Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Circle, pt. 6

Note: This is the sixth of several installments from my latest work-in-progress, The Circle. If I knew how to make the copyright symbol on a MacBook keyboard, this is where you would find it. Don't steal my shit, man.

Barb came home to a blinking light on her answering machine. It was a message from ace TV guy Josh Stuck, offering her a late drink in exchange for some scoop on some dead hillbilly the police found at a bar near downtown.
Barb had received a dozen previous offers from Stuck to meet for a late drink, but she never took him up on it. He was pretty, to be sure, but he knew it. For Barb, the only thing worse than a vain guy was a married guy, and Stuck was that, too.
Barb was curious, however, about the dead hillbilly. She called the watch commander again, this time to ask about the report.
“Yep, you didn’t get this from me, but it was a Mendenhall; in fact, I think it was the son of that old lady you found this morning.”
Barbs jaw hit the floor.
“Um, who’s doing the paperwork? Is it Ed Hennessey? Surely he’s not handling both cases?”
The commander sighed on the other end.
“Yeah, of course he is. All I know is that Hennessey says his cousin was shot by the bartender and that’s that. Its fucking politics, Barb, and you don’t need to get yourself into it.”
That was the third time that day that Barb was told to mind her own business. It pissed her off enough to hang up the phone and call the pretty newsman.
They met around midnight in Broad Ripple, one of those neighborhoods packed with bars and restaurants that attracted young professionals on the make -- with or without their significant others. Stuck was at his cool best, and Barb flashed him just enough tits and teeth to keep him talking. According to Stuck, one of the technicians at the crime scene told him the wound in Tommy’s chest looked big enough to drive a truck through, but the only weapon they could find was a little .32 taped under the bar and it didn’t look like it had been fired. The bartender kept telling the cops that Tommy was chattering away one minute, then he was on the floor bleeding the next.
Barb found herself actually enjoying Stuck’s company. He described the scene thoroughly to her, sounding more like a professional and less like a bimbo than she had expected. He was funny; his faux-gruff impression of Ed Hennessey was dead-on. She caught herself laughing a few times. He wasn’t just pretty, but he wasn’t rugged, either. He was just really good looking, she thought. She started to wonder what kind of a kisser he might be. The fact that he was married mattered less and less by the minute. She didn’t do married guys as a rule, but she was horny and figured that Stuck would want to keep things cool and quiet as much as she would. At closing time, she invited him home for a nightcap.
They went back to her apartment. Barb didn’t bother to offer him that drink, or more small talk about the job. She threw Stuck on the couch and started making out with him. Within a few minutes, they were naked, with her riding him like a rodeo champion, pawing, groped and fucking each other until the first rays of dawn started poking through her Venetian blinds.
With the sun came Barbs senses. There was no guilt. Barb didn’t do guilt, having seen how a whole string of boyfriends used it to back her off whenever she demanded that they right a wrong. No, she was mad for being horny enough to convince herself that fucking a married man was worth the risk of being confronted by an angry wife, or gossiped about by other cops. Wronged wives craved vengeance and drama and cops craved any gossip that made others look bad.
Barb needed to know what was going on in Stuck’s head, so she purposely admired his big, gold wedding band and asked about his wife and their new baby. Rather than putting him on the defensive, he drooped his head slightly.
“Uh, actually, she took the baby and moved back to Jersey, Josh said. I guess things weren’t as good here for us as she had hoped.”
Barb didn’t know what to say. She expected Josh to be nervous and defensive, but his pitiful response didn’t suggest anything other than regret something she never expected. She was relieved to hear he was separated, but not because it removed the scarlet A from her chest. She was relieved because for a brief second she anticipated dating him again. She was starting to like this guy, whether she wanted to or not.
“Oh, hey, I didn’t know,” Barb said. “I’m sorry.”
Josh lifted his head up and managed a weak smile.
“Don’t sweat it; its not your problem.”
Barb smiled back and offered, “Well, if you want to hang out tonight, I wouldn’t mind the company...”
“Oh, no, no, its cool,” Josh said. “I’ve got a busy day today, anyway.”
“Well,” Barb started, “I want to keep quiet about this, about us, okay? I mean, it seems like its okay for guys on the department to fuck every stripper they can get their hands on, but its different for the women -- even the single ones.”
“Oh, hey, mums the word,” Josh quickly reassured her. “I would never say anything, Berry. You’re cool, really. I would never fuck things up for you.”
Barb knew Josh was serious, and she appreciated it. She leaned forward and hugged him. As she pulled away, he surprised her with a strong, deep kiss. She repeated her offer, and he smiled and politely declined. He showed himself out, but not before he asked to see her again. Without hesitating, she said “Yes.”
Barb closed the door and floated off to bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Circle, pt. 5

Note: This is the fifth of several installments from my latest work-in-progress, The Circle. If I knew how to make the copyright symbol on a MacBook keyboard, this is where you would find it. Don't steal my shit, man.

Rick Hennessey scribbled a quick note to his secretary telling her to finish overseeing the setup for the fundraiser he was hosting that night. He had some farm business to tend to, or so he wrote.
Rick nervously strolled out to Building No. 1 to commandeer a golf cart. His foreman, Earl, met him inside. Seeing the ashen color of Ricks face, he asked what was the matter. Earl had lived on the farm longer than anyone and was practically considered family, but Rick climbed onto the cart and took off without so much as an acknowledgement of the old man’s question. The stout, grizzled old man tried to slow the trimmer, more purposeful young man, but to no avail.
Running a 2,000-acre farm was tough enough without the added burden of braving several acres of dense, saturated woods to have a look at a muddy spot on the bank next to the swollen White River. The wind picked up considerably as he neared his destination. It was a bracing wind, almost too cold for October, Rick thought.
Soon, Rick was at the small, limestone marker his father and uncle planted atop the riverbank some 50 years before. The area had been cleared recently, as Rick could tell from the splintered, green, beech, oak, and maple saplings. They formed a ragged ring around a large patch of shaved ground, probably 20 yards in diameter and the shape of a perfect circle. He disembarked from the cart and eased carefully down the muddy hill onto the bank. He could hear the rising river just beyond the slope, but it was nowhere near flood level. In the middle of the circle was what what looked a lot like a funeral pyre clogged with half-burned logs. Deep gouges and scrapes surrounded the spot. They could have been letters or numbers, he guessed, but the hard rain had muddled them beyond recognition.
Rick began to remember why he never challenged his father’s prohibition against playing in the woods. Eddie used to try and goad Rick into sneaking back out there to the river, but Rick was always too afraid to go. He never asked his dad what happened in the woods that night because he didn’t want to know. Whatever it was chased Aunt Lil off the farm for the rest of her life. It also inflicted his dad with foul, dark moods that haunted him to the grave. When Ed’s dad died of a heart attack several years later, Rick’s dad called his brother “a lucky bastard” as the casket was lowered into the ground. A few days after that, Rick’s dad was found swinging by his neck from the attic rafters. Lillith failed to appear at either of her brothers’ funerals.
Standing there, he relived all of that suffering and dread once again. That childhood sense of foreboding, that unspoken knowledge that something evil dwelled around those trees, gripped him again as if he were nine.
“She’s out, Rick,” came a voice from behind.
Rick’s heart shot up into his throat. He spun around and saw Earl standing up by the golf cart.
“What the Hell are you doing here?” Rick sputtered.
Earl smiled gently, trying to reassure his startled boss.
“Rick, we both know why you’re here. You and me and everybody else on this farm have got a big problem. That Tommy did a bad thing, and its a lot worse than you know.
"Why don’t we go back to the house and call Eddie?” Earl offered. “You both really need to hear what I have to say. You don’t mind if I ride back with you, do you? I don’t think I could make it back to the barn through all that mud.”
Rick had to nod his assent, as he was still a tad breathless by the old man’s sudden appearance there. It took Rick almost 15 minutes on a golf cart navigating muddy trails and thick undergrowth to get back to base. As he climbed off the cart, he couldn’t avoid noticing Earl’s very slow and deliberate disembarkment.
Just as Rick started to offer the old man a hand, he realized that he didn’t have more than a few minutes alone on that riverbank before a broken-down old farm hand caught up with him on foot.

What this guy says

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Well, that happened

I've been away from this blog for most of the last month attending to some pressing matters, like my stepdaughter pulling away from her mother and I and her mother pulling away from me.
Jamison, whom I have raised since age 3, has waged an all-out war for the last six months to go live with her biological father. He and his new wife have promised her the moon and the stars and she believes them. I don't know if you have ever tried reasoning with a 13-year-old, but it is fucking impossible nowadays. Jmo is gone now despite Josie and I's best efforts. There is more to this part of the story, but it is still too painful to recount and would be pointless.
As for Josie, she and I have separated after 10 years of marriage. The separation has nothing to do with the Jmo situation; it has more to do with 10 years of stuff between two people who are both in love and very different. She thinks it's best for her and Joshua to move out and try to start over. She may well be right; we both are so dug in on certain issues that there is little or no shot at compromise.
I have been without my family for a few days now and it hurts terribly. I want nothing more than to go back to that happy place when the kids were young and Josie and I wanted nothing other than each other's love. That time is gone, I know, but it was sweet and I do miss it.
Life goes on, however, as shall I. No matter what happens, I always get out of bed and try to make the best of the day.