Grizzly

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“It’s a grizzly. It must be a grizzly. Please don’t be a grizzly.” Thoughts fired in quick succession through James’s mind. Two hours earlier he started for a run just outside the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park. James sat behind a desk most days answering email and phone calls, and he had to work a few extra hours that week. This was his chance to finally spend some time outside and get some exercise. He had moved to Colorado two years earlier, and loved living near the mountains. The trail he decided on cut through the woods, then carried him up and down several rocky hillsides. He was impressed by the landscape, but the trail was much longer than he had planned. He had already come across several picturesque viewpoints of mountain valleys to the west, and incredible peaks in the far distance to the east.  Imposing storm clouds had dominated throughout the day, so the crowds of hikers that he might have encountered along the path on a sunny day were absent on this particular, late-summer afternoon. He had only seen two other people on the trail so far.

James entered a portion of the trail that followed the course of a narrow creek through dense bushes – “Eight miles” his cell phone announced in an electronic voice. He was focused on the trail. As he entered a gradual curve of the trail a loud rustling shook the chest high bushes just to his right. Continue reading

The Engagement Ring – 300 words

 

Bill sat in the dirt and stared at the ring in his hand. He purchased the ring over a year ago, but there it was in his hand instead of on the finger it was intended for. He looked out at the lake where they spent several weekends together during the summer. He once felt like his life was poised on the edge of perfection: he had money, he was good-looking and in great shape, he found a great girl. He had never thought that everything could change in just one year. Bill lost the girl, who insisted that she had never considered him to be “husband material.” Her response to his proposal was, in essence, “I won’t waste the rest of my life with a car salesman”. He lost his job and most of his money after spending more time in bed with a hangover than at work. His world was now tilted and slippery. Bill was sliding. He was struggling to hold onto whatever was left, but he still had the ring.

The diamond ring cost Bill three thousand dollars, and he refused to sell it for less than two. He was never offered more than a thousand, so he kept it.

Bill rose to his feet at the edge of the water. “I don’t even like the outdoors!” she had screamed during their final fight. A rising swell of resentment became a wave of anger. He had to get rid of the ring. Bill drew his arm back, ready to throw it as far as he could. He hesitated then dropped the ring in the water just in front of his feet.  It splashed, then sank in the silt. It didn’t deserve a place in the middle of the crystal blue lake. It belonged in the shallow muddy water of the bank.

El Candido (short non-fiction)

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This is a short story that i wrote recently about an awesome trip that we took down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico about seven years ago. We drove for about 30 hours down the peninsula with my wife’s sister and brother-in-law, and had several adventures along the way. This story is about a particular “challenge” that we faced once we arrived in Cabo:

El Candido

“You have to trust me if you ever want to leave this place,” the man yelled. He sat in the front seat of a noisy, rattling vehicle that passed for a taxi and spoke back to us. “When we get to the police station, you just do what I say. How much cash do you have?” It was the third time he had asked us about money, and we started to think that getting in a cab with him had been a bad decision. The man was much smaller than me, and I was with my brother-in-law, who had been a rugby player in high school. We each stood four or five inches taller than this shifty character that we had met just an hour earlier, but that might not matter if he pulled a gun or a knife. Continue reading

Candy Canes are Crimson – short horror

This is a short story that i just submitted for a writing competition. The requirement was a horror story under 1,000 words with the theme – “Red Xmas”. I hope you enjoy it. Image result for candy cane

Candy Canes are Crimson

Each Christmas I find it more difficult to decide what I want. Many people get completely wrapped up in the holly and mistletoe, the lights, and all the other traditions. I haven’t felt excited for Christmas since I was much younger. For many years, the most exciting part for me was a pack of new socks that I would give myself each Christmas. I don’t want to sound pathetic, and I definitely don’t want to reminisce. Actually, I need to warn you. I don’t want this to spoil your holiday season, but I really think you should know. I will try to keep it short.

I heard this story just recently, but I don’t think it is the first time that it has happened. It goes something like this:

It’s just a few days before Christmas on a particularly cold night. Needless to say it is almost always dark this time of year, this particular night is no exception.  A man sits at home and hears a knock at the door. He answers. Nobody is there, but an ornate box is sitting on the doorstep. It’s about the size of a shoebox, but made of dark-stained wood. A big, golden bow sits on top of the box. It looks like it fell right out of Santa’s sleigh. The man picks up the unexpected item and brings it inside. When he opens the box Continue reading

Burning Candle

Image result for burning candle flame

I find a small candle on the entertainment center near where I sit. I strike my lighter then look closer at the candle as I light it. There are scratches from tiny fingernails in the surface of the wax all around the wick. My daughter loves these little candles. She can’t yet be trusted around a lit candle, but she loves playing with them just the same. As I look at the flame, I recognize it as something I have seen a thousand times before. Today as I look closer and more intently, I find it intriguing that the flame is a mixture of bright light and… space, air, nothing. Looking at the flame I notice that as the color moves and changes and bounces, it appears to be something else. “It looks like a liquid”, I think to myself. The longer I stare at the flame, the more unfamiliar and extraordinary it becomes. It is like repeating an ordinary word over and over again until it suddenly sounds very strange…

“Banjo… Banjo… Banjo… Banjo”.

The thing I like the best about the flame is that it extends above the portion that is bright and easily seen and blends into something that is invisible to the eye. If I held my hand directly above the flame I would still feel it. Finally, I close my eyes after watching the flame, and I realize that I can still see it. As I open my eyes and look around, I find a discolored patch bouncing around my field of vision. Amazing!

Martha Waits

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It’s not the snow that I can’t stand, it’s that damn wind; it blows through everything. I try to pull my coat a little tighter, but it feels paper thin against the relentless wind. My feet are soaked standing here waiting for the B53 bus. The snow has already melted through my shoes from the top and around the sole simultaneously, my toes are freezing. The bus finally arrives, and the first person to step off is my ex-husband John. We stand for a moment face-to-face… then he nods politely and continues on his way. A wave of longing cuts through me and makes me forget about the wind and my wet feet.

Garrett Prologue

sunrise-ng

The first brilliant colors of dawn present themselves, but are unnoticed by a young couple in a grey sedan.  The bright orange edge of the sun emerges on the horizon, but these two figures are distracted by the commotion that immediately surrounds them, and the final goal that lies directly in front of them. They did not expect that their modest vehicle would stand out the way it does here at the border. Their Chevrolet Caprice is already several years old; the shine of the paint is  worn, but it has an air of luxury when compared to the vehicles surrounding them. The year is 1983, the Caprice is a ’76, but the engine runs smoothly and evenly, while the cars around them sputter and spew black smoke into the air. Continue reading

Bricks

Bricks

Image result for red brick sidewalk

“About thirty years…” I think to myself. I am sitting in a small park in a fashionable town 20 miles north of Chicago. It’s a nice day. The grass is green, the sun is out, and there is a steady but gentle breeze. The sun makes me glad I am outside; the breeze makes me appreciate the light jacket that I brought along with me.

Its lunchtime and the people around me are divided between the warm and the cold. The café that I walked past a few minutes ago looked near capacity inside, but there were three or four tables of diners outside on the patio. They defiantly browsed their menus, enjoying the sun and refusing to be confined indoors for lunch any longer. Continue reading

green – Read this at a Park

Green

(please read this at a park)

There are hundreds, if not thousands of shades of green, but there are two basic “types” of green: There are greens found in plants, leaves, grass, and living things; and then there are the various hues and shades that we assign to things that are manufactured, produced, or painted.  The “organic green” has a specific quality and energy that is unique to living things. The “artificial green” is simply a mixture of chemicals engineered to reflect the particular portion of the visible spectrum between yellow and blue (ROYGBIV). Continue reading

Galumphing

Bill sat in the dirt and stared at the ring in his hand. It was a beautiful wedding ring he had purchased over a year ago, but there it was in his hand instead of on the finger it was intended for. He once felt like his life was poised at the edge of perfection: he had money, he was good-looking and in great shape, he found a great girl. He had not ever considered that it could all change so drastically for him in just one year. Bill lost the girl, who apparently had never considered him to be “husband material.” Her response to his proposal sounded something like,“I won’t spend the rest of my life with a car salesman”. He lost most of his money when he started spending more time in his bed hungover than he did at his job. He had paid three thousand dollars for the ring, and refused to consider selling it for less than two. He was never offered more than a thousand, so he kept it. He stood up. He was on the bank of the lake where they spent so many weekends together. “I don’t even like the outdoors!” she had screamed during their last fight. He dropped the ring in the water. It didn’t deserve a place in the middle of the crystal blue lake, it belonged in the shallow muddy water on the banks. Continue reading