Category Archives: Short Story

Billy’s Laura

Raining hard at the
mouth of the trail
where Shane was
waiting for his ex-wife
umbrella in hand.

“Nice day out. Isn’t it, Laura?”

Laura smiled, “Yes it is, Hon.”

She was already drunk
as usual.

Shane held out his umbrella
and walked holding it over her
letting himself get wet
until they reached Billy’s house.

No lights.
Billy wasn’t up yet.

“I’m sure Billy will be up soon.” He said.

Sometimes it was hours
before Billy got up
and Shane would hold his umbrella
over her as she lay her head in
his lap and slept.

“You still love me, Shane.”
She would say,
“You wouldn’t do this
if you didn’t love me.”

And when it was cold
Shane would put his warm jacket
over her
with nothing for himself
as they both waited until…

“Light’s on, Laura, Billy’s up.”

Billy would open the front door
without looking out and just
leave it open but
only when he had a fix ready for her.

Once Laura was inside
Shane would then go on
down the road to
Tim’s house to
drink himself to sleep.

Tim would see Shane
all wet and cold
and will give him shit
for the same old shit.

They used to be the
toughest around
in town back when it mattered
until there came along
fights that couldn’t be won
like plants shutting down
unpaid debts
miscarriages
divorce
and then there came the bottle
and other things that were worse.

“She’s Billy’s Laura now, Shane, Billy’s Laura!”

“You don’t understand, Tim.”

“I understand that you can’t let go.
That you’re killing yourself
just like she is and
I just can’t
watch it anymore.”

“Come on now, Tim.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Shane. It really wasn’t…”
Tim’s eyes were red, wet and he
slammed the door.

Shane grabbed his coat and
umbrella and headed back.

Maybe Tim finally had the
last of this
but for Shane it was
just another day to get through.

Just another day.

“Don’t Worry, Albert.”

Took care of my wife
for ten years
as cancer slowly
took her away
from me.

“Don’t worry, Albert.
It always rains
on a sunny day,
doesn’t it?”

She’d always say.

Two years alone
after she passed
I moved far away
to start again.

It was either that
or put a gun
to my head.

But everywhere I looked
I still saw
a reminder of her
in every woman
in every child.

I worked
then I wandered the streets.
Trying to live.
Trying to cry.
Trying to die.

And one day
I saw her
leaving a laundromat,
laughing.

It was her
but it wasn’t
because it
couldn’t be

but there she was.

I walked up to her
and stared
like an idiot.

Asked if I could
walk with her.

She looked at me
strange.
I didn’t blame her
but she acquiesced.

That was when
on a blue sky
it opened up
with rain singing across
all the streets
in the sunlight.

She laughed and she
looked at me with that
gorgeous smile
that always
broke through me
like I was air
then she took my hand.

“Don’t worry, Albert.”
she said.

“It always rains
on a sunny day
doesn’t it?”

CANADA DAY 2020

Is the day that
neighbours like to
terrorize
veterans and pets alike
by unleashing a
seemingly endless arsenal
of loud sky magic.

Restrained to their yards
because everything is canceled
forever
fireworks (and plenty)
help air out the grievances.

Two lots over
a dazzling array
of starbursts
mostly white
(racists)
with a nice jazzy finish.

There’s a mosquito in my wine.
Fuck.
Whatever. Flick it out.
Cover the glass
with my cigarette pack.
All good.
Better than good.
Fucking best ever.

Somewhere down the street
shots of colour coming up
to explode into intersecting
streams of sparkling light
accentuated with a
thunderous bass.
Definitely more baritone.
Definitely more
Beethoven than Mozart.

There’s something swimming
in my wine glass
again.
It’s a moth.
How in Satan’s secrets
did it get in there?
This is truly a magical night.

It’s quite the avid swimmer.
It looks wasted and happy
but it’s actually dying
wondering what the fuck
happened to it
and i imagine
that’s probably how I’ll go too.

There were fireworks
up the hill from the large houses
unworthy of mention
(fuck your money)
some here and there
with little forethought
in execution
judging by the random
long pauses
and haphazard order.

i look at my wine glass.
there is nothing in it.
not even wine.

I go inside.
the cat looks like it’s
on its first bad acid trip.

I’m surprised
I didn’t find it
in my wine glass.

I go back outside
light a ciggie
momentarily feel
happy and sane and relaxed
and contemplative
when the neighbourhood
blows up as
two streets behind me
they light off mortar shells.

Single shots
ruptured the sky
enough to obtain
a decent understanding
of how fast
the speed of sound is
by observing the echoes
of the explosions
tear across the landscape.

They didn’t even sound legal.

It’s almost midnight.
Assholes.
Some people have to have
the last word.

I had sparklers
but i ate them.

Good night.

MAN IN A HOTEL ROOM WITH A GUN

Taking it all in
one long moment

sitting there
on the edge of the bed
with a gun in your hand
blood on the sheets
a brunette laying across them

naked
pale
stiff
like a mannequin

you don’t recognize the gun
the room
her
your clothes

You don’t know how you got there
at all

so you lie back
upon the bed
your head close
to her hip

taking it all in
one long moment

staring at the ceiling fan
spinning
a quiet shadow
across everything

before you close
your eyes

and try to wake up.

COVID-19 SOCIETY: LIFE IS A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER

As the pandemic was unfolding on social media people were scattered in the frozen produce section of Costco staring down at their smartphones as if waiting for instructions. A lady was fixated on her screen beside a batch of tomatoes when her face scrunched up and she started to turn. They all did, not into zombies or vampires or werewolves. Instead, they all turned toward the aisle containing the bathroom tissue.

“Oh no, she has it!” A man said to his daughter.
“What, Dad? The virus?”
“No, Stacey, the hearing about the virus, virus.”

In one single motion typically reserved for geese taking flight, the people began to rush alongside and at times over each other in a desperate bid, not to grab the last remaining rations of ass-fleece, but to get it all, grossly more bog roll than they would ever use in their entire lifetimes. Fuck everybody else.

As can be seen on any given Black Friday: wrangling, scuffling and outright brawling overtook the immediate area in an implosion of bodies interacting in the most primordially deprived fashion possible. Yes, it was social-distancing at it’s best in aisle seven where humanity had rapidly devolved into a raging pile of limbs, gnashing teeth, pulling hair -and in the midst of the chaos freshly-ejected spittle freely soared, danced and coalesced to form a fine blanket of mist that soon settled upon everything (sleep well).

“See Honey,” Father said as her brought his daughter close to witness the spectacle, “this is why we aren’t going to make it as a race –because when under duress we lack the ability to think about the common good and instead become dominated by our own self-interests in immediate and irrational ways. What you see here? This is a true reflection of our society. What you have to understand is that everybody’s nice until you start messing with their livelihood and after that…there’s this.”

The final bulk pack of toilet roll was won over by a lady the size of a Whirlpool fridge who manhandled a millennial.

“Dad, I’m scared!”

The father smiled warmly, “You should be, especially when you consider how quickly we all can be reduced to little more than contagious self-serving vermin controlled by an increasingly authoritarian government.”

“I don’t understand!”

“Well, after a lifetime of being sold your own self-image while following the trivial pursuit of achieving Instagram-worthy selfies it must be very difficult -if not downright impossible- to suddenly wake up one day and realize that it’s not all about you.” He gave her shoulder a light squeeze. “I get it. Your whole generation’s going to be living in a dumpster-fire cause of climate change anyway.”

As callous hordes of people ran by waving around over-sized loads of scrumptious, fluffy toilet rolls with blank stares in their eyes he said: “Don’t worry, we can always wipe our ass with Scruffles.”

“Not my cat!”

“Oh yes, and that’s just for starters.” Father gave her a look that made Stacey worried about what would happen after that resource was exhausted.

As another horde charged through with what looked to be the last remaining stock of rice, pasta, eggs and flour (because everyone was going to suddenly take up baking) Father said, “Who knows? We might have to eat her too.”

Stacey began to cry as her dad nodded to an old lady and gave her a tender look that would make anybody feel at home right before clothes-lining her as she was walking by for the six-pack of hand sanitizer held against her chest that he was going to dilute and sell online at an absurdly marked-up price.

”Welcome to the new world!”

THE MARVEL SUPERHERO ON PARK STREET

I was walking by a large Victorian house on Park Street when from up on the top floor balcony I heard someone calling out. I turned to see a girl –maybe ten years old– leaning over the railing so that her long hair hung straight down.

“Hey Mister, do you want to see a trick?”
I shrugged. “Sure, why not?”

“Okay!” She shouted and clapped her hands excitedly. Smiling, she turned and went back into the house only to appear at the front door three floors down not even a second later. She opened it, came out onto the porch, spun around with her arms held out and went back in. Next thing I know there is a knock on the top floor window where she waves and turns away. Again, before I could formulate a thought she reappears out the front door and this time she walks down to where I stood on the sidewalk.

“What do you think?” She asked and folded her arms across her chest. I didn’t even have the do the math; there was just no way was she faster than my eyes could travel from the ground floor to three stories up and back down.

“You have a twin. Throw the same clothes on and have fun with unsuspecting strangers.”

“Nuh-uh! NUH-UH!” She whipped her head back and forth viciously enough that the ends of her hair threatened to blind me and then shot me a glare like I was the biggest dipshit ever.

“Okay, then you’re a Marvel superhero.” I returned.

Behind her, a lady opened the door. “Who are you talking to, Cadence?”

“Absolutely nobody, Mother.” The girl stuck her tongue out at me and crossed her eyes before running back inside. “Noooboooodddyyyyy!!!”

“Hey!” I called to the mother as she was closing the door. “She has a sister, right?” I asked, curious.

“What sister?” The lady looked at me like I was a meth-fueled derelict and when the door was half closed she held it there and scowled at me as though I were the world’s most active pedophile.

“Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have asked that.” I said to myself as I continued on down the sidewalk. “This is why I try not to go outside anymore.”

And this was the second house I couldn’t walk by in this neighbourhood. The first one? Now, that’s a strange story…

THE NOISY BATHROOM FAN

At first, Randall was appalled when the noisy bathroom fan suggested that he murder his girlfriend right there and then, but then he grew intrigued. With the fan’s persuasive voice, the thought of murder solidified into an ideal. Was it possible? In fact, was it the only thing that would set things right?

He was beginning to think so.

The bathroom fan had been broken since Randall had moved into the small corner unit five months ago. So, instead of the calming thrum that accompanied most properly functioning, well-maintained exhaust fans –it instead produced a violent, garbled choking that resembled a dying animal in heat. Its multi-layered rattling occasionally peaked into a wild banshee-like scream that almost seemed deliberate and threatened to take over everything.

And one day it did just that when it simply began to speak.

…Randall…

“Yes?” Randall looked around then up at the fan. “Hello? Is somebody in there?”

…You have to take her out, Randall. Use one of your long kitchen knives…make it dirty…

“Why would anybody do that? And why would I, especially? I really, really like her.” Randall held a quizzical expression on his face. He didn’t really understand, but the noisy bathroom fan would help him with that.

…That’s why you’ve got to do it, to protect yourself from people like her…she’s going to get in and eat you all up from the inside like a cancer…

The voice that came from the fan seemed to fall directly into Randall’s ear in a soothing lull that betrayed its chaotically abrasive presence. The fan knew things. The fan was Randall’s friend and was only looking out for him. But still…

“No! No!” Randall struggled with the idea now. Amy was perfect for him, wasn’t she?

…She’s gonna mess you up, Randall, just like your ex-wife…because she doesn’t know any better…

The fan’s words swept through Randall’s mind, bringing light into where there once was only darkness and planting seeds where that light now was so that ideas could grow. Randall’s eyes widened. He was beginning to see.

“Yes, you’re right. I need to do this.”
…Gotta mess her up, Randall…
“I’m gonna mess her up!”

…Do it now…do it now…
“I’m gonna do it right now!”

Randall left the bathroom and quietly walked past the living room where Amy was sprawled on the sofa watching Netflix. Randall slowly entered into the small side kitchen where he pulled a long, stainless steel knife from a drawer. He then approached Amy slowly from behind raising the knife over his head, readying to plunge it deep into the back of her neck just like the fan wanted.

Amy sensed Randall behind her and spun her head around to see him standing right there. It looked like Randall was holding something behind his back.

“What’s up, Babe?” She asked, eyes widened.

“Nothing, Hon.” Randall swayed on his feet just enough to lean over and leave the knife on the counter. That would have to do, for now. “Hey listen, do you think you can stay over tonight? I can take you home in the morning.”

“Ok, sure. Come, sit down on your favourite recliner.” Randall looked like he thought it was a good idea. Amy tilted her head. “You alright? You look a little triggered.”

“No, everything’s fine,” Randall sighed, “I just have to fix the exhaust fan in the bathroom.”

“I noticed. It’s rather noisy.”

“Oh yeah? You were in there for quite a while earlier. Forgot about that.”

“It told me you were going to kill me.”

Randall laughed nervously as he usually did when he didn’t know what to do or say. The bathroom fan was right: he was a big pussy. Amy slowly pulled a larger kitchen knife than the one Randall had out from under the cushion she sat upon and held it in a firm grip.

“Think this is a joke?” Amy said as she got up.

THE LIFE COACH

You’re terrified of death because you don’t really know what it is, what it’s like, what comes after. You’ve spent your whole life building things up but all that will be gone in an instant and you are deeply troubled by the idea that there is nothing afterwards; that you just extinguish like a light, forever. Most people cannot bear the thought of it. That’s why we have drowned ourselves in religion for thousands of years.

“Talk dirty to me.”

The universe is apathetic to your condition. Throughout the centuries humanity is made to suffer; built to sing, to bleed, to create vast landscapes of art, music and poetry based on all that experience and in the end will receive nothing in return because even with our sentient intelligence, resilience, cultural and technological advancements –your life has no more value than that of an insects. That you thought it would be any different is nothing short of comedic.

“You’re a nasty piece of work. I like it.”

You all want to think that you’ll go to Heaven, that you’ll get some kind of reward for living or that you’ll return again somehow in someway, but you won’t and there is nothing after. You will die and your energy will return to the cosmos. It will most likely be distributed between a number of various elements such as comet dust, fungi on Mars, running water or part fucking dog fart.

“You’re gonna get it sideways.”

But I can tell you that nobody ever makes it off this planet. Not a chance. We are too greedy, selfish and weak to ever unite and conquer our own environment, never mind outer space, so all of these great inventions and discoveries are fuck all and nothing is worth a shit. We will perish with no understanding of the universe and with not having met any other intergalactic species that is how pathetic and insignificant we all are. In the end life is nothing more than senseless detritus wasting away on a floating cemetery filled with a bunch of fucking nobodies.”

“I gotta go. You’re getting it next time for sure.”

 

LATER, TALKING TO HARRY…

“Hey, how’s dating your life coach going?”

“Same. Think she knows everything. We all die. Nothing’s after. No point of anything. I’m a dog-fart.”

“Shit, doesn’t it get to you? I mean, this is all just so weird, Man. And you’re weird. I know she’s fucking weird….”

“Sure. Well, we can have these great in-depth discussions but honestly sometimes I feel like we’re just so disconnected. I mean, I keep trying to get with her but all I get back is that we’re all a bunch of losers that are going to die for nothing. It’s frustrating. Maybe it’s my approach but I don’t really get why it’s not working.”

“You gonna move on?”

“Nah. She’s still…interesting…and besides, my previous life coach makes her seem like a fucking optimist.”

“Well then, what can I say? Keep going. Sometimes you have to eat shit in order to see the sunlight.”

THE INCUBUS OF IRVING ST.

Tina was pulling grocery bags from her trunk when she spotted Bono walking across the street. That’s right, U2’s very own Bono looking like he had just stepped out of the ZooTV tour with the shiny black suit, chest-open shirt, and fly sunglasses. There was no mistaking it because nobody else looked like him. Tina immediately dropped what she was doing and began to follow the singer with complete abandon.

Ireland was a long way away; what was he doing here? Who cared? She wanted to ravage that rock god sex beast right there on the curb. Tina may have been pushing fifty, but she still hit the treadmill and had some bang to her buck –never mind the late afternoon Chianti’s.

Tina kept calling his name, but other than slightly turning her way and showcasing a broad, cocksure smile, Bono kept on walking like he owned the planet. What a tease! Tina became so distracted in watching that hot ass rattle and hum down the sidewalk that she must not have been paying very much attention to anything else as it seemed so sudden that they were all the way down Irving Street to where it met the railway beside the overpass.

Tina never ventured into this area as she had always thought it to be a haven for vicious hobos and violent meth addicts, but now there was no one in sight. At the dead end right before the sidewalk ended into a wall heavily laden with graffiti, Bono finally turned around. Tina only then noticed that there was something different about Bono’s face.

He wasn’t smiling anymore.

Beth was in the process of unlocking her niece’s front door when she heard a knocking sound on the trunk of her car. She turned to see Jim Morrison smile as he patted the taillight and wink as he walked away. There was no mistaking it. No way that wasn’t Jim Morrison. He didn’t look like anybody else.

Wait, wasn’t he supposed to be long dead? He was so hot. Who cared? Beth was freshly divorced from Asshole after twenty-seven long-suffering years of dull and dry nothing, had only a stuffed bank account to show for it, and was dying for something that didn’t sag all the way down. She dropped everything that she was doing and began to follow him.

The Lizard King strutted down the sidewalk without a care in the world. Beth could tell by the fit of his tight leather pants that it wasn’t just his face that looked like it was sculpted by Michelangelo. Where was this iconic piece of deliciousness taking her? What was he going to do to her when they got there? She shivered thinking about the possibilities. Beth must have been thinking about them so hard that they had walked all the way down to the end of Irving Street and she didn’t even notice.

As they came to the abrupt end of the walkway, Beth stopped and realized that she had never been this close to the bridge before, mostly because it was an isolated area that she didn’t consider safe, even when walking Poochie.

There, she found a huge wall covered with painted eyes of all different colours and sizes staring down at her with strange words streaked across them that looked far from English. It all seemed so…Far East, Hindu maybe.

Something shiny on the ground caught Beth’s eye. She leaned down to inspect what was the silver buckle on a black purse. She looked around and quickly discovered that there were other purses of all colours and styles – some modern, but mostly outdated– scattered haphazardly across the lot.

And shoes too, some new but others looked old, very old –as in falling apart and completely colourless, old. Noticing how strange these items were, Beth leaned in closer to examine the pebbles that crunched under her feet and to her growing horror she realized that those weren’t pebbles at all, but teeth –along with piles of jackets, fabric, clumps of hair, and other things that sprang into clarity that her mind almost would not accept, almost. The whole area was covered with this…people residue in every direction.

Beth looked up with a sinking heart, arms and legs frozen in fear, as the singer turned around.

And Jim wasn’t smiling anymore.

The Window

“Did you take your medication, Hon?
The neighbours complained again.
The walls are thin and
they can hear you laughing and
talking to the window.

And now you won’t talk to me
or look at me; you just continue to stare
at the damn television.

I’ve tried yelling and even shaking you and
I’ve never touched a woman like that in my life.

I’m not comfortable with it, but at the same time
I am tired, I am frustrated, and
I am angry
-but above all I’m scared, okay?

I am really scared because I don’t know what’s happening to you,
or what happened to us.

Why won’t you speak to me?
I don’t remember doing anything but my best for you.
I’m sorry that I have to work most of the time at the factory
and that I lost my job in the city and that
we had to move to this town
in the middle of nowhere and into
this destitute ground floor one-bedroom apartment
with just a torn couch and a cheap TV set.

Remember our wedding day?
You were so nervous standing with me at the front waiting for the priest;
so beautiful, vibrant and free.
If only we could go back
to that day –that moment,
and just start over somehow,
somewhere else.

Now you never leave the couch anymore.
You won’t eat.
You won’t change your clothes.
I don’t even know if you go to the bathroom.

And when I hear you talking in the middle of the night,
it scares the Hell out of me.

Who are you talking to?
There is nothing in the window.
Nothing around it.
I’ve checked.

It’s just your voice.
Nobody else’s.
That’s right, there is nobody
ever there at all
…or is there?

Who comes to you?
Why do you only talk to them?

What the Hell is going on? I’m falling apart and you have to talk to me…”

Depleted, Gary left the room and his unresponsive wife, went back into the bedroom where he had once lain with her, and pulled out a bottle of whiskey from the bedside drawer. It was the only way to sleep these days. He had nobody to go to –no family, no money for a doctor and no friends in this town. He had run out of options, so until Gary could think of something –Good Ol’ Jack was there to help numb the pain until sweet beddy-bye.

But sure enough in the middle of the night Gary was awakened by her voice talking loudly and laughing like everything was some sort of insane inside joke. Gary threw off the covers and stormed into the living room only to find his wife lying on the couch with her eyes wide open staring vacantly at a television that was turned off. Gary shouted in frustration and punched the wall until faceless neighbours shouted for him to stop with threats of calling the police. That wasn’t him a year ago; that wasn’t Gary at all. Things have spiraled out of control into a deep, dark pit.

Gary returned to the bedroom, looked at the clock and began to get dressed for work. It was going to be another hard day on the floor. Best start early.

That evening Gary returned to an empty apartment. There was no dormant wife lying on the couch anymore. He stood there staring at the empty space where she had once been as the last of the overcast sky fell into the room like a dead weight.

She didn’t take anything, not even any of her clothes. There was no note. There was nothing. Gary went through the motions of filing a police report. He had canvased the neighbourhood and reached out to any old friends or associates that he could locate with nothing to show for it. But all along he had known that there was nothing to find because deep down inside Gary knew that she had never really left the apartment at all.

Even during that time Gary would some nights be woken up by his wife’s voice on the other side of the wall talking to nobody –her laughter laughing at nothing– and would dash into the living room only to find it empty.

Also during that time, Gary had attempted to logically reconstruct what could have happened to her and arrived only at further frustration. So, it was time for some crazy thinking because crazy was the only thing left.

Gary was forced to come up with a different approach altogether because no matter how far he could get away from this terrible place, if Gary couldn’t find out where his wife went, he would never truly leave here, and Gary could not bear the thought of living the rest of his life like that.

The next night Gary laid on the couch, turned on the television set, and started flipping through channels. Perhaps he wasn’t even aware of what he was doing at first. It wasn’t until he turned the volume down a little lower just like his wife had as not to disturb Gary after he went to bed. That’s when he began to hear it; to feel it. It was so faint at first, but soon it became clear to Gary that whatever the window was, this was its first handshake.

Gary reasoned in the end that if it came for her then it might come for him too. Maybe it couldn’t help itself.

“That’s right, here I am, so come on. Time for me to join the party.” Gary looked up at the insidious window. He could hear voices now along with awfully strange laughter and began to see colours and slight silhouettes dancing around the window frame. It was all gradually becoming louder and more real.

“Alright,” Gary whispered to the darkening room, “let’s do this.”