Miles Away

They lay in the tall grasses of the field behind staring up at the long white vapor trails drawn across the afternoon sky.

Raccoon, sat up, and leaning on his elbow, turned to Owl.

“Were you with Rabbit yesterday?” he asked.

“What?”

“Someone said they saw you two coming out of the library.”

Owl’s eyes flicked sideways, trying to get a read of the other boy’s face. He couldn’t tell. He knew Raccoon would never admit to having a crush on the girl. Staring up at the sky, he wondered whether he should lie or not.

Another plane traveled overheard.

 

Prompt courtesy of the Friday Fictioneers. Read more stories here.

Finding

Bear left years ago.

The town wasn’t big enough, fast enough or alive enough. He slipped out one summer’s night, fifty dollars in his pocket with a sweater and a few pairs of socks in his rucksack.

He walked along dirt roads and highways, hitched rides in wagons and cars, stowed away in freight cars and freighters, picked fruit, washed dishes, mopped floors, played a little piano, spent a few nights in jails, some curled up on benches, more in haylofts, and even more under the night’s starry sky.

When he found what he was looking for, he went home.

 

Prompt courtesy of Velvet Verbosity.

Another Night on the Canal

We were on the other side of the canal, and we couldn’t see the band playing, but we could hear the music all right. We drank beer and smoked and laughed. Then the girls got up and walked to the public bathroom, leaving me all alone in the dark.

The second time they left, I finished my beer and fished in the bag for a replacement, when I looked up, a woman I did not know was standing in front of me.

“Hello,” I said, seeing as she stood right in front of me.

“Hi. How are you?”

I opened the beer, shaking the foam from my fingers.

“I’m fine.”

“Fine?” she said, disappointment curling her mouth at the corners. “You should be more than fine. You should be fantastic.”

I lit a cigarette, exhaled to the side and said fine was just fine with me.

She pouted and stood there, digging her toe and twisting her leg.

“You look lonely,” she said.

“Do I?”

“You’re here all by yourself, of course you look lonely.”

I looked around, nine or ten empty tallboys, three full and upright, crumpled cigarette packs, a few sweatshirts, and two half-open bags surrounding me.

“Oh,” I said. “They’ll be right back.”

I looked down to my right, trying to find my beer, and then realizing it was where I left it, standing in my shoe. When I looked back up the woman was gone and I could hear the music but barely see the band.

Some Kind of Allegory

He had all the mannerisms of the well-practiced liar; leaning forward, easy smile, making sure to keep his hands away from his face, but this last was the tell, the one he hadn’t quite naturalized, and the one Dzinski caught on to right away.

In the half an hour they spoke in his office, Dzinski was sure the man, calling himself Christopher Fairburn, and having the business card to collaborate the story, made no less than five attempts to scratch his chin or nose, but stopped himself, noticeable only by a brief pause as he spoke.

Dzinski smoked and listened to the man talk, and took it for what is was, a fable, something with crows and foxes and rabbits each trying their best to outsmart the others.

These stories usually only ended one way, with each of the characters holding a handful of nothing.

But Fairburn knew his tale, and there was something to the story. It hit all the usual beats, hit them a little too easily, a little too practiced. The delivery was smooth, and he paused at the right moments, to light the small cigarillos he smoked, or to check his watch, or to see if his performance was still on schedule.

When he finished it all, he looked up and asked if he should repeat anything.

“No,” Dzinski said. “I believe I have most of it.”

What he couldn’t figure out was which of the animals this man across from him was supposed to be.

Dog Eared

For the last two weeks, whenever Coyote went out, the talk would turn to books and someone would bring up Davis Walleye and another person or people  would say who, and Coyote’s mood would split between groaning at their lack of knowledge, or getting excited at the possibility of experiencing these stories and their characters for the first time, and he tried to think back, but he couldn’t be sure, if he’d fallen in love with these books at the first words or if it grew, stronger with every turn of the page.

So he’d sip his beer and say nothing.

La Grasse Matinée

cropped-cropped-dzinski-4.jpg

 

Dzinski woke up on the bathroom tile, nose against the sweaty, cold porcelain of the toilet base. His eyes opened and stared at a section at the grout, caked brown, while above his right eye, his head throbbed, harder and deeper than the rest. He turned to his back after calming down from the effort reached up and touched the spot crying louder than the rest and winced. His fingers came away sticky and he started to piece together what happened.

It was only then he noticed the knocking. Until now he thought it was part of the hangover, but this noise came from without. His ears followed it out the bathroom and down the hall and realized it was coming from the front door.

He found the edge of the tub with his left hand, and leveraged himself to a somewhat sitting position and stopped. He had to take this slow. The door kept being pounded and now there was another noise behind it. He listened. It was calling out his name.

Dzinski got to his feet, sat down, hard, his teeth clicking together.

He got up again and bracing himself first against the sink, then the door, then keeping one shoulder against the wall, made his way to the front door and opened it.

“Jesus, Frank,” someone said, “I almost had to kick the damn thing down.”

Dzinski leaned back from the door and obliged the men to enter. They walked in quick, eyes darting from side to side, glancing into the kitchen as they passed, and then lingering in the bathroom. He didn’t need to see them, to know, these types only walked into places one way.

He found them in the living room. Vigneault sat on the couch lighting a cigarette, while Desmarchais leaned against the windowsill, his nose curled up, and pretending not to look around.

“You could have at least brought me a coffee,” Dzinski said, wanting to sit, but standing.

“The captain wants to talk to you,” Vigneault said and after looking at his watch, added, “We were supposed to bring you down half an hour ago.”

“I’m a deep sleeper,” Dzinski said.

Desmarchais made a scoffing sound and Dzinski gave him a red-eyed stare.

“It’s early for all of us,” Vigneault said. “Get yourself cleaned up. But do it fast. Paul here will make us all some coffee, if you have the means.”

Dzinski grumbled something about it being in the kitchen, and him being a detective and all, could likely find it. Then he went to the washroom. He turned the shower on, warm a few minutes and then hot, and then cold for as long as he figured it would take Desmarchais to get the coffee made. He dried and thought about shaving but saw the bump and decided not to stare at himself in a mirror. He dressed and came in the living room to see Vigneault holding a cup towards him.

“Better drink it fast, Frank,” he said.

 

 

 

Back Porch Blues, Too

If he didn’t come in off the back porch, and start helping her with the baby, she didn’t know what she was going to do.

Three times now she’d hollered at him that she had something on the stove and she needed to stand there and stir it, otherwise it wouldn’t set, and what would he say when his gravy was nothing better than brown water, so she couldn’t very well deal with their son crying in the other room, that he probably needed to be changed, and god help him if he just kept sitting out there, ignoring her.

 

 

Companion piece to this.