The Woman is Africa

black woman art

From: Clipart Kid

It’s been over forty years and I can still remember her. She’s probably forgotten about me completely, and I don’t blame her. I didn’t make much of an impression.

“What do you think of it, Jeff?” Diane showed me her completed art project. “Think she’ll get first prize in the Senior Art Fair?”

It was our Senior Year in High School. I’d been taking art classes there since I was a Freshman, and she’d transferred from Tucson at the beginning of the year.

“I think it’s great. Is it a self-portrait?”

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Even Coffee Doesn’t Help

Sean Becker was working on his third cup of coffee sitting at the counter in the town’s only all-night diner. He thought it would help kill the taste, but so far nothing really helped.

“Want a refill?” The waitress looked tired and bored. The only other patrons in this dump were a couple of truckers pulling an all-nighter.

“Yes. Thanks.” He was careful not to smile too widely at her. She poured more of the bitter brown liquid into his cup.

“Sure you don’t want something to eat? It’ll be morning soon. We serve a good breakfast.” He could tell she really didn’t care. She was flying on auto-pilot.

“Actually I just ate not long ago. I came in here for something to wash it down with.” He started smiling again and then remembered what would happen if she saw too much.

“Suit yourself.” She walked away without another word.

He took another sip. He used to love coffee, even the poor quality java served in greasy spoons like this one. It was finally starting to kill the taste of his meal, but only by a little.

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Rescuing a Dragon

crystal trees

Uwe Zucchi / AFP – Getty Images

The Second Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

If you haven’t done so yet, read the first story The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us.

Grandpa sat in a chair on his back patio pretending to manipulate a drone’s controls while Buddy the Dragon flew high above.

“You see, Landon…” Grandpa addressed his seven-year-old grandson sitting to his right, “…if anyone sees Buddy way up there, I can just say I’m flying a drone over the field. The trick is taking off and landing.”

“I’m glad he can fly. He likes to be high up.” Landon didn’t take his eyes off of the golden figure in the distance, imagining what it would be like to be up there with his best friend.

Grandpa spoke into the microphone he’d wired into the drone control box. “Okay Buddy, that’s a wrap. C’mon down now.” The dragon could hear Grandpa through a headset he’s managed to get to fit on Buddy’s head. The dragon could talk back through a small microphone.

“Flying, flying. Buddy likes flying.”

“It’s getting late and Dani will be waking up from her nap soon.” Dani was Landon’s 15-month-old sister. Landon’s and Dani’s Dad was still at work but would be home in time for dinner.

“Oh, okie-dokey, Gramps.”

Buddy went into a nosedive right toward the back of Grandpa’s house, but at the last second he fully extended his wings and breaking hard, landed softly on the back lawn not five feet from the startled pair.

Grandpa recovered his composure. “Have a nice flight?”

The dragon walked up to Grandpa and nuzzled his head on the older man’s leg. “Yup, yup, yup. Good fly. Good fly.”

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First Encounter

liquor

Image: theguardian.pe.ca

Ed left church just as the service ended and headed to the nearest liquor store. He didn’t wait until the ushers came along to release people row by row. He didn’t wait until the Pastor was ready at the door to shake hands with each parishioner as they left. He just left. He needed a drink.

Ed Tillman, 44 years old, divorced, behind in his child support, absentee Daddy to 16-year-old Tiffany and 12-year-old Johnny. Yeah, his life was messy, really messy. One of the other Postal Carriers he worked with said he needed to find God. His friend Mark told him God could be found in church.

Ed was desperate enough and dumb enough to believe him.

As Ed pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall off of Meridian Road, he was still trying to figure out if God ever went to that church.

Oh, the people were polite, they were descent, they all got along. They went to the same picnics, attended the same Wednesday night Bible studies, and some even went on vacations together.

They were all so nice and squeaky clean. Ed wasn’t anything close to that. If God requires that you put on a suit, shake hands and introduce yourself to the people around you in your pew, and sing a bunch of really boring songs, then maybe God didn’t want Ed to find Him.

Standing in front of the display of the different brands of Vodka, Ed opened his wallet and checked how much cash he had left. Just barely enough. He’d memorized the price of a cheap 750 millimeter bottle including sales tax.

“How’s it going, buddy.” The guy behind the counter must have been about Ed’s age, maybe a little older. Long, dirty blond hair, ragged beard, tattoos on both forearms disappearing under his shirt sleeves, definitely not squeaky clean.

“Not bad.” Ed looked around. “Business is slow.”

“Yeah, no shit. You’re my first customer.”

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Why I Wrote My First Children’s Story for My Grandson

reading

Image: boomerhighway.org

I published The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us yesterday but not any sort of explanation about where the story came from or why I wrote it (except on Facebook and Google+).

I consider it one of my best efforts but it doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of love so far. Probably one of the reasons is that it’s over 5700 words long, basically a short story or a book chapter. Who’s got the time, right?

This story is different. It’s personally important to me. I’ve invested a lot of emotion in it. I wrote it for my seven-year-old grandson.

He’s really imaginative and every time I see him, he wants to play our “game”. Our game is a talking game. He assigns us both roles and then we make up an adventure. In our current game, I am “Grandpa” (no surprise there) and he is my pet “Honey Dragon”.

Actually, the term “pet” is a bit of a misnomer since the dragon is supposed to be thousands of years old and know all kinds of arcane magical spells.

Our game scenarios are highly derivative. He pulls a lot of his ideas from “Harry Potter” and I pull mine from all kinds of comic books, science fiction stories, TV shows, and films.

I’ve tried to write a story for him before, but I couldn’t get the hang of it. However, our current series of adventures spawned an idea, a story about a boy and his dragon.

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I’m Going To Be Published on “Theme of Absence”

infinity

Image: numbersleuth.org/

Have a look at the site Theme of Absence. As it says on the main page, it’s an “Online Magazine of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction (the lack of an Oxford comma just kills me).

Anyway, the site administrator is Jason Bougger, and along with Betty Rocksteady, and Tim Bougger, they accept previously unpublished submissions of flash fiction and short stories. Here’s a link to their Submission Guidelines.

The reason I bring all this up is that one of my submissions has been accepted and will be published on Friday, September 23rd.

I’ve been published quite a few times before, but those were all technical books, self-study guides, and textbooks.

On September 23rd, one of my fiction pieces will be published online for the very first time (apart from my own blog, of course).

I’m pretty excited.

Jason also offered to do an author interview with me and I said “yes,” so that’ll appear on Theme of Absence the same day as my flash fiction (just a hair under 1,000 words) story.

It’s nothing that I’ve published on my site, so you don’t get a preview.

You don’t have to wait a whole month. Visit Theme of Absence right now and read some of the other stories they’ve published. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite author.

The Perfect Woman

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

Max Schmidt felt a little uncomfortable holding Aika’s hand in public, but as they were strolling past the Botanical Garden in the park she leaned into him and he felt it was the right thing to do.

“Tell me you love me again.” He felt her body heat as she nuzzled against him and he had to stop walking momentarily to regain his balance.

“I love you,” he whispered in her ear, too shy to say it louder for fear people nearby might hear him. She turned to Max and hugged him. “I love you, too,” she murmured into his chest.

Her Japanese accent was only mildly noticeable and he felt it was one of her more charming attributes. English was the only language they had in common though, and he felt a bit embarrassed that his own German accent was so thick. But then, the 34-year-old software engineer often felt embarrassed about himself.

Aika took Max’s hand again and they resumed their walk. He hadn’t meant to go this far from his flat. When Aika suggested they go out together for a while, he was thinking maybe a walk around the block. But it was a beautiful summer evening in the city, and Max enjoyed the delight he could see in Aika’s face. Everything in the world was new to her. It was like watching a small child discover the universe in a field of flowers or by the seashore.

“I’m so glad we met, Max.” She leaned her head against his shoulder.

“Me, too.” His reply was a bit stiff but she didn’t seem to notice. As much as Max enjoyed Aika’s company, he couldn’t help but be bothered by all of the barriers between them, not the least of which was the legality of her being here with him, or for that matter, the legality of her existence.

“We’d better head back.” He looked down at her. Her hair was a beautiful jet black, soft, silky to the touch, and smelled just slightly of strawberries.

She looked up with those big, gorgeous brown eyes. He watched her blink, noticed her eyelashes, her small, pert nose, her large, luscious lips. “Whatever you say, Max,” she cooed.

He was already getting aroused.

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The Loyalty Test

loyalty pledge

Image: The Federalist

“I see you received excellent marks on your overall training evaluation, Mr. Collins.”

“Yes Ma’am. Thank you.” Brad Collins was standing in front of his section chief’s desk on what he hoped was his first official day on the job. She had a reputation for being strict and pulling no punches, so needless to say, he was a bit nervous. But he needed this job. Actually, he’d wanted this job ever since he was a little kid. Being here was the culmination of a 20-year-long dream. Now if only the dream would come true.

“You can address me as ‘Ms. Nash’ or ‘Chief Nash,’ Mr. Collins.” Nash’s expression was stern as she stared at him through the thick lenses of her glasses. It was rumored that her expression almost never changed, at least during work hours.

“Yes, Ms. Nash.” He stood ramrod straight in front of her desk as she carefully turned the pages in his final evaluation report.

“You signed your loyalty statement this morning, I see.” Nash didn’t bother to look up when she addressed him.

“Yes, Ma…Yes, Ms. Nash.” The loyalty test was one of the most challenging examinations to pass, not because of any physical or intellectual difficulty, but because it was so hard for most people to purge all possible tendencies toward disloyalty. Duffy, Brad’s first instructor, told him that most applicants were denied employment because of this, even if they passed all of the other exams.

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The Day I Discovered Time Travel

the well

The well

After reviewing Randy Ingermanson’s time travel novel Transgression yesterday, I was reminded that I wrote my own wee time travel story just over two months ago. I decided to port it over unedited from its original version. It’s very different from Ingermanson’s vision, although given the motivation of his character Damien West, maybe not too different.

I’m no good at the fake physics of time travel, so I had to create a method of getting from now to then that didn’t require any inventiveness or understanding on the time traveller’s part. It’s probably the standard time traveller story, a tale of regrets and an attempt at redemption. Let me know what you think.

My name is Mark Miller, and when I discovered time travel, I decided to use it just like everyone else does in all those science fiction books and movies. I decided to change the past. No, not just the generic past, mine. I wanted to change history, just like Marty McFly did in “Back to the Future”.

Here’s what I want to change.

When I was five years old, I killed my brother. It doesn’t matter that it was an accident, I did it. Jason’s dead and it’s because of me. He was only three years old.

I probably should blame my Dad, but I can’t. I should probably blame him for going to the store “for just a minute” and leaving me and Jase alone. I should probably blame him for leaving a loaded 45 caliber pistol in an unlocked drawer in his night stand.

But I can’t.

I’d seen where Dad put the pistol after cleaning it and loading it. He cleaned it every couple of weeks, I think. Mom wouldn’t let me and Jase even have toy guns. Mom and Dad got divorced when I was four, and whenever we got to visit Dad, she was pretty strict about what toys we could play with at his house.

So when Dad put us in front of the TV with “Toy Story 3” in the DVD player so he could go to the store “for just a minute” (he’d run out of beer), me and Jase were alone.

I think it was because Woody was a cowboy and cowboys always have guns that made me think of Dad’s gun. I paused the movie and took Jase into Dad’s bedroom. I just wanted to show him something cool, a real gun, like what a real cowboy would have.

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The Wraith

shadow man

Image: jimharold.com

The wraith arises when it’s quiet and peaceful. When others are not near or when they still sleep. The wraith does not care if others are near as long as they are unconscious.

Precious is the wraith’s time of peace. All too soon, the others will return or they will arise. In either case, peace will turn to chaos, silent joy to suffering and turmoil.

There is no hunger for the wraith when it is quiet. There is no desire for sustenance. Only the calm of being neither hungry nor full, merely satisfied, as if there were no such thing as desire.

Near the open windows, the air is cool, but the wraith must not leave the protection of these walls. The cool air is pleasant, but the sky is too bright, too painful for his eyes. The beauty of green can only be enjoyed from within the shadows.

The wraith bleeds, not all the time, but periodically. The injury was deliberate, to correct a greater injury, but recovery is slow. The wraith does as he can to slowly purge old blood and mucus, but it reforms. How much of this is left for the wraith to endure?

Footsteps. Chaos returns. If he is minimalist, perhaps the others will be minimalist as well and not overly address the wraith.

The wraith has almost no voice. He wishes this of the others as well, not because they speak ill of him, but because they speak to him at all. When they speak, the peace recedes. He must leave his own mind. He must consider the thoughts of others rather than his own pain.

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