A Bit Longer, Trifecta Challenge

Semper Fidelis

“It would be apreshated if gests would take there shoes off.”

It’s written in childish block letters and taped just above the doorbell. There’s a drawing too. I would have expected a pair of sneakers or maybe some feet, but instead it’s a picture of a Rambo style character, with an AK-47.

That’s a new one, I think. Sherice didn’t used to be so house-proud. I guess the kids are on board too. I always knew my brother was a neatnik, but when he retired from the Marines and got married, Sherice softened him up around the edges, made him realize that four kids (in three years) and an incontinent pug (that she found at the bus station and kept for the kids) were not compatible with high levels of barracks-style cleanliness. We have to band together on this one, she would say.

It’s drizzling, cold. The wind chimes she gave him on his forty-fifth birthday hang limply from a porch rafter. I ring the doorbell again. My brother’s broken-up face appears in the bubbled glass of the door lite.


Yeah. Let me in.

He’s quiet.

Let me in, would ya? It’s shitty out here.

He opens the door in full dress uniform, medals, epaulettes, white cap and belt, the whole deal. Except no shoes. His socks have HANES in blue across the toes.

He points an M9 Beretta at my chest.

Christ, Jerry.

He doesn’t move. I step backwards, knocking into the wind chimes.

C’mon Jerry. Quit it. Put it away.

There’s a small black lump lying in a pooled shadow on the hallway floor behind him. I think I see a pink collar. From further inside the house, a crash and a child’s high-pitched wail.

Where’s Sherice?

Jerry’s eyes flick away, back to me. He laughs, like when I would tell him my stupid kid brother jokes.

That’s a good one, he says.


Pretty Short

Crack (2)

Et voila! says Jonnie, with a flourish.

The place is pretty sweet. You step out of the elevator. One of those key lock elevators that open into the apartment, like in the movies.

The ceilings are high and molded. There are tall sash windows with leaded panes. Yes, you feel like you can maybe taste air again.

Then he leaves you.

There’s a gallon of milk and three microwave dinners in the fridge.

Far below, mangled swings in a playground, a liquor store and a sign. ICE OLD EER.

Voices through the wall – Fuck you. No, fuck you.

You fumble for your phone, then you realize he took it. Your laptop’s on the table.

Unauthorized webpage.

Jonnie’s there, smiling.

Everything okay?

He lays a cool palm on the back of your neck. He switches off his smile and the overhead light, picks the keycard back up from the counter, and he’s gone again.

The setting sun makes drops of blood out of the glass roses, across the polished oak floor.

No, you say to the closing doors, in the darkening room. Everything’s not okay.

That night, the sound of chains and ropes cranking unknown bodies up and down. The bed facing the elevator and you can’t decide which way to lie in it. Head down, head up – you’re always vulnerable.

There’s a crack in the dark paneled elevator doors. Something not adjusted quite right. As the elevator passes, light flickers and dances across the sheets in odd random beats.

So you lie on the floor.

The ceiling starts to crawl. Gargoyles erupt from the molding.

Open your eyes. See burned fingers pry the elevator doors apart. A woman. Blisters on her lips, a narrow thread of blood across her cheek. Her eyes fall into her head like sinkholes.

Looking into them, you see chains, going down forever.

Jonnie finds you, in the morning, curled around yourself as if to protect a child, and he takes you in his arms. He rocks you back and forth, touches your cheek.

And he leaves you, just one more time.

A Bit Longer, Fiction


I’m sitting outside on my deck in the early morning sun, smoking a menthol while I drink my coffee. I don’t smoke, and if I’m honest with myself, the cigarette has really ruined the taste of my espresso. Since Sara left, I’ve been doing this a lot. Doing things, I mean, that seem like they’re going to be really cool – like they’re going to make me feel really cool – but turn out to be, well, a disappointment. Take Ellen, for example.

My brother introduced us, which was probably a bad sign. (He never had liked Sara, pronouncing her ‘dry as a lawyer’s wet dream.’ Nothing was ever exciting enough for him, as witnessed by a trail of broken marriages and a missing middle fingertip, victim of his obsession with carnivorous fish.)

A mutual friend had talked me into a party on the east side – nothing wild, just the late young adulthood, early midlife kind. The kind of party I needed to ease me back into sociability. I sat in a corner, watching people drink lite beer out of paper cups, while a lone baby (the sole entertainment) bounced up and down in a primary colored plastic saucer, enthralling the assembled crowd.

Sara loved babies. Loved them so much in fact, I got sick of hearing about it. When you are, you know, of the Sapphic persuasion, the whole procreation thing is just so inordinately complicated. Birth mothers, sperm donors, gestational surrogacy. Whatever.

We would sit up nights, straight backed at the kitchen table, and discuss it until the sun cracked through the drapes and shot a shard of light between us. The best I could come up with, after all that, was a poorly disguised yawn and a specious offer to ‘investigate the cost of adoption.’

Darren rolled up to the party: late, drunk and uninvited. Ellen was draped over his arm. A thin gold headband encircled her frizzy squared-off hairdo, and her rosebud lips sipped at a menthol cigarette through an ivory holder. With her full sleeve tattoos, she put me in mind of a tribal Lillian Gish.

Darren winked at me, flipped me a stumpy bird, and left us together. After an awkward moment, punctured by the squeaking of a rubber zebra, Ellen flicked her cigarette ash in the direction of the performing child.

“Dear God,” she whispered, her breath hot in my ear. “I simply cannot stand infants.”

We hit it off.

The next Saturday morning found me relaxing in the tub, languidly relishing the memories of the previous seven nights, up to my neck in milk and honey. I was pondering the pros and cons (but mostly the pros) of getting my nipples pierced, when I caught sight of my lone toothbrush in its glass by the sink – and allowed myself the merest hint of a hope that it might soon be joined, on at least a semi-permanent basis, by Ellen’s. Babies or no babies, I just couldn’t help myself.

Then the screen door slammed. In the eerie silence that followed, I became slowly and painfully aware of the soft fizz of my bubble bath deflating.

She did leave me an opened pack of Kools, thrown on my pillow like a half-chewed mint. She took the ivory holder, of course. My brother says he saw her yesterday on one of his delivery runs – she’s the back of house specialist at Kidz Kottage. She didn’t tell him to say hi.

Whatever. It’s now eight-oh-four. Time to get ready for the nine-to-five. I’ve got a hollow, dry feeling in my chest, but I guess I can say one thing for that menthol cigarette. Unlike the coffee (a bitter Bolivian blend I’ve been drinking for years) – it gave me one hell of a buzz.


Friday Fictioneers


Last night, you held out your hand and said, “Don’t be afraid of falling.”

You have an open face, a face I can trust. I’m close enough to see the freckle under the arch of your brow. Below us – another world, moving silently on invisible wheels. Walking heads, veins of tar, and hard, black pavement. I smile my smile, the wry one that keeps me tethered to myself, the one that says: You take me for a fool. Your hand flutters in front of me – I reach for it. And let it drop, a flightless bird, into the space between us.


Friday Fictioneers http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/5-july-2013/

Trifecta Challenge

Pardon My French

He’s standing at the pisser and this is what he sees, scrawled on the subway tile in crude red letters:

so michel FoUCault is cRap??

He’s in the philosophy library john, on the third floor of Doolittle Hall, on the campus of a mid-sized Midwestern state university, in the middle of the afternoon. Spring semester is officially over, has been for two weeks.

The graffiti – no shocker, except that there’s not a soul around. He was in this exact same stall twenty minutes ago (he has an addiction to energy drinks and a bean-sized bladder) and he’d bet his right nut it wasn’t there then.

So who wrote it? And – Foucault? It’s weird. No way anyone round here has ever heard of Foucault. Shit, he only found about him last semester, and then he let that faggy French prof talk him into a whole fucking thesis.

Yeah, weird. It gives him the chills.

He shakes himself off in a hurry and yanks up his fly, and now he doesn’t feel so vulnerable. Who is this ignoramus anyway? Like they even know how to write like a grownup. The random capitals? What is this, ‘The Da Vinci Code’?

Back in the library, he tries to keep the words ‘visibly shaken’ out of his head but they keep popping back in. Ridiculous. But he still has the messed up idea that someone was watching him in the john… Like, big deal, he thinks, I’m used to it. I’m on the lacrosse team after all. Haha.

Scraping his chair back up to the reading desk – the place echoes like a museum – he notices a piece of paper tucked inside his pristine copy of ‘The History of Sexuality’ (Volume 1).

He throws a glance over his shoulder. Nobody. He unfolds the paper.

Pouting at him is a Playboy centerfold, and there’s a note in red ink splashed across her implausible tits.

You’re in way over your head, FUCkeR. Stick to Dan Brown.


Trifecta Challenge – 333 words – “Crude”