Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hero For A Day

She woke up, groggy and still tired from the night before. Unsure of how she ended up in a desolate field in the middle of autumn was beyond what she could process at this point in time, so she followed through with what she knew best: to pick herself up and push forward. Exactly where she was moving forward to was still up in the air, and the thought of the mantra caused her to gaze upwards. Taking in the stillness, the calm, was something she otherwise never had the opportunity to do.

As she titled her head upwards, she allowed herself to appreciate the now golden colored leaves that sprawled above her. Unbeknownst to the open wounds on her arms and legs, still wet with plasma, she stepped forward into the vast openness ahead of her. The sky loomed ominous although there was no breeze in the air. A storm was coming, and her options of shelter were limited at best.

The bushes that lay ahead were relatively unaffected by the cold, but her wounds were starting to ache. She looked down at her arms and noticed that they were littered with dirt and small blades of grass. She was beginning to think that she had fallen down the steep hill that towered behind her. She was about to investigate the hill as she heard a rumbling in the brush. Startled for a second, she stood still and eventually dropped to the ground to play dead on the off chance that it was a predator larger than her.

The shaking continued, until a man stepped out, hunting rifle in tow. He crept forward, approaching her assumed lifeless body. Once reaching her, he knelt down beside her, one knee on the ground, gently placing the gun down with one hand while simultaneously scaling the hunting belt around his waist.

The wind picked up a tick as she squinted her left eye barely open to catch a glimpse of him.

His brown skin was lightly covered in what could best be described as brown cow hide, something that a native would wear. If his face were painted he would be a dead ringer for Tonto, or a scary close lookalike. A hunting bow wrapped around his neck and over his back, the tips of the back end of his hair bouncing off of the tip of the arrow.

The bloody openings on her arm were beginning to crust, and she could feel it happening.

The man pulled something out of a pouch that rested within his waist-belt. She heard a thud, which caused her to open her eyes briefly, to only see the man laying face down with an arrow through his chest. Blood began to pool out of him, and it took everything in her to remain motionless. She did her best ‘playing possum’ impression as a herd of footsteps drew closer.

“We’ve got one over here!”

The shout from the distance told her two things. One, she didn’t have much time, if any, to react, and secondly, that her odds had shrunk and the number of her adversaries had grown. She envisioned what she may do in her mind before actually doing it, knowing that the rifle was her last and only chance of a fair fight. As the footsteps got louder and faster, she realized that they weren’t footprints, but actually the sound of a group of horses clattering their way toward her. She heard men speaking to each other, getting closer within earshot.

Rolling over quickly, twice so she was still face down, hoping they wouldn’t notice that she re-positioned her body, she laid within reaching distance of the rifle. Seconds later, the cavalry approached her and the now dead native. The head horseman instructed the rest of his men to inspect the surrounding area for other potential threats. As they rode off, he hopped off of his horse and kicked the corpse of the man that lay a few feet in front of her. Pulling a handgun, out of his holster he let out three shots, two to his chest and one to the face, She shrieked, but the sound of the echoing gunfire masked her brief misstep.  

She knew her chance was now, while he bent down, back turned to her while he inspected the dead mans belongings. As quietly as she could, she rose to her feet and grabbed the rifle and pressed it against his back, causing him to lift his arms in the air defensively. Taking two steps forward, arms still in the air, and turned towards her.

He began to chuckle at the sight before him. A low cut blonde haired slender woman, holding a rifle almost as big as herself.

“Something fucking funny?”

“No ma’am. Was just expecting to see that one of my men had turned against me. But,” he said, adjusting his cowboy hat, “seems like you have the same idea they may have.”

“I don’t want to kill you,” she told him, her finger shaking on the trigger.

“Could ya, even if ya wanted to? You ever shot one of those things before?”

She knew his insinuation was correct, this was the first time she had ever held a gun that wasn’t aimed at beer bottles. She refused to let him intimidate her, and reached deep within her to play it off.

“Yeah, it’s actually pretty easy. You pull the trigger, like this.” She did just that, shooting him in the stomach, blowing him back a couple feet. He held his leaking wound, and reached into his holster and sent off the last shot of his life, hitting her in the leg as she dropped the gun and scampered away. The bullet hit her in the right leg, grazing her skin, just missing the bone.

The familiar sound of the men on horseback began to rattle the ground. They stopped to attend to their fallen leader as she crawled her way ahead. She knew this pace wouldn’t be sufficient to escape, so she rose back to her feet, letting out a contained painful scream. Turning her head behind her, she witnessed a couple of the men being instructed to go after her. She picked up the pace, as hurtful as it may be, and made her way into a maze of trees directly across from the hill she suspected had put her in this situation.

She felt a pinch in the middle of her arm, and was awoken by loving licks from her canine companion, Dotty, exactly where her open wounds should have been. Reaching over to her nightstand, she clicked the bedside lamp on and shook her head briefly before realizing that she had went back to the place she felt she belonged.

Her home doctor approached the bed and sat beside her.

“Did you get the bastard this time?”

She nodded. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


The autumn leaves crunched under their feet as they continued down the walkway, rapidly approaching the school yard. Mother and daughter holding hands on the brisk Monday morning as Flora slightly tilted her head to look her matriarch in the eyes, “momma, I’m scared to start school this year. I don’t know anybody here.”

Her brunette guardian gazed down upon her creation, taking in all of the traits that she had passed on to her. Flora was like her mirror, she inherited the green eyes, the brunette locks and a soul older than the ancestors who preceded her.

The clouds resembled popcorn, evenly spread throughout the blue backdrop high above. The trees shook with grace, gently shedding the leaves that were ready to sacrifice themselves for another season. Squirrels ran amok, gathering and hiding essentials for the upcoming shift to colder temperatures. Flora’s mother was about to give her daughter the age old speech about how school was nothing to be scared of, but she thought better of it.

“You know, Flora, I know this situation has been a rough adjustment for you,” she said to the girl, knowing full well that she was wise beyond her years, “so I’m going to go against my better judgment and keep you home with me today.”

Flora’s eyes lit up for a split second, but her wisdom came with a price, as she knew almost immediately that this was too good to be true. As she calculated every possible scenario, and still feeling baffled, she stopped dead in her tracks and broke the grip between herself and her mother.

“What’s the catch?”

Her mother chuckled and looked to the ground, littered with crispy brown and red leaves from the rows of trees up ahead. The brisk wind tossed their hair in front of their face, forcing them to put it back in place simultaneously.

“No catch, kiddo. We don’t spend too much time together these days. Ever since your dad left us, it’s been hard to connect with anybody, and I know that’s no excuse, but I think we deserve a day, don’t you? I’m sure they’ll understand. We’ve been through a lot.”

Flora shook her head in agreement, turned the other way and began the trek back home. She again reached out to bond with her mother, hand and hand once more before reaching the steps of the stucco apartment building.  Walking up the stone steps, her mother unlocked the door and ushered her inside and up the stairs, and eventually into their second floor unit.

“Do you want some breakfast, Flora?”

“Yes please,” she replied with a smirk, swiping the remote and plopping in front of the TV before even removing her pale yellow fleece jacket. Her mother didn’t think that it the color fit her personality as much as say, a bright and vibrant pink or purple. She loved that her daughter was so independently minded, and didn’t give lend much credence to criticisms that she received from people whom she didn’t love.

As her mother cracked the eggs and tossed some bacon in an opposite pan, she peered over the white painted kitchen island and watched as Flora navigated her way through the channels. The TV wasn’t as big as the one they used to have, but Flora never complained about anything, as difficult as times got. The eggs began to take shape as she reached into her purse for a small set of keys that she kept inside of her half empty pack of cigarettes.

Flipping the eggs without popping the yolk and setting the spatula on the counter to the right of her, she grabbed the set of keys to open a drawer that housed a silver .357 glock handgun. She stared at it for a moment, and then placed it in her hand. She clearly wasn’t prepared for this moment, and it showed in the way the gun shook in her purple glitter paint-tipped fingers.

Without incident, she placed the gun on the counter top to flip the bacon and turn off the burner that was frying the eggs.

“Flora, go get in your pajamas, we’re not going anywhere today.”


Flora grabbed her jacket and ran off to her room, skipping down the beige carpeted hallway while humming the tune to a song she had heard on the radio. Upon her return, there was a plate with the food making up a smiling face. The two eggs were the eyes, a slice of bacon for the mouth, and one for a hairpiece, along with one slice of toast cut in half, to make up the ears. A glass of apple juice rested next to the plate.

She refused to let her fork grace the porcelain dish until she found something suitable to watch on TV. After a minute of flipping through the channels, she settled on a day time talk show that centered on paternity tests results. This show always made her laugh because the people on it were unlike anybody she’d ever encountered. She’d never seen a grown man dance around because he was not the father, and couldn’t for the life of her understand why that would be cause for celebration. She’d always wanted a sibling, but realized that being an only child was a gift, because she could pick her brothers and sisters.

Flora began cutting and chewing, as her mother remained in the kitchen, staring at the handgun that made her tremble. Gripping it once more, she now knew the feel of it. The way the smooth, cold steel caressed her palm felt like dry ice, one touch sent her a chill from the tips of her toes to the follicles of her longest strand of hair.

She began to tear up, and placed the gun back inside the drawer, locking it once and for all, as she tossed the keys down the garbage disposal and turned it on. As she reached on top of the fridge, she clutched a six inch piece of paper and told her daughter she’d be right back, as she walked the same path that Flora did mere moments ago.

She sat on the bed, Indian style, as she finally had the courage to read the obituary published three weeks ago, detailing the life of the man who took his life for what he thought was the greater good of both of them.  She wanted to tell him just how wrong he was, but couldn’t. So she whispered it as her eyes teared up, and counted to five before heading back out to the living room. Wiping her tears away as she returned down the hall, Flora remarked that breakfast was really good.

“Aw thanks, baby girl.”

She joined Flora on the couch and cuddled up to her, knowing that she was the only piece of the life left behind.