Showing posts from June, 2007


The Salted Orchard Part III
(Read Part II here.)

It’s an evil wind that brings us to England, Cusack thought as he stood on the deck, the arctic sea air blowing bitter cold and ruddying his face and hands. A ship of murderers and mutineers, foreign beasts to blight England’s soil, and that home-bred devil worse than all of them, murder deep in his heart and boiling out of him, in his eyes and hands and black mouth. Murder in him again and me to scuttle it, me that couldn’t save Captain Hammond.

I’d burn the ship rather than land it, were it not for all these devils watching me always. I their captain! What fraudulence! They pay as little heed to me as they did Hammond before they strung him up and watched him carried away in the fat bellies of red-faced birds. I their prisoner. Their captain the man that sleeps in Hammond’s bed, this Winston plotting villainy in the quarters under my feet, who says I must deliver them all to England.

To England and my murder. One of these rogues will cry …

These Days


The Meaning Of Life

Karen’s got some stories in her. She’s been collecting them for nearly as long as I’ve known her, which is twenty-seven years today. I’d say more likely her stories became hers sometime later, say around those years we—or at least I—started to drift, picking up outward experience and influence and turning it inward and causing those who were so much us before to wonder and worry.

High school, I mean, and growing up and out and then leaving all that behind. Now we look back because we’ve seen the other side of the world and it’s not got everything we left. And we wonder where we’ve been. Karen’s been a ways and I can’t think of any story that was ours in high school and after. I see her now and she’s something whole and new, a bright and vital character in my own story, and I think of all she’s been and it must be something. Because I can’t think of it but I see it’s there.

It’s there in the in-between her being my smart and goofy kid sister and her that’s now, at twenty-seven. I’ve only…

The Expected Failure Of Anwell Cusack

The Salted Orchard Part II
(Read Part I here.)

“Some of the men have asked to cut the ropes,” said Cusack.
“He doesn’t stink,” Winston replied. “He is beyond that.”
“There’s talk of sharks seen following the ship. For the last three days.”
“Pfah!” Winston said. “I don’t believe that. Even so, what is that? Fear? Or superstition?”
“It may be superstition.” Cusack paused. Then, he said, “There’s fear, too, that we may be spotted. They’d treat us as pirates.”
“You tell them that if they see another ship out here to cut the ropes. In the meantime leave him. It is my great comfort that he is there.”
“I want to know why—“
“Is there anything else, Captain?” Winston said.

Cusack stood silent before him. There was an almost imperceptible change in his bearing, His shoulders swelled. His chest rose higher with deeper breaths. They were small adjustments to an already menacing frame. Winston noted them. He smirked, then left Cusack to return to his quarters.

Cusack hated the man, the little fox. He did no…

On Wings To Paradise

The Salted Orchard Part I

The terror hadn’t come yet, but it was near, as close as the brackish water that collided in a violent turmoil of waves beneath him, sea spray and spittle accumulating to leave him perpetually doused, and sometimes a lawless column of water exploded from the sea to thrash him against the hull. He could not see his hands but knew they were burned bleeding and raw at the wrists, and the fingers must be dead and black. The knots did not slip but grew tighter with each new violence. His left arm was fallen out of the shoulder. His final hope was that his body would let go the stubborn binds of tendon and muscle that kept him connected to his arms and hands, and he would drop quickly, quietly, heavily down into the sea, the deep, the black night of his last wretched day.

When the terror came, he would not even have hope. His mind would be lost, shattered, white hot and empty. His body would scream and flail against the ship, and they would watch on deck, laughing, a…

Fat City

We miss New York. It is nice to be here, but we miss New York.

I have left my entire lifestyle behind. Everything that occupied my time in New York is gone now. I had put in long days running a restaurant. I had friends and family. We ate in restaurants nearly everyday, and I went to the movies several times a week.

We have none of that here. It is only us. I say something, then Apollonia says something, then I say something, and on and on, for six months. It is like some sociological experiment, like shock rehabilitation. We are in a cultural deprivation room with only each other to talk to. Strangely, things are going pretty well right now.

But we miss New York. We run out of new things to say and we revisit our favorite places in New York. Sometimes, and more frequently lately, we name all the vegan restaurants in New York and imagine what we would be eating tonight if we were there. We are impoverished here. I have begun to tire of spending two hours a night in preparing dinner.



I guess you need someone to talk to. We are everyday establishing and re-establishing our social connections and standing with people, unconsciously communicating our thoughts and feelings and receiving the same from others, and doing our best to ignore pain and reality, ours or otherwise. We are babbling, gibbering, selfish purveyors of inane truths and big dumb lies. We don’t know or understand or care about each other, except as to how it concerns us. If you are above me, I want to know how you got there; if you like me, I want you to keep liking me, because that feels nice; and if, remarkably, you have a good story, I want to hear it to make it mine.

That’s how we navigate. How we survive all that is out of all those pleasant absent people, there are some that we can talk to. Real people we cannot offend, who have heard our stories and know us, who want to know more because they are invested in us. There are real connections, and all of our social negotiations are made to produce t…

The Hunted

The Adventurer #2

The big road was wide and straight. It cut an open swath, dividing the wood in two from one end to the other. It was shaded by the overhanging boughs of the high trees, and the black earth was moist and packed. A cool wind blew through the road, and sometimes, far away, the enemy flew silently across it.

Away from the road, I crouched in the bamboo, my abdomen tightened to breathe heavy, soundless breaths. I watched for movement beyond the flashing sunlight on the shoots. The enemy was quick; they would fall upon me without warning. Now they were many, and they had moved in different directions, surrounding me and closing in. I would not be safe for long. I put my knees in the ground; the indigo of my pants was conspicuous. I screwed my straw hat on. I was ready to bolt.

I had lost Duncan. We had been creeping through the bamboo when we came upon a nest of them. Duncan fled toward the fringe, and I had made for the road. I was in the road for an instant only when I duck…

49th Parallel

My sweetheart is a Canadian, those reasonable and quiet folk from the North. I am an American. We met in New York, and, as my style of flirtation is good-natured contrariness and gentle ribbing, we have been arguing about the merits of Canada from the beginning.

It is a favorite pastime of Americans to slight their northern neighbors (well, all of their neighbors), and now that I am faced with a true Canadian, and having consequently visited Canada and been in real conversations with many of her kind, I have had to question my feelings about the country and its people. Wherefore the lack of goodwill?

After many rounds of verbal sparring and some introspection, I came to the decision that Americans show dislike of Canadians for the very reason we love ourselves. They are not what we are, and because what we are is loud, brash, and prideful, we are caught in a cycle of egotistical self-inflation and outward depreciation of everyone that is not us.

It is who we are. Within a short and well-…