Trigger warning – violence, graphic depiction: please read with your own safety in mind.
I would have rather walked. Despite the early spring chill, I longed for a refreshing hike.
I parked, feeling the tires’ dread an inch from a small grit burn. They needn’t have gone through this existential horror except that I had so many quarters to rid myself of.
Standing at the roadside, the long–necked animal swallowed my change. It ate eagerly, one by one, and in turn showed all that I was an honest person with no proclivity for petty crime.
I waited for the meter to down the last coin with a metallic gulp. After it squawked happily, I climbed back behind the wheel and drove home so I could take the walk I desired instead.
No dogs on the bridge. No bikes either, for that matter. But definitely no dogs without leashes. That’s how they get you: you say, dogs without leashes, we can cross that bridge when we get there. All of a sudden, you can’t cross with the dog, so, you ditch the leash and boom, you’ve violated the sacred oath. No dogs without leashes.
Elt tripped over his thoughts stepping into the light, swinging against the weight of his gun. The matte black Impala soaked in afternoon sun while waiting for backwoods dust to settle. The thick pine wood isolated the road in a semi-circle around them. Elt didn’t think he needed the piece, but it made him feel good – powerful.
“Even when we go to the fucking McDonald’s, he’s ordering oatmeal.” Mosely didn’t retort, just grunted back at Elt’s whining. Elt always did the talking. Mosely knew these jobs made Elt nervous. Mosely liked his job. He pretended Elt’s monologues beset him, but despite the squealing pitch, Elt could find humor in the long pauses of their job that gave Elt the creeps. Elt figured it didn’t bother him, but never tempted fate over the line.
“I mean who does that? Pretentious prick.”
Elt eyed the meadow between the trees and the woods suspiciously. He flicked the safety of his piece on and off, then stopped when he got nervous that he’d lost track of where he left off.
“Alright, flip for it?” Elt tried not to sound too casual. Mosely took the bait. He left his wide frame straight on as he turned to side eye Elt. Heat from the Impala filled the space between them. That’s the closest Elt got to confirmation. He called “tails” on the quarter pinging through the air.
He smacked the quarter over and allowed himself a slanted smile, “I win.” Again, he timbered his voice to stay even. If he knew one thing from jail that stayed true no matter what, don’t piss off the big guy. Especially when you only made it up to 180 pounds soaking wet. Mostly grease.
Mosely grunted and uncocked the gun he had resting at his hip. If it wasn’t the cops, it was the farmers. If it wasn’t the farmers, it was Elt’s pale, pretty face and screeching to ruin a good job. Not sadness, but something relative to Mosely, pagned a bit at the thought of the loss.
It may be legend, or perhaps fact, Ernest Hemingway is said to have been challenged to write a story in six words. Now, a popular practice in academia and in casual on a so-titled subreddit.
The end of the year is festive, whether you actively participate or, like me, soak in the air of optimism and exuberance – either way, good for reflection. I challenge my readers, if you’d like, to write your own six words about your year. Here’s something thoughtful about mine:
In media res, late or lucky?
All the best,
A rose in the garden grows ever sweeter. Lovely white petals soften a thorny demeanor. Though twinkling between twilights its pale beauty casts gloom; a baneful silk shadow by light of the moon. Safe in the small hours, but deadly at dawn: the buds draw in, the thorns begin to yawn. If stung in the light there's no time to feel sick. The petals glow red as blood from the prick. Forget your family, your life, and your friends. Off to a new garden you roam to make amends. To his mistress, the moon, the rose does take. Another stranger - a sacrifice - for his mistake. You won't wonder or think. Your mind has gone. As you lie and wait for the last light has shone. When daylight has faded; now covered in dirt. You twist and tangle as stems with white flowers, from your skin, begin to spurt.
Passed around the campfire, like cold whiskey rye, has long been a story of a river boat on high. A siren on a Saturday in line with a row of smoke. Chugging through the Mississippi where fools rock the boat. Crying, "don't you believe me!" "Well, what's it take?" A half soul and three pence for a jug and icing on the cake. The sirens wailing, said, "come have some fun." Those sailors jumped right in; danced to the sinking sun. Hootin' and hollerin' to the wild wicked moon. As crazed as dog bane, but you'll sure pay soon. Up came the toll - hat passed around. The sailors had nothing, not a soul to be found. That's what yah' get, boys, when you give the devil due, but he's a fair poker; now you'll be too. Folks don't believe me when I tell my wary tale. Those damned rosewater's for a night of glutton and ale. Mark my words clearly, when you see a ship of white turn stern and flee or work the Devil's shift all night.