in erotic fiction, fiction, writing with tags , , , on January 7, 2010 by kimmy

When Serena enters a room, most men (and a few women) sit up and take notice.  Not that she’s drop dead gorgeous; in fact, she might be described as plain.  But for what she lacks in beauty, she more than compensates with an appealing unstructured confidence.

I met her in college, while travelling in Europe.  She was Susan then, a frumpy sophomore from Iowa using a Eurrail pass to get as far away from her midwestern roots as possible.  We spied each other in the bar car and, after coffee and a pack of cigarettes, decided to join forces and head to Greece instead of Zurich.  Plans often changed spontaneously in those days.

Over the course of the next 12 hours, I learned that she descended from fifth generation farmers and was an accomplished equestrienne.  She had competed in a few dressage events in England that summer and although she had placed well, hadn’t captured the prize she really wanted.  I initially attributed her malaise to disappointment until learning otherwise.  Apparently she had discovered another use for her riding crop.

Susan never told me his name, only that he was a petty nobleman from an esteemed family.  He had judged her harshly in the last event, but seemed more than willing to make up for the blow in a private setting.  He may not have thought well of her form, but never forgot her seat.

He spent an entire weekend worshipping it while they holed up in his dilapidated estate in Norfolk.  Until then, she had never considered her plump Iowan figure an asset.  But after a frantic three-day initiation, she suddenly had a new-found respect for it.  She may not have mastered the horse, but she discovered she was mistress of all else she rode.

Her lurid adventures were a fascination.  I had never heard such things openly discussed, let alone whispered, in the strict Presbyterian circles of my youth.  And as she regaled me with hair-raising details, I began to wonder if the buttoned down life I had known was harboring secrets yet to be discovered.

We spent a dizzying week on the beach at Corfu drinking roditys and plotting strategies.  She rebuffed the marriage proposals offered by the lonely middle-aged Greek men, preferring the company of the young transvestites haunting the dance clubs.  She had no intention of settling down to respectable married life, even if it was on the other side of the globe, confessing to me that the orthodoxy of the Aegean was no better than the cornfed one of Des Moines.

We stayed in touch for a while after I returned to university, but our letters became fewer when she relocated to Paris and became a fixture of the swinger’s underground.  The last one was signed Serena, and I knew with certainty that she had finally completed her long metamorphosis and would fly away forever to her new carnal home.  But it made me smile, knowing that she took the trouble to say goodbye to a friend she had known only briefly.  She might have been the queen of discipline, but she never forgot her manners.