Monthly Archives: October 2014

Out in the Woods

Branches scraped against the outside of the car and some dry leaves blew by. Jam and Mal sat in the back, each close to their own window, staring out and waiting for Mom and Dad to come back. There was what looked like a white wolf sniffing around the car but Mal said it was probably just a dog. All the doors were locked. When did Mom and Dad say they were coming back? Jam asked. For the tenth time, TWENTY MINUTES. Mal picked twenty minutes because she thought it sounded like a long time. But they really hadn’t said. Mom had said something like, Stay right here and don’t leave the car. And then their parents had left, locking the car with the keys that they took with them.

Did the wolf go away? I don’t see him.

Jam! I keep telling you, it’s a dog not a wolf! There are no wolves here!

But did he go away?

If you don’t see him, he probably went away. The sun seemed brighter as it sunk closer to the ridge and the leafless tree branches became black, spindly lace against the sky.

I’m gonna open the door and see if he’s still out there.

You better not, Jam. They said do not open the doors.

No, they did not. They just said to stay in the car. Jam unlocked his door and pulled the inside door handle.


I’m just going to shut it right away if I see him! Jam said. Mal slid over and pulled the door back shut. Mal, you’re an asshole.

They want us inside here for a reason!

I wasn’t going outside.

You better not be. They sat quietly for a while, looking out. The car was some two hundred yards from the road, in the middle of the trees.

I think I see him over there, Jam said. Where? Jam pointed at something white out among the bare trees. It seemed to be coming toward the car. They both sat side-by-side and stared. It didn’t move like a dog or a wolf. It seemed to drag lightly on the brown leaves, floating just above. The sun was lower in the sky now, touching the ridge, burning orange.

When did you say Mom and Dad were coming back? How many minutes? Jam sat completely still. Mal re-locked Jam’s door. They heard something that sounded like an animal alternately whimpering and growling very close to the car.

Mal leaned up into the front seat and opened the glove compartment. She found a corkscrew and opened it so its sharp tip pointed out. She gave it to Jam. He took it in his little hand and aimed it at the thing out his window. He watched as it hovered and slowly dragged towards them. Mal went back through the glove compartment and dug through a manual, tissues, and some pens. Then she went through the door pockets. She felt under the seats. Hey, she said. Jam looked at her without moving his head. Look what I found. She held up a small black pistol from under the driver’s seat. She smiled at Jam and he gave a weird half-smile back.

The animal noises were getting louder. It sounded like it was under the car. The sun was gone now and everything was dark grey. The tree bark blended into the leaves covering the ground. The white thing now just hung suspended in the air about twenty feet from the car. It seemed to have a white head shape and wispy fabric flowing underneath. Mal held the pistol with both hands now. She aimed it through the glass. Roll down your window, she whispered. Jam looked at her with wide eyes. Roll it down just for a second. She cocked the gun. With one hand still tight on the corkscrew, Jam rolled his window down a crack. As soon as it was about a quarter down Mal fired and it sounded like a bomb had gone off. Now the white thing was right up against the car, undulating folds all around them, streaked with blood, and there was a dull banging on the roof. Roll it up! Mal shouted. He rolled the window up but the glass had a spidery crack going through it now. The thumping got louder on the roof.

Then it felt like the car was moving. It bumped around and they heard the wheels breaking twigs and branches as they rolled. Mal tore the tissue from the glove compartment and they both stuffed pieces in their ears. Then she and Jam huddled together. She fired the gun up at the roof where the pounding was coming from. BANG BANG BANG!

The white fabric blew away from the windows and it was now just black night outside. A dark liquid dripped down from the bullet holes in the roof. The car radio began to play a commercial jingle. But something didn’t sound right about the commercial. The singing gave way to a hacking cough and then barking and snarling and static. We’ll go out and find where Mom and Dad went, said Mal. They stared at each other, neither one moving. Then she took Jam’s hand. He held his corkscrew in the other.

Mal unlocked her door and they stepped out onto the dry leaves together. Don’t worry Jam, Mal said, holding up the gun. I know there’s more bullets left. The dry leaves crackled as they walked. They headed in the direction of the road.





It’s about these brothers- one is a priest, one is a rabbi, one is a Muslim. They all end up working for their other brother who’s a scientist. Together they come up with a way to live forever. In order for it to work they need to have sex with a different woman every day. The rabbi goes home to his wife and says, From now on I’m going to need to study late at the Temple every night. The Muslim says to his wife, I’ll have to pray late at the Mosque every night, and the Christian priest says, I’ll need to stay at the church to prepare my sermons late every night. None of the wives believe them and after a few months they are all divorced.

But the scientist brother says to his wife, I’ll have to sleep with a different woman every night in order to live forever. His wife, who happened to be a Buddhist, kills him.


So what’s the punch line?

There is no punch line but the funny thing is the Buddhist wife ends up marrying each of the other brothers, one by one, and then later shooting them all to death, one by one.


That’s not really funny. That’s actually sick.

Not to me. That woman was my mother.

Your mother? (coughs) …So which one was your father? Rest in peace.

None of them. My father was a surfer. He didn’t have any strong religious or scientific conviction one way or the other. He was just mellow.


How about you? What do you believe?

I take after my mother.

Your mother? But wait—what is that? A GUN? STOP!!!






New Chrystal

There were so many of them running across the field. So many. We hid in the drainage tunnel under the road. They had dogs. That was us, in the darkness, looking from one tunnel exit to the other and back for hours, hearing voices and barks echo down the curved metal walls. I don’t know how long we were down there for. A day? Two days? It smelled like death in there. I even drank some of the water. You ate rats. Remember that? That must have been day two. I watched you turn from from buttoned-down hostess into this hideous creature smeared with rat blood. Coming out of there our clothes stank so bad. We lived out in the desert for a few more days after that. We made a little oven out of some corrugated metal and slept in it at night when it was cool enough.

I started wishing I’d eaten those rats too. I’d hallucinate these rabbits hopping giant hops across the scrubby desert. Almost like they were flying, silhouetted against the sun. We should catch some of them rabbits, I told you. You gave me this face. What the fuck are you talking about?

The RABBITS! We should catch some and eat them! Instead of rats!

Where are you fucking seeing rabbits? That’s when I stared at you and realized the heat and starvation was getting the better of me. Because the rabbits were everywhere, crawling and hopping all over the place. So when the Captain showed up I didn’t believe in him either. If he hadn’t shown up there is no doubt in my mind that we’d both have eventually charred to death in that oven.

Instead we were back on the highway, stowed in a container his truck was pulling. We both got a set of woman’s clothes -mine were way too tight. Yours looked good that way. The captain took us all the way to Massachusetts, tossing us bags of fast food now and then and we gradually got our strength back. He dropped us off by a strip club in Revere and we both got jobs there. I got the better job- mopping up the place at the end of the night.

We crashed in a closet in the back of the place until we had enough money for an apartment. When we got a little more money and had guns again we hit the road.


After all these years I can’t believe you never got busted. I’ve been in and out so many times it’s just about normal now. But you never got busted once. When I went straight you still had about another five years in you. Seeing you now in that parking lot with your kids and your Mercedes SUV I wonder what it would take to bring back the old Chrystal, the one I knew when we were teenagers. The one who scared the fuck out of me on more than one occasion. Where did that girl go?

Now I lie on my hammock and drink coffee and read the news on my phone. If I woke up in the middle of the night screaming I’d tell my kids I’d just had a bad dream. I told my son Robbie, Don’t ever play with guns. Of course, kids never listen. Now I got no kids to speak of.

But tell me about this new leaf you turned over. I’d just love to hear a happy ending to all this, I really would.