Thursday, May 26, 2011

Five-Hour Charisma

Phil knelt in the dust on the black and white checkered tile. Tiny bottles lay scattered around his knees.

He took another from the shelf, checked the label. Five-Hour Energy. He dropped it and grabbed another. Five-Hour Energy. Another. Five-Hour Energy.


The clerk fidgeted with his green vest and watched with concern from half around the corner.

“Are you sure, sir, I can’t help you find something?”

“No. No. It’s fine. … I’m sorry. I’ll put them all back when I’m finished.”

Phil felt him hovering.

Five-Hour Energy. Five-Hour Energy. Five-Hour Energy.

A few minutes later, he had cleared the entire row. He sat in the jumble of vials and leaned back against the shelves, his head in his hands.

He looked up at the boy, then down again. His face flushed.

“It was here last week, but I guess you’re all out,” Phil mumbled.

He traced a crack in the tile.

“What are you looking for? We might have some in the back.”

“It’s … Five-Hour Charisma. It was here last week.”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Her Neighborhood

Evelyn stirred the lemon wedge in her iced tea and watched through the window from her wheelchair. The dewy glass left her fingers damp. She wiped them on her dress.
It was hard to superimpose her childhood memories over the neighborhood today. She closed her eyes and pictured Betty skipping rope on the sidewalk across the street.

I went downtown To see Ms. Brown, She gave me a nickel To buy a pickle, The pickle was sour, So I bought a flower. ...
Evelyn opened her eyes, and three teens sat on the steps where Betty had lived. They passed around an amber bottle and catcalled at passerbys. One bent to pick up a chunk of asphalt. He hurled it - hard - at a group huddled on the curb below her window.
His aim was poor: It sailed wide and slammed into the apartment next door.

Friday, May 13, 2011

First Kill

Joe had visited the pawn shop every day that summer to make sure it was still there. He had done extra chores at home, odd jobs for the neighbors, mowed every lawn in a one-mile radius of his house.
Now it was his. He sat on his bed and ran his hand along the polished blue metal barrel. Finally. The Remington 1187 Upland Special. He fingered the swirling leaves engraved on the stock.
“Freaking awesome.”
His mother had forbid him from doing anything but look at it within the town limits, but she promised they would visit Uncle Steve’s farm that weekend.
Thursday and Friday crept by heartbeat by agonizing heartbeat. At 6:30 a.m. Saturday he was dressed and ready, two hours before the rest of his family finished breakfast.
As they pulled into Steve’s driveway, Joe bolted from the car, brandishing his shotgun above his head. He met Steve at the porch.
“Hey! Whoa! What you got there? Lemmie take a look at that.” Steve grinned and turned the weapon over in his hands. He looked down the barrel. “Pow!” He shot an imaginary bird out of the sky.