Flash Fictions

Acts Five, Six, Seven, Eight

Act Five: Ten seconds of a car wreck.

With the brakes chewed, their front axle pops over the planters. And with a spooling swerve they crash their van past the front porch into a mud-thatched oak. When they recklessly open the four doors, the hatch, the hood, small spotted dogs come fast in elliptical packs. The driver stutters to the backdoor, while the passenger clips tree branches on their way up the trunk. These yapping dogs do not distinguish between vans and their occupants. Tails whirling little circling gusts, they begin with the roof. Their nails pushing perforated steel chips into the air, a sharp blur of dark blue flakes. By destroying the roof first the dogs form a stair case of bodies, attacking the windows, the handles, the seats and pulling down. From the house, behind garden view curtains, the driver watches snarling legs and tails intermittent from the murk of spit and steel and barks. In the highest limbs possible for two hundred pounds of humanity, the passenger sponges sweat from dropping to the roots. They both know that when dogs are done, they will sniff out something else to sustain them. The van is gone is four minutes and seventy-five seconds. The pack knows less about the differences in time than they do about chasing the coated allure of cars.

If from the observation deck you carefully document the electric poles and building backs, you might find all the clues…..

Conductor: “Tabbi”:

You assaulted an overweight engineering student at the hipster Halloween party for accidentally drinking your beer. On his way home, he killed three people with a box cutter in line at the grocery store. He escaped to Mexico where he stole your credit card number and restored a small hotel.

Engineer: “Corandal”:

Jolly Ranchers were invented by your third grade girlfriend.

Act Six: Sleeping on two seats while two seats are across.

The night without sleep, the delays, the train dark replacing engines and engineers nails together a temporary community. They become storytellers, splurging lives between complaints and cigarettes.

The hard muscled ex-cop with myopic eyes and a kind way that arrives from knowing he could defend any stray blow away. The specifics of any stories pause and clutter beneath a sleeping on hard seats with metal extrusions exhaustion, but the interaction, the pulling play remains.

Nine thousand two hundred and fifty-nine miles of walking, and hiking, a chef from Virginia speaks of recipes and petitions for dogs on trails. I’m embarrassed of how I changed seats because he appeared while sleeping to be dangerous, hectic. His companion is a porous lunch lady, the teeth she still holds are strong but narrow, well-brushed out of fear or change in lifestyle. Her shirt exclaims some slogan that is both oddly wise and menacing. It fits too tight for her figure of forty-nine years. I admire them both as they non-sexually share coffee and alternate between hick talk and the broad and intricate vocabulary of navigating through the paths outside of technology.

She said, National Carbide Die. Nation All? Car Brides die!!!!!

Every ten minutes, unprompted, he wants those slurping cigarettes in the car designed for such things, to know he is without fear. His arms and belly are innocently paunchy. I think his name is Rocky or Butch or Saber. Some tough name that a five-foot four-inch man has to continually justify through talk. Maybe the mulatto women in sweat pants and the first train adventure glazed little girl she coaxes into walking are his family. But he’d rather list all the many dangers he ignores. Every detail in another’s introduction is turned into what doesn’t scare him. I wish an elderly baker would crow about cakes and cake-like pastries, perhaps then he’d find fear in the mix of flour, flavorings and the geriatric skills lost to those of us who once loved Farah Fawcett pin-ups.

Maybe he is a criminal or listed on some sex offenders list. But on the train he becomes a kind temporary friend. Sure I watch for him when I sleep and guard the pretty girl sleeping, curled in awkward angles, next to him. But he is curious about lives, not so much the generalities of where one was raised or how one finds money for pockets and pocketbooks. Instead he wants to know your impression of the small foam pillows. Do they crick your neck as they did his? Do they remind you of marshmallows or art museum he once saw in a postcard? He notices a house half toppled into the river bordering the train, and he says it reminds him of waterfall of alligators. And the water is a treasure chest where the gators store finely made utensils and change from former nations. You know, he says, they’re collectibles. But damn hard to catch, just too damn hard from the train.

Attendant: the attendant:

You assaulted an overweight engineering student at the hipster Halloween party for accidentally drinking your beer. On his way home, he killed three people with a box cutter in line at the grocery store. He escaped to Mexico where he stole your credit card number and restored a small hotel.

Passenger: Holly Jeontalic:

Being raised by the railroad tracks, you placed silverware on the rails. But being raised by the railroad tracks, you were killed by hungry, hungry hobos.

Act Seven: Behind the landscape is another.

Nothing from the window appears to match the morphology of train smells.

The train is fast approaching nine hours late. I’ve been riding for the past 28 hours. Disjointed landscapes. You stop seeing the country and instead the windows become rolling posters. The trees and river and houses are without geography. It’s honest scenery, lacking the pretense of suggestion, signage. Houses forget paint or windows. Light industry is empty, floating, a bread crust, brown, stale and hard.

There is so much time, such a deliberate unpunctuality.

Junkyards align with the tracks. Not simply crashed cars with hoods awry, all colored and bent, partially harvested. A reaper for the driving set. The massed dirt, amassed equips those so close to the rails. They drag their vacantest of buildings, their oldest and most permanent refuge to the 400 foot land the train follows.

When will the suicides intercom their way into this train life? I haven’t slept. The attendant hasn’t slept. The elderly are threatening to send phone calls to high offices.

I have one cigarette and a deep cough left. Maybe there is nicotine in phlegm. I should hack into a pile and borrow a spoon from the lounge car.

Last night a far too beauty girl and I talked art for nine hours and I tried my best to entertain her “I Love my Boyfriend” stories. For at least as long as we are sitting close and I can feel her arm and watch her talk, I will listen to anything on this long and longer ride.

Washington D.C. is dull. Visualize seventeen-yard tall planks painted with food and the accolades of food. You are walking. And as the restaurant becomes closer, so do the wooden ads. Eventually you are surrounded by plywood and poor handwriting. This is beyond amazing food again and without an end to agains. The taste or feel or nutritional benefits will never agree.

Act Eight: North American Rail

I wish I could tell.

Midway up a granite heavy ridge, past kudzu-forked wires hung from the dirt, upright against a tree, is a tiny home. Victorian in its second story window, and crushingly cute and abandoned. A billboard raft fallen from a trash barge serves the local fauna well. We build so damn much and then desert. So high, So slag.

So much steel and brick, a termiting pause and then the clouds are coming again.

I am tired, nearly drunk from the slight side to side toss and from a distance on the discolored windowpanes of derelict industrial warehouses, they aren’t riding horses, again never riding horses.


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