IV. I Will Spue Thee out of My Mouth
They met not at any Waffle House but an Arby’s where two highways crossed. Dodd went alone, driving a rental car. He put on a red baseball cap and sunglasses before he went in. Now was not a good time to stop for selfies with his fans or — worse — have the press show up again. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and kept his head down, opening the glass doors to the restaurant with a push of the shoulder.
He went inside.
Ding, ding! Bong, bong!
Dodd yelped. This loud, incessant clanging struck up the moment his first toe touched the grimy tile. Like a dinner bell on a farm.
“Look who it is!” someone shouted. Continue reading “The Man Who Ran for God (pt. 4)”
Imagine me, five years old, and scared to death to open my eyes — to take even the bitsiest peep — during prayers at the dinner table, at church services, or weddings. Was it some rule set by my God-fearing mother, a warning from a Sunday school teacher, or just basic intuition? Don’t look or God can’t do His work!
Wherever the habit came from, you’d bet wisely on me gluing my eyelids shut anytime the words “bow your heads” or “let us pray” were uttered by a grownup. Once, I didn’t hear the conclusive “amen” and so sat there, waiting, head balanced on the clenched hands in my lap, until I was shaken awake at the end of a sermon.
I was seven, I think, when it dawned on me: Since I’d never taken even the slightest peek, I had no idea whether anyone else was obeying the rules so staunchly. Or if God Himself ever entered the room and folded his arms, watching everybody as he twirled his white beard of cloud and chuckled at us oblivious mortals.
Seven, and no baby anymore! Rebellion and risk called out to me now, rather than repelling me.
So at Auntie Rae’s funeral, I decided I’d take a good look around when the preacher lifted up his voice to the heavens and asked us all to stand there, like good boys and girls, with our hands wadded up and our eyes tightly squeezed. Just this once.
Continue reading “Implicated”
Dear friends and readers,
My new fiction anthology, The Good-Bye Garden & Other Stories, is now out in the world, awaiting your judgment. It contains some works previously published on this blog, many more that were not, and a lot of very pretty artwork by Indianapolis artists.
Have a look — and remember, Amazon reviews are always awesome.
“The Good-Bye Garden & Other Stories” on Amazon
The perfect little family pulled up in a burgundy Ford Pinto and toddled out in their snow boots onto the roadside. They were the seventeenth perfect little family to arrive that day. There was a red-nosed poppa, with his funny flap hat and trimmed mustache, and a blushing momma. A little boy and a littler girl – so little was this one, the snow on the ground came darn near up to her dimpled chin.
There was just enough room for them to stand between the road and the nearest of infinite rows of evergreens. Continue reading “Tannenbaum”
When I came to, some time later, it was to the tune of horse hooves on stone, and my throbbing head bumping against wood, and the giddy whispers of children. My eyelids were glued shut so when I pried them apart, half my lashes ripped out. I lay on my side, rocking, woven baskets stacked in high, leaning towers all around me.
I sat up and leaned into the columns of hampers. The purple welts and bruises all down my arms were not lost on me. A quick scan downward confirmed more of the same on my legs. But the kicker: one foot wrapped in textile, soaked in blood and – I drew it up, painfully, to confirm – missing the big toe. Just gone.
So. Old Jabal must’ve really worked me over. Shame I was unconscious for all that.
Toe aside, the immediate concern was my current predicament. Shedding the initial shock of post-waking panic, I recognized that I was in a horse-drawn cart. Headed back toward the innards of Nod, judging by the sun’s position and by common sense. (Carts full of product don’t leave Nod.) I plunged a scraped-up hand into one of the baskets and rummaged, coming up with a handful of sun-shriveled dates. I sniffed one, took a bite. Realized I was missing a tooth or two. And I thought, Wait a minute. Dates. Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Three”