Your fiction “The Details” is sooo good. I really enjoyed reading it :)
Did you know you sent me this message 5 times? You must have really liked it! At any rate, I’m glad. Thank you so much, means everything to me.
Sometimes I have these dreams. I dream of crazy things, and the next morning I tell Carl. He always says something like, “Deb, you’re making something out of nothing,” and then I remind him that that’s when I been doing with him for years. He usually shuts up and I laugh. He always makes little remarks here and there, but I don’t pay attention. I just watch the TV. I always joke that, if I didn’t have the TV, I’d probably go crazy.
Not long ago, I had a dream that I won the lottery, and all the old timers at the corner store told me that you’ve got to play at least three times if you dream of the lottery. Actually I don’t remember if it was three times or three days, but I haven’t had time to play three days in a row. I had that dream a week ago. I’ve played twice since then.
Carl, he doesn’t work. Bad back. He’s never seen a doctor about it, but then we haven’t had the money for a visit. I know he’s telling the truth though. He grits his teeth just to sit on the toilet. We don’t even sleep in bed together because he usually can’t get up from the couch. Plus, we haven’t made love in five years. If he was some hornball, but magically couldn’t get his back working for a job, then I’d be skeptical, but I look pretty good for my age—my ass has gotten a little flat, but it’s still nicer than anything Carl ever had before he met me—so unless he’s getting something on the side when I’m at work, I think he’s honest.
I work at a restaurant at the big strip mall in town. Mostly I stay in the back and cut up chickens and steaks, but once a week the manager has me waitressing. That way, he can pay me less than minimum wage, but for five bucks an hour plus half my tips, I don’t complain. Between that and Carl’s welfare checks, we’re okay. Carl doesn’t even need to get food stamps because I bring so much back at the end of the night.
* * *
I finally played the lottery for the third time. It’s been a month, but I been busy. I can’t help it. Actually, this third time crossed over with a dream I had last night. So maybe it’s my first time for this new dream… I’m not sure. Nobody at the corner store could tell me straight. All I know is that I always follow my dreams. It’s all a person can do, right?
I quit my job. Carl was pissed. He was on the couch, as usual, when I told him. Earlier, just before my lunch break, I was in the middle of trimming some fat from a pork loin when the manager came in and pinched my titty, then he got fresh with me. Honestly, with Carl’s back and all, it actually kind of excited me. But that was still way over the line, so I cut a slit in the pork loin and threw it at him; I told him to go fuck it and my bullshit ‘waitressing’ job.
“You quit?” Carl said. We were in the living room, watching a game show.
“I had to,” I said.
“So you don’t have any dinner?”
“That bastard just about raped me, Carl. Don’t you care?”
“Deb, I care that we ain’t gonna be able to pay the rent.”
“Don’t be so dramatic. We’ll be alright. We always are,” I smiled.
“Plus,” I said, “I told you about the dreams I’ve had!”
“About the lottery?” Carl said. “Holy shit.”
He stopped talking for a while and rubbed at his head. He got up from his chair, then finally said, “Deb, you’re a dumb cunt.”
“What was that?” I asked. “You shot up pretty fast for a man with a bad back.”
I stood up and looked him in the eye. He’d never called me a name like that. Not in seventeen years.
“You dumb cunt,” he said again.
Before I could go on, Carl threw back his hand and slapped me. I fell backward into the TV. There were a few sparks.
“If your manager’s flirting with you, it’s probably just to get even with me; I been fucking his wife for close to five years.”
My head hurt. I turned around and saw that the TV’s screen had cracked. It was broken. After a while, all I could do was look up at Carl. He was staring down at me like I was a muddy footprint in the carpet. Almost in a daze, I got up quickly and went straight to bed. I didn’t sleep well that night. Stirred around a lot. I think I got up once.
* * *
My lawyer, his name is William. He’s a really nice guy. I explained to him that I couldn’t remember anything. I just remembered having bad dreams that night. Every time I go on about that, William stops me. He just tells me to hush; he doesn’t need to hear the details. He tells me that, given this is my first offense of any kind, plus what he calls ‘a case of nothing but mitigating circumstances’, I might not have to do any jail time. He says that, even though it was a violent crime, my judge is pretty lenient with girls. William says I’ll probably have to do a long probation period and some kind of mental-health shit, but that’s alright.
I still haven’t seen the lottery results for that last night I played. Nobody in the holding tank remembers seeing the numbers. The last time I saw William, I told him about the dreams. He was already halfway down the hallway, and I had to beg a guard to grab him for me. I told the guard it was important, that it’d be a huge favor. The guard winked at me when I said that, but what did I care? Hell, at this point, even some fat old jail guard’s prick is better than none. And he did get William for me. That was when I told him about the dreams. I asked him to go to the house and look at the ticket for me. I told him where the spare key was hid, and he said he would go look for me right away.
That was three weeks ago. I haven’t heard back from him yet.
nothing will hurt.
“What’s alternative housing?” I asked my public defender.
“That’s what you’re being offered for a plea deal. It means you don’t have to go to jail,” she said, putting her hair up into a ponytail.
“But the judge said I had no criminal intent?”
“That’s why we think she’ll accept this plea, Mr. Anderson.”
“But what is alternative housing?” I asked again.
“It is housing that is alternative to a normal building. It’s not house arrest and it’s not jail, which is the only important thing for you, that’s it’s not jail.”
“But… I didn’t… I don’t…”
“Listen,” she said, “It’s the best deal you’re going to get, understand? Aggravated assault can carry up to twenty years upstate. You’re only looking at eleven and a half to twenty-three months in the alternative housing.”
“I guess that’s good?”
“It’s the best you’ll get, Mr. Anderson, yes. I think you should take the offer. That’s what I would advise.”
I was given a list of alternative housing units to contact, and thirty days to comply with my sentence. I’d call one of them, they’d let me in, and the sentence would start. That didn’t sound so bad. Easy, actually.
None of the places accepted me. They said assaults weren’t allowed to do alternative housing. Then why was I sentenced to it? Clearly there was a mistake. I called the public defender, but she didn’t pick up. I left a message asking what I could do. She’d mentioned house arrest before, so I asked if that was possible. I had ten days to revoke my plea. I waited. The public defender returned my call twelve days later and told me that house arrest was an option. It was either that or jail. She told me to show up on the day of my sentence compliance and that, together, we would talk to the judge.
The thirty days passed. I went to the judge’s courtroom, but the judge was seeing cases on up another level of the building. That made sense, because the public defender wasn’t in the courtroom, either; she must have been on the other level, with the judge, waiting for me. I took an elevator up. The public defender still wasn’t around, and the judge had no idea who I was. A deputy took me by the arm and told me to go with him. I was pretty sure he wasn’t taking me to see my public defender. As we walked, I asked him what an alternative housing was. He said it was a halfway house. Well, at least I had heard of that.
I asked the deputy where we were going. He didn’t say anything.
the sun will never need the flowers
the flowers will always need the sun.
When I landed I could see the palm trees, the first I’d ever seen in my life. I’d flown in to pitch a script, a short piece about a Frenchman obsessed with American cowboys, at a film market in Santa Monica. Leaving the airport, I saw Micheal Cera was waiting to board a plane to France.
The motel, Los Sueños Perdidos, was colored the same pastel-shit hues as every other building in southern California. Going inside, it was worse than I thought it’d be, but the price was still right. Entering the room, I noticed blood on the curtains and the ‘ON’ button of the oscillating fan. Roaches hid under the bed when I hit the lights.
The film market was the next morning. Nobody was interested; the recession was in full swing. Everybody selling, nobody buying. Only one producer was willing to talk to me.
The producer and I went to lunch. We spoke and I was charming; we laughed and had good conversation over our tuna melts. Then he asked me, “Why should I buy this script?”
I froze. My charm wore off. I said nothing and he saw I had nothing to say. I quietly finished my tuna melt.
I didn’t go to the market the next day. Instead I walked to Muscle Beach and watched the people strutting as the Autumn sun sludged by. All hoping for the same dreams, all wanting to live forever. They were all so ugly.
With nothing else to do for the rest of my trip, I took all of my clothes off, threw them on the beach, and walked into the Pacific ocean. From the cold water I could still see the palm trees.
He couldn’t get a job but he still drank. She approached him like she would a hurt lion and dragged him to bed; at least he’d lost weight.
They met on a cruise, married days later. He hardly knew her but that was the appeal. She got ill soon after the honeymoon. Prostate cancer.
She loved him because he was alive; he was truly alive in a way most people weren’t. That was what she said at his service, anyway.
“Are you awake?” he asked.
“I love you.”
He should have said it while she was awake. She left for England a couple weeks later.
Her skirt was covered in blood.
“Wanna try again?” she pleaded.
He said, “No,” gave her ten dollars, and dropped her off at the hospital.
“Are you from Hollywood?” he asked.
“Me? No I’m not.”
“Really? I could have swore you were!”
He didn’t swear, but I will. What the fuck.
Surprisingly, the deer was fine. Jay was not.
The car was still running when they found him in the rain.
Winning contests, awards, getting into magazines, he was steadily becoming an admired writer. If only that dishwasher job would call back.
She was so damn beautiful, he thought. So fragile. He parked the car in the woods. Later, driving back, he dumped his clothes at a landfill.
He was still on the ground in the morning. His jaw hurt. They were both gone; he was alone. He’d never been so proud of his son, though.
Davis has two million dollars and a lot of luggage tags; the only place he hadn’t been in months was home. The FBI still hadn’t caught up.
Like Lazarus, he lived after death; unlike Lazarus, he was wanted in three states for statutory rape. That’d made his ‘suicide’ necessary.
The jury decided and the judge sentenced him: five hundred years. With good behavior, he thought, he might get out in two hundred and fifty.
CERN scientists said they’d found the God particle, “the key to everything.” Later, one of them was mugged. Nothing had changed that much.
The phone rang, waking him from a nightmare. “We want you to be a pallbearer. She would’ve liked that.” He hung up and went back to sleep.
She could only get herself 302ed so often before people thought she just craved attention and hospital beds. She decided to try harder.
You can beat the devil or you can beat God, but not both, he thought to himself as he made up his bed and blinked at the sun.
Some of these stories originally appeared on Nanoism.net over the last few months.
After I work the bag, I look down at my knuckles and take it in— if they are cut, bleeding, and bruised, I stop; if not, I breathe in deeply, close my eyes, and hit harder. I know that’s not the right way to do it. I don’t care. This is the only way I can do anything. I wear it down and watch it crumble in on itself. I wait to see the change. I keep going until it is ruined, until it is beyond repair— not because I hate what it once was, but because I want to see what it will become.
co-written with Andrew Hays
“What broke the camel’s back with your family?” I asked.
“Eh,” Sam shrugged. “I took on the board at my job, lost it; family got shouting, crazies like me get to shouting back; pills; no job, then looking for a job; finally everyone acted like going crazy was my fault. Crazy’s such a no win these days.”
“I’m sure there was more to it than that. You do get volatile, man.”
“No fucking kidding. I’m glad I have highs and lows; always gonna take that over being lukewarm… But shit man, I just wasn’t born for these times.”
We were on a roof, both staring out at a sky that wasn’t going anywhere, just like us. Sam roped his fingers together on top of his head, pulling back greasy blond curls. He was in pain. I felt bad for feeling nothing, as I had for a long time. I hadn’t felt much of anything in over a year and I couldn’t pin it down. A cloud of guilt hung over me despite the fact I had no remorse, joy, or sorrow. I was a rusty robot. I was fucking useless.
Finally I said, “You can’t get away from this shit though. No time’s the right time but it’s always the same place. We’re always here, with these same people.”
Sam winced. “That’s always been the counterpoint to the disillusioned, Fred, but when the disillusioned are this many, are we so wrong? And when the times contraindicate the creative, is it really our fault for feeling so put out? These sentiments help nothing, but nothing helps these sentiments. I feel like a wine glass filled with corks, dude.”
Of course he felt that way. So did I, but it was useless. I was too tired of battling overdue rent and electricity shutoff notices to worry about life. If life was fucking Sam over, living was fucking me.
I said, “Well, either you let the big worries swallow you, or you bury them in smaller ones. It all goes on with or without you, y’know?”
“Yeah,” Sam nodded. “The everyone damned thing has to just go in favor of art, I guess. No point in moaning about it now.”
“It’s just kind of a big shrug for me at this point. I mean, how bad can it get? And if Hell is at the bottom, who would have been stupid enough to stick all the sinners in one place? Who would ever let us hang out again?”
Sam smiled at that. We got off the roof, went through the attic, taking a few things with us. Sam went out the window we’d gone into, then me. We climbed back down the tree.