Excerpt: Stand By Your Man

In advance of the publication of Stand By Your Man on February 24, here is a short excerpt:

HER PARENTS NAMED her Tammy after the singer of Stand By Your Man, a song which she never had much taste for. Country had never been her thing. In high school she acquired another nickname, “trucker fucker”, after a rumor started that she waited outside the hotel bar in Loverna for the truckers to come out so she could give them blowjobs. That was not true, or at least not entirely. There had been one guy she gave head to, but she was fairly certain he worked on a seismic rig.

It hadn’t mattered though, the name and the story that went with it had stuck and for the rest of high school she was one of those girls. The girl that every guy thought he should try his luck with at a party, whether or not he had a girlfriend. She played the part a few times, mostly out of spite with the boyfriends of girls who taunted her for her sluttiness. It all backfired predictably, with the blame all coming her way.

After high school, lacking the grades and the money to go off to college, she moved into town off her father’s farm and took a job at the UFA gas station out on Highway 41. She decided she was done with school and boys and all the drama and nonsense that went with. Now that she was out of school, not interacting with the same one hundred or so horny, judgmental idiots, the nickname and her tawdry reputation began to seem things of the past. She was treated as an adult, accorded that respect, and she began to get it into her head that she deserved a man not a boy, though she did not quite know what that meant. Continue reading

In A Flash: Dime Novel Denouement

This moment does not seem to be a moment. It seems endless, interminable. An internment camp. The holding pen before the gulag. Devoid creatures wander through the night along empty streets, straying from the light. I am one of them now.

Rain begins to fall, softly at first, and then in staccato bursts. I scuttle across openings, clinging to the security of the damp mildewed walls. There are eyes everywhere, but none look for me. I am worth nothing to anyone. No price will be paid. Yet, I refuse to expose myself. I am no martyr, whatever else I may be.

You speak and I shiver and clutch my hands in my pocket. This parched feeling that holds and won’t let go. I fight for words; silence is like a wound, like a lie I always tell. You do not care whether I speak or stay quiet, all you care is what I do.

The thousand betrayals of a life leave the birth of the malformed. I’ve clawed at my own skin, it does not fit right. Nature seems dead and wicked dreams abuse.

***

I’m looking for a taste of ecstasy, I’ve had delight and it lost its potency. With you at my side on this long, damp and dark road.

I long to taste the sunrise in your mouth, as my tongue slides past your teeth and the morning dew is fresh on my lips. I want to smell your sweat on me, the heat of my flesh on the heat of yours, shivering, shimmering to a glow.

Oh, to look upon you now, through the blur of the rain. If I could take you in this doorway I would.

***

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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In A Flash: Security

“Goddamnit,” Ali said, biting her lip as she looked at the screen above the counter at her gate.

There was no departure time listed. Nor was there any indication of a delay. She looked out at the bridge that connected the terminal to the plane, but there was none attached. And there was no one at the counter. She wandered back to look a the departures screen down the corridor to confirm that she was at the correct gate.

There it was: Vancouver to Winnipeg, Gate A31. The screen said the departure was on-time, though no actual time was listed, which Ali thought odd.

She went back to the gate, hoping to find an agent, but there was still no one at the counter. There was a man standing there, staring ahead and Ali approached him. “Sorry,” she said, “are you on the flight to Winnipeg.”

He nodded. “Yeah. They say it’s here, but there’s no plane. And there’s no one here.”

“There hasn’t been anyone at the counter, then?”

He shook his head. “No. Computers aren’t even turned on.” He gestured to the monitors on the counter, which Ali saw were black.

“This is so weird.”

“So strange,” he said. “There’s a lot of people here though. Can’t all be wrong, right?”

“I guess,” Ali said. She wasn’t so sure. These were airlines after all. They would cancel a flight without telling anyone. Or move it to another terminal and sell all the seats to people on standby, not bothering to refund all those who were stuck here unawares.

She told herself to be patient, there was plenty of time until her flight, and went to find a seat in the waiting area. It was difficult, with dozens and dozens of frustrated looking people sitting and staring at the empty counter. Ali found it comforting in some strange way. They could all be miserable together.

As time went on the waiting area filled up. Nearly every seat was filled and the open area around the gate counter was nearly impassable, with hordes of people staring at phones or the tarmac where a plane had yet to appear. Anyone who looked vaguely official was immediately confronted by ten or more people demanding answers. None were forthcoming. Ali could hear at least five different conversations with various agents, trying to placate the irate people who were waiting for a flight that had not materialized.

At a certain point, it dawned on her that there were far more people gathered here than could possibly fit on the plane. She could see others reaching the same awareness. Something was very odd about all this. How could so many people end up at this airport gate, awaiting a flight that no one at the airline seemed to know anything about, except that it was supposed to be taking off?

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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In A Flash: Mail Order

Daniel threw the mail on table by the door as he came in. “I’m home babe,” he called out as he took off his shoes.

“Hey good looking,” Alice said, coming over to kiss him. She picked up the mail. “Anything good?”

“Junk. How was your day?”

Alice did not answer. She was engrossed in a postcard-size, glossy mailout advertising a beauty seminar. Daniel had glanced at it while rifling through the mail downstairs, but hadn’t noticed anything that would warrant that kind of scrutiny. He went to the kitchen and got a beer from the fridge, cracking it open.

“So how was it babe?” he said, taking a long pull.

“How was what?” Alice said, in a distracted voice, still reading over the mailout.

“Your day.”

“Oh, it was fine,” Alice said, setting down the mail and looking up at him to smile. “How was yours?”

Daniel shrugged and took another drink of beer. “Same old. What are you thinking for supper?”

After dinner, when Daniel went to put the mail in the recycling, he noticed the mailout was missing.

“You thinking of attending that seminar?” he said, when he came back into the apartment.

“What seminar?”

“The one from the mail. The one you were looking at.”

“Oh no,” Alice said, laughing. “I thought I recognized the name of the company. I think maybe a friend of mine works there. I was going to look it up.”

Daniel grunted in response and went to turn on the television. Alice watched him for a moment, biting her lip. When Daniel glanced up from the television she smiled and he smiled in turn.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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In A Flash: D.B.

D.B. stepped up to the bar. “Bourbon and water,” he said, with a nod to the bartender.

“Sure. Got a particular flavor?” the bartender said.

D.B. shook his head and the bartender busied himself with a bottle of his cheapest. His sleeves were rolled up to this elbow and his arms were lined with tattoos. D.B. found himself staring at them.

“You like the ink?” the bartender asked as he passed the bourbon over.

D.B. shook his head. “Never much cared for it.”

“No?” the bartender said with a smile. “Guess not many folks your age have them.”

“You’d be surprised. I was in the navy. Lot of the boys had them then. I never did. And it was a good thing. Easy way for people to remember you.”

“Some of us want to be remembered,” the bartender said.

“Sure,” D.B. said. “Some do. Some don’t.”

By his tone he made it plain which he preferred. The bartender looked as though he were about to reply but another customer, a young woman with large glasses, entered and he went to her. D.B. took a sip of his bourbon and cast about the room with a studied eye, noting the exits and the few people present. An old habit, one he did not intend to lose.

There were no more than a half dozen people in the place at this hour—a grubby little bar with pretensions to being hip, that didn’t quite manage it. Most of them were young—D.B. had a half-century on all of them, he would guess—and absorbed in the heat of their lives. Only the bartender paid him any mind, with, what seemed to D.B., a genuine curiosity as to why an old man was having a bourbon in his establishment at two in the afternoon.

When D.B. was finished his first bourbon the bartender made his way over. “Care for another?”

“Sure. I got the time.” He could feel a twinge of his old accent coming back into his voice as he spoke. It was always there, hidden, but visible. Something he had to watch for.

“Great. Big plans for the rest of the day?”

“Can’t say as I do. I’m done with big plans.”

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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In A Flash: Menthols and Pisco Sours

She tasted of menthols and pisco sours. Jaime ran his tongue along her lips, savoring the flavor, before biting at her lip. He could feel her freeze a little at the sharpness of the pain, wondering if he was going to go further, and had to resist a smile. She was staring at him, looking up from the circle of his arms, where he pressed her in close.

Looking down at her and meeting her gaze, Jaime was unable to tell what exactly she was thinking. She was not lost in passion, not eager to see that he was either. No, she was watching him, a part of her reserved and standing off, to observe this. What for, he wondered, slightly unsettled. To cover his unease, he bit down on her lip again, harder this time, and was satisfied to see her wince and frown.

She had told him her name, but he did not remember it. They had met in some dive bar near Plaza San Martín in Lima, a dark and grubby place he sometimes went to when he wanted to be with the people, so to speak. It was across the street from a tourist hotel and sometimes he would meet American girls there, who were also deigning to visit the place, looking for a little danger. If only they knew, he thought.

This girl though, he had thought she was a prostitute, off the clock for the night. Or maybe not, maybe the bill would come due in an hour or two. She was light skinned, with mestizo features, and quite beautiful with long black hair, wide eyes and incredible tits. They were what had drawn his attention first. Her teeth were a little crooked and her clothes a little too tight and little too garish. Otherwise he would have expected to find her in one of the Miraflores clubs. Maybe, in a couple of years, if fate shone upon her, he would.

Tired of kissing, Jaime moved to pull down the shoulders of her dress and reveal what he was here for, but she pulled away from him. “I just need to go to the bathroom babe,” she said, patting his cock through his jeans. “Don’t unload this while I’m gone.”

He smiled and released her, or rather, she wiggled from his grasp. He walked over to the bed and sat on it, contemplating taking his clothes off, but decided not to. Let her take them off, that would be more fun. Absentmindedly, he flipped on the television, searching for a sports station while he waited.

They were in a hourly hotel, called El Encuentro, the sort of place where everyone ended up at some point or another. Boyfriends and girlfriends stealing away for that first time. Husband and wives who just wanted some peace from her parents and his children from the first marriage. Affairs, of course, and people like him. Impromptu customers.

As a result, the furnishings were very minimal. There was only a mattress and a sheet and two very flat looking pillows. Beside the bed there was a small table with a phone, and on the other side there was a large tub with jets. The place was immaculately clean. That was why he came here. It was something he looked for.

He flipped through the channels for a second time, unable to find anything to capture his interest. Even the porn channels weren’t exciting him. Where the hell was this girl?

As he looked up, determined to go to the bathroom and see for himself what as going on—maybe she was getting high; he didn’t like that, not around him—the bathroom door opened and she stepped out. The first thing Jaime noticed was that she had not taken off her dress to reveal those remarkable tits, which irritated him. The second thing was that she had a gun in her hand, which annoyed him even more.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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In A Flash: Menu Del Día

Gerald grimaced against the glare of the sun as he stared down the teeming street. The faces shifted rapidly across his frame of vision, the calls of the hawkers drowning out any chatter on the street that the clatter of the vehicles trundling by did not. He bit his lip as his stomach was lanced by a sharp pain that shuddered down his bowels and threatened to spill out at his feet.

“Everything okay?” Ariel said.

“Yeah,” he said, exhaling slowly and relaxing his tense muscles, hoping nothing dislodged itself in the process.

She laughed. “That bad, huh?”

“Fucking menu del día. Never should’ve eaten that.”

“I warned you,” Ariel said.

“Oh god,” Gerald said, clutching at his stomach. “Now is definitely not the time.”

“You still up for the museum?”

“Not like we’ve got another day. Bound to be a bathroom in there anyway.”

Ariel led the way along the uneven cobblestone street, past the Incan wall with its massive many-sided stones, to what had once been the Archbishop’s palace. Now it was a museum filled with works of cusqueño art from the colonial period, though there were still Church offices on site. The archbishop continued to attend there on occasion. They had bought a ticket for the museum the day before at the cathedral on the main square and now they had the ticket punched and were offered an audio tour, which Ariel accepted, procuring headphones for both of them.

They went from room to room of the palace, which had been home to an Incan priest prior to the Church taking it over, following the conquest, listening to their audio guide drone on about the minutia of the art work on the walls. It all looked much the same to Gerald, paeans to God, Mary and Jesus, intended to educate those new to the faith by placing these foreign symbols in familiar contexts. Thus, there was a guinea pig, corn and potatoes being served with every image of the Last Supper. One example of this would have been enough to make the point, but the paintings seemed to proliferate throughout each room.

Gerald had to allow that the paintings were incredible, though he always found the baroque effects left him cold. He was especially unmoved on this day because of the rather tenuous state of his stomach. It was a matter of when, not if, he would need a bathroom, and he had yet to see a sign directing him to one.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

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In A Flash: Felipe

Anna smiled as the security agent handed back her passport and moved forward to the conveyer belt. As she pulled out some trays from the stack and set her belongings in them, she glanced up and saw Felipe in the line across from her and frowned. They were racing each other, having chosen separate lines, and up until this point she had been ahead of him, her line moving at a steady pace.

She hurried with the trays, moving them onto the conveyer belt, and went to stand at the line in front of the x-ray machine.

“Shoes,” the bored woman standing on the other side of the machine said.

Muttering under her breath, Anna quickly slid off her shoes and jammed them into the tray alongside her purse and jacket. Felipe, she saw, was still removing his belt. She had time. Back at the line, the woman waved her through and Anna went, savoring her triumph. It was short-lived, for the alarm sounded.

“Check your pockets, ma’am,” the security guard said. “Keys. Cell phone. Jewelry.”

Anna frantically searched her person for the stray item, but was unable to locate anything. “I’m sorry,” she said. “There’s nothing in my pockets.”

“Come through again.”

Anna did, and this time no alarm sounded. Still the woman insisted on waving her squeaking wand around Anna’s body. Each change in pitch sounded ominous, but when she was done she waved Anna away. She went over to collect her things and met Felipe, who was watching her grinning, beyond the security checkpoint.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

If you like this story, or any of my others, please consider supporting me on Patreon

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In A Flash: A Brief Encounter

“For two?” the waiter said, reaching for a stack of menus before hearing a response.

“Yes. Thanks,” J said.

“This way please.”

They followed the waiter as he made his way across the restaurant to a table sitting against the far wall. J and her companion sat down, smiling their thanks at the waiter, who disappeared behind them into the kitchen, moving rapidly.

“This is a big place,” her companion said, looking around the room.

“Hm,” J said, intent on the menu.

When she finally glanced up she saw her companion was correct. The restaurant was L-shaped and they sat near the junction of the two parts of the letter. The top part of the L, which extended from the entrance to the kitchen behind them, had more than twenty tables easily, she guessed, set in four precise rows. The other end of the L was longer and had even more tables. Maybe a third of those tables were filled now, a low murmur of conversation reaching their ears.

“What are you thinking?” her companion said, flipping through the menu. “Dim sum? And maybe some noodles?”

J did not reply. In her study of the room, she had set her eyes upon a group at a table two rows across from them. She hadn’t noticed them when they first entered the restaurant—for which she was now cursing herself—and now that she had, she found herself unable to stop looking. At last she forced herself to turn away—before they noticed, and before her companion did as well.

Read the rest at Circumambient Scenery.

In A Flash: read a new story every Thursday…

If you like this story, or any of my others, please consider supporting me on Patreon

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