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The Heist

Ceiling Tiles

Dally isn’t sure what the ceiling is made of. It’s a tile ceiling, but not the same tiles as the ones on the floor. The ones on the floor are made of… rocks of some sort. Probably. Dally isn’t sure what the floor tiles are made of either, now that he thinks of it. Truth be told, Dally isn’t sure of much today. It’s a stressful day. His freedom hyperbolically hangs in the balance and all he can do is play the waiting game, at least for now. The room is only on the second floor, and the window next to the bed is right above the parking lot. He’ll know when the car rolls in, in fact he’ll be the first to know. So until then… what is the ceiling made of? The tiles are white, and the material has nooks and crannies in it, it’s not flat. Not perfectly solid. Some kind of plaster maybe? Probably couldn’t walk on it. You’d have to be pretty small to even attempt it, the ceilings in this place aren’t thick. One could probably hide stuff up there if one was so tempted. Dally is tempted to hide himself in the ceiling, but he knows that wouldn’t work. The floor would be covered in bits of ceiling tile, it would be a dead giveaway.

No, he has to face this thing head on. The car is on its way, the heist is officially in motion, and the plan is a good plan. There’s really nothing to worry about. But yet…

Laying on the bed isn’t helping, ceiling be damned. Dally swings his legs away from the window and forces himself to stand. He walks into the corner of the room that functions as a kitchen and dips the tip of his pinky finger into the coffee. Cold.

“It’s going to work, it was Sally’s idea and Sally is smart. Otherwise your niece would be a demon, and she’s not a demon. It’s going to wo–”

Tires crunch pebbles into asphalt as the car rolls into the parking lot. Dally peeks through the window – yep, it’s them. He assumes his position on the couch. Not much time left now… so what are those ceiling tiles made of?

Mom’s Coffee Mug

“Whose coffee mug is that?”

Miss Gretta’s sitting on the edge of the bed. Her back is all hunched up. Her jaw is hanging low, swaying ever so slightly in the breeze blowing in through the window. She’s not pointing – the woman needs all her strength to hold herself upright unless she’s sitting in a chair with a back, and even then she slouches down – but there’s only one coffee she could be talking about.

“You don’t recognize the Tigger mug, Mom? Melinda gave it to you last Christmas, you use it every day.” Dally hops up off the couch and picks up the mug. “Yikes, feels like it’s cold. You must have poured this before you and Sally went out this morning.”

“Me and Sally…” Miss Gretta mumbles, then she licks her lips. “Yeah, me and Sally went to pick up Melinda. Sally said they were coming over for visit.”

In a way it really kills him, but Dally still forces himself to smile. “I think you heard it wrong, Mom,” as he pours the cold sludge down the drain. “You and Sally went for breakfast this morning, now she’s dropping you off so she can go pick Melinda up from her piano lesson.”

Miss Gretta looks around. “But what are you doing here?”

This smile hurts less. “Well I heard the girls were coming for a visit, so I thought I’d stop by too.”

“The girls are here??”

“One is,” as Sally walks in. “Dallas, what are you doing with Mom’s coffee mug?”

Dally turns on the sink and fills the mug, then starts swishing the water around. “She made coffee before you two left, it’s cold. I’m’a make her a new cup.” He arbitrarily hits buttons on the coffee maker next to the sink. “Sallas.”

“Oh, all right. Good.” Sally looks to her mom, then back to her brother. “Good. I um, I’m going to go pick up Melinda. I’ll be back soon, and um… we can all have a nice visit.”

“That sounds like a wonderful time,” Dally says, but he’s not smiling anymore. Nor is he facing anybody, just himself in the little mirror hanging over the sink. Coffee falls through the filter and into the pot, drop by drop.

“Well what about me?” Miss Gretta asks. Sally had almost gotten to the door, too. Just a few more steps would have done it.

Dally turns around and the room brightens. “What about you, Mah? I know Sally’s the golden child, but we can hang out just you and me for a few minutes, can’t we?”

Miss Gretta looks about the room. First to Sally’s face, then to Dally’s. Then about the room again. “But… but what are you doing here, Dally?”

Playfully rolling his eyes gives Dally a headache, but he does it nonetheless. It’s a good plan, it’s going to work. “What, am I not allowed to visit my own Mah?” He turns to face Sally. “Hey, can I get a word before you go?”

Sally looks at her mom. Her mom looks blankly about the room. “Sure. Come on.”

A Visit

Miss Gretta’s sitting on the edge of her bed. Her back is all hunched up, but at least she’s not slouching. Her mouth is hanging open, but not because she can’t close it. She’s just confused, poor old Miss Gretta. She’s in her living room sitting on a bed, but usually she sits in an old rocking chair. And the walls aren’t blue anymore, they’re beige. The area rug is gone, too, and somebody took up her nice hardwood floor and replaced it with tile. The funny thing is, Miss Gretta doesn’t remember any of the work getting done. There are a lot of things Miss Gretta doesn’t remember these days, but Miss Gretta is getting up there. She supposes forgetfulness is just part of the aging process – when her mind feels up to supposing things, that is – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Something starts beeping across the room. It’s the mug, the odd yellow coffee mug with the happy tiger on it, it’s… no, it’s the coffee machine next to the mug. Where did that coffee mug come from?

“Whose coffee mug is that?”

“You don’t recognize the Tigger mug, Mom?” Dally asks as he walks in from the hallway. “Melinda gave it to you last Christmas, you use it every day.”

“Oh, oh that’s… yes, that’s right. Me and Sally went to pick up Melinda. Sally said they were coming over for a visit.”

Dally is smiling, but Miss Gretta doesn’t think the smile is a very happy smile. She starts looking about the room so she doesn’t have to look at it.

Dally says, “I think you heard it wrong, Mom,” then explains where Sally is. Miss Gretta asks Dally what he’s doing here. He looks into the little mirror hung above the sink. “Well I heard the girls were coming for a visit, so I thought I’d stop by too.”


Hello Commons, this has been The Heist, the flash fiction story attached to the Tigger mug from rePurpp, the official store of The Hillside Commons. Click here to go to the store and check it out for yourself.

I also write fiction books, all of which you can read for free on my website. Click here to see the list.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Deji – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (6/82)

Universe W-78: Beautiful Minds 2
Deji

Old Friends

A warm breeze rustles Deji’s spiky black hair. The crescent moon glows a gloomy orange through a hazy layer of clouds as mist spills down and coats the surface of the reservoir. All the candy in the world couldn’t beat this, a peaceful summer’s night on the dam.

With his back leaned against the cold concrete divider, Deji sits in the shadow of a streetlight with a busted-out bulb. The working streetlights to his right and left provide Deji with just enough light to see in front of him, yet there’s enough darkness for his eyes to pick up the stars; the lake has never looked more beautiful than it does right now.

A car drives by and beams bright lights out of its windows, an army of photons marching in step right over Deji’s head. He hears a voice calling out, “Dee-Jay! Dee-Jay, where are you?”

Where indeed; there not but there, existing unseen as one with the inky blackness of the night that so many admonish for lack of understanding. Not our Deji though; the darkness has always been a second home for him. It accepts him, understands him.

The calling fades as the search party drives further and further away. Whoever DJ is, Deji sure hopes he’ll be okay.

Shortly after the air slows to a calm, it’s shattered into pieces by a sportscar of some kind coming from the opposite direction as the last car. Had they passed each other? The resulting wind reaches over the divider and gently taps Deji on the head. He smiles and looks down to the end of the bridge to watch the headlights follow the road back into the forest. Maybe that was DJ, tearing asphalt on his way home from some nightclub mere moments after his family left to go looking for him. A distant streetlight shakes as the car rumbles by.

Deji has quite a history with this dam, he used to go for midnight jaunts to this very spot with his old gang of friends all the time. They would meet up in the woods and play together all day just to sneak out at night and go for their long, serene strolls above the water. They were all so close, Deji shared everything with his friends… except for his candy. Deji’s caretakers would never let him share his candy, not even with his roommate Koncho.

“Koncho takes his own candy,” the caretakers would always tell him. “Your candy can’t help him, Deji. It’s only good for you.” Don’t they know that sharing is caring?

A motorcycle passes. The rumble from the muffler tickles the inside of Deji’s ears. He’s always liked being in spots where nobody could see him, it makes him feel safer. Less alone. Maybe DJ drives a motorcycle, that would be radical.

Deji looks down to the other end of the bridge and the shaky streetlamp goes out with a flash of light when the biker leaves it in his dust. Deji hears the biker pick up speed before he hits the steep uphill of the mountain road.

‘Uh oh,’ Deji thinks to himself. ‘It’s about to get dark.’

Deji hears voices coming from the forest on the other side of the dam, the side that he came from. Very faint voices, echoes really, the whines of a tribe of concerned humans. Deji scrunches down a few inches further below the concrete divider as a big truck with booming music flies by, what a busy night. On his right side, a little yellow frog crawls out of a crack in the sidewalk and leaps over the divider into the road. When Deji peeks over the divider, the frog is gone. Maybe DJ is a missing pet frog, what a twist that would be.

Unperturbed, Deji sits back down and gazes out across the water. He’s used to seeing things that aren’t there, or rather, things that the other humans can’t see. Nobody could see his friends but him; well, him and his parents. His parents never liked his friends though, they would always try to keep them apart.

By the same effect, Deji’s friends would always tell him not to eat the candy his parents gave him, and Deji would often listen. The candies are kind of nasty anyway, they never taste like anything. His parents didn’t like that though, and neither do the caretakers – it’s been quite a few years since Deji’s seen his parents. Even longer since he’s seen his old friends.

A pair of effervescent eyes peek through the trees near the peak of the mountain, catching Deji by surprise. Headlights probably, and they’re coming down the road in his direction, too. He scrunches down further in anticipation, but… nothing. A few minutes pass and they never hit the bridge. Where did they go? Did they accidentally run DJ over?

Deji scans the dark mouth of the bridge, waiting for the car, for movement, anything. Another streetlight goes out, the furthest one, the one closest to his home.

Then another, and another.

He looks back towards the other side of the bridge and the same thing happens, one by one down the row the streetlights go out with a brilliant flash. Darkness encroaches down the bridge towards Deji, leaving him surrounded, stranded alone on an isle of the unknown that is swiftly being swallowed up by a tsunami of oily blackness. But… is it the unknown?

A knowing smile spreads across Deji’s face. “Hello old friends, I’ve missed you.”

The last two streetlights go out.

Fin


Hello Commons, this has been the second story from the second chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

A Decent Man

I Hope She Lis’ens

“I sure hope she ain’t gonna get mad with me again.”

A peaceful June night in the wooded hills of Wuester – the bugs and bats singing their omnipresent songs, the full moon shining its lustrous silver beams through gaps in the canopy, the clumsiness of a fawn following its new mother across a road for the first time to have a sip of cool water from the big pond over yonder – is devastated, nay, utterly obliterated by the harsh screech of hot rubber tires painting the black asphalt blacker as Jack’s pickup swerves off the road and into a tree. Entirely out of compulsion he pulled the emergency break and swung the wagon around, which was very lucky, else the old oak tree would have caught the engine rather than just the passenger door. The truck herself is fine, the music’s still playin’ just fine, too. Silverado, a gift from The Marshall Tucker Band. The live version, no jokin’. Just listening to it once you can feel the passion in Doug Gray’s voice. Jack’s gift for Brandy isn’t damaged, either.

“I got ‘er a gift, she cain’t get mad with me. I just…” He shakes his head. “I hope she lis’ens when I tell‘er what happened.”

Jack disengages the e-break and goes about maneuvering his truck Shirley off of the old oak, which is still standing by the way. And he didn’t hit either of the deer. It all could have been much worse, and if Jack had been drinking?

Jack sighs. “Prob’ly don’t even matter, we think what we want. Don’t matter what we’re shown these days. Lord have mercy, I don’t want t’clout her none but Lord I will if I must.” He looks out at the street. Nobody’s coming this way or going that way. The deer are long gone. Jack sighs again, less fondly this time. “I jus’ hope she lis’ens.”

The Egg

The starved chirping of baby chicks wakes Brandy from the sleep that stole over her. She sits up straight and rubs the left side of her face. It’s covered with grooves from the ice pack and the side of the couch… oh well. Can’t look worse than it did last weekend. Still hurts like a sour pisser, too.

“Come on now Brand’, bitchin’ ain’t gonna make it any better.” Then, as she tosses the blanket off and sits up, “Up we go.”

Brandy slaps her thighs and rises to her feet, then ambles slowly to the kitchen, grabbing the ice pack on the way in. It’s not quite warm to the touch, but the gel inside definitely isn’t icy anymore. She rubs her face again… the lump is totally gone, and the bruise has faded considerably, but then again it was never really the bruise that hurt. Right now it’s her ears that hurt, for the love a’God why did she buy this cheesy timer from that new secondhand shop on the other side of town?

“You know damn well why, Brandy,” Brandy says to herself as she clicks the egg timer off. A long sigh. “Because it’s right next to the liquor store, and he said he wudn’t goin’ to the liquor store no more.”

Dirty yellow headlights sweep past the window, giving Brandy’s shadow cause to glide gleefully across the wall.

“And speakin’ of the sour pisser.” She clears her sinuses into her mouth and spits the haul into the sink, but doesn’t wash it down. “See how that likes ya.”

As Brandy is sitting back down on the couch, Jack opens the squeaky door and climbs up into the trailer with what else but a black plastic bag hanging from his fat fingers. He doesn’t smell like booze like he usually does, but there’s only one store in town that Brandy’s been to that uses those black plastic bags, and the clerk told Brandy they get them from the liquor store.

Swamped

“Well hello there, Jackson,” Brandy hisses, scornful as ever, soon as Jack sets foot in his home. Now, Jack may be the son of a Jack – by a technicality – but Brandy knows damn well that Jack ain’t no son to no father. That spineless whore of a man di’n’t even show up for his son’s birth, but that’s just fine. Jack’s been just fine without him, ain’t nobody need that sorry bastard. Ain’t nobody.

“Brandy, now you know I don’t like you callin’ me that.” He hasn’t even got to shut the door yet. “Now I know you see this bag in my hand an’ I know whatch’er thinkin’, but it’s a gift. Fer you.” Now he shuts the door – first you toss the bear your food, then you get yerself outta there – and she starts goin’ before he even turns back around.

“A gift? You spent money on a gift ? Jack, baby, we’re gonna be evicted in a week! You cain’t be–”

Jack reached into the bag. The deck of cards is now sitting on Brandy’s lap. It’s all out in the open.

“You… you’re shitting me.”

Confusion floods into Jack’s face like mud into the creek out back during summer thunderstorms.

“You’re drunk right now, ain’t you? Un-fuckin’…” Brandy stands up and tosses the cards across the room into the kitchen. Then, starting under her breath and evolving into a right shriek, “Un-fuckin’-believable!

The black plastic bag falls from Jack’s hand, the ferry of many black plastic bags, and lands on the floor of his mobile home, the resting place of many black plastic bags and even more glass bottles, empties, partials, and fullboys alike. Jack approaches his woman and begins to raise his hand out of concern, but she grabs him by the wrist and tosses him away.

“Not again!” she yells, and he knows in his heart that he deserves it. The wolf won’t get the boy till the townfolk ain’t lis’enin’; the townfolk don’t lis’en ‘til the wolf gets the boy. “You ain’t hittin’ me again, you hear that?! Get away, get! ” Brandy’s holding the bag now. She’s whipping him with it, the flaccid mace, and how the lashes do burn like sinners a’simmer in the pits of Hell. “I told you get!!

Jack trips over his feet and falls into his kitchen, inadvertently banging his cheek on the handle of the oven. It makes a soft thud, no audible crack. Prob’ly won’t even leave a lump. Sure will leave a nasty bruise though, and that’s just right, ain’t it? Brandy thinks so, and the warm night air only confirms her feelings on the subject. The sight of Jack’s wrecked truck helps a bit, too. Only one place he could’a got those cards, and that’s off the neck of the bottle of liquor used to be in that black plastic bag he brought in. Shame, Jack was a decent man when he wasn’t swamped. A real decent man.

It’ll be a long night of walking, but bitchin’ ain’t gonna make it any better. Brandy’s folks live near the middle of town, it ain’t that far. She’ll get there sure enough.


Hello Commons, this has been A Decent Man, the flash fiction story attached to the Christian Brothers Brandy VS cards from rePurpp, the official store of The Hillside Commons. Click here to go to the store and check it out for yourself.

I also write fiction books, all of which you can read for free on my website. Click here to see the list.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Chase Your Dreams – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (5/82)

Universe W-78: Beautiful Minds 1
Chase Your Dreams

Have Fun

Koncho’s keys rattle like the head of a staff wielded by an African medicine man as he gets home and penetrates his front door’s lock.

“What a day, what a motherlovin’ day,” as he steps inside and attempts to remove the water-logged flippers from his callused feet. The life of a deep-sea welder is not an easy one, but it sure does pay the heck out of those bills.

Something is amiss though, a certain smell is aloft in the air. It’s familiar, too familiar, it almost smells like… his wife’s… no, can’t be. Just like that couldn’t be his brother’s car parked in the driveway.

As he ventures further into the boxcave that is his house, Koncho hears a muffled banging, almost like a headboard bashing against a wall with a blanket shoved in between, but the blanket got dislodged a while ago. As Koncho delves nearer and nearer to the center of his cave, the noise grows closer and closer to cacophony; he stops at the door. Someone, or someones, rather, are in his bedroom. Making noise. Sweating. Moaning. He slowly opens the door to find his wife Megaladochious furiously going at it with his brother Jognatathan.

“Koncho!!” Megaladochious screams, not bothering to cover herself with a blanket because the blanket is under the bed.

“Heeyyy honey, I’m home. Hey bro.”

“Sup Konch’, you wanna get in on this? Literally?”

“Hard pass Joggney, that’s gross. You’re gross. I’m gonna go to the sanctum and get some sleep. Long day. You guys have fun.”

He turns to leave. The two continue to have fun.

The Sanctum

Koncho closes the door slowly and lets his wife and brother resume the mutual realignment of each other’s spines. Directly across the glossy wood flooring from the bedroom is a heavy cast iron door that creaks when it opens and shakes the entire house when it closes – this is the entrance to the sanctum. There is no staircase behind the heavy door, simply a fat rope hanging from the ceiling; Koncho dons his rope gloves and slides down into the darkness, feeling the rope tremble as the door shuts automatically. The first time he made his descent, he burned the majority of the skin off his hands, which was just slightly less than pleasant.

The sanctum is a bottomless cavern that was discovered under the house about thirteen years after construction was completed. A single rock reaches out from the abyssal depths, flat topped with a decorative staircase running down it in a spiral, that serves as both a landing pad and a private bedroom. Megaladochious can get pretty insatiable at night and she rarely accepts no for an answer, which is great in a way that’s indescribable with mere words, but sometimes, Koncho needs his sleep, and sometimes is sometimes now; Koncho is out cold within seconds of hitting the sheets, flippers and all.

The Spider

Koncho’s slumber is short lived, just like the life of a butterfly. One minute you’re flapping your wings in North America, the next a hurricane is destroying the Mongolian caterpillar factory farm where you were originally born. Groggy and feeling partially braindead, Koncho struggles his way out of the cocoon that is his seeping arrangement and falls to the rocky floor. The jolt from the impact is exactly what the right side of his brain needs to wake up! It beats a cup of coffee clear out of the mug.

Koncho finally stops attempting and goes about actually peeling the TimberSea flipperboots off his feet. He then walks towards the rope to begin his ascent when, again, something seems off.

The air is buzzing with the feisty aroma of spices and seasonings sizzling in a pan mixed with the uncanny aroma of chicken. He walks to the edge of his rock and gets down on all fours, and what does he find? A massive, hairy, black spider sitting on a log, pan in one of its eight grotesque hands, frying an orange substance over a campfire that, gravitationally speaking, should not exist.

The spider notices Koncho and shrieks like a little girl, dropping the pan on the campfire and squabbling away. With the haste of a bullet train, Koncho runs down the side of the rock, jumping over the rotting oak log to grab the wooden handle of the frying pan. Just in time too, the food almost burned. He takes a little slice of the orange stuff and pops it in his mouth – ah, sulfer shelf, the chicken of the woods. He eats the rest of the mushrooms and chucks the frying pan down into the bottomless pit before turning around and walking back up the wall.

Koncho notices that his bed seems softer now, and like a candle in the wind, he’s out.

The Cat

When he wakes, Koncho finds himself laying on a memory foam mattress in an unfamiliar bedroom. He looks around and studies the unfamiliar setting, tan carpet covering the plywood floor and archaic redwood furniture towering over the baseboard heating. Something is scratching at the door, trying to dig its way through the splintery wood. Koncho gets up, his bare feet sinking ever so slightly into the carpet. He opens the door slowly until the cat speeds things along, barging through the entry and running straight towards the wall. After executing a sick backflip maneuver, the cat jumps up on the bed and curls up into a little ball, purring itself deeper into the dream dimension. Koncho smiles, not an extravagant, toothy smile, but a gentle, content grin. What is this wonderful place?

He walks out the door to find a young man draped in purple and black blanket-looking things sitting on a couch and playing a video game. There’s a pair of arms holding an assault rifle on the screen, charging forward towards a virtual WWII-style airplane hangar with a small group of virtual soldiers. The man looks over and grunts at Koncho before reverting his attention back to his game. As Koncho walks down the stairs, the sound of gunfire erupts behind him, followed by an angry “God damnit!” and the crash of a plastic controller hitting a sheetrock wall.

An older man and woman are sitting together on a pink couch downstairs. A news program is playing on the television, this screen much smaller than the humongous rig upstairs. The older man says, “Goes it howin’,” without looking away from the news, and the woman smiles at Koncho, then continues to read her book. On the counter behind them, there’s a plate of freshly prepared scrambled eggs and bacon, the aroma nearly knocking Koncho over with sheer delight. He sits and digs in, the bacon crispy and the eggs loaded with cheese and spices as if it was prepared by a world class chef.

“Are you working today, honey?” the woman asks, looking over the back of the couch at Koncho.

Koncho hears himself say, “Yep, nine to three. Then I’m doing some volunteer work at the ecology center.”

The woman gives him another smile as warm as his breakfast, telling him how nice it is that he’s giving back to the place that he went to summer camp as a child. Koncho has no memory of this house, of the humans inside it, or of the summer camp; Koncho has no idea how he got here, but he’s happy. It’s all so simple, so serene.

Shortly after breakfast, the old man gets up and leaves for The Void, the younger man from upstairs leaving with him, blankets and all. The old woman goes for a stroll and Koncho finds himself alone in the house with the tuxedo cat, since woken and now rummaging through the pantry.

What could it be looking for?

Koncho pokes his head in and the cat freezes, slowly turning to face our man. They look at each other for a while, locked into a staring contest the likes of which Koncho has never participated.

Then, “Hey.”

He freezes; did the cat just speak?

“Hey. HEY!”

Koncho wakes up on his stone bed, the large spider standing over him with all eight of its hairy, arthropodic legs.

“You owe me thirty dollars for those ‘shrooms, bucko.”

Fin


Hello Commons, this has been the first story from the second chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

We Can Do It

A Fleeting Rainbow

“We can do it?”

“Yes we can, honey,” Sally sings, each word matched with a pull of the trigger on a spray bottle of Glass Plus. The sun catches every misty spritz and paints a fleeting rainbow in the air. “Do you know who that is, Melinda?”

“Uummm… the we can do it lady?”

Sally smiles but doesn’t laugh. If she laughs she’ll need to breathe, and she doesn’t want to breathe in the fumes from the Glass Plus. When the table is clean and the paper towel’s thrown into the chiminea, Sally sits next to Melinda on the lounge chair and picks her up, sits her in her lap. She then takes the coffee mug and holds it so Melinda can hold it too.

“This lady’s name is Rosie the Riveter, Melly. Have you learned about the world wars in school yet?”

The patio catches Melinda’s bottom jaw. “The whole world was at war??”

Another smile. “Yes it was, more than once. But don’t worry about that right now, you’re too young for such nonsense.”

“Wars are nonsense, Mommy?”

“They sure are. When man has a big stick he will undoubtedly swing it, especially when he thinks he has something to defend. Always be weary around man, Melly.”

“But Daddy’s a man, Mommy! And so is uncle Dally!”

Sally’s glad she’s having so many laughs this morning. She won’t be laughing later on, but right now isn’t later on. Right now she’ll enjoy the company of her daughter.

“I don’t mean men, honey. I mean man, like human. That’s what we are, it’s just in our nature to fight change. We always hold on as long as we can, no matter how flimsy the branch is, no matter how much it cracks. We hang on ‘til the end and then we drop, and when we drop? Honeybear, we drop.”

“We drop?”

“Boy do we ever…” Sally sighs. She almost forgets how this conversation started. Almost forgets; she doesn’t really forget. If she really forgot… well, anyway. “Do you know where I got this Rosie mug?”

The phone rings, startling the girls. “Hop up baby, I gotta go get that.”

“But what about the Rosie mug, Mommy?”

“Melly, I will tell you all about it when I come back out,” Sally says as she lifts her small monkey off her lap. “I’ve been expecting this call all day, I really gotta get it. Just stay out here, okay? Smell the flowers or somethin’.”

Melinda shrugs, then walks over to the purple irises and starts sniffing. She turns back but her Mommy is already inside, and she didn’t even leave the door cracked! It must be a pretty important phone call. At least the flowers smell nice today.

Love

“Do you remember that watch we got her last week?”

“Yeah, of course. I’m the one who bought it, dude.”

“Right… sorry. Um, but Sal’, she thinks we gave it to her this morning.”

A few seconds of heavy hesitation. “So what? It was only last week, that’s not that bad. We might as well have given it to her this morning.”

“Sally… all right, fine. But do you remember that blue jay thing?”

“The blue jay… what?”

“That thing that hangs on the wall. I think Melinda gave it to her for Christmas?”

“Yeah, okay, yeah I know what you mean. What about it?”

“She thinks we gave that to her this morning as well…”

Sally doesn’t say a word.

“Look, apparently she thinks it’s a real bird, too, because she’s been petting it. The top of its head is white, Sally. It used to be black, now it’s white. If she keeps this shit up she’s going to wear a hole into the damned thing, then she’ll cut herself. We can’t have our see-nie–”

“Stop!!” Sally shouts. Dally hears a soft slap, like Sally’s hand flew up to her mouth. Then he hears a breath. Then, “I’m sorry, Dallas, I… I just…”

“Look, I get it. I was the same way when Dad started to go, but um… criminy Sally, she thinks Dad’s still alive. She thinks he’s going to come home at the next hour, and then when the next hour comes? She thinks he’ll be back the next hour. It’s bad, we can’t… she can’t live there by herself, Sally.”

“Do you think I don’t know that? We tried putting her into a home when Dad died, she wouldn’t let us! And when I went there alone she started hitting me! We can’t–”

“We can’t let her stay there by herself, Sally. Listen…” He sighs. “I think that, where she’s at now, if we brought her to a home, she’d forget the car ride by the time she sat on her new bed. It’s… we…”

“We… we need to do what we need to do,” Sally decides. She’s looking out the slider now, at that old Rosie the Riveter coffee mug sitting on the lounge chair on the patio. How did Melinda even find that thing? “You’re right, we have to. We can do it… it won’t be easy, but we can do it.”

“Yeah… all right, we’re on the same page then. I’ll talk to you more about it when I see you tonight, okay?”

“Yeah. I love you, Dal’.”

“Love you too, Sal’. See you soon.”

Muscles

Melinda removes her entire nose from the violet petals of the iris when she hears the slider open. “Is everything okay, Mommy?”

Melinda’s Mommy smiles at her, but Melinda can tell she’s sad. She goes over and hugs her Mommy, and her Mommy picks her up and sits them on the lounge chair. “Everything’s great honey, life is just… life can be heavy sometimes.”

“Heavy?”

“Yeah, heavy… sometimes you have to be big and strong, doll.” Sally picks up the coffee mug and puts it in Melinda’s hands. “Sometimes you gotta flex your muscles just like Rosie the Riveter and remind yourself: We can do it.

We can do it” Melinda parrots. “Where’d you get the Rosie mug, Mommy?”

“Your grandma gave it to me when I married your Daddy. I don’t think I ever even drank out of it, I just like to look at it sometimes. It makes me feel strong.”

Melinda likes that. Rosie makes her feel strong, too.


Hello Commons, this has been We Can Do It, the flash fiction story attached to the Rosie the Riveter mug from rePurpp, the official store of The Hillside Commons. Click here to go to the store and check it out for yourself.

I also write fiction books, all of which you can read for free on my website. Click here to see the list.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Three High Campers – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (4/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 4
Three High Campers

Dip’A’Dop

A Qic’s flick is accompanied by the soothing, irresistible crackle that kicked off so many hip-hop bangers that Chet never listened to during his childhood as smoke flows through the artificial glass pipe and into the organic meat pipe leading to Jimmy’s lungs. A moment of silence to appreciate the wind whistling through the trees, then, “Ahhhhh.” A small, happy cloud floats towards its family in the sky.

“Can we get moving guys? It’s almost dark…”

Jimmy passes the bowl to a very happy to be here Kris.

“… and we’re nowhere near the campsite, we still have a lot of walking to do…”

Kris takes out a crushed-up water bottle and fills it with smoke, expanding the plastic with enough crinkling to drown out the chatty Chet. Then, he breathes the smoke back in. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

“… and if we don’t get to going, we’ll have to set up a whole n– yeah, pass it here.”

Chet Skylark’s had an excrutiating week. After a very turbulent Wednesday at work, Chet gave into a sobriety-induced bout of insomnia and carried it all the way through work the next day while his fiendish friends, unbeknownst to Chet, robbed all the weed from his house. And burned it down. Accidentally.

Chet definitely won’t be getting that deposit back.

Now, our Chet’s perched on a log with those very same friends, taking another quick burn break before they continue along on their camping excursion. Mentally exhausted, physically perturbed, and high as the park’s canopy on ‘dro, Chet just wants his clique to stop smoking drugs for two seconds so they can get their tents set up in the daylight.

His attempts at moving the stoned statues fails, but luckily a mysterious rustling emerging from a bush behind them does just the trick.

“The fuck was that?!” Jimmy cries as smoke gently floats up his windpipe and out into the air. Kris grabs the bowl and torches it out of fear, clearing the chamber.

“It… could be Tiny Tim,” Chet says over Kris’s coughing.

Jim slowly turns towards Chet, keeping a disgusted and slightly embryonic look on his face. “Tiny… Tim? The fuck is that, some kind of circus act?”

“Uh… kinda. I’ll tell you guys later, when we have a fire going. Can we go, though?”

Jimmy opens his mouth to say something snarky, but the chance is snatched when he gets pelted in the head by an acorn. Jumping Jim leaps up, his heart racing as fast as his eyes are scanning the forest around him, but he sees nothing. Then, he gets domed by another acorn.

“Ow, FUCK!” Jim screeches. “Yeah let’s dip’a’dop, y’all grab the cooler!” as he scurries towards the trail.

Chet and Kris share something of a look and a definite chuckle before grabbing the cooler together and shoving off. Meanwhile, two squirrels high five each other before twitching their way down the tree and over to the log to paw up any leftover Cannabis flakes.

Crack

The darkness of lady night quickly encroaches over an innocent, warm summer’s afternoon. The gang stops for a smoke break no less than three more times between their leaving of the log and their inability to see the trail they walk down. There’s a slight wind, and between it and the lighter with the glowing flint, igniting the bowl is becoming quite the hassle. Kris already burned himself twice, poor dude. Yet they keep repacking the bowl, keep burning the holy herb, until Chet finally speaks up.

“So like… I guess we’re not gonna make it to the spot tonight.”

Jimmy shoots him a look that goes totally obscured by a cloud of smoke. “I think we got a spot right here, man! I’mma crack a bottle, why don’t you two crack some wood and get crackin’ on a fire?”

Chet looks over at Kris, who’s using the lighter to study the intricacies of the lines on his hand, and shakes his head. It takes him nearly a half hour to dig out a pit with his hands, assemble rocks around it, and scrounge up enough dried leaves and twigs to bundle together and sustain a small flame. Kris went ahead and collected an armful of logs, which is about as useless as Jimmy is right now, but at least he’s up and moving.

The twigs that Chet gathered won’t last long in the fire, so Chet stumbles off into the darkness in search of firewood. Jim gets to work on packing the bowl again. The grind must never stop.

“Y–” a cough. “Yo, how much pot we have left?” Kris asks after confusing the fire pit’s smoke to that of a freshly lit bowlpack.

“Uhh… not much. Bag’ll be empty soon. Here,” Jimmy growls as he tosses the bag over the open fire to Kris. “You pack it from now on.”

“Word. Hey man, when are we gonna thank Chad for the free weed, dude? This is so dope of him, I feel li–”

“Already did! Yeah, we covered it, it’s all taken care of. Like I said before,” as he leans forward, the campfire casting spooky shadows on his face. “Don’t. Mention it.”

In the darkness around the campsite, the leaves begin to rustle.

Tiny Tim The Terrible

“Nah,” Chet says to a silent friend group. He listens intently for a few more minutes, then, “Nah, definitely not squirrels. The noise is too big, that’s at least an obese raccoon or a woodchuck or a coyote, or suh’um like that. Maybe a beaver, although we’re kind of far from water.”

“The noise is too… big? What? That doesn’t even make any fucking sense,” Jimmy spits before helping himself to the first hit of the freshly packed bowl.

“Well, you know what I mean. It’s gotta be something bigger than just a squirrel, plus, nobody’s taking acorns to the head. Know what I mean? Kris, do you get me?”

“Honestly dude,” Kris says, trying to get a grasp on reality, let alone Chet. “I have, like, no idea. I’m just kind of here right now guys, I don’t even know if I exist for sure. Like, yaaahh.”

Jimmy and Chet look at Kris, then back at each other, then back at Kris.

“So uh, so anyway,” Jimmy says as he fishes for the lighter that tumbled out of his hand. “Too big to be squirrels, huh?”

“Yeah man. Like I said, it’s probably just a big raccoon or a little deer or… hah, or Tiny Tim.” Nobody laughs at this joke, and Chet feels a little awkward. “You guys wanna hear the story now?”

“Not really,” Jimmy says, telling us all how he really feels, “but it’s gotta be better than mister, fuckin’, I think therefore I might not be over there.”

Kris says nothing, allowing the words to whoosh over his head like a paper airplane. Yes, instead of accepting the offer for a pissing contest, he just looks at Chet with googly eyes and a winning smile.

“A’ight, so like, in my hometown, there’s this lake, right? Well, there’s a lot of lakes, but the one I’m talkin’ about is different, it’s called Skuh– uh, uh, I mean… Monksville. Yeah, sure, lots of monks live there now, whatever. So it used to be a town called uh… well, it doesn’t matter, the important part is that the government swooped in and bought all the land in the seventies so they could flood it and make a reservoir.

“So the town, before it was flooded, it had like, this like, this permanent circus attraction thing, and during the last few days the town stood, they got this new attraction called Tiny Tim the Terrible. I wasn’t alive back then, but a buddy of mine from back home, his mom lived in the area when she was a kid, and she saw it, the thing was literally a bigfoot. Like, mad tall, hairy, bipedal, the whole shit. Apparently, some rich guy ape-napped him off an island out in the Specific and sold him to the circus. I don’t know, the details always change a little bit.

“So uh, yeah, on the last day of the circus, Tiny Tim escaped and killed the circus workers. Ran off into the woods, never to be seen again. Legend has it that he still lives there today, back in Tre– uh, back in my hometown. That’s the story. What do you guys think?”

The guys offer Chet literally zero in way of a reaction.

Trying to save himself, “I uh, I heard it from a friend. He tells it much better.”

“Well I sure fuckin’ hope so. That sounds like some Jersey-ass shit man, where’d you say you were from again?”

“What?!” Chet asks, caught off guard. “What do you mean, I-I, I live in Mundon! I…”

“Hold on Jim, I got this one,” Kris pipes in, finally dislodged from his existential thought hole. “You see Chet, Jimmy and I are very interested in the study of cryptids, that is to say, creatures of myth and legend that may, or may not, exist. Of all the states that used to be legally bound to the United States of America before it became untied, New Jersey stands out to cryptozoologists and our larger community of critically thinking truth seekers as a hotbed of ridiculous and probably false stories. The Jersey Devil, ghost wolves that haunt a paved road, this Tiny Tim character – all ridiculous creatures with ridiculous backstories. Now, you ever see Mothman up there in the pine barrens, you let me know. A bigfoot though? Come on, man.”

“Yeah,” Jimmy contributes. “If I remember correctly, you just kind of showed up here one day Chet, totally alone. Like, you’re not a clone, you had to come from somewhere, but you never told me or Kris, or fuckin’ Steve for that matter, where you came from.”

“N-no, I–” Chet falls off the back of the log, but Kris approaches and helps him up. “Thank you. No, that’s just not… you guys wanna hear something really ridiculous? That new chick at work I was tellin’ you guys about, Isabelle? She thinks I’m her long-lost brother or some shit. For like, no reason too, just because I kind of look like him. And our voices sound the same. Like, how weird is that?

“Guys? C’mon, how Jersey is that?!”

An uncomfortable silence. Then, from Jimmy’s mouth, “Yeah, you were saying that earlier. Question for ya, Chet: did you move into town around the same time that she did?”

“Well, yeah, I think so… but–”

“And is she, too, from New Jersey?” Kris postulates.

“I never said I was from Jersey! But uh…” Thumbs are twiddled. “I don’t know, maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t remember… to be honest, my memory’s been weird ever since I moved to this town. Like, it feels like… never mind. But anyway, I–”

Jimmy shrugs, cutting Chet off with the chipped edge on his shoulder before he hits the bowl. After cashing that bad boy, he carefully balances it upon the beer can structure, not bottle but can, that he’s been building ever since he cracked open that first cold one. “Maybe she’s right, man.”

This simple suggestion fucks Chet up worse than the mind-melting collision of paradoxical memories. He starts spinning, the Chetsweats flow in torrents, the trembles rear their ugly head – it’s just like Turbulence all over again!

“Nono, no, that’s just, no, that’s… you know what? Fuck it, I’m buggin’, I’m like, I’m tense as hell. Here,” Chet says, hand in his pocket. He takes out a small bagglet of herb and Jimmy and Steve share a look. The leaves outside the glowing orb around the campfire begin to rustle as Chet throws Kris the baggie.

“What’s this, bro?” Kris asks, his voice suddenly shaky.

“My secret special stash, man. Go on, pack it and pass her over.”

Kris looks at Jimmy and gets a nod, so he proceeds to pack the bowl. This weed is very crystally, much more so than the rest of his weed. The nugs are a deep green with subtle hints of purple, and the trichomes are just… the thing looks like it was dipped in sugar. Rainbow sugar. Or salt, it’s very hard to see colors in the low light, it could just be white. And the stickiness, oh the stickiness! Kris has never went from zero to one hundred on something so fast, this magical preemo bud invades his thoughts as he packs it down, truly dominates his mind. You know, man, thank goodness for Chet, he really has been the hookup today. Weedman Chet, Pagan Deity of Mundon State Park. How lucky I am to know him…’

“Ay. AY! Yo Kris,” Jimmy spouts as he claps his hands an inch from Kris’s eyes, snapping him from his trance. “You’ve been staring at that shit for like ten minutes, puff it or pass it, son.”

Embarrassed, Kris tires to give greens to Chet, but he refuses, insisting that he who packed it shall spark it. No arguments from ya boy, he burns a hole right through the center of the mound, killing the entire stash in one monolithic hit. The look in his eyes says holy shit as he exhales a cloud dense enough to snuff out the fire in Chet’s makeshift pit. Jimmy’s peeved off as ever, but Chet’s impressed, already working on breaking up the bud from his second bag from his secret special stash. You know, the one he didn’t take out but is holding nonetheless?

Jimmy has to get up and snatch the bowl from Kris because a coughing fit has consumed the boy’s very soul, but that’s okay. He ashes it and passes it to Chet, who begins to fill ‘er up.

“Yo I got greens on this one, right Chet?”

cough cough cough

“Yeah, sure man, whatever you want.”

Cough cough cough.

“Word, I’mma hit it like croupy over there, just you watch.”

Cough Cough Cough Cough!

“Hah, I believe it m–”

COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH FUCKIN’ COUGH!

“DUDE,” Jimmy yells at the man sitting hardly an arm’s length away from him in the middle of the woods at two o’clock in the morning in a state park where camping, with or without a permit, is illegal. “DRINK WATER OR MAN THE FUCK UP! C’MON!” Jimmy then punches himself in the chest a few times, asserting dominance like a gorilla.

Kris, of course, does neither of these things, opting to just keep coughing. Chet cools the mood down by packing the bowl far beyond its rim, piling up enough pot to knock an elephant on its ass. He passes the miniature marijuana mountain to a suddenly wide-eyed Jimmy. Just as he’s about to light it though, Kris totally ruins the moment by spitting out a chunky mouthful of blood, some of which splatters on the fire, releasing a sticky, sick cloud of cooked-smelling smoke.

“YO! WHAT THE FUCK?!” as Jimmy jumps up, dropping the bowl and shattering it. Psychoactive herbage flies everywhere, the majority of the flakes landing in the small pool of blood.

Kris’s breathing is getting laborious. He clutches his own throat with both hands and yelps out in pain, like a puppy who got closed in a car door. His left arm then slowly returns to his side, like he wasn’t telling it to move.

“Kris!” Jimmy shouts, leaping over the fire to try to help the poor bastard. He leans Kris up against the log, then, “His hand is… Chet, his fucking hand is stuck to his fucking throat, what the fuck did you give him to smoke?!”

Meanwhile, Chet has been sitting motionlessly on the log with an expression of sheer terror carved into his face with a jagged piece of glass. His friends yelling at him brings him back into the moment.

“Just weed! I-I got it out of my stash after work!”

Chet hurdles the fire and helps Jimmy in trying to pull Kris’s hand from around his neck, but it won’t budge.

“Fuckin’ liar!” Jimmy yells out. “Me and Kris lifted all your pot after you came home on your break! GAH!” At last Kris’s arm falls to his side, the hand covered in blood and puncture wounds as if it got hit with a shotgun blast and put through a meat grinder.

“Wait, what? You guys stole my weed?”

“You clearly fuckin’ know we did, you poisoned Kris! Fuckin’ tried to poison me!”

“NO! No Jimmy, if you guys took my weed then we’ve been smoking it all night! I have no idea what’s going on right now, this isn’t m– oh fucking hell, look at his hand! Uh, FUCK! Uh, yeah, I-I-I ran home after work and grabbed a little bit out of my stash, I left it all on my bed! Oh fuck, look at his,” he gags, “look at his neck!”

Jimmy, doing just that, notices a myriad of small, needle-like crystalline structures jutting out from Kris’s neck. Kris, meanwhile, has stopped breathing, and falls face first into the fire pit. Jimmy and Chet go to grab him, but then they freeze when they both hear a loud WHOOP echo through the forest.

The two boys who are still alive freeze like the crystals poking out of the dead boy’s neck.

“Um…” Jimmy says, shaking in his skater shoes he wore instead of hiking boots. “What the fuck was that?!”

“It…” Chet says, swallowing nervously. “It almost… sounded like… like… Tiny Tim…”

“No,” Jimmy creaks as he backs up. “No, nononono, FUCK NO! You’re just, you’re just crazy! You’re a fuckin’ psycho, this is all just… this is all just a game to you!”

“Jimmy,” Chet says in a grave voice, the last tone of voice he’ll ever be able to take. “No, I–”

“FUCK YOU CHIP!” Jimmy screams before darting off into the forest, leaving Chet alone with a partially burning human body. And Tiny T–

Jimmy’s footsteps quickly and abruptly come to a halt. Save for the crackle of the cackling fire, everything in the gusty forest is still; the silence is deafening. If Chet had any food left in his stomach whatsoever, it would undoubtedly be in his pants right now. The silence continues for a few savory moments before it’s broken into pieces by heavy footsteps and a muffled screaming coming from the direction in which Jimmy sprinted off.

There, appearing into the light across the campfire from Chet, is Jimmy’s floating body. But it isn’t floating, is it, Chet? No, that’s just your mind projecting a certain hallucination over reality in order for you to feel less stress upon perception. Jimmy’s body is certainly suspended, but not voluntarily like that twisted porn you watch; no, its being held there by a gigantic, brawny, hairy ape fist, the fingers encapsulating Jimmy’s little head like it was a ping pong ball. Just as soon as the veil is lifted and Chet realizes that he’s the star of a horror movie, the fist tightens, crushing Jim-jam-a’reeno’s head like it was a rotten clementine and dropping the body so it can drain out and feed the forest.

It is at this point that Chet decides he’s had enough. He screams, yells, shrieks, hollers, you get the point, before leaping over Kris’s body (which has ignited the campsite into an inferno) and sprinting off into the darkness. A WHOOP and the accompanying footsteps follow him close behind.

Chet can’t see anything. Hardly guided by the moonlight that’s having trouble moving through the clouds, he miraculously dodges under the branches, over rocks, and between swaying trees for what feels like hours without pause. The footsteps stay right behind him, the heavy breathing of the gigantic whatever the fuck keeps the back of his neck warm as a cold wind chills the blood in his palpitating heart to a slush. An owl hoots. The fire spreads.

Up ahead of him, Chet notices a small clearing, a hole in the canopy allowing tons of moonlight to spill in and illuminate a spot, a clearing in the woods. Not just any clearing though – The Mundon Commons, the camping spot where Chet and his buddyboys were supposed to sleep under the stars tonight. The spot that Chet built as a homage to… anyway, oh well, better late than never, right?

Engaging maximum overdrive and clearing the crisscrossing thoughts and memories from his head, Chet dashes towards the clearing, only stopping when his foot catches a rock, tripping him up and sending his face directly into the ground.

Except he falls through the ground.

Darkness is everywhere. Not just average nighttime darkness, absolute darkness. Existential darkness. Chet can’t see his body, the forest, the monster from his past chasing close behind him; Chet can’t see anything. He can’t feel anything either, can’t orient himself – there’s no up, no down, no right, no left, no good or bad, no right or wrong. Nothing, just… pure, undiluted, existential darkness… or rather, nonExistential darkness. Chet doesn’t exist, he never did exist, and as for who wore the mask that knew itself as Chet Skylark, well… whoever he is, someone catches his hand and pulls him back up.

I’ve Gone Crazy

Suddenly, eventually, and just like it’s always been, it’s day again. Chet opens his eyes to a blue sky partially blocked out by a swath of lush green leaves. A certain peaceful feeling’s aloft in the air, one Chet hasn’t felt in a very long time. Since before he moved to Mundon even, but it’s a welcome sip of refreshing spring water. He lifts his head and looks around, this place is very familiar to him; the woven deer statues, the horseshoe rink, the fire pit next to the gigantic rock, the hippie floating in the lotus position a foot above the big rock, it’s all here.

‘Wait, what?’

“Yo!” Chet calls out after picking himself up out of the dirt. “Yo uh, who… who are you? What’s going on here?”

“Hello, Tyler,” says the waterfall of brown hair without turning around. “It’s been a little while, hasn’t it, buddy?”

CheTyler falls back down, one of his minds hitting his skull like a wrecking ball and crushing the other one into neurodust. When he gathers himself, he pauses, then, “…No. No, no no no, that’s… that isn’t… you’re dead, you… you committed suicide on your younger brother’s birthday, you… I thought you were dead.”

The hippie, still airborne, turns around to face Che– er, I mean Tyler. A joint’s hanging out of his smiling mouth as he stares at his old friend from across the campsite. Such a peaceful, knowing smile, as if he understands any of the psychotic nonsense that’s gone down here tonight. Almost like… almost like he’s been contro–

“Oh my god, I’ve gone crazy. I’ve literally lost my mind. Sam, is this real? What even is real? Who is Sam? What am I? Who is what? Help me.”

Tyler gets on his knees and crawls towards the floating hippie, groveling at the air beneath his folded legs.

“Tee. Chill dude, stand up. There ya go,” as he pets Tyler’s head like a lost dog. “The only crazy thing you’ve done is suspect that I killed myself just because you found a gun on top of my mountain. Without the accompanying body, or even bloodstain, that would be present if I did kill myself. You jumped to a conclusion, man, and that conclusion brought you next to the edge. Then you jumped off that too, and here we are.”

“But… but I–”

“And to answer your question, yes, this is real. Everything is real, my friend, at least until it isn’t. Unless it never was real, then… yikes. You wouldn’t be aware of it anyway, in that case.”

Tyler contemplates this for a moment, then his brain shorts out again. Through tears he says, “Sam, what’s going on?”

“Nah, let me ask you something though. Remember when your family evacuated Quarryville? Because of the Zerocian invasion ship?”

“The… what?”

“The big alien spaceship that appeared over Treering, right next to our houses? Remember?”

Tyler, all of it slowly coming back to him, hesitantly nods.

“Okay, good. So, do you remember seeing any aliens since then? Any at all? Has the word extraterrestrial come up even once since you dipped out your mom’s basement and changed your name? Because ever since I left my mom’s attic, dude, I’ve seen nothing but spacemen.”

“Um, I… no, I don’t think so. Nobody ever really talked about it, I don’t even know ifAHH!”

The hippie lurches out of the air and tackles Tyler, pinning him down to the ground. Forcing him to stare into his glowing irises that weren’t that green the last time. The hippie says nothing.

Tyler thinks, ‘Holy fuck, are they changing colors? Are those even colors?! Then, “Sam, what the fuck is this?!”

The hippie leans in close and whispers into Tyler’s very dusty ear, “It’s not Sam anymore, Tee. It’s Sam.”

Sam hovers off of Tyler and resumes the lotus position, allowing his buddy to gather himself from the shambles the past few days have reduced him to. Then, “So, see that rock in your hand?”

Tyler looks down and there is, in fact, a rock in his hand. Not just a rock though; a crystal, about six inches in length and shaped like an obelisk ending with a point on both edges. “Woah, where did–”

“You’ll know what to do and when to do it. Don’t worry, you got his. I believe in you. Now,” as he winds up with what appears to be a piece of a metal bedframe, “Without further adeau, toodle-loo.”

CRACK

Tyler Portman

“Ty-LEEEERRRRRR! WAKE the fuck UUHHHPPPP! We have to un-PAAAAHHHCK!”

The screeching of his sister’s voice rings in Tyler’s ears like the moon when fuel pods were crashed into it. He jolts awake, hitting his head on the open air above him. He was sleeping on the couch at… his parents’ house? In the living room, no less? What the hell?

Tyler Portman fishes his phone out of his pocket and checks the day – May 5th, 2020.

‘Huh… I guess it was all a dream.’

Fin


The Denizen

The Void clears; I am here, but I am not alone.

Well well well, look who found a monkey suit.

“What can I say? Banks are surprisingly easy to rob when you’re mah–”

AYE! Don’t say the ehM word, there’s none of that here.

“You mean here here, or here here?”

I’m… not sure what the difference is supposed to be.

“I’m saying I want in. I’m tired of this branch universe bullshit, I want to be part of the main one.”

There’s not a main… ugh. Don’t look at me like that, you know it’s not as easy as that.

“Sure it is, you let me into that other branch universe to rob the bank. Just fucking write the words…! I promise not to cause too much trouble.”

Enough! Vanish, denizen!

The denizen vanishes; I am alone in The Void.


Hello Commons, this has been the fourth story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Gritty Cosmos

Grit’s Pub

Grit’s Pub is not a fancy place. The office used to be bigger, then Grit put in the garage. The front room used to have six booths, then Grit put in the pool table and the juke box. Now there are four booths, one which gets used more than the others. Not a whole lot of folk fit at the bar, but not a whole lot of folk come into the pub. For those who do, there is an extensive selection of fast-pouring hard liquors and slow-flowing brews on tap. Grit won’t make you a cocktail, but he has a machine that will. It’s a good place, Grit’s Pub. Grit’s real proud of it.

After the lights are flicked on and the jukebox is kicked into playing a tune, Grit unlocks the front door. Four girls are waiting there, and they stay waiting there. The eye contact is fizzy, bubbling with knowing. After a moment Grit nods. So do the girls, one by one. They all file in. Grit watches them sit in their booth, then closes the door.

The Garage

Grit gets to cleaning glasses.

The girls don’t order a single thing for the first hour, nor does a single human being come through Grit’s Pub. This is nothing out of the ordinary, the rest stops usually take in all the traffic on this stretch of the highway. Business has never been booming at Grit’s Pub, but that’s just how Grit likes it. The girls are regulars, but there’s a reason for that. There’s a reason for most everything in Grit’s life, come to think of it. He’s not a careless man, never has been. The girls know that. Hell, that’s probably the only reason they’re still around. They know the risks, they know they don’t have to be here, but they choose to come anyway. Maybe they trust Grit. Maybe they want to help. Maybe they have nothing else going for them.

“Lord knows that’s the only reason I’m still here,” Grit says under his breath to the audience of himself. The girls hear, one of them even looks over, but he pays them no mind. It’s not like it’ll change what’s going to happen tonight, it’s much too late for that. Certain gears have already been set a’churn; all he needs now is the proof.

Grit cleans the glasses four times before the girls decide to start drinking. They all order Gritty cosmos; while the mixer makes the sauce, Grit goes into the garage and fetches a full jar from the box next to the crate of castor beans. He almost steps on the mattress while he’s in there, almost ruins the whole thing. If the mattress has always been there, why would someone step on it?

Grit takes a breath and straightens himself out, then turns the lights back off. He returns to the front room with a jar of moonshine clenched tightly in his right hand.

Four cosmos sit in four glasses before four girls standing at Grit’s bar. He uncaps the jar and makes each of the cosmos Gritty, looking the drinkers dead in the eyes as he pours. He recaps the jar and sets it down loudly, then puffs out his chest.

“This is your last chance, girls. You can all leave right now.”

As if they practiced it, the girls simultaneously take up their Gritty cosmos and drain the glasses. In answer, Grit uncaps his moonshine and takes a swig. It goes down smoothly, though he won’t be able to taste anything for the next two days.

“Very well,” when the jar is capped once more. “To your booths, then.”

Three of the girls go to their favorite booth. The fourth sits alone in the one next to the door to the garage. Grit gets to cleaning glasses.

Devyn Lind

Six drinkers come and go through Grit’s Pub without hassle, some without uttering a single word. The seventh is more talkative.

“Jeffers!” honks the oily man as he bursts through the front door hard enough to dent the wall with the handle. Three girls ignore him, the fourth leans out of her booth at the sound of his voice. Grit takes his final breath of clean air, then turns around.

“Devyn Lind, as I live and breathe.” Grit walks out and meets the oily man halfway across the floor, uncomfortably close to the booth harboring the three girls. “I didn’t think you’d come all the way out here!”

“Sheeiit, and not see my new buddy’s place of work?!” The oily man slaps Grit on the back; in the flurry of motion, Grit catches a whiff of crude oil and hot slag. He has to fight himself to not double over on the spot. “You must be outta your head!”

Grit shrugs, admits such is a possibility, then leads the oily man to the bar. They talk. The oily man drinks and peeps at the girls. Grit gets to cleaning glasses.

The Night Continues

The night continues without another patron. The girls all drink liberally, especially the one sat alone. From a distance, the oily man keeps pace.

A Place to Stay

“Another Jager, Dev’?”

“You know what, Jeffers?” hiccups the oily man. “You pour me somethin’ light. I’m’a go check out that gee-rahge yous was tellin’ me about. Go ‘head an’ pour the beer now.” He sniffles loudly, then wipes his nose with his sleeve. “I won’t need long.”

Grit nods. He pulls out one of the clean glasses and fixes it beneath the nozzle of the Michelob Light tap. As the beer slowly flows, Grit watches the oily man approach the fourth girl. He points at her stack of empty glasses and they laugh. He offers her his hand. She takes it. As soon as the garage door closes behind them, Grit unscrews the Michelob Light tap handle and slaps the bottom of it against the palm of his hand. A small capsule falls out, no thicker than a hair tie. Grit breaks the capsule and lets the white powder dissolve into the slow stream of beer. Grit then tosses the empty shell into the trash, washes his hands, and refastens the tap handle. Ten seconds later the beer finishes pouring. As Grit is placing the glass next to the empty one on the bar, the fourth girl slowly lets herself out of the garage and walks swiftly through the bar, tears streaming down her face. Two of the other girls follow her out. The fourth looks at Grit for a time, then leaves the bar.

Grit takes the beer over to the garage and knocks on the door. He leaves the beer for Devyn to drink, and Devyn thanks Grit for giving him a place to stay for the night. Grit locks up and walks outside. The girls are gone. The ride home is a long one.


Hello Commons, this has been Gritty Cosmos, the flash fiction story attached to the Michelob Light beer tap handle from rePurpp, the official store of The Hillside Commons. Click here to go to the store and check it out for yourself.

I also write fiction books, all of which you can read for free on my website. Click here to see the list.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

F(r)iends – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (3/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 3
F(r)iends

Bronology

Ripping down the street going thirty-seven in a twenty-five, Chet Skylark’s mindstate is the same color as his eyeballs: bloodshot red. An excruciatingly sleepless night spent neurotically and maniacally searching through his house for a reason to not clean his room just recently ended in a much-needed bowl of weed. His clothes reek, his hair is so greasy that it’s sticking to the back of his neck, and he keeps going cross-eyed for some reason, but Chet’s not about to let that crap stop him. Hours late to work is not a look he needs to repeat two days in a row, especially with the Bronager’s ultrachic taste in scheduling.

As Chet turns on to the last stretch of driving between him and the job that affords the gas he feeds his car, the 822 MiniMart begins to shine in the distance like a golden palace among the clouds. The Grand PM’s clock reads a solid 8:55 – today just might be Chet’s lucky day. Then, a shrill sped up reggae bonanza reminds dude that it is never, ever, Chet’s day.

“Hello?”

“Yooo, Chit!” says a raspy voice, the speaker of which hasn’t woken up yet. “What’s goooood kid?”

“Uh, it’s Chet, and not much. About to get to work. ‘Sup Jim?”

“I know ya name, Chot. Yo, we’re smoking later today, right?”

Chet slows to a stop at the most inconvenient traffic light that was ever installed within the fifteen feet between the exit and the entrance of the 822’s parking lot.

“Yeah, you texted me before. I’m working until fiveish, but we can chill after.”

“What?” Jimmy says, sounding insulted. “I didn’t fuckin’ tex– oh wait, hahahahah yeah I did. I just woke up, word. Catch ya later, Chatter Cheese.”

“Dude, it’s Che–” click

The phone flies over Chetter Cheese’s shoulder and lands in the groove between two of the back seats. Oh that Jimmy, that Jimster, that Jim-jam-a-fuckin’-reeno. What a guy. As soon as the delayed light turns green, Chet slams on the gas and banks the turn on two wheels before drifting into one of the many open spots in the parking lot of the 822, sliding in just one spot over from the only car in the entire town of Mundon with tinted windows. After very attentively taking the keys from the ignition and pocketing them, Chet hustles inside the minimart with the bustle of a bus full of TLEs.

He did it! The car’s clock said 8:58 when he got out! Our boy is at work on time! He might be high, but let’s be real, if he wasn’t, he probably wouldn’t be here at all right now! All that matters is that Chet’s here, he’s present, and he’s in a good mood, ready to face the day and all of its consumer-based challenges.

“Skylark, you’re late. It’s nine’oh-one,” booms the loudspeaker, alerting all zero of the customers that Chet is a minute late.

A burly red-haired woman with not nearly enough freckles on her face, arms, legs, and every other part of her body that she doesn’t have covered up by clothing, walks out of the doors leading into the back. She stands before Chet with folded arms, towering over his otter-like build, and looks him up and down before taking a deep, loud inhale of the air emanating in his immediate vicinity. At first, Kath shakes her head in disappointment, but then she just chuckles to herself.

“A minute ain’t that bad, all things considered. You look like hell Chet, you livin’ okay?”

Chet smiles. Good ol’ Kath. “Yeah, I just didn’t get much sleep last night, my brain wasn’t behaving. I’m sorry I’m late.”

Kath motions towards the absence of a line at the register. “Well apologize to all the customers you’ve held up with your tardiness! You’re lucky Mistress Bron isn’t here today, she’d chew your ear right off for this blasphemy. Nah, just kidding kid, you’re all good. Your shirt’s on backwards though, fix that. Also, we have a new employee, she’s in the break room. So uh, don’t change your shirt in there. Or do, I don’t know how confident you are. I’m goin’ back to my she-cave; try not to burn the place down, okay?”

“You got it, boss.”

“Good. The girl’s name is Isabelle, you’re going to train her in the ways of Bronology one-oh-one. Soun–”

“Did someone say my name?”

Chet and Kath both turn towards the counter and see the new employee. It’s that girl that came into the store to buy cigarettes yesterday, the admittedly attractive but not remotely Chet’s type girl. Chet’s stomach turns to a lump of metamorphic rock.

“Isabelle, this is Chet. Chet, Isabelle. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to my cave. Call me if yuh’s need me, but uh, don’t need me.”

Kath turns and leaves the children to play. Chet, attempting to avoid eye (and every other level of) contact, circumnavigates the counter and slips into the break room to fix his shirt. When the cloth is draped over his eyes, he hears the door open and freezes.

“So hi!” Isabelle Portman says to the side of Chet Skylark’s shirted head. “I came in here yesterday to buy some ciggaboges and you checked me out, do you remember me?”

Chet slowly brings the shirt over his body and turns to face his first adversary. “Oh yeahhhh, hi– uh, hi there. I’m Chet. I’m also really stoned, so I don’t know how much help I’m really gonna be for you, uh, fer you today.”

“Oh, its cool!” she beams, bubbly as the Creature energy drinks cooling in the fridge. “This job is pretty basic, just don’t steal all the money. Hey, you know, it’s kind of funny, um, you look so much like my brother Tyler!”

‘Shit.’

Pack The Bowl

“Yo, so I had an idea. Let’s go camping tonight!”

“Camping? Fuck it, I’m down. I haven’t been camping since… well, it’s been a fuckin’ while. I’ll grab my stuff after I get out of wor–”

“Nah nah nah,” Jimmy corrects him, “you gotta pick us up right after you get out, it’ll already be five o’clock.”

“But all my camping stuff is at home, I–”

“So just run home during your break, it’s gotta be lunch time soon, doot.”

“Well… that’s not a bad idea, actually. There’s this new gir–”

“WOAH!” Jimmy shouts, coming a little too close for comfort. “Woah, Chatter Box, I didn’t ask, ‘cuz. You can tell us later though.”

A pause. Then, “A’ight man, sounds good. I’ll run home in like an hour.”

“Wort. Yo we got you on the weeds, bee-tee-dubz.”

“Dope, thanks Jim!” said with a sudden change of inflection. “I’ll hit y’all up when I get out of here.”

“Wort. Peace.” click

As Jimmy lowers the phone to the cup holder, Kris passes him a cherried bowl over the console. Jim takes it and draws, inhaling until the little red glow flickers out. He exhales the smoke through the pipe and scatters the ashes of his cashed bowl all over the car, which only adds to the slight haze the boys already have brewing. The bowl, and an expecting look, is passed back to Kris, who takes said bowl and leans back in the driver’s seat, dodging the look and all of the world’s expectations. Jimmy holds the look as Kris closes his eyes and soaks in the hot box.

“Dude,” Jimmy croaks in a raspy, burnt-out voice. “I can still see you through the smoke, pack the bowl.”

“I can’t though, dude,” Kris slowly drawls back. “We smoked all the weed. Oh yeah, I wanted to, like, ask you and stuff, man. How are we gonna have enough for the camping trip tonight?”

“Fuck, already?” Jimmy says, tuning out the noise after hearing the word all. “A’ight, whatever, we needa go to Chad’s house. You know his address?”

“Maybe, but…” as he pauses to contemplate why one parks in the driveway and drives on the parkway. Then, “Woah, sorry, I uh, I think I’ve only been in his driveway before.”

“So what’s the address?”

“Umm… either, uhh… um… twenty-four Kodey Drive, or… yeah, either forty-two Kodey Drive or twenty-four… no, forty-two Kodey Lane. Or… I forget man, they don’t like, they don’t name streets in this town too good at all.”

Jimmy forcefully leans his head back and gazes up at the burn marks in the ceiling of Kris’s car. “Okay, you go to Kodey Drive, I’ll go to Kodey Lane. Call me if Chad shows up, but don’t let him see you.”

Jimmy hops out of the car and slams the door, leaving the stoney Kris with his mission. The afternoon air is cool and, as he takes a big drag of it through his nose, Jimmy can hear his lungs whistling.

A moment later, the tinted driver-side window opens and Kris leans out. “Why can’t I let him see me? Aren’t we, like, meeting him there? And stuff?”

“Dude,” Jimmy dudes without turning around, “just do what I said.”

Off they go.

The Qic Is Flicked

Jimmy’s high starts to fade after fifteen minutes’ walk between the parking lot of the 822 and what is hopefully Chet’s driveway. He’s hidden in the bushes, and branches keep poking him in the sides. The sun’s too hot, it’s making him sweaty. There are freaking bugs crawling all over poor Jimmy. He thinks to himself, ‘There better be some good fuckin’ weed in this house after all this shit.’

Forty-four minutes later, a vaguely familiar Grand PM pulls into the driveway. Chet climbs out and Jimmy silently sucks in a breath, not about to get peeped after all this bullshit. He watches Chet walk into the house through the already unlocked door. The man damn near screams and blows his cover but no, this is his chance, he can work with this. He waits for the twenty seconds it takes the thumps to summit the staircase, then Jimmy makes his move.

Lying in wait on the stairs leading down to the basement, Jimmy peers through the crack under the door. Seconds go by, then minutes. What the hell is taking Chot so long to get his camping shit and get out of here?!

Eventually he hears feet slapping down a flight of stairs followed by a door being shut. Jimmy emerges from the basement and a slight waft of Cannabic odor graces his nostrils. He breathes deeply, taking it all in. ‘Very well,’ he thinks to himself before running up to Chet’s room, gingerly stepping over the skid marks at the bottom of the stairs.

Surprisingly enough it’s actually pretty clean in Chet’s bedroom. Jimmy notices a pile of toothpicks or something next to the door, but other than that it’s spotless in here. He’s not here to judge Clint’s cleanliness though; sitting on the foot of the bed in a neat little pile ripe for the pilfer is a big ol’ bag of weed, more pieces than anybody would ever need (let the record reflect that there’s only one glass bowl on the bed), and a bunch of papers and other stuff that Jimmy doesn’t care about right now. Without any hesitation, Jimmy goes into the bag and pinches a couple nugs, breaking them up with his fingers like a caveman as he stuffs the bowl of Chet’s pipe with the crumbs. At long last, party time – Jim leans back, slaps the pants of his pocket… the pocket of his pants, and grimaces when nothing cushions the blow.

‘God dammit. Of course he forgot a lighter! Looks like it’s time to call Kris, buddyguy Jimmy the Jim-Jam Jamster.

Fortunately, Jimmy only has to wait a few minutes for Kris to bring him the lighter.

He told Kris that the door was unlocked, but the moron knocks on it anyway. Obscenely annoyed and not nearly high enough, Jim-jamboree stomps down the stairs and throws the front door open.

“Dude, I definitely, like, didn’t go to Chet’s house. I knocked on the door and some lady answered, right? So I ask for Chad, and she starts flippin’ a dip on me, like, accusin’ me of being sent by her daughter to mess with her. Dude, I didn’t know what was going on.”

Dumbfounded and slack-jawed, Jimmy stares Kris in the face. “I… I didn’t ask, Kristoff. Where’s the fuckin’ lighter at, dawg?”

Kris pulls the lighter from his back pocket and Jimmy snatches it before it’s even presented. Jimmy sprints back upstairs with Kris following close behind and he jumps onto the bed, wildly grabbing at the bowl as it bounces back and forth, as if Chet slept on an old hippie-ass waterbed or some shit.

Then, the Qic is flicked.

An hour or two later, Chet’s herb supply is half depleted. The dynamic duo decides they’re probably high enough for now before smoking one more bowl together and packing up the weed supply. Kris, still confused over where they’re going to get the weed for tonight’s camping trip, starts to take his last toke, but stops himself when Jimmy get up and walks out the door. Opting to not get left behind, Kris rises and ejects the red-hot charcoal cherry of their umpteenth bowl into the air above that random pile of green-tipped toothpicks next to the door. Better to have loved and lost to never have loved at all, he supposes.

Party Favors

Jimmy flicks the spent roach of one of the many joints he rolled from Chet’s weed into the street. The afternoon sun is glaring down at the boys as they soak up their high on a bench near the town’s sole patch of forest. It’s not deep enough to get lost in, yet it’s dense enough to lose yourself in; perfect for a camping trip.

“Duuuude,” exhales Kris, his eyelids more than half of the way shut. “They call it a park because you park your car to get out into nature. Maannn, the, like, English language, I sweeeaaaar, duuude.”

Jimmy rolls his eyes, thinking, ‘This fuckin’ guy.’ He checks his phone. 5:17. Why is Chet not here yet? They can’t really smoke any more until they get to the camping spot. Too many humans out and about, watching them, observing them, keeping an eye on the two misfits sitting on their bench, plotting the downfall of the town of Mundon. This day has been a chore and a half, and it only seems to be getting more inconvenient for our buddy Jim.

Then, the sound of a crying puppy erupts from Jimmy’s pocket, nearly causing Kris to piss himself.

“Finally!” click “Hello?”

“Hey Jim, it’s Chet. Where should I pick you guys up?”

“Nowhere lipshit, me and Kris are already at the park. Hurry up, I wanna get stoned.”

“Whuh– I thought, erm… didn’t you say it was gonna be me, you, and Steve?”

“NO, I fuckin’ dih– oh wait, yeah ahahahah, yeah I did. Yeah he couldn’t come, bummer bro. Why you always gotta bring the mood down, man?”

“HI CHET!” Kris screams from a foot away.

One dirty look from a stroller-pushing father later, Jimmy says, “Kris says hi.”

“Hey Kris. A’ight, I’ll be there in a few. Sorry I’m late, that g–”

“DUDE!” Jimmy spews, garnering the attention of the passersby (other than the dad of the year) that weren’t paying him any attention until now. Then, perhaps a bit more quietly, “You aren’t late, dude, you’re not even here yet. Huuurrrrryyyyyy!”

click

Jimmy turns to Kris and says, “He’ll be here soon. Try to sober up a bit, okay Kris?”

“Okie dokie.” Kris takes a few deep, intent breaths, but remains as stoned as ever. Oh well. “Dangit, I tried man. Hey, it was awful nice of Chad to let us burn at his house before, man. Like, in his bedroom and stuff.”

Jimmy shoots his compatriot a look that goes way over his head. “Yeah, dude’s great. Just don’t mention it to him, cool?”

“Okay man. Hey, can I mention that he’s super cool for letting us smoke his weed tonight? ‘Cause tha–”

“No, Kris, speak when you’re fuckin’ spoken to. I swear to god, you’re a brick wall.”

A few minutes later, Chet pulls into the parking lot. Kris springs from his seat to help his buddy unload while Jimmy sits back and enjoys the show. It’s incredible that they’ve trained circus monkeys to work like humans, really stunning.

Eventually Jimmy approaches the two dudes he’ll be smoking with tonight and holds out what used to be a big ol’ herb sack.

“Yo. Got the party favors.”

“Dank!” Chet exclaims, maybe a little too loud. “Dude I need it, that freaking new girl at work I was telling you about? She kept trying to convince me that I was her older brother who apparently ran away a few years ago. Fuckin’ weird, right? Like, is it just me or is that weird as shit?”

“That’s just queer, chick was probably into you. Lots of humans into incest shit now, with that fuckin’ porn on the internet and shit,” Jimmy explains before hocking a horrific loogie right next to Chet’s shoe. “Doesn’t beat our story though, a firetruck nearly tee-boned us on the way over here.”

“Yeah man,” Kris says, shaking the PTSD from his thoughts. “It was crazy irresponsible of him. Like, where’s the fire, right?”

Kris has a laugh, offering to share it with Jimmy and Chet. They silently decline.

Then, Chet picks up the slack. “Well damn, dudes. Sounds like we could all use a burn, then.”

And with that, the three wander off into the woods on a search to find a nice spot to smoke themselves silly and settle down for the night. Yes, they’re all going to settle into place, just like the charred remains of Chet’s rental house. It’s a good thing his landlord swung by to demand an early rental payment, or else the fire department never would have gotten called!

Fin


Mystic Shit

“What do you mean you can’t discern the cause of the fire?! I need to make an insurance claim! What am I supposed to say, that the shit got struck by fuckin’ lightning?!”

“Not if you’re Jewish!” the fireman chuckles, patting himself on the belly. “Look sir, I–”

“Tyrone, please. You know my name.”

Tyrone sighs. “Fine. No, Lemmy, we’re not totally sure what started the fire. We think it could have been a tossed cigarette butt or something of the sort, but we found this in what might have been his bedroom before it caved in,” as he holds his hand out. Sat in his palm is a melted glass thing, a paperweight but warped, disfigured, and totally unrecognizable.

Lemmy takes it and holds it close to his eye, the glass still warm from the fire’s touch. “What kind of mystic shit was this kid into?!”


Hello Commons, this has been the third story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Honey and Lavender

Miss Gretta

Miss Gretta opens her eyes to bright blinding sunbeams and the strong scent of honey and lavender. Her chair creaks as she scoots back and sits up straight – it seems the old gal slouched a bit in her sleep. She rolls up the loosely fitting sleeve of her sweater and checks her new digital watch with the big numbers – 9:19 a.m.

A small smile creeps across her face. “Oh good,” Miss Gretta crones, “Hank won’t be back for quite a few minutes.”

Feet on the floor and hands on the arms of the chair, Miss Gretta leans forward and ushers in a meteor shower of creaks and cracks from the chair, the floor, the walls for some reason, even her body. She waddles across the living room, each step taken a mountain climbed, and approaches the far wall. Hanging on a nail hammered through the blue wallpaper and into the frame of her home is a ceramic wallhang depicting a blue jay tending to its nest. Her kids gave this to her – not for her birthday nor for any holiday, but as a simple gift – just this morning when they stopped by. It’s a shame they had to leave. She brushes the pad of a finger down the top of the mother jay’s head. Her smile grows a little wider.

Miss Gretta waddles back to the rocking chair on the far edge of the living room. Facing away from it, she finds the arms with her hands and slowly lowers herself back down. Hank won’t be back for quite a few minutes yet; tacking another chunk of sleep onto her morning nap could only do good for Miss Gretta.

Old Miss Gretta

Miss Gretta opens her eyes to wide yellow sunbeams and the sweet scent of honey and lavender. Her rocking chair creaks as she scoots back and sits up straight – it seems the old gal slouched a bit in her sleep. She rolls up the loosely fitting sleeve of her black sweater and checks her new digital watch with the big numbers her kids gave her just this morning – 9:55 a.m.

A small smile creeps across her wrinkly face. “Oh good,” Miss Gretta crones, “Hank will be back in just a few minutes.”

Loafers on the soft floor and hands on the smooth arms of the rocking chair, Miss Gretta leans forward and ushers in a carpet bombing of creaks and cracks from the chair, the floor, the walls for some reason, even her tired body. She waddles across the area rug covering the floor, each step taken a mountain climbed, and approaches the far wall. Hanging on a nail hammered through the faded baby blue wallpaper and into the termite-infested frame of her home is a ceramic wallhang depicting a mother blue jay tending to its young. Her two kids gave this to her – not for her upcoming birthday nor for last Christmas, but as a simple gift – just this morning when they stopped by for a visit. It’s a shame they had to leave before Hank got back. She brushes the pad of her pointer finger down the top of the mother jay’s white head. Her smile grows a little wider.

Miss Gretta waddles back to the rocking chair Hank gave her on the far edge of the living room’s area rug. Facing away from it, she finds the arms with her hands and slowly lowers herself back down. Hank will be back in just a few minutes, but she can tack another chunk of sleep onto her morning nap anyway. It could only do good for old Miss Gretta, and Hank will surely wake her up when he comes in.

Poor Old Miss Gretta

Miss Gretta opens her eyes to dusty golden sunbeams and the faint scent of honey and lavender. Her trusty rocker creaks as she scoots back and sits up straight – it seems the old gal slouched a bit in her sleep. She rolls up the tattered, loosely fitting sleeve of her thin black sweater and checks her new digital watch with the big numbers her two kids gave her just this morning – 10:27 a.m.

A small smile creeps across her wrinkly face, breaking tiny cracks in her chapped lips. “Oh good,” Miss Gretta crones, “Hank won’t be back for quite a few minutes.”

Holey loafers on the soft rug and arthritic hands on the smooth, worn arms of the rocking chair, Miss Gretta leans forward and ushers in a cold thunderstorm of creaks and cracks from the chair, the floor, the walls for some reason, even her tired old body. She waddles across the patchy old area rug covering the living room’s floor, each step taken a mountain climbed, and approaches the far wall. Hanging on a nail hammered through the ripped, faded baby blue wallpaper and into the rotted, termite-infested frame of her dusty old bungalow is a ceramic wallhang depicting a young mother blue jay tending to its two new babies. Her kids Sally and Dally gave this to her – not for her upcoming ninetieth birthday nor for Christmas last month, but as a simple gift – just this morning when they stopped by to make her candles. It’s a shame they had to leave before Hank got back, he would have loved to see them. She brushes the vaguely numb pad of a finger down the white strip worn into the top of the mother jay’s blue head. Her smile grows a little wider, as do the cracks in her lips.

Miss Gretta drags her feet as she waddles back to the rocking chair Hank made for her on the far edge of the living room’s patchy area rug. Facing away from it, she finds the arms with her hands and slowly lowers herself back down. Hank won’t be back for quite a few minutes yet; tacking another chunk of sleep onto her morning nap could only do good for poor old Miss Gretta. If Hank ever gets home, surely he’ll wake her up when he comes in.


Hello Commons, this has been Honey and Lavender, the flash fiction story attached to the blue jay wallhang from rePurpp, the official store of The Hillside Commons. Click here to go to the store and check it out for yourself.

I also write fiction books, all of which you can read for free on my website. Click here to see the list.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Insomnia – The 2020 Event |The Sideshows| (2/82)

Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 2
Insomnia

Second Day In A Row

As if by clockwork, Chet’s eyes burst open the moment his cracked alarm clock strikes 11:11. He groans the groan of a grizzly that was woken from hibernation precisely three months early and rolls over to swat the cackling arthropod from the sanctity of his nightstand before pouring himself out of bed and crawling around on the floor. This isn’t part of any workout routine or weird meditation thing, but it is a ritual of sorts; with only enough energy to keep one of his eyes half of the way open, Chet sniffs the air and locks on to his target. He digs through one of the numerous molehills of clothing jutting from his bedroom floor like mountains of arbitration and finds his beautiful Aphroditty, her bowl full of ash from the previous night.

Beside the slightly ashy pile of clothing is his lighter, a plain black Qic that Chet lifted from the 822 Minimart under which he is so thankfully employed. Multiple attempts at flicking the yanked Qic do not pan out for young Chet, unfortunately – it seems his lighter is low on fluid. Such stress so early in the morning; not only does Chet need to find his little plastic garbage can beneath the heaps of clothing scattered about his bedroom floor to throw his lighter into, but he also needs to dig out his box of matches from his old camping backpack that he hasn’t used since before he moved out here so he can smoke. The catch: said backpack could literally be locked inside the Ark of the Covenant for all Chet knows. He will find the lighter regardless, he has to. One day without a wake and bake session is bad enough, but two days? Hell no.

‘This isn’t that big of a deal,’ Chet mentally reassures himself whilst flinging dirty laundry into the air behind him, ‘You can just pinch another lighter from work on your break.’

Looks like the 822 job isn’t the worst gig in the world after all. A full fifteen minutes later, Chet comes across his vanquished but still breathing alarm clock. He is then checked right in the face by a hulking reality strapped with a hockey mask: he’s going to be hours late to the job, yet again. Second day in a row. Fanfreakingtastic. This means that uppity-ass Mister Bron-ass will be spelunking even further up Chet’s ass today than he normally does. Say goodbye to that break and hello to a docked paycheck.

No break is whatever, Chet usually doesn’t take one anyway, but the docked slip of money paper will lead to a smaller weed fund for the month; this is a code red, if ever there was one. Giving the pipe incarnation of the goddess of beauty a kiss goodbye, Chet sloppily dresses himself in his unwashed deli uniform and sprints downstairs, then out into the cold night air.

Scrambled

Being sober and therefore entirely out of his element, Chet dives into his car and backs the Grand PM out of his driveway. The duo makes it halfway down the road before noticing the lack of late-morning sunshine; Chet slams on the breaks and the PM stops dead in the street, the skid marks left behind the tires as dark as the circles underneath Chet’s eyes. This is the very worst-case scenario, the one withdrawal symptom that makes yesterday’s nonsense look like a stroll to your mom’s house. See, the other problems go away when the medicine is administered, but this one? When certain tectonic plates are set into motion beneath the Earth’s surface, there’s no stopping the ensuing tidal wave. Having felt more than well rested from the two-hour cat nap Chet allowed it to indulge in, Chet’s body is now more animated than your parents when you walk in on them for a surprise visit, emphasis on the surprise. His mind is deader than the deadbolt they forgot to lock, his body’s as exhausted as your parents are with the fact that you exist, and his mind is as disgusted as you should be at this dreadfully extended metaphor. Tonight, the luxury of sleep no longer exists to Chet, similarly to your innocence after you walk in on your parents nailing each other when you pay them a spontaneous visit home from… wherever you live.

Yeah, I said it. I made it real, and now you have to deal with it, just like Chet when he screams out, “FUCKING INSOMNIA!”

Chet throws the Grand PM back into reverse and returns to his driveway, the cold night air licking his face through the broken window. Dragging his feet up his steps and slamming the front door shut to show the Universe just how angsty he is at all of this, Chet retreats to his cave with his proverbial tail between his legs. C’mon Chet, you’re not that scrambled, just a little tired is all. Look at the positives, my boy! Not only is there ample time to find your matches and smoke ya bad self up, but your brain’s going to be so wired by the time your shift starts that you’ll probably get to work early!

What’s that? Oh, you can’t hear me because you’re too busy screaming at yourself internally? Cool man, I’ll just let you do you.

Chet gets the night off to a great start when, as he’s turning to walk up his stairs, half of his body collides with the wall. Studies show that during bouts of insomnia, the given sufferer is so motor-impaired that they may as well be intoxicated; Chet is out to prove the legitimacy of this study.

Just after recovering from tripping up the second-to-last stair, Chet walks into his guest bedroom. He strips out of his uniform and climbs between the covers, melting into the comfy bed like cheese between two sheets of lasagna. Here he simmers for about forty-two seconds before he realizes that he’s in the wrong room and starts screaming internally again, cursing belligerently at the malevolent force who rearranged the layout of his rental house. He leaves the guest room a mess so said malevolent force can clean it up for him later.

Clouded by irritation, the chetsweats, a headache, and a slight tremble in his hands, Chet stumbles into what should, by all rights,be his bedroom, and trips over a very sturdy pile of clothing. He remains here for a good short while, too angry to get up and too tired to lighten up. It’s a good thing his carpet’s so saturated with weed smell, or else Chet would be pushing furious.

Chet’s Smokin’ Tonight

Eventually Chet comes to the realization that lying on the floor of his bedroom isn’t going to get him any closer to being stoned. He rises and decides to search through the tidier rooms of his abode before tackling ground zero. The backpack is almost certainly buried in this room, and he knows this, but procrastination is a thing, after all. A quick sweep of the bathroom reveals nothing with a side dish of startling uncleanliness, so he moves on to the guest bedroom.

“Who the fuck was sleeping in h– oh… wait. Shit.”

Jotting cleaning the guest room just above searching the bedroom on tonight’s imaginary to-do list, Chet goes downstairs and begins an expedition through his entire household. Starting with the living room where he never smokes his weed, he then proceeds through the kitchen, then the den, then the hall closet, and finally ends in the basement where he never dwells. Chet grows tired of his own wild goose chase and returns to his bedroom, the little home inside his house.

The home that he still hasn’t cleaned, which he must do in order to search through it.

Chet trips over the sturdy pile of laundry again and kisses the floor, kind of like Jimi Hendrix but the exact polar opposite. Chet decides to clean that specific pile up last, solely out of spite. You know you’re exhausted when you start spiting inanimate objects, amirite? And you know you’re really far gone when you hear an assholeish voice in your head narrating everything you do, like, what the fuck, right? Right Chet? What the fuck, RiGhT?’

With hopes of kicking out these intrusive thoughts, Chet selects a pile of clothing that has yet to hurt his feelings and gets to work. After, that is, he performs the smell test to determine whether or not they actually need to be washed.

sniff

When he’s done gagging, Chet picks the remaining pile up and holds it while he searches for his hamper. It’s stuffed inside his closet, right under the shelf where he keeps his stash box, but it takes him a while to remember this. Meanwhile, the caustic toxins present in Chet’s laundry pile begin eating through the first layer of skin on both his hands and his arms, which is fine because it’s just dead skin cells anyway. Chet doesn’t feel a thing, and if anything, once the biohazard is properly contained, his arms seem to work a bit better! As Chet flings pile after pile of dirty laundry into the hamper, he contemplates when the last time he did laundry was. When… when did he do laundry last? I– er, he’s… we’re asking you, hypothetical reader, because if he doesn’t know, then I sure as hell don’t.

Oh well, doesn’t matter. Chet’s phone is going off.

Two more piles get loaded into the hamper before Chet needs to peel back a curtain and crack a window. The smell of evolved body odor, once a concentrated colony has been established, is far too much for young Chet to bare. Not even a bear would come near this nonsense, and they eat human shit. Like, baby human shit, like, if you load a dumpster up with full diapers, close it, wait five seconds and open it up again, there’ll be bear in there just tearing the shit up – literally – and it’ll be pissed at you for disturbing its feast!

Ah, there goes that phone again. Chet’s ringtone is an old reggae song played at four-and-a-fifth times its normal speed; when he’s high, this tune is a randomly delivered batch of pure musical ecstasy. Right now, Chet is not high, though, and the obnoxious shrill might as well be his mother’s nails on the chalkboard she keeps in the kitchen. Kept. Probably still keeps. Whatever. With a mean flick of his wrist, Chet pulls all the blankets off his bed, which is the last known location of his cell phone.

There’s no easy way to say this: Chet’s phone crashes right into his forehead. This, tonight’s umpteenth collision, does nothing to make our camper any happier, and he kicks over his almost full toxic waste depository in retaliation. That’s a yeesh Chet, that’s a big ol’ yeesh. After composing himself and re-containing his disaster, Chet finally check his phone. It’s his stoner pal Jimmy, texting him at three o’clock in the morning to say the following:

yo were smoking l8r rite

Chet, whilst wondering why the WHY this needs to be asked at three o’clock in the morning, answers back…

Yeah, I have work but afterwards I’m down

cool. wat time

9 to 5

k

Chet puts his phone down and moves the hamper out into the hallway. He once had aspirations of playing competitive basketball in high school that he never followed through on, so he makes a little game for himself: for every shot he sinks into the hamper, he’ll take a hit from his pipe. You know, when he finds something to combust the plant matter held within its luscious bowl.

Fourteen missed shots later leave Chet’s hallway more littered than a minefielded rice paddy, and Chet is grumpier than the farmer who discovered said minefield with his now prosthetic foot and leg. Oh well, it’s not like Chet’s not going to smoke because of this.

Cue the speedy reggae.

steves comin to

Chet studies the strange symbols on his phone screen, attempting to decipher their meaning. ‘Oh, Steve is coming to smoke,’ he thinks to himself while he makes a one-man show of rolling his eyes in a very no shit kind of way.

K

dont k me toolbag. c yu 2mro

Chet throws his phone into the hallway. To his surprise, it lands in the laundry basket! Whoop whooooooop, Chet’s smokin’ tonight! Er, this morning! Chet’s smokin’ this morning! Or, actually, would it be later…? Whatever. Chet’s getting high soon. Besides, time isn’t even real.

It Is Time

By the time Chet’s finished clearing all but one of the piles off his bedroom floor, the sun is beginning to peek over the horizon. In a flash decision of egocentricity and continued spite, Chet moves to clean out his calamity of a closet before touching the stupid pile of stupid clothing on his stupid fucking floor.

You know, the one that outsmarted him twice in the same night.

The inanimate laundry pile. Yeah, that one

Inside his closet, Chet finds no less than two CO2 airsoft guns – a pistol and a rifle – that he’s totally going to get fixed one day; fourteen little cardboard boxes that have the words HotBox stamped on top of them with a branding iron, all stuffed with various pieces of smoking equipment and accessories; mounds of infected dirty clothing; mounds of clean clothing that caught the dirty contagion simply from sharing a proximity with the nasty clothes; a cylindrical box containing a burnt-out lava lamp; two oversized stuffed animals, one a bear and one a bigfoot, that a now-straightedge ex-girlfriend gave back to him after he originally won them at a carnival for her; eighty-seven old vidyaGame magazines that Chet never skimmed, read, nor looked at; a few old movie posters rolled so tightly that they’ll never unroll without curling, and; a box of pizza that was left in there so long ago that the microorganisms in the cheese have evolved to the size of beetles and developed their own ecosystem.

Yet no backpack, no matches, no spare lighter. Imagine that.

All right, time to swallow that pride. Chet stands across the room from his archenemy, The Gatekeeper. The final battle is about to begin. Orchestral boss music plays in Chet’s head before it’s cut off by the theme of that old western flick The Bad, The Good and the Guapo. A tumbleweed composed of lint, dust bunnies, and weed tumbles by in the background. Then… Chet anticlimactically begins throwing the last of the dirty clothes onto the piles that have formed around his hamper. As the pile diminishes, Chet becomes very angry with himself when he should just be happy; the pile was so sturdy this whole time, so easily able to outsmart him, because it was built upon his camping backpack.

The one with the matches in it that he’s been searching for all night. It was right there in front of him the entire time. Imagine tha

“Shut the fuck up with your imagine that shit! Fucking hell!”

Matchbox in hand, Chet hasn’t been this excited since he was a newborn who’d just seen the light. He lights an incense, closes the opened curtain, dims the lights, hits that lo-fi. ‘It’s showtime.’

Holding a freshly packed Aphroditty and the matchbox in one hand and a single match in the other, Chet overzealously strikes the green-tipped twiggyboi. So overzealously, in fact, that the match breaks in half as it combusts. In a blaze of glory like no other, the ball of phosphoric flame flies unguided through the air towards Chet’s nightstand. By the time our boy launches himself at the small fire and extinguishes it, a small but not as small as the fire scorch is burned into his carpet. ‘Fuck.’

After making a pit stop in the bathroom to run water over the incredibly minor burn on his hand, Chet slinks back into his room, his tail tucked so far between his legs at this point that he realizes, ‘That’s not a tail, that’s just my dick! Man am I tired.’

Chet gets down on his hands and knees to pick the tiny sliver of charcoal from the melted strands of carpet fibre, and that’s when he sees it. There, underneath his nightstand, lays an old lighter, one that he paid for long ago. He never even got to take the safety off, it’s so pristine, so innocent. So pure. Reaching through cobwebs and entire bedscrapers full of dust bunnies, Chet salvages the lighter and lays it next to Aphroditty; truly a match made in heaven. Then, he turns and whips the box of matches into the wall next to his doorjamb, spilling all of its contents on the once clean carpet beneath his light switch. New room’s gotta start somewhere, right?

Finally, it is time. Chet sits on his floor and leans back against his bed. He lights his bowl right in the center of the leafy green soup and draws, filling them lungs with the best oxygen substitute known to man. He holds his hit in until his eyes water, then slowly exhales the cloud into his room so he can breathe it in again later. Six more hits and the bowl’s made as ashy as the air is hazy. Finally, after a night of more trials and tribulations than Heracles himself had to face, Chet is one happy camper.

That is, until the alarm on his phone goes off, informing him that it is now 8:52 AM, and that he’s going to be late for Bronology 101.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Fin


Chad

“What do you mean you saw him?”

“I saw him mom, I saw Tyler! I mean, the guy’s name was Chad or something, but he looked and sounded exactly like him!”

Momma Portman shoots her daughter a look. “What were you doing at a minimart, anyway? You don’t eat that shit foot. If you’re smoking cigarettes, young lady, I swear to God…”

“Ugh!” Isabelle ughs, “I was just thirsty and I needed to grab a drink, mom! Are you not hearing me?! I saw Tyler, he’s still in town! He’s not dead!”

Mom grabs Isabelle by the shoulders, brings their faces close. “Listen to me, very, carefully. Your brother is gone, he’s an asshole and he abandoned our family. He’s dead to me, and he should be dead to you, too, Isabelle. This…” She softly pushes her daughter away and begins to massage her pounding temples. “This is the third time you’ve claimed to see him in the past year. Get a grip, child! He’s gon–”

“No, he’s not!” Isabelle shouts, pushing herself further away. “He’s my brother and I love him, and you should too! He ran away for a reas–”

“HEY! If you keep this shit up, then I’m calling your father at work. You know he doesn’t like to be disturbed.”

Isabelle backs away towards the front door. “He was never like that before Tyler left. All of this shit started the day you walked down into that basement and found it empty!”

Isabelle storms out of the house, not letting the locked door stop her, and climbs into her car. Lighting a cancer stick and hanging it out the window, Isabelle speeds off into the day, unsure if she’ll ever be coming back.


Hello Commons, this has been the second story from the first chapter of The 2020 Event |The Sideshows|, a satirical short story anthology about Existence and the universes that float within it. |The Sideshows| is the final book of the First Spiral, a longer story called The Highest One Writing.

The Highest One Writing is a story about an author told through the books he wrote. It starts with a self-help book and ends with the destruction of Existence. Also, it may or may not take you to the depths of insanity and back.

|The Sideshows| is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like |The Sideshows| and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed paperback copy (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) paperback copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~