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
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
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
By Edele Winnie
Sheila’s dead aunt had made a pile of tin cans in Sheila’s kitchen. The horrible shrunken head had respawned there and then rolled out smiling its sickly yellow gray smile.
“Wassup?” The head said. “I’m thirsty.”
Auntie turned to Sheila. “Do you have any Lime drinks?”
‘Something lime. He likes limes.”
“Not lemons.” The head shrieked. “I hate lemons!”
“No.” Sheila stammered. “No limes, sorry.”
Auntie turned and walked to the front door and went out. Apparently to get something lime.
“I think I’m losing my mind.” Sheila grumbled.
“Better than losing your body.” The head said and then cackled delightedly.
“Wait.” The head ordered when Sheila began to walk out of the kitchen. “I can make you live forever.”
“I’d like that.” She answered, and forced herself to look at the thing. It was shrivelled and brown but its eyes were bright and alive and staring back at her. She went over to her big flour bin- a plastic container only a third full of flour at the moment. She snapped off the lid and dumped the flour into the garbage can.
“Wassup?” the head said. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
Sheila found the shrunken head after her aunt passed away. The poor old woman had been a miserable crank pot. Even though Sheila was young, she had done her best to make Auntie comfortable in these last months, but the shrivelled old woman had only been angry and full of complaints. Her habits were extremely odd- she hoarded empty tin cans and set out hundreds and hundreds of unbaited but ready to snap mouse traps. As far as Sheila could tell there were no mice in the house.
When it was announced from the hospital that Auntie had passed, Sheila got to work. She’d bundled her short dark hair under a kerchief and rolled up her sleeves.
There had to be thousands of empty tin cans in the house and Auntie had removed all the labels. Sheila loaded them into boxes and dragged them outside. She didn’t know if the recycle truck would take so many. It would probably require more than one truck.
At first the cans had seemed fairly new- still shiny. But deeper into the piles and stacks the empty cans were rusted and discoloured. At the very centre the cans were blackened with mould or age or something. In the centre of the blackest cans she found the head. Continue reading
By Edle Winnie
She felt trapped. They sat at a beautiful table in an elegant dining room but she could feel the invisible bars around them. The supper was some fancy stuff but she could not taste it. Her boyfriend Morman the giraffe was a talkative animal and he and his mother kept the conversation light and constant. Oblivious. She sawed at everything with her table knife. Daddy scarface sat silent, smiling politely and staring at her. She glared back and sawed her potatoes into even smaller pebbles.
The rest of the evening was spent in banal conversation. As they were leaving Norman’s father managed to catch her alone, a strong hand on her thin arm.
“What are you going to do?” He hissed.
“What are you going to do?” She hissed back and twisted his grip away. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
She could not pinpoint the beginning of it. As a child she had been obsessed with knives. A cute little girl with a shining blade in her hand. Her parents, predictably, had scolded and slapped and shaken and hidden the knives until she learned to pretend that she was not interested in them. She was only nine when her mother found the first scars on her arms. That had been a freak out. She’d been hauled away to see doctors and therapists and she told them whatever she thought they wanted to hear. Now, as a woman in her twenties, she realized that those therapists had just nodded and collected their hourly fees. No one can care forever. No one can understand everyone. What if you were born not caring or not understandable?
She liked blades because they were powerful. They shined. They were hard, yet they could easily slip into a stuffed animal, or an armchair or a thigh. They could transcend barriers. They could take life. And sometimes when life was taken, it could give life. She didn’t believe in vampires but she knew that humans had always killed and eaten. And that was how she thought of herself. Huntress. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
Through the broken window blind she could see his mouth. Just his mouth, as he frowned, as he ate, as he smiled. She did not know what his eyes looked like. She had never seen his face, or his body. Never heard his voice or saw his hair. Just his mouth. The lips. The teeth, sometimes the sneak of the tongue. And she fell in love.
It seemed crazy. She was a reasonably normal young woman, a bit on the scrawny side, brown hair and brown eyes with an unfortunate penchant for the dramatic- but only when it came to love, she reminded herself. Love was some kind of a drug and she could not stop watching his mouth through the blinds.
Was it an obsession? She started out thinking that it was not. It was just curiosity. A tiny peek into another house, another person’s life. She did not know her neighbour, had not known that it was a man with a mouth like that. A mouth made for kissing, for saying I want you beside me always. Continue reading
By Edele Winnie
The thunder woke him. House shaking, teeth jarring thunder- sounding like an angry god right over top of their little house. He rolled over to see if Deanna had been woken as well but she wasn’t there.
He waited but she didn’t return. She’d always been a bit spacey- it was one of the things he liked about her. She wasn’t intellectual- she was emotional. She’d been called ‘slow” but she wasn’t- she just felt things first, before she thought about them.
She wasn’t in the bathroom, or the living room, or the kitchen. Had she gone outside? She liked storms and would often sit on the porch – tasting them, she called it- feeling the thunder, seeing the bright lightening flashes, inhaling the wind. Continue reading
Story by: Henry Martin
Photo by: Karl Strand
She’s been haunting me for years, ever since the fateful night I took her from her bed, and carried her into my car.
Now and then, when I’m alone and everything is hushed, I can still hear her cries as she makes her way toward me. Then I stop wherever I am at the moment, staring motionless until she reaches me. She is wearing the same raincoat she had on when I put her in the back seat of my car, slammed the door, and sped away from her mom.
She used to be the object of my hidden affection—affection I could never express when her mother was around. But as soon as I found myself alone with her, I would run my fingers through her blond hair, whispering gentle words of love. My Lee . . . that’s what I had called her. My beautiful Lee. Continue reading