Don't Think, Just Write

A Man's Journey

My First Flash Fiction Challenge. Please Vote.

Last week I stumbled upon Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge and decided it would be a good exercise for me. For a long time I’ve maintained that my writing is for me. I share a little bit here but I’ve never challenged myself like this before. Put my writing out there. But I need to, even if it is only 250 words. It’s a start.

On Saturday Indies Unlimited released a picture and a writing prompt that is to inspire your 250 word flash fiction. When I saw the picture of Winter Ghost I had no idea what I would write.


Almost all of my writing is about relationships, not about nature, but after thinking about Winter Ghost, and sipping 3-4 glasses of bourbon, ok, make that 5-7 glasses, I came up with an idea.

My entry is in the comments section below the writing prompt along with six other entries. Give them a read, and then vote here The Flash Fiction Vote Is On.

Then come back here and leave a comment. I love hearing what worked and what didn’t.

Photo credit to K.S. Brooks of Indies Unlimited.


Knock Knock

“Hey…It’s  me.”
“Yeah. You weren’t expecting it to be me were you?”
“Well…no. You changed your number.”
“I had to get a new number. Too much shit going on.”
“Some things never change.”
“Hey! That wasn’t a very nice thing to say after almost, what, 6 months?”
“I’m sorry, but things didn’t exactly end on a great note.”
“I need to see you.”
“I can’t.”
“Is she there?”
“She, who is she?”
“The girl you’re seeing?”
“I’m not seeing her anymore. Who told you I was seeing someone?”
“I hear things. Well…can I come over or can you meet me somewhere? Somewhere private? I need to talk to you.”
“I told you I can’t.”
“But you haven’t given me a good reason.”
“I just can’t. I shouldn’t even be talking to you.”
“Because, you hurt me pretty good and then I didn’t hear from you.”
“You moved and then I heard you were seeing someone.”
“You still had my number and it wasn’t serious with her.”
“What was her name?”
“Come on. I don’t want to start talking about that.”
“Jake, I want to talk to you. I really need to see you.”
“Ok, 334 Rhine. Apartment 6.”
“Thank you. I’m on my way.”

“She called.”
“Fuck. And?”
“And she wants to see me.”
“No. You can’t see her.”
“Ryan, you told me to call you if she contacts me. So I called. Now don’t act like my fucking keeper.”
“Dude, I know what that girl did to you. I saw the scars, man. She cut you bad and left you for dead in the street.”
“Save the metaphor for one of your girls.”
“When does she want to meet?”
“Now. She’s on her way.”
“You gave her your address? Listen, get in your car and meet me at Scarlett’s.”
“I don’t have the money for a night at Scarlett’s”
“My treat. Meet me there in fifteen minutes.”
“I can’t.”
“Then meet me at Rick’s”
“I can’t. I need to face her.”
“What did that doctor tell you? What was his name?”
“Yeah, what did he say about you seeing her?”
“He said I should stay away from her.”
“But he also said I need to find away to forget about her. Maybe seeing her will make it stop.”
“The only thing that will make it stop is if you go out and find someone else. Someone that will knock your socks off and make you forget about that bitch.”
“Like Emily.”
“Exactly. That’s what I was hoping for.”
“Well that didn’t exactly work out. I heard she moved in with her new boyfriend.”
“Already? You guys just broke up.”
“I know.”
“Listen, remember that blonde? The one with the great legs that told you you looked like a young Richard Gere?”
“She asked about you. Wanted to know when you’d be in next.”
“Dude, thanks. But the last thing I need right now is a stripper in my life.”
“No, that’s exactly what you need. You need someone you can treat bad. One that’s used to it. Strippers love that shit.”
“Thanks for the advice.”
“I don’t want you to see Heather, that’s all. I know the power she has over you. She’s like fucking kryptonite. Doctor Martin even said so. It took you ten therapy sessions to work through the last mess she made of you. It’ll take twenty this time.”
“I’m glad you have faith in my decisions.”
“I want you to forget about her and get back to being yourself. I talked to Doctor Martin about you, you know. I didn’t want to tell you.”
“I made an appointment and talked to him. I told him about my dad and his drinking and at the end we had some time so I mentioned a friend, you. I described your situation with Heather and he knew I was talking about you. He had a look on his face.”
“So you talked to Martin about me?”
“We never mentioned you specifically. I told him I had a friend that needed help letting go of a psycho chic and we started talking. The session cost me $135, I wanted to cover some things in the hour I had. He told me that she is to you what alcohol is to my dad. You can’t be near her. She’ll always have a power over you and that I should do everything I can to keep you away from her. Just like he told me to keep my dad away from the bottle. You’ll relapse and then it’ll take even more therapy to bail you out. I didn’t want to tell you I talked to him but I’m desperate here. Now get in your car and get out of there before she arrives.”
“I can’t. I need to face her and be strong.”
“But you’re not strong.”
“Thanks again. You’re not giving me much confidence
“But you’re not, Jake. Emily just hurt you. Not as bad as Heather did, but she still hurt you a little, you admitted that yourself. You’re bruised up, man. Get out of there and let me buy you a drink. The girls at Scarlett’s know how to boost an ego.”
“I can’t go to a strip club right now.”
“Did she say she wants to talk to you, or that she, needs to talk to you?”
“I don’t know. She said she wants to talk. Does it matter?”
“It does matter. If she said she, wants to talk to you then she probably wants sex. If she said she, needs to talk to you, then she has something deeper to talk about. Which might be a good thing. Maybe she went back to her husband. That would be a good thing, although, being with him never stopped her from seeing you before. If she just wants sex, I’d let her give you a BJ and then get her out of there.”
“Sound advice from a single guy who’s last three relationships showed their tits for a living.”
“Dude, I’m trying to help you here.”
“I know.”
“Has she paid you the money back yet?”
“Maybe that’s what it is.”
“Who knows.”
“Does she still have that apartment?”
“I don’t know that either…listen…Oh shit!”
“She’s here. She’s knocking.”
“Dude, call me when she leaves…and be careful.”

“How are you?”
“I’m great. You?”
“Aren’t you going to give me a hug?”
“A hug. That’s it. I’m on strict orders.”
“Strict orders about what? From who?”
“From Ryan. He didn’t even want me to see you.”
“Ryan can kiss my ass. Is he still hanging out at the strip club all the time?”
“He shouldn’t give advice when his life is so fucked up. Nice place.”
“Why don’t you show me around?”

“Do you have anything to drink?”
“I just put a bottle of white in the fridge. It’s probably not cold yet.”
“You did? Do you have designs on getting me drunk and taking advantage of me?”
“No. The opposite actually.”
“Well, good, because I didn’t come here for that. Can I pour you a glass?”

“You haven’t said anything about how I look.”
“You look great.”
“See how skinny I am?”
“Yeah. But you didn’t need to lose anything. You looked good before.”
“Depression will do that to a woman. I lost my boobs but my ass looks good. Look.”
“It does.”
“I wore your favorite jeans.
“I don’t remember.”

“What happened with her?”
“The girl you were seeing. What was her name?”
“I didn’t tell you her name.”
“Why won’t you talk to me?”
“I am talking to you.”
“You used to tell me everything. Everything. You don’t like me anymore?”
“I let you in didn’t I?”
“But now it’s like you want me to leave.”
“You said you had something to tell me.”
“Can we drink the wine first?”

“She told me she wanted to see other people. That’s it.”
“Were you sleeping with her?”
“Yeah. A few times.”
“How was it?”
“Why do you care about that?”
“Just making conversation.”

“Here, drink up. I put that other bottle in the fridge. You weren’t saving it for a special occasion were you?”
“Good. How much was this?”
“Seven dollars.”
“Tastes like it.”

“He told me to leave and not come back this time.”
“Do you still have that apartment?”
“No. And I’ll get you the money. I just need to get back on my feet.”
“I wasn’t asking for the money. I was asking where you’re gonna go.”
“I’m sleeping at Frank’s.”
“Who’s that?”
“A friend. He’s married. It’s not like that. They’re cool with me staying until I get my life  and health straightened out.”
“What’s the matter with your health?”
“Can I open this? I don’t want to put you out drinking all of your seven dollar wine.”
“Go ahead.”

“Remember that night I came over with Cassie?” Laughing.
“She told me it sounded like the bed was gonna break through the wall.” Laughing.

“They’re good. How are yours?”
“Good. My dad told me I couldn’t move back in there though. He wants me to work things out with Sammy.”
“I told you.”
“But you didn’t say why.”
“Come here.”
“I can’t. We’ve been drinking and we both know what happens.”
“I just want to feel your arms around me.”
“You hurt me.”
“I wanted to give you more but I couldn’t.”
“When I gave you that money and you rented the apartment I thought it might be the start of something great, but you wouldn’t even tell me where the apartment was.”
“I needed time by myself.”
“Is that it? Away from Sammy and away from me?”
“Just come here and hold me. I need you.”
“You wouldn’t even tell me where your apartment was.”

“Kiss me.”
“Kiss me.”
“Come on, you like kissing me.”
“I do.”
“Then do it. We’re both buzzed and…”

“Let’s go in the bedroom. I want all of you now.”
“Should we?”
“You came here for this, now you’re questioning whether we should?’
“I came here to tell you something.”
“Do you want to tell me now or do you want to go in the bedroom first?”
“I missed you, Jake, let’s fuck and then talk.”

“What was that?”
“Someone’s here.”
From outside the door, “Jake, let me in.”
“Who is it?”
“It’s Ryan.”
“What the fuck does he want?”
“I told him you were coming over. He wanted me to call after you left.
“What is he, your fucking therapist?”
“Take it easy, he’s just looking out for me.”
From outside, “Dude, I know you’re in there. Call me.”
“I’m gonna call him.”
“So he knows I’m ok.”
“I don’t like him. He’s a loser. You should find some friends that are more like you.”
“Believe me, he doesn’t have much good to say about you either. That’s why he’s checking on me.”
“Fuck him. He needs to get a life.”
“Hold on.”

“You heard me knocking, huh?”
“Yeah. And the yelling. I’ll hear about it tomorrow from the old man in 4.”
“Sorry. Everything ok?”
“Is she still there?”
“She’s laying right there isn’t she?”
“I hope you know what you’re doing.”
“I do too. Talk tomorrow.”

“What did he say?”
“He just asked if you were still here.”
“I don’t know why he’s putting his nose in your business. I need a pillow so I can sit up and finish this wine.”
“Here. He knew how much you hurt me. He saw me at my lowest and doesn’t want to see me make a mistake again.”
“He has a lot of nerve.”
“He didn’t call you a mistake. He said fucking around with a married woman was a mistake. Falling in love with her. Telling her I wanted to be with her. That was the mistake. It was my mistake. I had this big thing planned out for us. Kids. A house. I told you some of it.”
“You did. Can I be honest?”
“Of course.”
“That scared me. That’s why I didn’t tell you where my apartment was. Come here. Hold me. You feel good. Just like old times. We will always have that chemistry in bed. You know?”
“Tell me why you’re here. What did you want to say to me.”
“God…it’s not easy.”
“Trust me with it.”
“Ok. I don’t want to hurt you, Jake. That’s the last thing I ever wanted from all this. The sex, the sharing. It was perfect. I mean, it is perfect. We’ve always had that. From day one. Sammy never talked about kids or buying a house. You did…and I loved that about you at first. You believed I could be good like that.”
“I did.”
“But I’m not ready for all that. I thought  I was. When we would lay in your old apartment and you’d tell me you loved me and that we should be together, it was perfect. But it scared the fuck out of me,” Crying. “When I got that apartment to get away from Sammy I wanted to get away from you too. I needed time to think.”
“What else?”
“About four months after I moved in to the apartment I got pregnant and had an abortion. I was crazy. I barely knew the guy. I met him and he treated me good but when I found out I was pregnant I didn’t see him again. I knew what I had to do. There comes a time in a woman’s life when she is ready to be a mother. My friends all talk about it. Makes me sick. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. I’m sorry for what I did, but…it sounds terrible to say this but…it was the right thing for me and I never do anything for me.”
“Getting the apartment was for you.”
“It was, you’re right. You’re always right. Maybe that’s the problem with us. You’re always right and I’m the slut that cheats on her husband, fucks a guy and gets pregnant. I’m not good. The pressure you put on me to be something I wasn’t pushed me away. There. I said it. You wanted me to be something I knew I wasn’t and could never be. We had our fun. The sex and those late night talks, they were all I wanted. I never wanted a house, or to be your wife.”
“You should get dressed and go.”
“Wait…you asked me to share and I did. Don’t throw me out after telling you all that.”
“I’ll call you a taxi…you shouldn’t drive.”
“Well aren’t you a self richeous fucker.”

“Hey, how long have been here?”
“About fifteen minutes. Long enough to scout out the talent.” Laughing.
“It’s as I remember, Scarlett’s is the best. Now I remember why you hang out here. Beer?”
“What are you having?”
“Beer…and a shot of Crown.”
“Crown? What are we celebrating?”
“I’m done with her.”
“Yeah. It’s over and tonight I feel like celebrating. Cheers.”
“Cheers. Ok, tell me what happened last night.”
“I’ll give you the quick version. She came over. We drank some wine, talked, and then she wanted to go in the bedroom. So we did. That’s when you knocked on the door. Good timing, asshole.” Laughing.
“Hey, I was worried about you.”
“I know…so after we get done she tells me that I scared her talking about the future all the time. That she could never live up to the picture I had painted in my head. That’s why she got the apartment and wouldn’t tell me where it was, to get away from me and the pressure I put on her. Said she realized she could never be a good wife or mother. Then she got pregnant.”
“Yeah. Fucked around with some guy and when she found out she was pregnant she never saw him again.”
“Did she say who the guy was?”
“No…you ready for another beer?”
“No…not yet.”
“That girl over there…with the pink on. Is that the girl that told me I looked like Richard Gere?”
“I still can’t get over the pregnancy thing.”
“I know. I was surprised, but not really. She took care of it. Last night was the end. No more therapy, no more Doctor Martin. Last night was what I needed all along. I needed her to admit that she wasn’t good enough for me and now I can find someone who is. God, I was such a moron. What’s that blonde’s name?”
“The girl with the pink on. Over there. Is she the one?”
“Did…did she give you the money back for the apartment she had in Woodside Manor?”
“How’d you know her apartment was in Woodside Manor?”

Not An Easy Fix (Short Fiction)

“Are you awake?”

“Yeah, what’s up?” Bo leaned on his elbow in the darkness of his room, holding the phone to the side of his weary head. His clock glared 2:15 am. 

“You’re not awake. I’ll let you go. Sorry.”

“No, no, no, I’m awake.” He wasn’t convinced himself he was awake, but the phone call was one that he couldn’t ignore.

“Have you ever felt lonely in a crowded room?” Kait spoke quiet on the other end, almost a whisper. 

“Yeah, I have. Tell me what happened.” 

There was a long moment of silence, usual for their 2 am phone calls. 

“I should just go to sleep. Thanks for listening,” Another long silence. “Good night.” 

Bo sat up, swung his legs off the bed and set his phone down. Kait’s contact picture was still smiling at him on the illuminated screen. It was a picture he took, a day at the zoo. Their relationship was easy then. He took a drink of warm, watered down Kool-aid from the glass on his nightstand, and then put the glass back down on the permanent red ring.

He laid his face in his hands and tried to figure out what she wanted. He wasn’t good at knowing what to do with her. She was complex, him, simple. The friendship turned to relationship after a drunken tryst in the room he rented above his uncle’s garage. The place embarrassed him, but she didn’t mention it that night, or ever. She also didn’t mention his stained jeans, or his habit of eating his dinner over the kitchen sink. 

It was her promotion to branch manager and his embarrassment at the dinner with her boss that ended the six month romance, but the friendship remained.

He knew the feeling of lonely in a crowded room. He felt it when he went to her work parties and had little to say to the other men he was forced to talk to. They talked finance, banking, money, while he was making $12 per hour changing oil at the local Quickie Lube. It was a craft his father taught him as a boy. “That’s what men do, son. We fix things.” His father said, working under the hood of the family station wagon. Bo told Kait he felt stupid in front of her colleagues. She insisted that he wasn’t but he couldn’t shake the feeling and what should have been a minor bump in the road to a solid relationship, became the wedge that caused him first, then her, to retreat. They reconvened a few months later as friends. 

Bo went to his closet and found a pair of clean jeans. They had stains but they didn’t stink with the hideous scent of hydraulic oil from rebuilding transmissions. Working on transmissions was better than changing oil but still a long way from his automotive passion. He felt a sense of pride actually fixing cars rather than just, “kicking the tires” at Quickie Lube. Transmissions were a new challenge. He understood hydraulic theory. The moving of objects using pressure and it wasn’t lost on him that it was a lot like his life. The pressure to be someone he wasn’t moved him away from Kait. He found a dingy t-shirt then slipped on his work boots, the laces dragging as he managed his way down the steps outside his uncle’s garage. 

He passed only one car on the six mile drive to Kait’s new condo. She’d moved up in the bank hierarchy, again, and now drove a foreign car. Bo hated it, but still changed the oil for her every 3000. After he helped her move into the new condo Kait handed him a key, “In case something needs to be fixed and I’m not here.” 

“But it’s a brand new condo. They’ll fix anything that’s wrong.” Bo gestured toward the management office of the condo complex. 

“You never know.” She shrugged. He hadn’t used the key yet.

He pulled into her condo complex and parked next to her Audi. He lit a cigarette and thought about whether he was doing the right thing. The radio played low but he didn’t listen. It was almost 3 am when he slipped the key into her door and turned the lock. He half expected it not to work. When it came to Kait, his brain always slanted to the negative. Once inside he turned the deadbolt behind him and using only the heel of the opposite foot, removed his boots.

Light snuck past the blinds in her room and Bo smiled when he saw her sleeping in her usual way, on her back, both arms above her head. The old recliner she couldn’t bring herself to part with was in the corner where he put it when he helped her move the new furniture in. Bo sat down in the recliner and watched her sleep. He thought about the relationship with her that was. The sharing and the love. How she looked at him while having a drink with friends, or when they made love, her eyes filled with adornment. Her hands always found him, no matter the situation. She’d kneel next to him in the dark of his room and touch his legs and chest, her face filled with pleasure while giving him pleasure. He thought about the break-up, the pressure, and how immature his thinking was then.

At 5 am he slipped on his boots and stepped outside the condo. He dialed his boss.

“I won’t be in today, AJ. Sorry.” 

“Everything ok?  Did that piece of shit break down again?”

“No, it’s not my car this time. I need the day off to fix something else.”


As I’ve said before, I started this blog to share some writing and get feedback. So, leave a comment. What worked? What didn’t? Was the lack of character descriptions a problem? Please, I want to hear. Thank You.

500 Words a Day

I need more focus. I jump from email to twitter to youtube to facebook (That was a joke, I never jump on facebook.) and pretty soon I’ve wasted an hour, and that’s being conservative. So when I saw Jeff Goins’ 500 Words A Day Challenge I decided right away this is what I need right now.

I have six half written short stories that I need to finish and I have ideas for about six more that I need to write and unburden my brain of. Not to mention a half-written long piece that is gathering dust. So plenty to work on. And 500 words a day is easy, if I make it a priority over the other distractions.

By the way, I checked Twitter five times while writing this. Off to a good start!

One More…

“We shouldn’t.” She moved his hand from her breast.

“You’re right, we shouldn’t,” He stood, walked to the window of the dark room and looked out at the city skyline. “Do you want another drink?”

“I think I’ve had enough. That’s how I ended up here.” She straightened her pencil skirt, tucked in her white fitted shirt. She looked as good as she did when she went to work that morning.

“It was the drinks?” He kept looking out the window. He needed a drink.

“No, it wasn’t the drinks, but the drinks make my mind go places it shouldn’t.”

“Or should.”


He turned and went to the nightstand where poured and inch of scotch into a tumbler, the tumbler without lipstick on the rim. “The drinks make your mind go to the place it wants to go. To me.”

“Come over here.” She spoke to his back.

“We shouldn’t.” He was back at the window, looking out from the 10th floor. He touched the scotch to his lips and felt the warmth through his body.

“You’re right, we shouldn’t. Are you leaving in the morning?” She touched up her eyes in the mirror.

“Yeah,” Another sip. More rain on the window. “You should stay with me.”


“I’ll buy you dinner.”

“You don’t wanna do that.” She was facing him now. Her dark hair pulled back again. He hated it that way.

“Of course I do,” They’d shared very little time outside of hotel rooms. He walked to her and put his hands on her hips. The fabric of the skirt, pulled tight across her ass and hips, felt good. He looked into her eyes. “I’ve been reassigned.”

“What’s that mean?” Her eyes changed from desire to concern. He couldn’t tell if the concern was for his well being…or her’s.

“It means I’ll be spending my time in the West region. I have my house on the market. I’m considering a move to Phoenix,” His nose touched the side of hers and he kissed the corner of her mouth.

“So this is it?” She pulled her head back from him and looked him in the eye again.

“I wouldn’t say this is it, but it’ll be hard for me to get back,” He pecked her lips. “Maybe I can fly in on the weekends.”

“You won’t,” The words settled between them for a moment.  “And we’re both ok with that. This thing has never been like that.” It was the hard, unspoken truth. Hearing it from her surprised him. He always thought she was more invested in the relationship than he was. Maybe he was wrong. All they’d shared and still he had questions.

They moved to the bed and he sat on it. He put his arms around her waist.  Her body wasn’t small. It was ample, her hips full, breasts, the same. “Will you undress for me…one last time?”

She stepped back from him and removed her shirt, revealing the lace bra, her breasts spilling from the top. She reached up and and took the clip from her hair, letting it fall to her shoulders. He sat patiently on the bed, enjoying the scene before him.

He still had so many doubts, so many questions about her. But one thing he knew, she enjoyed his eyes on her, his attention. She always had, since that first smile, some years ago.


My intent when I started this blog was to get feedback on what worked and didn’t work in the stories and use that feedback to improve. It’s a learning experience to write, share, then realize through criticism that the story doesn’t work for one reason or another.

That’s what I’ve asked for here. So please comment. Critique. Criticize. I need it.  

He Left, He Had To (Very Short Fiction)


His reason for leaving defied logic but was actually quite simple, he loved her too much. She would leave him eventually, it was inevitable in his mind. When one is more in love than the other they are vunerable. They  risk being used, left, foresaken. He’d been on the other side, the side that didn’t care as much and he was more comfortable with that role. So on a sunny, summer day, the sky blue and cloudless, a perfect contrast to his emotions, he packed his clothes, wrote a note, and left. It was a form of self preservation, a risk, one he would regret daily, for all the days ahead.

Image, Edward Weston, Nude, 1936.


“I worked as a common laborer until I was 50. I was jammed in with the people. Now I am not saying that working for a living is a grand thing. In most cases it is a horrible thing. And often you must fight to keep a horrible job because there are 25 guys standing behind you ready to take the same job. Of course, it’s senseless, of course it flattens you out. But being in that mess, I think, taught me to lay off the bullshit when I did write. I think you have to get your face in the mud now and then. I think you have to know what a jail is, a hospital is. I think you have to know what it feels like to go without food for 4 or 5 days. I think that living with insane women is good for the backbone.

I think you can write with joy and release after you’ve been in a vise.”

Charles Bukowski

I’ve read a few of Bukowski’s novels, and now I’m reading a book he put together of his ramblings. His novels and poetry are gritty and raunchy, but so very real in how he presents it.  This book of ramblings is set up like a blog. It was written in 1991-92-93, well before blogs were a thing with short, dated pieces of his thoughts on everything from authors and poets drinking till the wee hours on his couch, to going to the horse track and sharing lunch with his wife. He was in his 70’s when he wrote it but he still wrote with the same tough, truthful style.

I liked this piece because it speaks to the despair inside all of us. In only these few words he is able to speak of a life time of work and suffering and how he put it into his writing each evening. To me that is how it’s done. With courage.

Temptation (Part 3)

“We could use a fourth player.” She said.

I was just walking out of the men’s room of the public beach facility. It was tattered with peeling paint and stinky bathrooms but it had an early 1900’s charm. The girl talking to me was anything but tattered. She was young, clad in a red bikini and athletic sunglasses, not the huge fashion sunglasses I’d seen on most of the girls.

It was early afternoon, just after 1pm and the sun was just beginning to bake. The forecast called for humidity and high temperatures and it was right. I was sweating just walking to the bathroom through the deep sand.

She stood on the rope end line of the last volleyball court in a row of four. In the few days I’d spent here the courts had been busy. Beach goers playing pick-up games during the day and judging by the increase in talent, local organized leagues in the evenings. We’d stood and watched a hard fought match just the evening before after dinner, commenting on how we missed playing. So when the young, bikini clad blonde asked, and after a brief pause to quickly judge the other 7 players on her court, I said, “Sure. I’m Jack.”

“Nice to meet you Jack, I’m Amy.” She reached toward me and gave my hand a sandy shake. Then turned toward the court and announced to the other seven players, “This is Jack, you guys.”

I played behind her and couldn’t help notice her young athletic ass as she moved around in the sand. At a young age men become connoisseurs of the female ass and it was something I could never quite figure out. The male obsession with breasts is understandable, it makes sense. It’s instinctual from the womb. But the female ass? It severs no purpose in the way of male survival, or nourishment, but we put it on an equal pedestal with the breast. We wonder what it looks like in a pair of tight jeans. Then, when we see a nice one in jeans, one that fits a man’s personal taste whether it be round, or thin, or in the case of Amy bending over in front of me awaiting the next serve, muscular and athletic, we wonder what it looks like outside the denim. Men talk about their hobbies, their love affair with cars, or golf, or travel. But the unspoken life long hobby of every male is admiring the female form.

After two games both sides found the groove of their teammates. We played to the strengths of those around us. It became apparent that Amy knew all the guys and girls I was playing with. They joked and taunted one another. By the second game I became part of the team, and part of the banter, but I could never truly be part of their group. As Roth said in his novel, “It’s like playing baseball
with a bunch of twenty-year-olds. It doesn’t make you twenty because your playing with them. You note the difference every second of the game. But at least your not sitting on the sidelines.” That was me. I kept myself in good shape. Ran almost daily and stayed active, but playing volleyball with Amy and her friends would never, even in the slightest way, make me feel twenty again.

But during the games, when a good shot was made by our foursome, we exchanged high fives, fist bumps, and in the case of Amy, big smiles that lit her entire face. You couldn’t help but smile back at her. It was infectious.

“Let’s put a beer on the last game, just to make it interesting.” Joe, one of the lean, shirtless men on the other team called out and a fresh round of smack talk followed.

Amy turned to me and said, “Let’s kick their ass.”

“Yeah, let’s do that.” I said. We smiled. The subtle exchange with a young, beautiful girl wasn’t lost on me.

And  that’s just what we did, we kicked their ass. I don’t remember the  score, but it wasn’t as close as the two games previous. I just remember the invite. It came while we were standing in the lake, rinsing the sand from our bodies. Amy had her sunglasses off and her hair was no longer  pulled back in a pony. “Were gonna be at the Black River tonight if you want to stop by with your wife.” I hadn’t mentioned a wife, she must have assumed, given my age, that I was attached.

“Maybe we will.” I washed the last of the sand from my shoulders and face. The cool lake water felt good after an hour in the sun and humidity.

“If Joe doesn’t buy you a beer, I’ll buy you one.”

I gathered up my cooler and chair and walked the three blocks to the bungalow. The streets and yards were busy with vacationers and locals working in their yards. When I got home I went straight to the shower. I assumed she was writing but when I walked in the bedroom she was asleep on the bed. The room was cool from the air conditioning and she had a thin sheet covering her. I watched her sleep while I dried my hair and put on a fresh pair of boxers, then I slipped under the sheet and moved close to her. I drifted off to sleep with the warmth of her body against mine.

“How was the beach?” She whispered. The shadows of the evening grew across the room when we woke.

“Good. It’s hot out there. How’s things here?” I tried to not ask directly about her writing progress. I understood that progress was made in ways that didn’t appear in the word count. A walk in the park, or a run on the beach, or even an afternoon nap could be counted as progress if it pushes the writer forward.

“I got stuck and the bed suddenly looked good.” She said, with a smile. I pulled her close to me and buried my head between her head and shoulder. My arms wrapped her small body. “Now I’m starving.”

“Let’s go then.” We dressed and ate dinner at a martini and tapas bar downtown. We sat on the outdoor deck and enjoyed the night air. I told her about the volleyball games and we laughed at how I felt playing with a bunch of twenty-year- olds. I told her we were invited for a victory beer.

After I paid the bill I asked if she wanted to go over to Black River Grill for a drink.

“I’d love to. I could use a few minutes in a dark bar to get my head in a different place. It’s all beaches and sun right now.” We held hands as we walked the two blocks. There were still a lot of people out even though  it was after 10pm. Vacationers, trying to get the most out of each day. We were no different.

Black River Grill sits on a corner. It’s customers are a mix of locals and vacationers. Live music in the basement brings a young crowd after 10. We found two bar stools  and put our order in with  the tattooed bartender. When we walked in I scanned the room to see if Amy or her friends were there but I didn’t see any of them. Just as well, I thought. One thing I knew of people that age is that they don’t get started on an evening out until at least 11pm. I also knew how easily a quick invite like the one Amy extended me that afternoon could be forgotten when a better opportunity arose.

We watched the ball game on the screens overhead and talked about what we would do for the last few days of vacation. When our glasses were about empty the burly bartender came over. “Ready for another one? Amy said she owed you.” He motioned behind me. I turned and saw Amy sitting at a table with a few people her age. She was looking down, texting on her phone, but looked up and smiled at me just as I was turning back around. I recognized one of the girls from the volleyball game that afternoon but the two guys they sat with I’d never seen before.

I glanced at my wife and she nodded in approval. “Sure, give us two more.” When the drinks arrived I turned and raised it toward Amy in a gesture of thanks.

A moment later I heard Amy’s familiar voice behind me, “I don’t think Joe is gonna show up. His pride gets hurt easily.”

I turned and smiled at her. “Well, thanks for the drink.” I raised my tumbler and she held her beer bottle up. “This is my wife.” My wife shook her hand and they exchanged the usual back and forth. “You’re here with friends?”

We turned and look toward her table, “Yes, that’s Chelsea, you recognize her from today. And a couple other friends.”

“Boy friends?”

“No, just guys we went to high school with. They’re not what I want.”

I wondered what she meant by that but let it pass. “You’re from here?” I asked. When she looked away I peeked at her clothes. She had on a white, sleeveless shirt that was long, past her hips. And black tights with red heeled shoes.

“All my life.”

“Well, thanks for the drink. We don’t want to keep you from your friends.” As much as I was enjoying our exchange, I felt obliged to offer her a getaway.

“You’re not keeping me from them.” She smiled at me and then my wife. I offered her my chair and pretty soon her and my wife were talking about the local shopping and the wineries not far from the city. I watched them go back and forth, smiling, talking and laughing about a few things they had in common. Women can be the harshest of critics when it came to other women and you can tell when two women genuinely like one another. These two did. They were both beautiful, but in different ways. Amy’s was young and still not sure of her beauty and how it fit in to this world. My wife was beautiful and assured of her place. She was confident in hers. She modeled at one time and still could if writing didn’t take up so much of her time.

At one point my wife reached into her small purse and took out a notebook and pen. The notebook was small, the kind one would make a grocery list on. It was well worn and she flipped thought a dozen pages before she found a blank. She  smiled at  Amy, “I’m sorry, I’m a writer and need to capture a thought real quick.” Amy watched her begin to write on the notebook then looked up at me, obviously impressed.

When she finished Amy asked about her writing. She seemed genuinely impressed and interested unlike many others that asked out of obligation then didn’t really listen to the answers. My wife downed the last of her drink, “I’m going to go now. It was nice meeting you, Amy.” Amy shook her hand and smiled.

“Let me walk you back.” I told her after she slid off the barstool.

“No, you stay. I’ve got something and I don’t want to lose it.” I kissed her and she left. Amy looked a bit puzzled by her quick exit after I sat down on the stool my wife had just vacated.

“She needs to write. When the inspiration hits her, she has to go. I’m used to it after all these years.”

“How many years?”

“Nine.” I said.

“She’s beautiful.” Amy smiled when she said it.

“She is.” Amy nodded her head, took a drink and looked at the television above the bar.

We ordered another drink and I could feel the fog of booze settling in my head. We talked light. No family talk. Nothing about politics or beliefs. We exchanged funny drinking stories. Mine were from twenty years ago, her’s much more recent. When she’d laugh sometimes she’d set her hand on my leg or shoulder for a second. The booze worked it’s way through me but I was ultra aware of her touch. We faced each other on the stools and when I could, I took liberties in looking at Amy’s legs in those tights. I’d seen her in a bikini only hours earlier but that didn’t keep me from wondering what  her legs and ass looked like under there.

She excused herself to use the bathroom and I was alone with my thoughts for a moment. The band had started in the basement and music filled the bar now. It was busier than when we first arrived, almost to capacity with people standing just behind the barstools. I glanced around knowing I wouldn’t know a soul in the place, except Amy. The table her friends were at was now occupied by two couples. My drunk brain told me they were retired, probably in town for the week. Shopping for the ladies, golf for the men. I saw Amy weave her way through the crowd back to the empty chair beside me. She stopped and said hi to a few locals on the way.

“The band sounds pretty good.” I told her once she was sitting down. She sat facing me now, her knees touching mine. Her legs were open, but just a bit.

“Come on then, let’s go.” She was up and had a hold of my hand. I followed her back though the crowd, her hand never let go of mine until we reached the stairs. Once in the basement, I found a spot near the bar. We listened as the band did a bad rendition of Pearl Jam, then followed it with a good version of The Eagles. Amy moved to the music next to me. I enjoyed the sounds and the sights. It had been awhile since I’d been in such an environment. Young people, live music, and never with the company of a girl 20 years my junior.

“This music is closer more my generation than yours.” The band  took a break and the DJ spun a song but on a volume that allowed conversation.

“What’s your generation?” She was standing close to me. She had to, the crowd in the lower level was wall to wall.

“You know, people my age. Like your parents age. That’s probably why you like these songs, your parents probably played them around the house.”

“They did. But I don’t consider you to be their age.” She was smiling at me. I noticed how flawless her skin was. The lights from the stage cast a glow over her, or maybe it was the booze. Probably a combination of the two. I thought of the young guys on the beach, and the young guys here in this bar and a bit trace of envy grew inside me. She’s going to fall in love with one of them someday. Give all of herself to that person, unconditionally, the way only a young woman could.

The band came back and started the next set. “Let’s do a shot.” Amy pushed past and and got the bartenders attention. There are those that enjoy doing liquor shots, and those that don’t. Not a lot of in between. I fell in the side of not liking them. I liked my liquor on the rocks, or mixed with soda. The days of me doing shots in a crowded bar passed a long time ago, but wasn’t going to argue with her.

“Here.” She handed me a little plastic cup filled with brown liquid. I smelled it, Tequila. I shook my head disapprovingly at her. She smiled and held her glass up. I held mine up, “Too new friends.” She said. I paused a second and watched her drink the booze in one quick toss. Then I drank mine and fought the urge to wince at the burn in my throat. She smiled at me and we held eye contact for a moment.

The booze was heavily clouding all my senses now. The music no longer seemed as loud, the bar seemed less crowded, and I felt some kind of connection with a girl who was a stranger just 12 hours earlier. I had a million questions I wanted to ask her, then I didn’t. I wanted to know, but then I didn’t. I cared, but didn’t. My drunk brain spun like the the record on the DJ table. He spun a popular rap song from 15 years ago, glorifying the female ass. A collective scream came from the girls in the bar and there was a rush to the dance floor.

Amy and I smiled at each other. Enjoying the scene. She started moving her body next to me and then in front of me. She faced me and danced with her body almost touching mine, holding her arms out, a beer bottle in one hand. She moved closer, her body now against mine and not missing a beat from the beat heavy music that filled the bar. It felt as if we were alone in a sea of people. In that crowd of people, music loud, I felt a certain privacy.

I could feel her breasts against my chest and her hips bounced against my leg. Her face was almost against mine and I could smell the scent of her hair. There is something magical about smelling a woman’s hair from this close. It invites certain thoughts of passion and sex. She put her lips next to my ear, “Dance with me.”

I began moving my body up and down with hers in rhythm. Her face remained close to mine. I put my hand on her hip and pulled it close to me. Once her body was against mine, I reached around and felt her ass through the long shirt and tights underneath. We kept moving together, her body now completely pressed against mine, our faces close. I reached lower with my hand, down her thigh. I could feel the taught muscle flex under the tights with each thrust of her body. When I moved my hand back up, I slid it under her shirt. Now I could feel her ass with just the thin tights between my skin and hers. I moved it up and felt the curve where her lower back met her ass.

Her eyes were closed now. Her free hand on my face. Her legs parted and she pressed herself against my thigh. I gripped her ass and pulled her even closer. My heart fluttered at the excitement and arousal inside me. This young beautiful girl. This form of, what shall we call it? Vertical sex? The grinding and groping was equal to the foreplay of two lovers, only we weren’t lovers. I thought of what it would be like to have her on a bed, horizontal. What it would be like to make love to her. Her young tan body below me. My mind raced. I thought of the guys she’d been with. About how lucky they were. I thought of some of the girls I fucked when I was her age. Young and beautiful but I quickly forgot about them. I wonder if Amy had been forgotten by someone. I envied the men she had slept with, but I understood if that’s all they wanted from her. But in that moment, with the music bumping, her body bumping, I thought of how fun it would be to enjoy the carnal dance with her. The rhythm of lust between two. 

The song ended and it was quiet for a moment as the band came back on stage. Amy stopped dancing, but didn’t move her body away from mine. I kept my hand on her ass for a moment then moved it to her hip. Now, if she wanted to move away from me, she could. But she didn’t. A moment of clarity came over me. Maybe it was the absence of music, or the booze let me have one more clear thought before returning my brain to it’s clouded stupor.

“I need to get going.” I said. I could feel her ear on my lips as I spoke. She moved her head away from mine and looked at me.  We smiled at each other at very close range. Her lips invited me to kiss them, but I resisted. The struggle was immense inside me but I fought the urge. She moved her hips away from mine and as she did, my hand slid on the smooth fabric of them black tights one last time, and then it was off of her.

“I’m going too.” She said. She followed me as I weaved my way through the crowd and up the stairs. The bar on the main floor was almost empty. A few drinkers at the bar and one table was full of young people.

Near the front door I turned to her. “You’re not driving, are you?”

“No, I know those guys.” She motioned to the table of young people. “They’ll give me a ride.” I looked at her differently now. She wasn’t on the pedestal of youth and beauty like she was in my eyes earlier. Maybe it was the moment or the booze, but she felt closer to me. Not in a love sense, that couldn’t be, but I felt a certain connection to her standing there. I cared how she was getting home, if she would be safe.

“Well, then. Thanks for the drink.” I smiled at her. “And thanks for letting me feel young on the sand with you guys today.”

“You need to stop talking about being old. You’re not. I asked you to play because I knew by looking at you that you could keep up with us.” She spoke clear now. No longer slurred by beer and tequila.

“Well, thank you. Have a great night.” I gave her a friendly hug and walked toward the door. I could hear the band in the basement, they were playing a good version of Bob Segar, or at least it sounded good thought the booze in my head. I walked out and felt the cool late night air. I took my phone from my pocket and checked it for the first time all night. It was after 1am and there were no messages. I started walking down Main toward Sycamore, my legs wavering with each step.

“Jack.” Amy called to me from behind. I stopped and turned around. I watched her as she walked the half block to me, her heels clicking on the sidewalk. Again, she looked great in all ways. She tucked her hair behind her ear as she reached me then smiled.

“Remember when you asked me if one of them guys was my boyfriend?”

I thought for a moment then remembered the two guys she was sitting with when she bought my wife and I that first drink. “Yeah, you said they were friends.”

“Then I said I they weren’t what I want.” She was looking in my eyes and I could almost sense a sadness about her. I felt the urge to hug her, comfort her.

“Yeah. I wondered what that meant.” I said. The lipstick was absent from her lips now but they, along with skin on her face, glowed in the street lights. Natural beauty has a way of shining in all forms of light.

“I didn’t know it when I said it but the way you look at your wife, the way you talk about her, that’s exactly what I want.”

I held out my arms and she came to me. I hugged her. Again I could smell her hair, feel her body. But it had changed from erotic to the feeling of friendship.

“You’ll find it, Amy. You’ll find someone who’ll look at you like that.”

When I climbed into bed, just before my drunk mind gave in to the booze and exhaustion, I looked at my wife. I brushed her dark hair away from her face and looked at her face. Beauty has a way of shining through in all forms of light.


Vacation Inspiration


Storm Clouds (Part 2)

The subtle clicks of her keyboard woke me, but I didn’t move. Storm clouds raged in my head from the wine and whiskey the night before. Like an invading army, they moved  from the back to the front of my head before commencing battle.

Click, click, click. The keystrokes came in rapid succession with little pause. She was in a groove. I opened one eye and let some of the sun soaked room seep through, into my head. There she sat, on a wooden chair at the table I moved into the bedroom the day before for this purpose. There were two picture frames and her sketch pad next to her. I closed my eye and let the storm clouds pass for another hour. Click, click, click.

This would be a vacation like none we’d been on before. She had a deadline, I didn’t. We rented near the beach more for my entertainment than for her inspiration. She could have made headway on her project in the middle of the woods, or almost anywhere to be honest. But it was August, and August can be counted as one of the few months one can enjoy the sun and sand in the Midwest. So I ran, and paddle boarded, and enjoyed the sights from my chair on the beach. She’d find me there and we’d walk on the sand for an hour, usually saying little, then she’d retreat back to the bungalow for more writing while I’d reach onto my cooler for another cold import.

Click, click, click. I was awake again. The storm clouds in my head were still present but no longer raging.  The cool morning air had been replaced and warm, late morning air now filled the room.

“How do you feel?” She said. I opened my eyes to see her turned in her chair smiling at me. Her trendy glasses sat perfectly on her young face. She got up and walked to the bed and sat down next to me. I reached around her waist and pulled her down on top of me. She kissed my crusty lips then buried her head in my shoulder. “I feel bad.” She said.

“Why?” My voice was gravel as I forced the word through my dry throat.

“Because you spent the whole day by yourself.” Her words were muffled from her head being buried between my shoulder and the pillow.

“You know I don’t give a shit. You need to write.” I rubbed her back and let my hands glide over the taunt muscle of her ass. I could feel her panties through the thin material of her shorts. Her leg was draped over me now and I gripped her thigh and pulled it higher, closer. I pulled up her shirt and let my fingertips trace across her warm back. Her skin was flawless.

“I missed you last night.” She whispered. After dinner she set her computer up in the screened porch. I poured two inches of whiskey over some ice and listened to the baseball game in the back yard. When the mosquitoes got the best of me, I wandered down to a pub near the beach. When I got home, a little after midnight, she was asleep.

Her shirt was off now and her small breasts pressed against me. I could feel her nipples. We kissed but I didn’t dare open my lips. A family walked by outside along with the familiar sound of wagon wheels on the sidewalk. No doubt heading toward the beach for a day in the sand. My hands rubbed her back and then slid inside her shorts and panties and felt the smooth skin beneath. I pushed them down as my hands went down her legs. Those great legs that I desired.

I felt her lips grow into a smile against mine.

The storm clouds that once raged were gone.

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