The Other Woman


[Flash Fiction writing prompt, time = 30 minutes]

Didn’t expect to be here again.

Then again, didn’t expect it to be me standing before her, she, crumpled against the ground, crying. From my position at the height of the stairs I’m looking down at her, legs splayed, black dog on leash to one side, dressed in all black, hair wrapped back tightly. From her vantage I must look menacing.

I wasn’t expecting to be here, like this.

I expected her to be larger.

She continued to wail with her dog in her lap. He didn’t have to introduce me, but I think he did it more for his validation of the moment than everyday cordialities.

This is Karen. Karen, this is Sam.”

That was my cue to descend stairs and leave. I had a fleeting thought to tell him to call me, but of course he can call me. We just made up a week ago. Tonight was our first night together since the fight.

I tightened Bob’s leash and circled around the pile of woman and her dog, both of them too immersed in their drama to notice or care of my leaving. Leaving I was doing, freeing myself of any incident.

The hardest part was bringing myself back to consciousness. I had two bowls of his stew and rice in my stomach, I was high, I was well on my way to 4th stage sleep when he woke me. I pressed the heels of my hands into my eyes, coaxing moisture from the reserves, switching to my purse to get the eye drops. Fuck I hate driving like this.

Perhaps I wasn’t moving fast enough. I heard his voice approaching the car, but it was his typical admonishment of the dog. Her dog that lived with him while she was “finding herself,” the same dog I’ve grown fond of and enjoyed caring for. She had broken loose and ran towards my car. Does she think this is another one of our car rides? I felt him pacing. He needed me to leave. I needed to wake up. Finally, I twisted the headlamps on. I’m going, I’m going.

My last sight was of he and she entering the courtyard with the dog.

I eased the car up Roosevelt, down the boulevard, across Hempstead, down Chester, over onto my street, and back to the house. Bob was confused. He was used to staying the night. He was happy to be asleep on top of him. Why are we here?

I wasn’t expecting to be there when this day came, but I’m glad he wasn’t alone when she appeared. That’s the heaviest strike one woman can lay upon another without touching; face-to-face with the physical embodiment of his moving on.


Eviction Number Four

Police knock at the front door.

The lock is picked.

“Sheriff’s Office!”

I scurry to the bathroom and press into the far left corner. If he opens fire, I’ll be out of range.

This will be Eviction Number Four, in the two years I’ve lived here.

The first eviction seemed legitimate. A couple, young, brash, drug-riddled, constantly assaulting each other. I didn’t report them but I’m sure old Miss Doris did. The second was weird. She was a God-fearing woman, who adorned her door knock with a small, wooden plaque, the word “Faith” carved in beautiful cursive. I never saw her, nor heard her. Just the one moment in time, walking up the stairs after running errands, seeing a large woman with sad eyes and quiet voice tell the landlord, “I thought she paid this time.” She was gone before the week was over.

The third was a disappointment. A young family, a smiling, eager father in his 20s, holding and adoring a freshly born baby. If there was a mother figure, I never saw her. For a baby living next door, he never cried at inopportune times. I was able to type for hours at my writing desk, sleep through the night. The father and I passed each other on several occassions in the common space of the brownstone, and he always smiled towards me. And then, without warning, he and the baby boy were gone.

Which brings us to Eviction Number Four. College kids. The nearby liberal arts college is an expensive campus to live on, so I wasn’t surprised to see the collegiate set moving in with us retired folk. A breath of fresh air, really. Nothing is more hopeful to engage than a mind open to new ideas. But these four men turned out to be idiots. I encountered them in the parking lot passing a football between each other, lobbing the ball purposefully out of reach as to intentionally strike the cars in the parking lot. The football bounced off the top of the van parked by my vehicle. I fumed, and I reminded them there was over a hundred yards of open field right behind the brownstone, maybe take their touch game back there? Or were they able to afford repairs to my luxury car? Pointing out their ineptitude and its cost should they continue, they slunk back into the building. Very all or nothing, this generation. A few raucous parties, expected. One evening after a late writing session I couldn’t fall asleep due to the incessant chattiness of one houseguest, which thankfully, one of them took her down, shifting her pointless prattle into sexually-induced moans. But it was the dog that got them.

Out on the balcony one morning, I saw one of the men running around the building, being chased by an energetic brown dog. Oh good, a friend for Bobby. Not too soon after that sighting did I receive a call from the landlord, asking if I had my dog. Yes, he’s here. And you have two dogs, correct? No, just the one. She had to remind me Bear was dead. Soon after, the eviction notice was pasted to the door, and now, this morning’s visit by the sheriff.

It must be me.


Shake My Hand Like A Man

Yesterday Bobby and I walked over to the path we usually take around the lake. Sitting on a stoop, presumably waiting on the omnipresent Fred, was an unfamiliar person. I, always quick to assess my environs and collect information on hangers about, approached him, letting Bobby sniff him up. The man was not fighting off Bobby, but he also wasn’t too excited to be bomb-sniffed by a cocker spaniel. We entered into the three Southern Black American exchanges:

FIRST: How you doin’? I’m doin’ alright.

SECOND: My name’s Von, what’s your name? Miller.

I extended my hand towards Miller, clasped his, and shook it, expecting reciprocal pressure and shake. Instead, I flicked a limp, seemingly boneless arm, feeling much like flicking a water hose to detangle. In my head I thought, you call that a handshake?

Just as I thought it, Miller commented, “You got an arm on ya, now!”

And then, THIRD: You got a man?

I decided upon that weak ass handshake of Miller’s to expand on his question. Are you asking me if I got a man, or if I AM a man?

He really did offer a look of complete uncertainty.

Come on, Bobby. Miller, nice to meet you. Tell Fred I said hello.

Miller called after me, something about putting Bobby on a leash. I shrugged my shoulders, ‘Why?’ and kept it moving.

Today, Be Grateful

Original Post Date September 11, 2013 at 11:05 AM

The author has way too much to smile about these days.

20130829_191228What a gorgeous day! Do you feel that breeze? Mmm, smell that salty Gulf water. Isn’t life grand?

Of course it is. Which makes writing action sequences with intense hate-fueled violence increasingly difficult. I mean really, how can I describe the bones in one’s face crumbling when I have this brilliant gold sunshine bursting over my shoulder?

Been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. I’m grateful that I can have such a dilemma as my creative one. It’s all unicorns and rainbows for me, now almost two years living on the Gulf coast, embodying the Salt Life as my own. It wasn’t too long ago that my mind, spirit and body were riddled with uncertainty. That era, thankfully, an unfamiliar place now. Although Bobby T recently reminded me what that place was like.

Bob and I enjoy three constitutionals a day, on average. A couple of evenings ago, he signaled walk time with a strategic bump of my hand off of my wireless keyboard. I strapped on his harness and we headed down to the lake. At the foot of the tree to our left, Bobby pounced on what I figured was yet another anole. He lifted his paw and revealed a very disoriented, very LARGE cicada. He motioned as if he was going to leave it alone, but it buzzed its wings, which signaled Bobby to suck it up in his mouth. Eww! was my immediate reaction. But then again, dogs be dogs.

I would say we got midpoint along the path by the lake when Bobby T made a customary stop. Instead of lifting his leg, he opened his mouth and released the cicada, very much alive and disturbed at this point. I ordered Bobby to leave it, and he did, but the cicada messed up. It defiantly buzzed its wings. Which made Bobby circle back and inhale it once more.

We arrive at the end point where I usually double back to the house, and Bobby made one more stop. He spat out the cicada. This time I pulled Bobby away from it so it could flit off. But it was too late. The fight in the bug was no more.

“Bobby! You treated that bug like a plaything. Holding it in your mouth just because you could. You’re a torturer, a bully! Where did you learn that kind of oh okay I get it now.”

The errors of my past played out in front of me by my own dog. He didn’t even know me then. I took it as a sign from the Universe, a quiet reminder of the person I allowed myself to be, who I was conditioned to believe was acceptable, who earned a reputation for disturbing and disorienting.

Grateful. Grateful that it is all rainbows and unicorns and black dogs with an eerie knack for interpretive philosophy.