Monthly Archives: March 2015

Pin & Slinky

Pin lived in the alleyway under some corrugated metal but he showered at the Y and had a girlfriend named Slinky. In autumn the wind whipped down the Chicago streets but in the alley the air remained calm. One day when Pin was at a hardcore show he got knocked upside the head so hard he forgot where he really lived and ended up in that alley. He’d worn the same jeans and boots for almost a year now.

It seemed like his whole life was spent getting knocked upside the head one way or another. He was a fighter but not a very lucky one. Slinky met him in the doughnut shop one day. She’d run away from home and was happy to find him. They became petty thieves together, mostly of food.

One day the sky stayed grey and the traffic all around wouldn’t let up. They walked up the block as a few fall leaves floated down from above. What’s up, Casey? said a skinhead crossing the street towards them. Pin veered off with Slinky and they turned the corner but then suddenly the skin appeared right next to them. Pin turned his head just as the skinhead’s fist connected with his ear. He spun around and landed a punch on the skin’s eye but that only made the guy crazier and it was a mess.

Slinky stabbed the skinhead five times in the back.


Later that night the new tenant in the corrugated homestead was the skinhead corpse. Pin and Slinky decided to drive to California. They stole a car from Slinky’s aunt who lived in the suburbs and started driving. At night they slept in the back seat, waking up every hour or so just like they were used to doing in the alleyway.

You’re a good driver, Pin told Slinky. Slinky stared at the slushy road ahead as the windshield wipers cleared off cold rain every second. Mostly she didn’t answer him when he said things. She had an old hardcore cassette tape and pressed play.

You know, when we get to California I think we should listen to new music, Pin said. Slinky shook her head.

No, continued Pin. I don’t mean new music, I mean different music. It doesn’t have to be new. Just something fucking different. We’ll be in California.

Slinky mouthed the word “No”.

Slink, I don’t mean like the Beach Boys. I mean like something we like but different than this. Fuck this fucking shit. He hit eject and threw the cassette tape out the open window.

Slinky looked at him with intense violence in her eyes.

And then she laughed. And Pin laughed. And they drove with the wipers beating away.

Later they slept in the car alongside a big field of grain that rustled all night. You still have that knife? Pin asked. What knife? Slinky said.

The fucking knife. The knife. You still have it? Pin asked. Slinky nodded. When we get to the Pacific Ocean you should throw it in. Like off the Golden Gate Bridge or something.

We getting new knives in California? Slinky asked.

No, Slinky, Pin said. Slinky stared up at the roof of the car.

When they made it across the state line into California, Pin stole them two California Sunshine State shirts from a gas station. Slinky wouldn’t wear hers but Pin put on his right away. His old shirt had a picture of combat boots with red laces on it. It was grey and ripped. Slinky wouldn’t let him throw it away. She began using it as a pillow at night and always kept it close.

Finally they arrived at miles of beach extending in all directions. The setting sun turned the sky fuchsia and lit the water on fire. They crossed the beach, heading toward the water, Pin still wearing combat boots and rolled up jeans. Slinky was in her all black. There were a few families with beach towels and radios, soaking up the sun’s final rays. Pin took off his shirt and then Slinky took off hers, walking just in her bra. They looked like twins with their pasty white skin and tattoos and scars.

When Slinky looked back she saw what looked like two police SUVs moving silently across the sand toward them. They didn’t quicken their pace, walking straight for the water and then into the water. It’s colder than I thought it would be, Pin said. The next time they looked back the officers were fanning out across the sand. One of them started shouting orders into a bullhorn, sending the beach people scattering.

In the ocean with water up to their waists, Pin took Slinky’s face in his hands and kissed her a long, long kiss that didn’t end until they were being dragged apart by the authorities. By then the sun had gone down and it was a cold California night.





The doctor and the nurses were stuck in the elevator for what seemed like hours. No speaking but occasional sidelong glances. The security guard watched the whole thing on one of the surveillance monitors. He’s gonna say something, the security guard said. Why don’t he say something? But the three trapped in the elevator remained silent.

I think they’re gonna make out, said the second security guard who had just arrived to start his shift. No, they ain’t gonna make out, I been watching them a long time. He gotta be gay, said the first security guard.

Why someone don’t let them out? asked the second guard. We all tried, replied the first guard. Doors ain’t openin’ It’s stuck between floors. Elevator repair is on their way. At least they said so an hour ago. The guards stared at the three on the monitor. They studied their subtle movements. The doctor moved his head up and down slightly. The blonde nurse shifted her weight. The black-haired nurse looked at the elevator buttons. Then they all stared at the buttons. Then the doctor looked at the black-haired nurse. The blonde nurse looked down at her clipboard.

He’s goin for it, said the second security guard. They both stared but nothing happened. Now the three were looking straight ahead at the elevator door. If I was him I’d be tryin’ to pry that thing open.

Yeah, they all tried that like an hour ago, said the first guard. Then all three were on their phones. After he hung up, the doctor took off his lab coat and folded it over his arm. The nurses looked at each other. Then they all seemed to be looking up at the numbers above the doors.

The doctor moved toward the blonde nurse. She moved away. He tried to move in on her forcefully but she pushed him back. They struggled with each other, the doctor pushing the nurse against the wall of the elevator. The black-haired nurse pounded her fists on the doctor’s back, screaming something at him. Suddenly a violent melee erupted with all three and it was hard to see what was going on with limbs flying this way and that. Holy Jesus! said the first security guard. We gotta do something. He rushed down the hall.

When he got to the elevator he put his face against the crack in the door. SECURITY! STOP FIGHTING IN THERE! WE WILL PRESS CHARGES!

Meanwhile the second guard watched the monitors. The three fighters froze for a second, and he could tell they were listening. Then they went right back at it, even fiercer. The first security guard went on shouting to no avail. Finally he came back to the desk. They gonna kill each other, he said.

When the elevator repairmen arrived and got the doors open only the dark-haired nurse climbed up out of the elevator. Her face was scratched and her skirt torn. Blood dripped from the corner of her mouth. The other two were carried out and laid down in the hallway. I’m callin’ an ambulance, said the first guard.

The dark-haired nurse walked by, right to the front exit. Hey! HEY! Where you think your goin’? said the first guard. Both guards stared. Then the first guard jumped up and ran after her.

Eventually he returned. She gone, he said. When the ambulance pulled up the guards watched the doctor and the nurse get carried away in stretchers. Their skin was pale and they looked stiff. They gonna make it? The first guard asked an orderly.

They’ve gone to greener pastures, the orderly replied.

The shorter of the two repairman returned from the elevator. Elevator’s fixed now. You can go test it, he said.

Yeah, I ain’t testin’ it, said the first guard. Me neither, said the second, sitting behind the desk. The repairmen had them sign a clipboard and then they both left.

The first security guard put on his coat. You alright? he asked the other guard. Yeah, I seen worse, he replied. But when the first guard left and he was alone, staring at the monitor view of the elevator interior he found that he couldn’t actually remember ever seeing worse.

Later when it was raining he saw the dark-haired nurse standing outside the glass doors, dripping wet, just staring in at him and not moving. I ain’t lettin’ you in, he said. Hell no.

And the next time he looked she was gone.




Sunday was special for the whole family. They rode the horse-drawn wagon down a rutted, bumpy road to the old fisherman’s cabin by the sea. The father carried their weekend bags into the bedrooms while the children pedaled around on wooden trikes the fisherman had carved in the old days. Mother put tea on and opened all the windows. By the afternoon the kids would be exploring, sometimes up by the abandoned lighthouse, sometimes in the second floor crawlspace. The dog, a blue-eyed Australian sheepdog, would either be along for the adventure with the children or sitting at the hearth, presiding over the cabin.

Today was no different from any other Sunday and the family was spread out when the storm came in. The little boy and girl were up top the lighthouse, lying on their stomachs telling rude stories. The mother rested in the cabin with a book on the daybed by the window. The father was using one of the fisherman’s ancient scythes to cut some grass by the back shed and the dog lay nearby.

The sky turned an ugly violet and then almost black before unleashing massive torrents of rain. The father made a run for the house, arriving at the front door soaked to the bone, holding his dripping scythe. They put wood in the stove and lit all the candles, waiting for the children. The dog kept vigil at the front door, growling. What are you on about? It’s just Mother Nature, said the mother.

God’s angry about something, said the father, tamping his pipe with a pie-nail. Don’t say that, said the mother.

Why shouldn’t he be? There’s a lot to be angry about, the father said, walking through a cloud of his own pipe smoke on the way to the front door. What’s all this?

On the lawn outside the front door, in the rain, there were maybe fifteen or twenty foxes, bedraggled, all sitting and staring in at them. The dog’s growl didn’t let up. Just then there was a terrific thunderclap and the father jumped, his pipe falling and breaking on the wood floor. Marty! the mother called, rushing to stand behind him. The rain poured down and it became suddenly dark as night outside.

I’m going up to the lighthouse, the father said. I’ll bring the kids back. But he didn’t move from where he stood. We’ll go together, the mother said.

You stay dry, the father finally said, pulling on his mackintosh over a heavy coat. I’m taking this, he said, picking up the scythe. The dog followed him out into the night and the mother stood alone by the door, her eyes straining to see into the blackness. There was lightening and a powerful thunder blast and she saw the silhouettes of the foxes still there. Go away, she whispered.

Soon the foxes were scratching right at the door and howling with terrible, shrill, almost human voices. The mother backed toward the kitchen and took a long blade from the knife block. To get away from their howling she moved into the back of the cabin and finally up the ladder into the crawlspace. She lay up there, trying not to doze off, holding the knife to her breast and listening to what sounded like a hundred babies crying outside.

Her eyes closed and she dreamt of waking in the morning when the storm had moved on. In her dream the windows of the cabin had all been smashed, leaving wet puddles and broken glass. Her dream self walked up the stone path to the lighthouse and entered the stone building. All the way up the winding stairs she called the names of her husband and children.

When she got to the circular lantern room she found her family surrounded by the foxes in an odd tableau. We’ve become friends, the father said, his hand resting on the withers of a large fox. The children giggled, staring at her strangely. The dog lay with its head down, eyes following her movements. GET THEM OUT OF HERE, she wanted to say but she’d lost her voice. She went to lift the scythe but she found it was much too heavy for her. As she struggled with the scythe she was pulled out of her dream by her real-life husband shaking her by the shoulders. Wake up, the children are waiting outside in the wagon, he said. There’s another storm coming so we’d best leave now.

Dawn was just rising as the horse drew their wagon up the hill and out of the valley. A lone fox watched the family depart as once again the drops of rain started to fall.