--EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS SOMETHING BUT SOMETHING CAN’T EVER BE EVERYTHING
…Pretty depressing sports weekend here in Seattle. But it’s just sports, I guess.
…(Braggart alert) Stephen Ramsey had some nice things to say about my latest piece in the Pure Slush Anthology:
I’m not broke, but I’m getting there. Besides, it’s lonely on the road and strangers are never as friendly as you’d guess.
Last month our walkabout hero robbed a McDonald’s with a dwarf. We left him nearly begging to be shot. Which is one way of saying he’s losing ground in his race to run away from the pain of losing his wife, which was what started this whole antic, lonely cross-country journey. Now, with the money running out and his armor eroded, it may be time to settle down.
The manager here is an obese man who goes by the moniker Hercules. He’s so huge that it’s torture for him to breathe and any time he moves or even leans a little it’s like hearing a vacuum cleaner going full blast.
Herc gives me a test run. He has me make an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, Dirty Martinis and even a Dirty Girl Scout, which, by the grin on his face, would be his trump recipe, yet I nail the concoction with just the right amount of Bailey’s and a dash of crème de menthe. The happy smirk on his face tells me he’s impressed.
“Start now if you want,” Herc says.
There’s that patter of sharp, specific detail that jams us into scene-any-scene-and prepares us for our monthly dose of wild ride. Plot is not the issue in these installments. We’re reading for the sheer joy of these wonderfully unique and character-penetrating details. We’ve long ago given up any sense of linkage… and then a woman walks into the bar.
She looks exactly like my wife, but with red hair.
“Hey there,” she says.
I try to speak but I’ve got rocks in my throat. She takes the center stool at the bar, staring at me, daring me to look away. For a minute we just look at each other. I feel sweat dripping down my ribs. My socks are damp with sweat as well.
“Do I know you?” she finally says.
I swallow and manage to say, “I’m not from around here.”
“Me either.” She smiles and it’s my wife’s smile , the kind she’d give me when she was in the mood for some hanky -panky.
“What’ll it be?” I say, feeling dizzy and out of sorts.
Pattern broken yet again. All this time, it turns out we’ve been building toward this encounter. The Technicolor drops away, and we’re back in Kansas again.
“Hey now, it’s all right,” the woman says, reaching across the counter and clutching my hand which is damp with what I now realize are my own tears. “It’s like they say: Time heals all wounds.”
“There are plenty of fish in the sea,” she says, using her free hand to unbutton her blouse.
“Momma said there’d be days like this.”
“What are you doing?”
She draws my hand across the counter and pushes it inside her bra, purring, “There’s no place like home.”
Yep, it’s Kansas, or rather Nashville, and our protagonist is right back where he began, lamenting and longing in the mundane. They have sex right there on the bar, and it’s fabulous… but is it real? There’s the rub, and there’s the power of this series, that so deftly takes us by the hand one moment, then shoves us off the roller coaster the next. It’s been an amazing ride thus far and now that we’re approaching climax and (hopefully) release, it appears that we’re going to discover it was all connected all along. We were too fully invested in the trees to see the forest. This is a most impressive cycle indeed.
…And (braggart alert once more) here’s the marketing for my upcoming reading at Uppercase Books here in Snohomish:
…I really do feel like a lucky guy.