How It All Started
My favorite niece tells tall tales, funny, amusing, uplifting lies. She has a way of spinning ordinary events into engaging yarns, finding fascination and humor in the things adults do, as only a fifteen year old could, poking us in the eye, her long black bangs shielding her questioning blue eyes. The only problem is that when she gets to what feels like the middle of the story, she abruptly stops, smiling, assessing our reaction. Occasionally at these gatherings where she's telling four or five quick stories in a row, someone will ask her, well, what happened next, but more often than not, when the last story is over, we will move on to a different topic. Natalie, I whisper to her, every good story has a beginning, middle and an end. Beginning, middle, end, I'll repeat. Typically she will grin, shrug and engage in another on-going conversation. On other occasions, among muffled laughter, she will make an excuse: that WAS the end, Uncle Sam; you don't KNOW how things end, silly; whatever, Uncle Smartie. But one time she turned sullen and said, "Sometimes you can't tell when things end."
“Don’t ask me what I think of you; I might not give the answer that you want me to.” —Peter Green I. December 2014. My affair started after Thanksgiving and we were done by Christmas.
The Day My Brother Died
I parked on Main Street, a block from my office, convinced this was the last day of my life. The reality struck me unbidden, pure and true. I only had to make the walk to my office to square the prophecy, complete the premonition.
Heat of the Moment
At my desk, working, I can look out the window to my left and see my favorite bar. It’s the drunken version of propinquity.
Ten Things I Would Tell You
1. I didn't break all of my vows. I promised to love you forever. 2. I didn't sleep with Michelle. 3. I will never forget the night you told me, "I don't love you anymore. I want a divorce."
Girl # 3
Friday, June 22, 2018. Caligula. Austin, Texas. The first one approaches from my right, Coors Light on the small table in front of me, leans over and asks if I want company, seeping into my atmosphere, decent rack. Oh, I just walked in. Maybe later. She floats away. Nothing interesting on the stage, just the dimly-lit bump and grind.
The Two-Four consisted of eight acres, two by width, four by depth, just outside the north most suburb on 87. When it was summer at the Two-Four, it was like a Kiss song—hot, hot, hotter than hell; in the winter, it was just hot. Carter had four kids, two girls, grown and off at A & M, and two boys at home. You had to look hard to realize that the boys weren’t his—a product of his second wife’s first marriage, step-kids. Not to Carter. To Carter, they were his boys. End of story. And Cheryl loved him for that; “Cher,” the lovely and talented, as he called her on his radio show every weekday morning during rush hour (such as it was) in Sendera. The day she saw his body, propped up against a tree trunk on the back one acre, as if he were a migrant worker taking a break against the merciless South Texas sun, was, however, not a weekday morning. That day in fact was a Sunday and the boys, Randy and Shooter, were getting ready to go to the Baptist church down the street. On pleasant days, they could probably walk to the church from the back one. Or at least throw a rock at it. But there were no pleasant days in Sendera. Surely not after today. Not after this particular Sunday in August.
Postcard From Quarantine
I have been talking to Lenny since I was 14. Technically, she started it, her silent voice at 4 a.m. Sometimes I will ask her for things. She always answers me and sometimes she grants what I ask for. Lately, we have been talking about isolation. She says, “You know, Jesus laid in the tomb, alone, for three days.” But she already knows that I know that. I’m tired of the isolation but she says, “Hang in there; we have a plan.”
Dylan Summers stood in the dirt of what used to be a front yard, the plush green grass long since dead, listening as his prospective landlord set out the terms of the proposed lease.
On Love Street
Amber Sanchez, her brunette hair curling just above her blouse, top two buttons open, the hint of a pink embroidered bra underneath, is on my right; Cecilia Contreras, in a blue and gold UTSA tee shirt, is to my left. I am smiling, squinting, a slight sweat above my eyebrow.
Macy Portela, Part One: Compulsion
I had already been on the patio once. Not smoking; decompressing, watching a couple of guys with acoustic guitars set up on the far side, getting a weird look from Derek (Party’s on the other side, dude.) and taking deep breaths. The cook, smelling like the kitchen, walked to me, greeted me, shook my hand. I put my hand in my right pocket.
The End of My Love Affair
THE END OF MY LOVE AFFAIR I i dreamed we were kissing (again) last night, your lips like the soft rain falling (on the roof of my house).