The Good-Bye Garden: Part Three

V 

            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”

In Which My Friend Alan Saved the World, (or at Least the City of Nashville, Tennessee, [but We Aren’t Really Sure])

In Which My Friend Alan Saved the World,

(or at Least the City of Nashville, Tennessee,

[but We Aren’t Really Sure])

            It is no small task to define a friendship, or to pinpoint a precise moment in which one could say this or that chum became said chum – there are no (or very few) origin stories for camaraderies, in other words.
Not so with me and Alan Goffinski.
In my advanced age, I can no longer say with certainty which year it was that I first met Alan; what I do recall is that I spent the better part of it willfully confined to a rural Indiana town while he toured the nation as a traveling musician. Each of us remained unaware of the other until, as the year came to a close, we found ourselves living under the same roof. He had deigned to slow down and enjoy a quiet, relaxed existence in quaint, calm Indianapolis. I had dared to upend the solitude I held so dear and immerse myself in the utter chaos of bustling, terrifying Indianapolis.
At the time I believe I knew about seven people, two of whom were my parents. So who the hell, I had to’ve wondered, was this guy moving in with me and my new roommates, and where was he procuring all of these dozens of bags of expired potato chips every night? Our earliest exchanges are lost to the ether of memory fog, on my end at least, but the real story of this friendship’s forging began when – rather unexpectedly – Alan (and future Mrs. Goffinski Alida) invited me to tag along on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.
I hadn’t left the state in years; I hadn’t taken time off from work in months; and I hadn’t been alone in a room with Alan and/or Alida for more than an hour. There was some deliberation before I said “yes” and put my life in Alan’s hands. I had heard stories about Tennessee, believed none of them to be true because logic dictated they could not be.
Hrmph. Continue reading “In Which My Friend Alan Saved the World, (or at Least the City of Nashville, Tennessee, [but We Aren’t Really Sure])”

“D”

“D”

by Ryan Everett Felton

            The place even felt like death, Heck Daniels thought – or at least some form of limbo. The office stood smack in the middle of an otherwise-abandoned strip mall, so desolate that Heck had seen an actual tumbleweed bounce past when he arrived.
            And like purgatory, the office was unfurnished and smelled of eggs. Nothing but a picnic table with a crate on either side greeted Heck upon arrival for his scheduled appointment. He sat on a Borden’s carton sweating in the absence of central air, checking his watch until the makeshift sliding door (really a curtain) on the far end of the office opened, and through it came the woman called Gladys.
            Through strained breaths she said, “Sorry, sweetie. Time just runs away from me back there.” Dressed for a day at the casino in a tracksuit and visor, she dropped a purse full of what Heck assumed were bricks onto the table, which buckled and creaked with the weight. “I’m Gladys,” she said. “You’re Hector. This, we know. Now – to business.” Continue reading ““D””

Performance Review

Performance Review

Ryan Everett Felton

 

Martin Fletcher’s wife Eloise placed a sacked lunch in his hands and kissed him goodbye.
“Don’t be nervous,” she said, but they both knew he was.
“I hate these damn performance reviews,” he said, moving in for a return smooch. “Makes me feel like cattle.”
“You’ll be fine,” said Eloise, though he saw her frowning as he backed out of the driveway.
Martin parked in an out-of-the-way lot in town, smoothed out his hair and checked his teeth in the visor mirror, and walked with trepidation to a stairwell beyond a rusted back-alley door on the corner of 18th and Washington. Then he climbed. After two-dozen flights, he stopped counting, pausing now and then to sip from his water bottle or daub his dripping forehead. Continue reading “Performance Review”