“It’s not fair,” Audrey muttered as she unbuttoned her blouse.
I tried not to laugh as I continued moving things around my bedroom to give myself the most access. I stripped the pillows off the bed and moved a chair and a folding table next to it. I put a tray with cold glasses of water and snacks on the table. The whole thing was going to take a glorious while.
“It is exactly fair. We made a bet, you lost that bet. I even gave you an out, but you said you don’t break your word. Are you backing out?”
“God, Tom, I’m not backing out!” she said, thoroughly offended.
“I said I would do it and I will. But two hours seems excessive!” she said, taking off her blouse and standing up to unzip the side of her skirt.
The skirt slipped off and she stood in front of me in bra and panties. She stopped talking and her eyes dodged mine.
Continue reading Fair is Fair
Catherine came to the old house on Oak Street in Spring, a month before her thirtieth birthday, just after she received masters degree in sociology and decided she never wanted to teach again.
Mrs. Sullivan, having once had seven children and a wealthy second husband, was left with a giant empty house with eight large bedrooms when the husband died and the children grew up and moved away.
The black and white picture on the mantle showed a buxom brunette with a knowing smile. The woman in the rocking chair on the porch had the ghost of that saucy looking girl in her, buried under the wrinkles and silver hair.
Mrs. Sullivan rented out seven of the bedrooms of the ancient townhouse and one of her many sons come by to check on things a few times a week.
That first year Catherine had seen many lodgers come and go. Most of their own free will, though a few were kicked out by police or Mrs. Sullivan’s son. There had only been one tenant who had been there as long as Catherine and that was Mr. Miller.
During her first week in Mrs. Sullivan’s house there was a boisterous college boy named Lester who knew all the gossip. Lester pointed at the room across from Catherine’s and explained that it was “Old Gray Bill’s” place.
Continue reading Old Gray Bill
She came to me during the Transit of Venus.
The world was blue gray at dusk. I went to the beach to dry out, to forget, to find some peace.
I’d been a reporter when the war started. Which war? One of them; they weren’t numbered anymore. Some reaction to some act of horror and we sent a thousand boys to a desert somewhere. It wasn’t important anymore.
I was working for the AP, I’d traveled to Kuwait first, then Kutar. During one of the endless rides across the barren plains the world exploded into fire. I saw three kids melt in front of me. Three others were torn apart. I only lost my arm.
A few years later my parents died and left me enough money that I didn’t have to try and act whole enough to fit in with other reporters. I didn’t have to sit on planes and watch as the people next to me tried not to stare at my hook or my plastic hand.
I sold their houses and their cars and their stocks and even my father’s damn horses. I bought a place by the beach. I found solace in the sea. I found comfort in the silence. I found peace under the stars.
Continue reading Transit of Venus
If I learned one thing in life it’s this: never turn your back on someone who cheats at cards. There is a lotta things I can stomach, but all my life I’ve had a secret and overwhelming respect for playing cards. Maybe there is a mystery about them, like their ancestry to the Tarot, strange fingers of history and fiction tying them all the way to Egypt. Anyhow, where ever it came from I respected the game of poker and so when I saw Tommy Knuckles dealing from the bottom of the deck I knew it was going to be a long night.
Sometimes you step too deep into somebody else’s mess and then you go from being a bystander to being a liability. It isn’t a fun place to be, because sometimes you sit down at a table and even though you know the stakes are way to high, you have a knife in your back telling you to push on. Sometimes that knife is called love. Then again what do I know about love.
Continue reading The Bet