The Bet

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

Anthony Bourdain and the Naughty Chef de Partie

Nervous was not the word. More like shaking in my boots. It was cold at five a.m. in the alley as I waited for someone to let me into the restaurant. Surrounded by the stained brick walls and the dumpsters and the rats I wondered if I was really ready for this. This was the big time. This was it.

The three cleanup guys came down the alley together and spoke in that rapid fire Spanish I couldn’t keep up with. I must have looked ridiculous in my white coat and my pale face and my glasses. My hands balls in my pockets and my eyes wide and hopeful. The bread guy came round the corner and I tensed up. He was unshaven and his eyes were bloodshot, he fumbled with the keys and hardly even looked at me. He smelled like vodka and sweat.

The kitchen of Les Halles was all at once spotless and messy, if that makes any sense. Pots and pans scrubbed a thousand times all hung in their specific places. Every sink deep and prophetically empty. Every burner matte black and ready to work. I’d been given a tour a few days before. I’d been told what I was supposed to do and I still had the list of prep work in my pocket. I’d read it several hundred times. My boyfriend had laughed, but he understood. This was my dream job.

Continue reading

The Strand

Let me describe the first time I met her.

I was in The Strand bookstore, the one on 12th street, one of the most amazing places in the world. The smell of old books is almost overpowering there. I was in the mystery section looking through war torn copies of Raymond Chandler novels. It was Sunday, just after seven pm.

Across the aisle, I saw her. She had just moved out of Science Fiction and down the aisle that contained Letters, Criticisms, and Literary Biographies. She was short and bookish and dressed like your average college girl, a knee length skirt of dull gray and a fitted black button up blouse with three buttons open to expose just enough to make me follow her with my eyes. Then there was the red hair. Short, ridiculously curly, chin length and it seems like there was an attempt to part it in the middle. She looked deliciously almost criminally adorable.

Continue reading

Barista

Jack was addicted. It was something he needed to admit to himself. It was something he needed help with. It was something that was part of him.

“Gimme a quad shot cappuccino, very dry, non-fat milk.”

He stood at the counter digging deep into the pockets of his jeans trying to get another fifty cents. It was a costly habit, four shots of espresso with a little steamed milk was five bucks.

Behind him a line of well dressed people tried to summon the psychic power needed to destroy him. He was holding up the line, therefor holding up their caffeine intake. This was a dangerous thing.

“Don’t worry, you come in every day like three times. I think I can overlook fifty cents.” the girl with the thick glasses and the tight shirt behind the counter said with a smile.

Blond, bright green eyes, a nose ring. She was very cute, but a little to skinny and bubbly for Jack’s taste. He smiled and handed her his deficient funds.

“Quad non fat cap, dry!” she barked over to the barista.

Continue reading

Fiction – The Wrong Smith Girl

They broke up on the train.

Trains push his memories to the surface. All the trips into the country as a child. All the trees passing by, leaves changing to red and gold.

The city fades fast, faster then you can imagine. It is so small compared to the stretches of country to the Jersey Shore, to Upstate, to Boston and Maryland and DC.

Looking at Maggie, he could see her fighting her childhood memories. At least he wanted to think she was fighting them, hoping they were there to be fought. She had her nose in a notebook, making a list of things to do.

Continue reading