Category Archives: Short Stories

Initiation Night

 

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OK, Kiddies, another story to illustrate the randomness of a writing career. This was about the 3rd story I had ever written and I submitted this story to the Writers Digest Magazine national short story contest in 2010 – And to my stunning surprise, it received an HONORABLE MENTION in May, 2010.  So my first reaction is, Hey, I have a good story here! So I kept submitting it, and submitting it, and submitting it, only to receive a wide range of rejections. Finally, in May, 2013, it was accepted at Over My Dead Body, with great feedback. Thank you ODB (a great group to work with)!  It just shows the random subjectiveness of getting your stories accepted.

   Initiation Night

“Stop dicking with the damn gun,” Leshawne said to Jason who was seating next to him in the front seat, irritated at the way Jason was flicking the safety of the cheap imitation .38 Smith & Wesson on and off, on and off. “You’re going to fuck up and shoot your stupid balls off.” Truth was that he was less worried about Jason shooting his balls off than he was about getting the gun back in one piece. He had lent it to Jason when they had gotten into the car and was now sorry he had.

Jason responded by giving him the glare, the prison don’t-fuck-with-me glare that was supposed to put people in their place, but Jason had never been in prison (yet) and he was only 14 years old and still cursed with baby cheeks and soft blue eyes and smooth skin, so the glare came off as a teenage pout that wouldn’t even intimidate his own baby sister back at the house.

They were cruising down the boulevard waiting for a sucker to flick his lights at them. Jerome was in the back seat saying nothing and looking mean and menacing.

Sitting next to him was Washington, Jason’s cousin, who was smoking what he said was weed but smelled like wet hay. But it worked for him as he was giggling and talking to himself and only now and then focusing on what was going on around him, which at this moment caused him to repeat, “Shoot your stupid balls off,” leading him into another giggling fit, which told Jason that he was not going to get much back up from his cousin tonight, no matter what happened.

Lashawne continued to drive, growing irritated at all of them. They were not respecting his vehicle. He felt someone should compliment him on the smooth ride, the comfort, and the sound system of the slick dark green Lincoln Navigator SUV. He had boosted it on the street last night and liked it so much that he had even gone over to New Jersey to switch some plates from another car. That would confuse the cops for a day or two, at least.

The plan for tonight was simple: They would drive around until some jerk flicked his lights at them in a well meaning effort to tell them that they were driving without their lights on and then they would follow him until Leshawne could corner the sucker with the SUV, then Jason would earn his bones by jumping out of the SUV to shoot the unlucky driver in the head.

Following that they would celebrate with a few beers, maybe smoke some of that cheap weed that Washington was inhaling, then take Jason downtown to get the tattoo on the forearm of the devil’s head with bleeding fangs with KD underneath and, finally, find some sisters to get him laid, making him one of them, a man and a full member of the righteously feared KillDevil gang.

The wait wasn’t long. They had barely gone four blocks when a blue Ford Taurus coming across the intersection flicked its lights, twice, as if angry at them for driving around without their lights on.

Leshawne didn’t say a word. He just cranked the SUV around into a tight U turn right in the middle of the intersection, ignoring the other cars honking at them, then hurried his way through traffic to catch up to the Taurus.

“You gonna do this, Jason?” Jerome asked in an intimidating voice that would not accept no as an answer.

“He’s gonna do it,” Leshawne said, impatient now, not taking his eyes off the Taurus a few cars in front of him.

“He, he, he, My cuz Jason is going to do this, ain’t you, Cuz?” Washington giggled.

Jason flicked the safety off and on, off and on, staring at the Taurus.

“I’m gonna pass him and then cut him off at the next intersection,” Leshawne warned, pulling the SUV out into the left lane.

But as they passed the Taurus Jason said, “Oh shit, it’s a woman!”

Jerome sneered, “So?”

“I thought it was gonna be a dude, not some old white woman!”

“Who give’s a fuck?”

“Shoot your stupid balls off, he, he, he.”

“She looks like one of the teachers over at middle school!”

“Cut her off, Leshawne,” Jerome ordered.

Leshawne swerved far left and then cut back hard to the right to stop

perpendicular in front of the Taurus, T-boning her to a stop. There was a screech of brakes and an angry horn.

“This ain’t right. It oughta be some dude.”

“Just shut up and do it, Jason. Now!”

Jason shrugged, expressing his indifference, and opened the door to step down

from the passenger seat of the SUV, flicking off the safety catch and holding the .38 straight out.

Then nothing went as expected.

The woman behind the wheel didn’t flinch, didn’t shield herself with her hands, nor try to back her car away. Instead she stomped on the accelerator and rocketed the car forward directly at Jason, who barely managed to leap out of the way before the Taurus smashed into the side of the SUV, exactly at the spot where he had been standing.

Jason tripped when he jumped out the way and fell hard onto the street next to the SUV but quickly scrambled to his feet, feeling dazed, and watched in wonder as the woman back up, before realizing that she just coming at him again. He yanked the door open and dove into the perceived safety of the passenger seat of the SUV. The Lincoln rocked violently a split second later as the Taurus slammed into its side.

“What the fuck is going on?” Leshawne screamed.

“She’s trying to kill me!” Jason screamed back.

Jerome cursed, “That dumb bitch!”

“Jesus, she’s coming again!” Washington shouted, joining the others in reality.

The SUV rocked a third time before he could finish the sentence.

“She’s destroying my car!” LeShawne shouted.

“That woman has some anger problems,” Washington noted.

“Turn around and get out of here,” Jerome ordered.

“Where’s my gun?” Washington asked, fumbling through his baggy clothes. “I’ll show her. Where’s my fucking gun?”

Leshawne tried to reverse the SUV to straighten it into the street but Jason was climbing on top of gear console trying to get away from the bashing on the Ford Taurus. Jerome was shouting, “Move, Move, Move!” while Washington found his gun, But he pulled it out too hard and accidentally squeezed the trigger as he got it out, blowing a hole into through the roof, causing everyone in the car to grab their ears from the blast. “Oh, shit, sorry, sorry,” he muttered.

Leshawne managed to push Jason off the gear console and straightened the SUV but the woman rammed him from behind before he could get started.

“I’ve had enough of this shit,” Jerome said, pulling out his own gun and firing over the back seat through the SUV, blowing out the rear window. But the SUV was so much higher that it passed harmlessly over the Taurus’ roof.

“Oh. Man, my car, my car,” Leshawne whined.
The woman rammed the rear once again, jolting them hard.
“Stop the car,” Jerome said, his voice evil incarnate. He opened the door and

stepped down to directly face the Taurus, his gun in his hand. But the woman swerved around the SUV, slam banging the side of both cars as she straight for him. He jumped back into the SUV just as she tore off its door at high speed.

Washington was waving his gun around, yelling, “Oh, shit, Oh, shit,” and then aimed it out the side door that no longer existed and fired again.

“Oh Ow, Oh Ow, you just shot me in the fucking foot, you sorry son of a bitch!” Jerome yelled.

“Oh shit, man. Sorry. Sorry.”

The Taurus stopped 100 feet in from of the SUV.

“Now what is she doing?” Leshawne asked in utter amazement.

Jason peeked over the dashboard and saw smoke spinning off the Taurus’ rear tires. “She’s going to ram us with her trunk,” he said, totally impressed. “I saw this on ESPN. The Demolition Derby. She is gonna smash in our radiator so we can’t drive no more!”

“Where’s my gun?” Leshawne shouted at Jason. “Shoot the bitch while she is in front of us!”

“I don’t have it! I don’t have it! I musta dropped it in the street when she tried to run over me!”

The Taurus smashed full speed into them, crumpling the trunk of the Taurus but shoving the SUV radiator back into its engine compartment. The Lincoln Navigator died in a hiss of steam and a grinding of metal as the woman pulled away. She again stopped 100 feet in front of them and starting spinning her wheels for another backward bash. Jason was hiding under the dashboard, fumbling with his cell phone. Leshawne was holding his broken wrist to fight back against the pain but managed to ask, “Who the hell you calling?”

“The cops. Before the dumb bitch kills us.”

The cops were already arriving on the scene and it didn’t take them long to sort out the situation. The four men from the SUV were taken into custody, two of them in an ambulance. Later, when both vehicles were pulled over to the side of the road with cops kicking debris off the street surface and waving cars past the flashing squad cars, one of the older cops wrapped a blanket around the shoulders of the woman and handed her cup of coffee, then asked, “Why did you do that, Mrs. Davis? That was an extraordinarily dangerous thing to do.”

Mrs. Davis did not respond for a long moment, as if searching for the words to explain it but then glanced at the forearm of the older cop and smiled when she saw the tattoo USMC.

“What was the first thing the Marines taught you to do when caught in an ambush?”

The older cop hesitated, puzzled by the strange question, then said, “Attack. Don’t try to run away because you would drop your defense and there may other ambushers behind you or to another side of you. And most ambushers do not expect you to attack into the ambush, so you have the element of surprise, taking theirs away. That’s Marine Corps doctrine. But has that got to do with this?”

Mrs. Davis let the blanket slide off her shoulders, then lifted the short sleeve of her blouse to show him the shoulder tattoo with its globe and anchor and the letters USMC.

“Semper fi, Mac.”

end.

 

Interview With an Outstanding Writer – Sally Paradysz

This is a change of pace, kiddies: New stories fromTales From an Untethered Mind will return but in the meantime I want you to meet a great new writer – Sally Paradysz.

Sally’s book – “From Scratch” –  is a memoir, launched in Nov. 2015, to great reviews, large book signings, and great success. No one has worked for it harder or deserved it more. The hidden kicker in  this? Sally wrote this book when she was sixty-six years old.

It is a memoir about a sixty-six year old woman changing her life by building a new home “from scratch” on three acres in the wilderness in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania. “From Scratch” means exactly that: She and her partner Melanie build their home with their own hands while living in a tiny, uninsulated shed in a strand of trees.

Changing her life? That is an understatement.  After 35 years in tension filled marriage to an overbearing husband, and reeling from the after effects of a violent rape, this gentle, older woman realizes her need to reconnect with her true self – and does so by moving off the grid with Melanie, her new partner, and her two Maine coon cats, to camp in that small shed in the woods, dealing with contractors (a closed universe dominated by men) and ever dwindling financial resources as they battle to construct a new home for themselves in a pristine environment.

The following interview is about how she wrote the book, and about her writing. If you want to read the full story “From Scratch” itself (and you should!) go buy the book. It is 287 pages of great reading!

The Interview:

When did you seriously start to write?

SP: I began writing at the age of eight. To me, all of my writing has been serious. I began with poems, and they turned into meditations, which in time went back to poetry. I wrote about what I knew best at that age, nature and family, horses and the life of a woodsman’s daughter. I thought my poetry was beautiful and important. Was it?

In the years to come I continued to write. No one took me seriously so most of the time I hid my work. Lots of us do. But with time, I stopped being embarrassed because I felt deeply about it. I never once stop to consider if it might ever be relevant.

Your major achievement has been your memoir on building your house, while you were rebuilding your life. Did you know you were going to write this book when you started your housing project?

SP: No! The experience of building my home while living in a tiny tool shed on my land, gave me a spiritual experience with nature that I never believed possible. It wasn’t until the last nail was in place that I realized the gift I was given. The love that came to me during the process helped me take on my own personal challenges.

I loved that time, not only for building a home, but for rebuilding my life. For one of the first times ever, I felt a lift in the knowledge of what was important. To me and my life. With that awareness I felt an enormous need to tell my story.

Did you keep a detailed diary while in the process of building your new home or did you write from memory after the housing project was completed?

SP: I wrote almost entirely from memory. I have a fine one of those tools and put it to good use.

Also, I did keep a house file with all my receipts in it. Kept track of the construction auctions and costs associated with that, along with the dates on the receipts. That gave me the knowledge of a nice time flow.

Tell us about your about your other stories that have appeared in wide variety of anthologies since 2009. Which was  your favorite and which garnered you the most attention?

SP: I loved doing the Essay, Tool-Belt Spirituality. When asked by Sellers Publishing to write a thousand-word essay for the book 65 Things To Do When You Retire, I felt challenged and excited. Not only because I would be published in the same book as Gloria Steinem and Jimmy Carter, but because it made me feel worthy of my writing.

From Scratch stretched me as a writer. It not only helped me find my true voice, but expanded my vision for the expectations I had for the rest of the book.

Do you prefer memoir over fiction? If so, why?

SP: Actually, I’m not sure. I love both, but memoir has a life of its own. I think if I had to choose I’d do more memoir.

I feel with memoir I’m given the chance to give from the heart. Give something of me to those who have chosen to live in fear or some other uncomfortable place. I may be able to help, but I can listen.

Do you have any outstanding mentors that have aided in your growth as a writer?

Susan Richards, Helen Papashvily, and my writing group. Great writers, good people.
Tell us about your relationship with the Bethlehem (PA.) Writers Group?

SP: I was one of the first to join this amazing group of writers. All of the BWG writers are outstanding in their own unique way. Each has his or her own voice. I love it. They are dedicated to their craft and the group.

All of us who have the BWG in our back pockets feels fulfilled. We feel heard, as if the time spent was worth the effort, and feel privileged to be critiqued by everyone who is a member.
Do you participate in other critique groups or frequently attend some writing conferences or seminars?

SP: I have spent time participating in writing workshops, and have been to a conference or two. To be honest, I like to think that no one helps me make a story better but me. I listen, I  work hard, and then I write honestly. The BWG is the only critique group I will listen to.
Are you planning another large writing project now that your 1st book is fully launched?

SP: Yes. I’d like to do a sequel on the next decade of From Scratch and how that unfolded. Many events have happened during this time and one is critical to my continuing story. I’d like to tell that story.
Do you have any strong advice for “older” writers, who may just beginning to write?

SP: Yes. Do not be put off! It’s your story, be proud of your work and tell it! There is always a beginning, but even better is knowing the accomplishment when you’re finished.

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http://sites.google.com/site/sallywparadysz/home

 

Tales From an Untethered Mind

If you are a writer, you should live what you write. This story was just pure fun. It was published in BWG Writers Roundtable in Feb.2013. It will always be one of my favorites!
   Papa’s Big Day

Mama always woke early on special occasions. The morning was grey and sullen and she could sense that the humans were coming. They would be here soon. She reached over to tap Papa on the butt with her paw. “Time to wake up, Papa.”

He squirmed away from her touch and snuffled into his fur. “I’m sleeping.”

“You’ve been sleeping since late November.”

He responded with a snore.

She tapped him again, harder. “Wake up, Papa, before they come.”

He sighed but did not open his eyes. “What time is it?’ he grumped.

“February.”

“Already?”

It was the same every year. If he wasn’t awake and ready, they would reach into the hole to grab him and he would awake with a start, then get angry and bite the fingers that were trying to pull him up and out of the burrow.

But they would just come back, wearing heavy gloves the second time, and he would continue to bite and struggle but they would finally pull him out. But during the fight the dirt in the tunnel would crumble and collapse, dropping into her Momma’s eyes and face and into her fur. Then the cold would blow in through the rest of February and March and keep her awake. Worst of all, that fallen dirt would mat into her fur and it would take all April for her to shake it out.

“Get up, Papa,” she growled, starting to get angry. She poked his butt with her sharp claws. He hated that.

“Hey, that hurts!”

“Then get up.”

“Why don’t they pull Junior out of his hole. He’s just on the other side of the field.”

“They want you. Junior is too small and scrawny. They want your chubby furry body, your plump cheeks and your big fat butt.”

He opened his eyes and smiled at her, “So I still look good to you, huh, after all of these years?”

“You’re perfect, Papa. Everything that a groundhog should be.”

“Can we go back to sleep, then, after they leave?”

“We can snuggle and snore until April.”

“But you’ll wake me in time, right? I’ll be hungry by then.”

Papa was now fully awake. He, too, could hear them coming. A big crowd this year. Cars and trucks being parked on the far side of the field. The voices quiet and hushed as if they wanted to surprise him.

“Don’t forget the treats,” Mama said. “Tuck some into your big pouchy side cheeks and bring them back to me. Promise?”

“I forgot about the treats,” Papa said eagerly.

“Promise?”

“Yes, yes, I promise.”

“Smile and look bright. Cheerful and alert. They like that.”

“I forget. Do they want me to see my shadow? Or not?”

Mama shrugged. “Who cares? We’re going to go back to sleep either way.”

A hand came down the hole. Mama could see Papa’s grin. He was enjoying this. He always did. But the mischievous glint in his eye told her that he might just nip the man’s fingers, just for the fun of it. But he relaxed at the last minute and let himself be pulled up.

She let out a deep sigh of relief, not realizing she had been that tense. She was always afraid that he might be hurt if he struggled too hard against them.

“You’re a star, Papa,” she called after him.

“I’ll bring back the treats for you, I promise,” his voice trailed back to her.

She snuggled warmly into a corner. Every year was the same thing. Every year. Ground hog day all over again.

Tales From An Untethered Mind

Paris July 06 083

This was the third short story I ever wrote. To my utter delight, this was published in the e-zine Flash Fiction Offensive in June, 2011. To my even greater delight, it was awarded a 2nd Place Bullet Award for the best Crime Fiction to appear on the web for that month. Got some great feedback from the readers, too: “…Funny as hell..”  “…Made me snort my morning soda…”  “…reminded me of World’s Dumbest Criminals…’  All good stuff but it made me worry about what to do next.

Note: Some delicate issues have been handled in an indelicate manner – you have been warned!

Convenience Store

Patel felt something was wrong when the two men walked into the convenience store. One wore a crocheted stocking cap that was inappropriate for the summer night and the other had black “do” rag that made him look mean. Both looked nervous.

They fooled around the magazine rack before picking up a box of donuts, then took a long time to come up to the counter

“Anything else?” Patel asked.

“Carton of Marlboros,” the first man said.

The second one pulled out a gun, giggling as if embarrassed to have the weapon in his hand but added, “And all of the money you got in the cash register.” He didn’t point the gun at Patel, just held it down along side his leg. keeping it out of sight.

“You know there isn’t much money in there,” Patel said, his voice a little high but trying to stay calm. “Fifty dollars, not more. It’s been a slow night.”

“You’re lying. Bro. We seen people coming in and out all night.”

Patel shrugged, “Ain’t my money and I sure as hell don’t want to get shot over it but it’s been nickel and dime all night. I just don’t want you to be disappointed. It ain’t worth an armed robbery charge.”

The man in the crocheted cap made a face and reached under his t-shirt to pull out a gun, too, and said, “Why don’t you let us worry about that?”

Patel said, “You got it,” and hit the release button on the cash register. But the entry bell to the front door jingled again. All three men turned to stare at two other men walking into the store.

“Dammit, I told you to lock the door after we came in,” Crocheted Cap whispered to Do Rag.

“You didn’t tell me shit,” Do rag whispered back.

Patel raised his hands off the cash register and asked, “What do you want me to do?”

“We gonna step back over there, behind that aisle, and wait. You take their money and get them the fuck out of here. And remember, we got guns.”

“Like I’d forget.”

“Don’t be smart, boy!”

Patel shrugged and closed the cash register. Crocheted Cap and Do Rag stepped around the aisle just as the other two men walked up.
Patel managed to control his voice, “May I help you?”

“A carton of Marlboros.”

“And all of the money you got in the cash register.”

“I, uh, I think you might want to talk to those two guys.”

“Talk to who?”

“To us, motherfucker.”

“Who the hell…” but the man stopped when he saw the two guns coming around the aisle.

The man behind him pulled a gun from under his t-shirt and said, “I’m gonna cap your ass, motherfuckers.”

Patel ducked under the counter as at least two guns went off. The sound was stunning and the choking acrid smell of cordite instantly filled the small store, but apparently no one was hurt as no one yelled, or screamed, or fell down, and there were sounds of feet scrambling away in opposite directions to hide behind different aisles.

“We were here first, you stupid mofos.”

“Big fucking deal.”

Someone fired again and there was a crash of glass in the frozen food section, which prompted someone to shoot back, causing a crash of glass at the front door.

“The man behind the counter says there ain’t but fifty dollars in the till.”

“Well, it’s our fifty dollars, asshole.”

“Then step right up and get it, dumb shit. It will be the last fifty dollars you will ever see.”

“We got all night and probably a lot more ammunition that you got!”

There was a long silence as both sides glanced at their watches and counted their bullets.

“Fifty dollars? We could split it four ways. Twenty-five dollars each.”

“What are you? One of them dumb shits that got left behind?”

That merited another shot, which splattered a five pound sack of Gold Medal flour.

“You’d better not be trying to outflank us, ‘cause we’re watching for it.”

“Keep watching, asshole.”

Suddenly there were sirens off in the distance but it was difficult to tell if they were coming towards the store or not.

“You’d better not have called the cops, boy, or all four of us will cap your white ass.”

Silence.

“You hear me, boy?”

“Asshole probably fainted.”

The sirens were coming closer.

“Somebody’s going to have make a move here!”

Silence, then, “OK, Don’t shoot at us. We’re gonna back outta the front door. You can have the money and the fucking cops, too!”

“I’ll shoot at you if I want to shoot at you,” Crocheted Cap yelled but he couldn’t see the other men go out the front door as they crouched low and used the aisles to cover themselves until the entry bell jingled to tell everyone they were out the door and gone.

Do Rag started after them but Crocheted Cap grabbed his arm to hold him back, saying, “They may be waiting out there for us, Bro. We’ll grab the money and go out the back door.”

They crept around the counter, expecting to see the Patel huddled in fear on the floor but he was not there. And the cash register was open and empty. And the back door was open. Crocheted Cap and Do Rag stared at one to the other, just starting to understand what happened and to get pissed about it when the cops came through both the front and the back doors yelling at them DROP YOUR GUNS AND GET DOWN, GET DOWN.

The newspaper reported the next day that two men had been arrested and another two were still being sought. It also reported that nearly two hundred dollars was taken from the cash register. Patel Diol, who was working in the store when the robbery took place, was quoted as saying he had no idea which pair took it.

End

Tales From an Untethered Mind

This was one of the first short stories that I had “published” – meaning that it was accepted and read aloud on stage by the Liar’s League in London, England, in April, 2010. So I thought I had a hot one that would get quick acceptance in an e-zine or magazine. In fact it took two more years before it was accepted by the BWG Writers Roundtable in March 2012. So goes the life of a fiction writer.

Note: This story handles some delicate issues in an indelicate manner – with bad words, too boot – You’ve been warned!

 

                   Hanging With the Neighbors

He was standing on a short stepladder, facing me. The expression on his face said Piss off, this is none of your business. One end of the rope was secured to the overhead garage beam. The other end formed an expert hangman’s noose around his neck.

He kicked away the stepladder just as I stepped through the door.

I surged forward and managed to wrap both arms around his legs to lift up as he hit the end of the rope. There was a sharp jerk and a heavy grunt but I pushed upward with all my strength.

“You OK?” I asked.

I could tell he was alive. We had a delicate balance, me carrying the brunt of his weight, his neck straining hard against the taught rope. I couldn’t raise my head high enough to see his face. In fact, I was talking into his crotch. There was a long moment of silence , then, “What… the fuck… do you… think you’re doing?”

“What the fuck do you think I’m doing?”

“Meddling.”

“Don’t bother to say thanks.”

“I hope…you’re… not …a pervert.”

“I feel you getting a hard on, I’ll drop you. That a deal?”

“This is a mistake.”

“Hanging yourself, or my stopping you from hanging yourself?”

“Hanging myself.”

“Just had a change of mind ?”

“How you gonna get me down?”

I hadn’t given that any thought up to this moment. I was too busy trying to just hold him up. I glanced around the garage. The stepladder out of reach and there was nothing within six feet of us.

“You got a knife on you?” His voice was a hoarse whisper.

“I have a Swiss Army knife, but it’s at home.”

“My hero.”

“What if I lift you up? You put your feet on my shoulders, then you can reach the beam to untie the rope.”

“I got a rope cinched tight around my neck and you want me to balance on your shoulders to reach the beam?”

“OK. I’ll lift a little to put some slack in the rope, then you use your thumbs to loosen the knot. Maybe you can pull the noose up and off?”

“OK.”

I pushed up as I high as I could and he inserted his thumbs inside the noose, but the shift in weight made me lose balance and lurch backwards. He gagged with a loud squawk, his eyes popping out like huge marbles as the noose cinched even tighter.

“Sorry.”

“My… fucking… thumbs… are caught… under the noose!”

“I guess that eliminates trying to reach the beam?”

“This… really… hurts.”

“You were going to hang yourself and you didn’t think it would hurt?”

“I thought… it was… going …to be… a little quicker… than this.”

“Why not sleeping pills? Or gas yourself in your car?”

“I’m… flat broke. Didn’t… want… to waste… a hundred bucks… on fancy sleeping pills… just to kill… myself. And… my car…repo’d… last week.”

I shifted my arms, trying to avoid a cramp.

“Be… careful…will ya?”

“I guess you’re not Catholic?”

“…the fuck… has that… got to do… with anything?”

“Catholics think you go to hell when you commit suicide.”

“I’m about… to die here… and you’re… worrying… about me… going to hell?”

“Sorry I mentioned it.”

“You… Catholic?”

“No.”

“Then…why the hell… bring it up?”

“Just making conversation while we figure out what to do. Why you doing it in Chuck’s garage, anyway?”

“Chuck…away… for the weekend…Had no where else…to go. Why…you here?”

“Chuck said I could use his hedge trimmer. Just get it out of the garage while he’s away.”

“You…friend of… Chuck’s…too? Surprised… we haven’t… met.”

“Just lucky up to now, I guess.”

“What the… hell… does that… mean?”

“Your friend’s away and you hang yourself in his garage? He comes home and finds you hanging. He’s in shock but has to get you down, call the police, explain who you are, then clean up the mess. Who the hell would want to be your friend?”

“Schmuck… deserves this. Got me …into this.”

A ring tone went off over my head. “You gotta cell phone?”

“Shirt… pocket.”

“Who’s ever calling can help us out for chrissakes!”

“You… gonna reach…it? My thumbs…trapped upside… my neck!”
Pure sarcasm. He knew damn well that I couldn’t reach it. The ringing stopped.

“ Probably… the bitch…anyway.”

“That what this is all about?”

“I am… flat as… broke. Lost my job…Bitch says… we ain’t… got a… future …together. No place… to go… except…end of this rope.”

“She sounds a bit shallow.:

“You…a marriage… counselor?”

“If you were in love, you could work it out.”

“Thank you… Dr. Phil…She doesn’t… work…Just a housewife…Her old man …barely… has a pot… to piss in…Wouldn’t get… a dime… if she divorced him.”

“She’s married?”

“Neighbor…. Chuck… introduced us…Thought we… would be… a real match. …So he deserves to… find me here…stretched out… in his garage… Ruin his day.”

“Does she know you’re this depressed?”

“Saundra… only worries… about herself.”

“Saundra?”

“yeah…Saundra…Only worries about… herself….No money…no honey…And I ain’t got… no money.”

I shrugged my shoulders, lifting his legs a few more inches, “I don’t think we’re going to make it.”

“What?,,, We’re… not going… to make it? What…does…that mean?”

“I can’t see any way out of this and I am getting tired of holding you up.”

“You…going… to drop me… just like that?”

“Yeah.”

I dropped him. He bounced and gurgled and danced in the air and turned blue and purple, his eyes bugging out again, then fell silent.

I spent a few minutes looking for Chuck’s hedge trimmer before leaving the garage. I giggled on the way out about Chuck finding his buddy hanging in the garage. How he was going to explain about the thumbs caught up under the noose?

But I was anxious to get home. I couldn’t wait to tell my wife, Saundra, about finding her boyfriend hanging in Chuck’s garage.

End