Racetrack’s a funny place. People says they come here for entertainment, but there ain’t nothing they take more serious. It’s the gambling. They see themselves hitting the big one and taking it all home in a big bag. Course, that never happens, but it seems some always had that idea. Mind, there’s a few can come here and just spend a few dollars and leave, and it don’t bite them. But others, well, they get hooked the first time they’re here. I think it’s got something to do with the horses. Maybe they think they’re not really gambling cause it’s live animals.
I been here near forty year, ever since about 1955. Started out as a groom, then got a lucky break to start as a sulky driver in the races. Even got to travel around the state for a while. But then I got hurt in a bad pile-up and the boss offered me this job. I’m sort of a security guard now. It’s okay, but I sure do miss the horses. I’m not so close to them no more.
I remember this one young feller, back about thirty year ago. His daddy knew somebody and got him into the barns as a groom. That’s the starting point, where you learn everything. He wanted to be a driver and could have made it, too. He had a good touch with horses and was showing some real promise on the practice track. But then I start seeing him in the stands, and at the window, and I thought—well there goes another one. He’d caught the gambling bug. There’s a certain look they get in their eye when that happens, a kind of intense focus when they watch the horses or read the program. There’s despair when they lose, but it ain’t long before they’re looking at the next race. Continue reading →
“Are you going to peek in the window again?” the little girl asked.
“Isn’t that cute?” Derek poked his wife awake. It was the middle of the night and they were in bed. “Josey’s talking in her sleep.” They could hear their three year old daughter babbling away in the next room.
“Mommy and Daddy are sleeping.” Josey said.
“That doesn’t sound like sleep talk.” Sabrina slid her nightgown on. Josey’s room was right beside and they kept the doors open.
“Mommy’s here!” Josey said when Sabrina appeared.
Sabrina kept a smile fixed to her face. Josey was not sleeping. She was wide awake. “Hi Sweetie. Who are you talking to?”
Josey laughed, and all of Sabrina’s tension evaporated. Josey was a sweet playful child and had probably been playing make believe.
“Talking to the man.” Josey said. “Funny man gives me candy.”
Sabrina tickled Josey under her chin and made her laugh. “Well I think your funny man is probably sleeping now, and so should you. See, its dark outside. That means sleep time.” She tucked her daughter under the covers. “Sleep now. Play when the sun comes out.”
Josey was such a good girl. She gave a big sigh and closed her eyes. Sabrina watched her for a moment and then began to tiptoe out of the room.
The baby monitor on the side of the crib crackled and a male voice said “Josey, is she gone?” Continue reading →
By Eddie D. Moore
Dale walked the city walls when he found it hard to sleep, and failure always left him up late into the night. The open air and the stars above usually helped settle his mind. Unfortunately, there were no stars on this night, and the thick fog felt oppressive. He heaved a sigh, deciding to return home and try to get a couple hours of rest. When he turned around he saw a small ball of light drifting on the wind. He stood watching it in wonder, until he heard one of the city guards approaching from behind.
“Good evening Dale. I see you have found one of our night visitors.”
Recognizing the voice of the man, Dale answered without taking his eyes off the light. “Hi Nairn, it is beautiful. What is it?”
Nairn stepped up beside Dale and shrugged. “I figure it is some type of firefly. Although, I have never saw one stay lit this long.”
The guard continued on his rounds leaving Dale to watch the ball of light. Dale grew excited as it drifted closer. Clasping both hands overhead, he caught the ball as it passed within his reach. He opened his hands a crack to see inside, and he shook his head when he saw nothing inside. He sighed, and said to himself softly, “I cannot even catch a bug.”
After the walk in the damp nighttime air, the smooth sheets and the warm covers felt wonderful. Within moments, his eyelids grew heavy, and he drifted off to peaceful dreams.
A beautiful woman stood before him, and when he looked at her, his heart burned with love and a longing he could not describe. She spoke with an alluring voice. “Oh Dale, I am so glad you have found me again.” Continue reading →
By Edele Winne
Coco was a small yappy black and white Shi-tzu dog with a talent for sniffing out those about to die. She had proven it eight times on dead end Mercy Street where mostly seniors lived, by camping out on the front porches of those about to expire.
As you can imagine the Mercy street residents were uncomfortable around little Coco. Coco’s mistress, 89 year old Annabelle Coumbs, pshawed the whole business and refused to discuss it. But everyone else did. As the older residents passed away with Coco standing guard new younger people moved into the freshly vacant houses. Mercy Street became an interesting mix of older and newer, seasoned and fresh, those about to die and those with long lives still ahead.
Muriel Robert was thirty one. Because she was thirty one, she did not think about her health. She considered herself unremarkable: short and thin with bobbed mousey brown hair. She had smoked for six years in her teens but that was years ago. At first she was pleased to find the charming Coco camped out on her porch, and then perturbed as she remembered the death vigil stories. She petted Coco, who was most appreciative, and then went back into the house determined to ignore the death watch.
Maybe the dog just stopped here for a rest? Maybe it was chasing a squirrel? Muriel chewed at her nails. It’s nonsense. Coincidence. Coco wanders everywhere and people only notice when someone passes away. Besides, I’m thirty one!
Muriel gave the dog a worried look and a pat on the head as she left for her evening shift at the hospital. As a nurse she was no stranger to people dying, she’d hardened herself to it. But now everything was different- she was looking at the possibility of her own death. Was it going to be a car accident? A sudden heart attack? A crazed shooter at the hospitable or maybe even an earthquake? She was too busy thinking such things and didn’t stop at the red light. A dark blue pickup smashed into her passenger side and started her car spinning up onto the sidewalk. Continue reading →
Ben Van Dongen
Gary rolled into the portal and fell to the ground, landing with a splat. “Ahhh! Damn that hurts! Tanya? Where are you? That crazy thing threw acid or something at me!” Composing himself, he became a ball again.
The ground was a piece of land, ten metres around, floating in the ether. The bare earth beneath it bowed out, like the bottom of a bowl, but at a sharper angle and uneven.
A large tree sat in the middle, stretching up to the empty nothingness, its roots dangling below the platform. Shrubs and tall grasses sprouted all around, making it look like the tree was dug out of a forest, taking the ground coverage with it.
Hundreds of other platforms floated in the void, stretching out into blackness. Each of them had a single tree, roots dangling below the convex bottom, nothing tethering them, nothing holding them up.
“Tanya? Did you hear me?” Gary formed a cube, a tall cylinder, and went back to a ball. “Tanya!” Continue reading →
By Ed Gagnon
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
“Most of my treasured memories of travel
are recollections of sitting.”
– Robert Thomas Allen
I hadn’t been in Mexico a week but I quickly and easily became a regular at one particular local watering hole. A good pub is a melting pot, where all sorts of people come together in the name of imbibing, for their own reasons. If you watch and listen closely their particular lives are unveiled right in front of you.
Many homo-sapiens from the northern hemisphere, called snowbirds, migrate south for the winter to places like Puerto Vallarta, in Mexico. One of the local watering holes I grew attached to there was a place called, Sweeney’s. It’s in the heart of old town Vallarta, only a couple blocks from the beach.
In my case its location was perfect for a pit stop on the way home from the beach, after the sun had left me parched and in need of hydration. Daily, you could count on the same bar staff and regulars, usually planted in their particular seats.
Other than the cold beer and good food, there was really nothing special about Sweeney’s. It was on the second floor, above another restaurant, on the main drag in old Vallarta. It was easy to miss the stairway entrance if you didn’t know it was there or were too drunk to notice it. Continue reading →
By Edele Winnie
McKay came back the very next day. Hester was going out for breakfast, which today meant black coffee. There was a young man seated on a bench across from her building. He was wearing shiny black pants, a black shirt and black boots. His hair was dyed black. She could not see how tall he was because he was sitting.
“I took your advice,” he said to her as she passed. “Got some new clothes.”
He stood up then, painfully short McKay, all blacked out. It caught Hester by surprise and she almost said something but bit her tongue instead. They walked together in silence. Entered the coffee shop one after the other, sat at the counter on stools side by side. He ordered what she was having. The barista asked if they wanted separate bills. She said yes. He said no.
She turned to him. “Okay, let’s get through this. This isn’t going to work, you know? I don’t need a boyfriend. And I don’t want you.” Continue reading →
By Edele Winnie
“I will slash my legs!” McKay shouted. He held a pathetically small pocketknife above his jeans. “I will slash them wide open!”
Hester sighed. “Go for it.” She pulled out her much more substantial switchblade and threw it at him. “This’ll do more damage. Go for it.”
It had been a torturous three days. McKay had first appeared at an art exhibition opening put on by an ex-boyfriend of Hester’s. She had come of course, because several of the paintings were nudes of her, but also because she wanted to see who he was dating . She hung on the edges of the chatting drinking crowd; a tall thin scarecrow girl dressed in black with stringy dyed black hair and rather nice black boots with silver buckles. McKay approached her, dressed in jeans, like he wore now, and a green plaid shirt. But it wasn’t just his clothing that marked him as out of place- or his short stature- or the no-nonsense cut of his boring brown hair -he seemed to be bouncing off things like a demented ping pong ball. Continue reading →
By Edele Winnie
I am the most pathetic person in the history of the world. Sad, pathetic, heartbroken, foolish and really really stupid. I have given my heart away- fallen madly in love- with a three legged giraffe. His name is Alphonse and he lives at the Little Acorn Petting Zoo.
My name is Sheila. I am not a moron or a crazy animal rights person. I am a perfectly normal twenty eight year old woman. Kind of short, sort of skinny, with middle length brown hair that has been called mousey- which is really unfair. Mice come in different shades you know, and my hair is nicer than all of them. Yes, I don’t like mice. Who does?
I went to university for one course too many and my combined masters degree in archaeology and exercise science found me a job at the snack bar at the Little Acorn Petty Zoo. It was seasonal work because the place was closed in the winter and I told myself that it was just temporary but after the fourth year I was unsure about my future. Was this really what I wanted to do with my life?
I was already hooked you see, and didn’t even know it. Like I said, I’m no crazy animal person. I had a cat when I was a kid and it ran away and I don’t really blame it. My mom shouted a lot and my dad was really fat and I spent a lot of time alone in my room. I guess that’s where it all started. Me alone in my room feeling trapped like a freak in a zoo. Continue reading →
Matt Colby was never the biggest or the strongest guy in his youth. In fact, he was the victim of cruel bullying back from some of his peers. His worst years started at age 9 when a kid named Justin Meyers started attending his school. Justin was his monster.
“What’s going on dick weed?” Justin would often say to Matt before slamming him into the lockers, often followed by a spit to the face. “Tell your mom she sucks in bed” He would say as he walked away, laughing.
The bullying got worse as the school year went on. When out in the school yard, Justin often hit Matt with basketballs and footballs in the back of the head when he was walking by. When Matt was having a snack, Justin take his food from him, chewing open mouthed in his face. When Justin was with other people, he would insult and humiliate Matt to get the other children to laugh.
“Just ignore him” Matt’s mother would say. “ He is new to the school and just trying to seek approval. He will stop bothering you if you don’t pay attention to him.” Continue reading →