Saturday, May 26, 2018

MACHINE GUN - Vietnam War Story

 I was in graduate school working on a Master’s degree in geology in 1969 when the first Vietnam draft lottery was held. Having already graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I no longer had a 2-S deferment from the military. My draft number was 38 and I was called up to the military shortly after the lottery in December. I believe in our country but didn’t believe in what I considered to be an absolutely senseless war. Because of this, I declined repeated offers to go to officer’s training school. I went instead to basic training and advanced infantry training at Fort Polk, Louisiana and was on my way to Vietnam by the summer of 1970 as a private. I spent just short of six months in the boonies patrolling the Jolly Trail system near the Cambodian border. During my months in a “free fire zone” I made 52 combat assaults out of a helicopter, earning an Air Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, for both of which I am very proud. Amazingly, I was neither killed nor wounded. Since I was and still am a crack typist—a skill that serves me well now that I’m a writer—I got a job back in the rear as a clerk-typist when an opening came up. After coming home, many years passed before I told anyone that I was a Vietnam vet. This is because Vietnam vets were all thought to be drug-crazed baby killers and all manner of other nasty things. I don’t know, but I think this was also true for both World War II and Korean War vets. I’m so glad that the perception of people serving in our military has changed for the better. Whatever, I was proud to be of service to the country that I love. Just remember that freedom isn’t free.

Machine Gun

I watched a program on the cable channel Encore about Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsies.  On the show, he played a song called Machine Gun, and it evoked a memory of Vietnam that I hadn’t thought about in years.
I went to Vietnam in 1970 as an infantry mortar man.  For a while, in addition to my M16, I humped the base plate of an 81 MM mortar in the mortar platoon of an infantry line company.  I was in Charlie Company, 1st of the 8th Cavalry, First Cavalry Air Mobile.  We were operating off a hill bulldozed bald amid a jungle of green that could literally swallow you whole.  The Cav had just made their first sanctioned incursion into formerly off-limits Cambodia, and we had dealt a near-mortal blow to Charlie.  For the following months, Charlie played a game of duck-and-run while we tried desperately, and with little luck, to finish him off.
After several months of fifteen days in the jungle, five days on the firebase, and almost no success in encountering the enemy, Brass devised a new tactic of having us fly around in helicopters until we started taking ground-to-air fire.  Once we did, the choppers would swoop down and drop us off in hopes of making contact—something that rarely happened because of Charlie’s weakened state.
During this time, Brass also decided the 81 MM mortar was too unwieldy for rapid deployment, and all of us in the mortar company suddenly became infantry foot soldiers, grunts, 11-bravos; also known as 11-bullet-stoppers.  I was given a twenty-six pound M-60 machine gun to carry since I already had experience toting a twenty-three-pound base plate.  I had never shot an M-60, even during basic training at Fort Polk in Louisiana. This is because mortar men weren’t ever supposed to use the gun.
Around this time artillery began shooting sophisticated listening devices into the jungle using specially designed 105 MM rounds.  Intelligence mapped the locations of these devices, and we soon had a good idea of where there was movement—of a military nature—in the jungle.  The devices weren’t always correct, and we once found a large family of monkeys instead of Viet Cong or North Vietnamese regulars.  This wasn’t always the case.
Reports of intense enemy troop movement in a nearby swamp had the Brass salivating.  My company was soon loaded into choppers, flown to the area and dropped out of the birds. I mean this literally.  With no landing zone cut into the jungle for us to land and deploy from, the choppers hovered 10 feet or so above a large swampy pond while we jumped out.  This was no easy feat while carrying 100 pounds of gear.
We soon found ourselves in a maze of trails and something very anomalous— there was movement all around us.  Charlie wasn’t even trying to cover it up.  This could only mean one of two things: Either we had caught the enemy very much by surprise, or else they had us outnumbered and knew it.  We were all pretty nervous because one thing we had never really done was catch Charlie by surprise.
Our company had about 100 men divided equally into four platoons.  We set up a camp, and then my platoon started out on patrol.  Soon as we were out of sight from the rest of the company we began hearing even more movement.  After months in the boonies, we were all attuned to sounds of the jungle. Now, there was no doubt in my mind that there was a large number of enemy soldiers very close to us, and that they were paralleling our movement through the jungle.  This bothered me and everyone else because we were on Charlie’s home turf—likely smack-dab in the middle of a large enemy camp and staging area.  We could hear movement in every direction, and if I told you that I was anything but piss-in-my-pants scared, I’d be lying through my teeth.
Jungle warfare is like no other.  You can be 10 feet from the enemy and never see him.  You have to rely on your nose, your ears, and your wits because otherwise, you may as well be blind.  My nose, ears, and wits told me we were about to have the living shit kicked out of us and I expected, any minute, to be shredded by AK 47 bullets.  The platoon leader decided on a quick ploy.
I was the machine gunner, the “Gun.”  When Super Sarge tapped my shoulder and pointed to a slight concave just to the side of the trail, I knew my time had come.  We quickly prepared for what we called an instant ambush.  Charlie was following close behind.  My assistant gunner and I set the M-60’s bi-pod and started stringing every round of ammo we had into the gun’s chamber, locked and loaded, ready to kill—and just as likely, I knew, to be killed. It didn’t matter that I’d never pulled the trigger on an M-60. What mattered was that I was getting ready to.  Just as quickly as the sergeant tapped my shoulder and motioned what he wanted, he left the two of us alone on the trail to mow down anyone coming up from behind.  From the sounds we heard, we wouldn’t have long to wait.
I could tell you that we ambushed Charlie, wiped most of them out and sent them dropping their weapons and running for cover.  That didn’t happen.  What did happen is almost as strange but still true.  It was monsoon season in Vietnam.  Every day the skies would part, and rain would fall in torrents—almost like being under a waterfall.  My finger was on the trigger of the M-60, my heart in my throat when it began to rain.  My assistant gunner and I lay there on our bellies for an interminable time, rapidly flowing water soaking our fatigues.  When the rain stopped, there was no sound.  I mean none.  Charlie had taken the opportunity to clear out, and we never heard him again.
 That night we camped in the middle of the swamp, mosquitoes, and leeches sucking our blood.  It rained so hard that Charlie could have gotten close enough to cut our throats and we wouldn’t have seen him.  The next morning the Captain let me shoot the M-60, for practice, while we waited for the choppers to extract us. We stood single file, knee-deep in a wide pool of stagnating water. With five-hundred rounds locked and loaded, I stood like Rambo, the big gun at my waist, and began mowing down vegetation across the pond. I didn’t take my finger off the trigger until the sound of imminent death finally ceased and the pungent odor of spent rounds wafted up into my nostrils.
It was the first and last time that I ever shot the big gun, though I’ll never forget the sound it made or the power of life and death I felt, and that will never leave me for as long as I live.
Tonight, while watching the piece on Jimi Hendrix, I remembered that sound and that feeling, and it chilled my soul.

###




All of Eric's books are available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and on his iBook author pages, and his Website.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Night at the Triple X - a short story


It’s been said that the biggest sex organ in the body is the brain. Years ago, I had reason to confirm that claim.
Miss Carol and I were a number, but we were beginning to get on each other’s nerves. She was smart, confident and good looking. I was simply young and dumb. Even though we worked in the same industry, the biggest attraction we had for each other was sex, pure and simple.
Six months had passed in our relationship, and the attraction had begun to wane. Both of us, it seemed, was searching for a way to let the other down easy. My friend Joel was in town from Colorado and staying with me. I was divorced, but my ex and I had not yet sold our house. We were taking turns staying there until we found a buyer.
Miss Carol’s friend Miss Ann took Joel with her to one of our favorite bars. Miss Carol and I were supposed to join them. It was Friday night, Miss Carol a lease broker who had just returned to town from a week of checking records in Roger Mills County, had been doing her thing during that time, and I mine.
“I just want to go home and go to bed,” she said.
“What about Joel and Miss Ann?” I asked.
“They don’t need us,” she said.
“Let’s drive over anyway. Joel can ride back with me, and Miss Ann can take you home.”
“Fine,” she said, “But I’m not staying.”
On the way to the club, I caught a whiff of her perfume and suddenly remembered why I liked her so much. We were on 10th street, an area in Oklahoma City populated by strip bars and seedy hole-in-the-walls. About that time, we passed a stand-alone X-rated movie theatre.
“Have you ever seen a porn movie?” I asked.
“I’m not ten,” she said.
On a whim, I pulled into the parking lot. “Let’s go in.”
Miss Carol grinned. She was trying to dump me but had just enough kink to consider my offer.
“Okay, Perv,” she said. “You’ll say uncle before me.”
The XXX Theatre was a single-storied building with a very dark lobby. We purchased two tickets from the disinterested ticket puncher who had likely seen it all before. The theater was small and dark and smelled like urine. A naked man and an equally unclad woman were going at it on the screen.
There were probably ten patrons in the theater. All weirdos and not people you’d want to call friends. Miss Carol and I found an empty aisle and settled in to watch the movie. The couple on screen was performing every sex act imaginable, complete with grunts, groans, moans, and even a few screams.
As I began getting into the flick, I put my hand between Miss Carol’s legs, groping her most private parts, fully expecting a slap in the face. Instead, she began licking my neck. Before long, we both had our jeans pulled down to our knees, helplessly locked in the throws of hot, mindless sex right there in the middle of an x-rated theater, surrounded by perverts with their own pants down to their knees. We were shocked back to reality by a raspy voice.
“Real sex ain’t allowed in here. Take it outside, or I’ll have to call the cops,” the man from the ticket booth told us.
I was having trouble discerning the difference between real sex and sex on the screen as we headed for the lobby. Didn’t really matter, faces burning and buttoning our jeans as we went. We were both still hot. Hell! My head was about to explode! I was all over Miss Carol soon as the doors of my car closed. She was as hot as I was, and I’m not sure who was all over whom. Our passion continued, the windows steaming like a sauna when someone tapped on the door. It was a cop. He wasn’t smiling.
“Take it to the house, and I mean now.”
Our ardor hadn’t waned when we made it home, spending the rest of the night locked in hot passion. Joel interrupted our ardor, knocking on the door around two in the morning. I let him in and quickly returned to the bedroom without bothering to hear the story he wanted to tell me.
Do I recommend a triple-X experience? I’ll just say this. It won’t save a relationship, but it’ll sure make for unforgettable memories. Miss Carol and I broke up shortly after our night of red-hot passion. My lust had dissolved and my brain again able to add two and two and not come up with five.

END






Wyatt Thomas and Bertram Picou are recurring characters in Eric Wilder's French Quarter Mystery Series. Check out all the colorful characters on Eric's AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBook author pages, and his Website.

Blue Norther - a short story

Dark clouds of an approaching Blue Norther gathered outside the window as Linda watched her husband pace worried circles around their living room.
"Please, Ted, don't go out tonight. The weather's awful and getting worse by the minute."
Ted stopped pacing and frowned. "No option. Big meeting at the bank."
"Friday night at seven?
Both Ted and Linda glanced up at their precocious nineteen-year-old daughter Britta. One year beyond high school graduation, she still lived with them. She glanced over the balcony, naked except for a pair of lacy panties.
Linda said, "Britta! Put some clothes on."
Britta pranced back to her room, returning with one of her father's starched white shirts over the panties.
"Hot date, Dad?"
Britta's jesting implication caused Linda's gaze to return to the pot on the stove. Ted didn't seem to mind.
"I have an important meeting at the bank, young lady."
"Even Gramps wouldn't call a meeting on a night like this."
"Your grandfather may own the bank, but he doesn't run it any longer. I'm president now. I call the meetings when I see fit."
"Whoa!" Britta squealed.
"Have you done your homework?"
"I graduated a year ago, Mom. Remember?"
"Just being facetious."
"I have a date tonight with Freddy."
"You can't go out in this awful weather. I won't allow it."
"I'm nineteen. I make my own decisions now. Remember?"
"As long as you live here you should at least listen to your mother."
"Dad, will you please tell her to stuff it?"
Ted glanced at his watch before replying. After winking at his daughter, he said, "Britta's a grown woman. Cut her a little slack."
"Thanks, Dad," Britta said, blowing him a kiss and disappearing into her room before Linda could protest.
Ted cracked the curtain and peeked out the window.
"Can you fix me a drink?" he said.
Linda swallowed her annoyance on the way to the liquor cabinet, pouring one for each of them. She touched his hand when she gave him the vodka.
"You know I don't sleep well when you're away."
Ted returned to the window, ignoring her distress. "How did the weather turn so bad, so fast? The sun was out when I left the office."
Drifting snow had already begun piling up against fences and houses. "Blue Norther," she said.
Ted saluted the snow with a raised glass. "Got that right,"
"See how bad it's getting? Please stay home tonight."
She returned to the kitchen without an answer. Linda was different from her daughter. Soft and silky smooth compared with Britta's lithe body and her all-over tan. Long, bottle-lightened hair draped her shoulders. Britta's hair was short and surfer girl blond. Britta was a chatterbox, Linda introverted to the point of angering her husband.
"At least eat something before you go."
Rattling ice in his glass, he just stared out the window. "Maybe. If the weather doesn't get any worse."
The ringing of Britta's cell phone interrupted their conversation, and she returned to the banister. "Guess I'm staying home tonight. Freddy's battery is dead."
"Good," Linda said. "At least I won't be all alone."
They all turned to look when someone knocked on the front door. Ted opened it, finding a tall stranger waiting in the doorway.
"Help you?"
"Car broke down, and I lost my cell phone in the snow. Mind if I use your phone to call for help?"
"Let the poor man in and close the door," Linda called from the kitchen.
Moving aside, Ted watched him remove his gloves and blow his hands to warm them. The young man's clean-cut good looks calmed any distress Linda may have had as she took his coat and pointed to the kitchen.
"Warm yourself by the stove. You look half frozen."
Britta shattered her concentration when she hurried downstairs to see who was there.
"Now I'm glad Freddy has a dead battery," she said, staring at the handsome stranger.
Ted frowned. "Britta, put some clothes on."
Britta frowned but trotted back upstairs as Linda followed the man into the kitchen.
"Coffee or hot tea?"
Looking at her drink glass, he said, "I'd rather have what you're drinking."
Feeling an inexplicable attraction to him, she turned to the liquor cabinet to mix another drink.
"What do you drink?" she asked.
"Scotch, neat, if you have it."
"The phone is by the coffee pot," she said as she handed him the drink.
Without taking his eyes off her, he raised his glass in a silent toast. It brought an inexplicable flush to Linda's cheeks.
"Phone's dead," he said.
"Can't be," Linda said, concern replacing her facial flush. "Britta just had a call."
"On her cell phone," Ted said, walking up from behind.
Linda jumped. Regaining her composure, she called upstairs.
"Britta, is your phone working?"
"No bars. Sorry."
"Mine's not working either in this lousy weather," Ted said. "Guess you're out of luck. Sorry, we can't help."
Britta called from the banister. "Dad can take him into town. Invite the poor man to dinner, Mom."
"Pardon my rudeness. Will you have dinner with us?" Linda asked.
"Why not?" he said, his smile warming Linda's neck.
"Then make yourself comfy. My pot roast is almost ready."
The stranger smiled again. This time, Ted noticed how it flustered her. She turned away, averting his frown.
"How rude of me not to introduce ourselves. I'm Linda Stevenson, and this is my husband, Ted. The sassy young lady is my daughter, Britta."
For an awkward moment, the man continued staring at her as he squeezed her hand.
"I'm Dan Savage," he finally said.
"I'm going upstairs and try the weather band," Ted said.
"Well," Linda said. "Guess we'll soon find out about the highways. Dinner won't be long."
She smiled when she heard the rattling thump of logs added to the barren fireplace. Feeling almost guilty, she peeked through the door. As if he'd felt her gaze, Savage gave her a look that made her weak in the knees.
"Thought I'd heat things up," he said.
Before she could reply, Ted rushed down the stairs, bundled in coat and gloves.
"Can't wait for dinner. Got to go now. Storm's worsening by the minute. I'll drive you into town, Mr. Savage."
Dan Savage placed the last log in the fireplace and grabbed his coat hanging by the front door. Before he could button up, Britta rushed up from the basement.
"Wait, Daddy. We have a broken pipe downstairs."
Ted banged the door with his clenched fist. "You can't be serious."
"No need missing your appointment," Savage said. "I'm handy with things. I'll fix it for you."
"Fantastic! You go ahead, Dad," Britta said. "Mr. Savage can repair the pipe and then stay the night in the spare bedroom. You can give him a ride into town tomorrow."
Ted glare revealed his inner turmoil. After glancing at the cut of Savage's clothes and hair, he decided he was no ax murderer.
"Great. I'll take you into town tomorrow."
He kissed Britta's forehead, ignoring Linda's folded arms as he went out the front door without a backward glance.
"Show me the pipe," Savage said, interrupting the moment.
Britta led him to the basement. Despite Linda's concern, she experienced an almost forgotten flush of sexual excitement. The feeling embarrassed her as she returned to the kitchen.
Unable to shake her growing sexual fantasy for the young man, she fixed him another drink and took it to the basement. She almost dropped it when she saw his bare chest. Stripped to the waist, he was making final adjustments on an exposed pipe. Britta, sitting on the floor with her arms wrapped around her knees, was also watching Savage's every move.
"Thought you might need this," Linda said.
Sweat trickled down Savage's muscled rib cage. Unnerved by his physical presence, she had trouble averting her gaze.
"Thanks," he said.
Savage stood six inches taller than Linda, had a strong jaw, thick brown hair and probably fifteen years younger. After tipping back the glass, he touched the icy surface to his forehead.
"Fixed," he said.
"You are good!" Britta squealed, wrapping her slender arms around his neck.
Linda's face flushed, jealousy her only emotion as she watched Savage and Britta embrace.
"Follow me, Mr. Savage, I'll show you the guest bedroom. You can shower, and I'll find some of my husband's clothes."
"Call me Dan," he said, untangling from Britta and following Linda up the stairs, into the spare bedroom.
"Towels are in the cabinet. Take your time."
Linda waited in the kitchen for twenty minutes before selecting shirt and pants from her husband's closet. Returning to the guest bedroom, she tapped on the door and then entered without waiting for a reply.
Through the cracked bathroom door, she heard Savage humming a silly tune. She eased it open; senses sharpened as she stared into the steam-filled room, her eyes focusing on his hazy shape. Standing with his back to her, he stared in the mirror, shaving cream on his face and razor in his hand. She watched his naked backside until he stopped humming and turned around.
"See something you like?"
Linda's face flushed bright red. After dropping Ted's clothes to the floor, she hurried out of the bathroom.
"Dinner in ten minutes," she said.
Twenty minutes later, Savage joined her in the kitchen. Though Ted's shirt and pants were too small, he didn't seem to mind.
"Britta," she called. "Dinner is ready."
Wearing a sexy blouse and tight leather skirt, Britta danced into the dining room. "Where you from, Dan?" she asked.
"Here and there," he said, ladling corn from a bowl. "Mostly there."
Britta giggled, and Linda smiled. When they finished eating, Britta went upstairs, and Savage helped Linda with the dishes. They were soon together in the living room, basking in the warmth of the fireplace.
"Does your husband always have meetings on Friday night?"
Savage's question earned him a nervous titter from Linda. "I've wondered that myself."
"The answer?"
Reclining on the couch, knees bent, she rested her head in her palms. The posture caused her skirt to ride up on her thighs. She straightened when she realized Savage was staring at her legs.
"Sorry," Savage said with a smile.
Linda's face was on fire, but it felt good and she realized she didn't want it to stop burning.
"Britta says he's having an affair," she said.
"Is he?"
"Probably. I'll get you something to sleep in tonight."
"I usually sleep in the buff," he said
Linda ignored his comment and Savage stretched out on the couch as she hurried upstairs. He was grinning when she returned.
"You're bigger than Ted," she said, handing him the robe and pajamas.
He winked as he climbed the stairs to the bedroom. "Your husband has excellent taste. I can sleep naked if they don't fit."
Savage's words seared Linda's soul. Flushing with sexual warmth, she waited ten minutes. When he didn't return, she went to her bedroom, shutting the door but leaving it unlocked. Her body blazed as she squirmed beneath the sheets. She finally got out of bed and drew open the curtains.
The storm had more than arrived. She watched, perspiration beading her forehead as drifting snow piled up against the house. After returning to bed, she slipped into a restless dream, returning her to the shower scene:
A steamy mist filled the room as Savage reached for her hand. When he touched her breasts, she awoke, tangled in the sheets and needing a drink. Not bothering with robe and slippers, she arose to get one. On her way to the stairs, she found something amiss.
Ted's office door was open. Peering inside, she switched on the desk lamp. Papers lay scattered on the floor. His floor safe stood open and empty. With trembling fingertips to stifle a scream, she touched her open mouth.
"My God!"
When Linda discovered Ted's gun was missing, her hands began to tremble. She hurried to the guest bedroom and pushed open the door. She gasped when she heard the unmistakable sounds of lovemaking. Not only had the brazen stranger stolen their money, but he was raping her daughter. She reached for the light switch.
"Stop it now, you monster!"
Britta sat bolt upright,  shock on her pretty face. Savage grinned.
"Mother, how could you?" Britta said.
"Get out of that bed," Linda yelled. "Now!"
Grabbing Britta's arm, she yanked her to the floor. Britta curled up in a ball to hide her nudity.
"Thief! How could you rob us and then rape my daughter?"
"You kidding me, lady? The little bitch loves it."
"You're a liar," she said, scratching and flailing with arms and fists as he blocked her blows. When he slapped her and shoved her against the wall, she sank to the floor, wiping tears from her eyes and blood from a split lip.
Britta sobbed, as she lay crumpled in a naked heap beside the bed. Savage wiped the blood from three parallel scratches on his face. Linda crawled across the floor to her daughter. When she tried to put her hands on her shoulders, Britta wrenched away.
"How could you do this to me?" she said.
"Britta, you don't understand. This man is a thief."
"You only want him for yourself," Britta said, her tears returning.
"That's not true."
"I hate you," Britta cried. "Just like Daddy hates you."
Slamming the door behind her, she ran out of the room leaving her mother alone to glare at the thief on the bed.
"I'm calling the police."
Savage laughed, and it chilled her. "Phone's dead. Remember?"
"It was you that cut the line." Savage didn't answer. "How did you know about the money and jewels we keep in the house?"
"Maybe you should ask Britta."
Linda froze. "What do you mean?"
"You think I just met her tonight? We've been going at it like cats in heat for a month. We're taking the money and blowing this burg."
"Liar!"
"Am I? How do you think I managed the broken pipe in the basement?"
Feeling dizzy, Linda sank to the floor as he got dressed. She followed him out of the bedroom and down the stairs where Britta was waiting, suitcase packed. Savage grabbed his coat and opened the front door as the icy wind filled the hallway with blowing snow.
Linda grabbed Britta's elbow. "Where are you going?"
Britta shook loose from her grasp. "Away from you."
"What will I tell your father?"
Pivoting on her heels, Britta said, "Don't bother. He'll know why I left."
"Please stop," Linda begged as her daughter trudged through the snow.
Britta kept walking. Linda followed her into the brunt of the storm. When they reached a car parked on the street, Savage tossed the suitcase into the backseat. Linda grabbed Britta's arm, but she pulled away and climbed into the passenger seat, locking the door behind her. Banging on the window, Linda pleaded with her.
Savage tried cranking the engine until it became apparent the battery was dead. Britta led him to the garage. Minutes later, Linda's silver Mercedes screamed away through the misty darkness, Linda chasing, barefooted through the snow, after them.
***
Ted Stevenson returned next morning, easing his car into the driveway. In front of the house was a red Chevrolet, hood, and windows covered with snow, he hadn't noticed when he left. He also saw something else.
It was Linda, on her knees on the front porch dressed only in her sexy nightgown. Crystals of ice coating her body glistened like broken glass in the morning sunlight. One frozen hand clutched the door handle in a deadly embrace. Paralyzed by horror, Ted stared at her pallid face.
An ironic smile lay frozen on her lips. Her eyes seemed to move, but it was only a frosty reflection. Rushing upstairs to check on Britta, he abandoned her to death's eternity and the frozen kiss of the departed blue Norther.


###



All of Eric's books are available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and on his iBook author pages, and his Website.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Discarded Gold - a short short story

Here is a piece of flash fiction I wrote decades ago when I was heavily into experimental fiction. Don't make too much of it because I'm not even totally sure of what message I was trying to convey. Ah, youth!

Discarded Gold 

Three old men on a park bench watched as she strolled past. Blond, bouffant hair, the red ribbon tying it matching her dress, tight and short. Replacing the magazine on the rack, I hurried from the corner drugstore, chasing after her down the street.
"Wait," I said.
Executing a perfect one-eighty pirouette, she faced me, curtsying, smiling. When she blew me a kiss, I saw she was no more than eighteen, and maybe younger.
"You dropped this."
"Not mine," she said.
Withdrawing the bogus blue silk scarf, I basked in her green ephemeral eyes, desperate to bite her puffed lower lip.
"Sorry. Would you have a sundae with me?"
"Will you take me home afterward?"
"No car," I said.
"How old are you?"
"Old enough to drive."
"Can you dance?"
We both could, our swirling bodies colliding as intersecting cosmic rays beamed from a ceiling strobe. Sweat beaded my brow. Our bodies, moving in time, touching, caressing, becoming enamored, interacting, made love to the beat. The girl and I kissed.
Later, as we walked along the beach, hypnotic moonbeams splayed crystal sand. Midnight breakers crashed against the shore, rounding tiny quartz crystals surviving from seamless streams that had never twice touched the same drop of water.
A distant fire.
"I don’t even know your name."
"Emil," I said. "And yours?"
"Collette."
"I love your eyes, Collette."
"What else do you love?"
"The rest of you," I said, gazing across the moonlit water.
Far out across the bay, dolphins broke the rolling waves.
"I’m sixteen," she said, licking lips so red and swollen that they defied gravity.
"You’re lying."
She didn’t bother denying my accusation.
Behind us, two gulls groused over a dead fish bobbing upside down in the surf.
"Who are we, Emil?"
"Two people," I said. “Do you have to go home?”
“Do you?” When I shook my head, she said, "Are we fated, Emil?"
"Let’s have our cards read and find out."
Chipped red paint lay behind the sign on the door that said SEER, Collette’s hand feeling warm and grasping as I led her through it. A dark woman sat across a tiny table from us, greasy strands of black hair protruding from her red bandanna. She had a bulbous nose and puffy face, and her high cheeks frowned. Malignant eyes stared at us across scarred and stained oak. Liver-spotted hands nervously fingered frayed tarot cards.
"I can contact the spirits, but it will cost you fifty."
Collette punched me when I asked, "Don’t you know any cut-rate spirits?"
My pointed sarcasm failed to faze Mother Midnight. Taking my five, she dealt the magic cards.
"The moon is full," she said.
When I gazed at the ceiling only broken tiles stared back at me.
"Are we in love, Mother?"
"We are all in love," she said.
Mother’s black cat wound through my legs as we exited into the back alley. Overturned cans of trash reeked of spoiled fish. I stole a kiss and grasped Collette’s tiny hand.
"Spirits are weak tonight," I said.
"And life is fragile," she said, exciting me further with an unexpected kiss.
Multicolored rockets exploded in the distance, momentarily startling a starless sky.
Collette and I held hands. High above reality, like multicolored balloons we floated, unpunctured by sharp earthen prods.
"The streets below are dark," I said.
"But the sky above is light," she said, her smile colliding with red and green reflections bounding away from flickering streetlights. "And my heart is full." Before I could answer, she said, "I left my skates on the street."
"Leave them," I said. "Thieves be damned."
An approaching streetcar with an ancient electrical heart struggled as it climbed the steep hill on its way toward us. Raising a finger, I flagged it, grasped Collette’s hand and pulling her through the door. Above us, the lazy sun split the hazy dawn as Collette’s creamy thighs peeked from beneath her short red skirt.
"I love the dawn," she said.
"Let’s make love at my place," I said.
"We’re making love now," she said.
"But we have no music.
"Then you’re not listening."
Rush hour. Carbon monoxide wafting up from endless vehicles pointing in straight lines toward oblivion. The noise began filling my cavities of desire with mental glue.
"It’s morning," she said
"Every twenty-four hours," I said.
"Must this end?"
"Well, I should go to work."
"Does your work usurp beauty?" she asked
Encroaching noise drowned my answer as I stepped from the antique, watching as she waved from the door of the disappearing streetcar.
An old gray dog brushed my leg. When I reached to pat his head, he turned and disappeared behind trashcans lining the nearby alleyway. Probably in search of discarded gold hidden behind forgotten scraps of life.
###



All of Eric's books are available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and on his iBook author pages, and his Website.