The Last Dance

Originally published on the Literati Mafia

I stood out on the deck, staring up at the night sky into the face of the end of the world.

Inside, my family and a large group of their friends drank and laughed and danced to old songs, some I remembered, some I didn’t. Upstairs, my two little brothers and the younger kids of the partiers’ slept—with a little help from Benadryl—blissfully unaware of the fact they would never wake up.

In the valley below, the town sparkled like the Fourth of July, now a month past. The sultry breeze carried the faint sounds of music and laughter up the steep hillside to my family’s summer home.

Was the whole world celebrating? Continue reading “The Last Dance”

Pay The Fiddler

Marlena wouldn’t have opened her door to just any man, a girl had to be careful after all. But when she’d parted the curtains a smidge and got a gander of the pretty man standing on the stoop, she about tripped over her own feet getting to the door and flinging it open.

“Well, hello there,” she said, pasting on a saucy grin. “What can I do for you?”

Light bugs and moths danced around the porch light, throwing flitting shadows over a scarred but handsome face. He quirked a black eyebrow. “Marlena Bledsoe?”

“The one and only.” Must’ve been asking about me down at Rudy’s. She tucked a bleached-blonde curl behind her ear, cocked a hip.

“It’s time to pay.”

The smile slid from Marlena’s face. Her belly knotted up. “Huh?” But she knew…

“Hassie sent me.”

“Who’re you?” And she knew that too.

“Cicero.” His golden eyes met hers. “Here’s what you’re going to do…” Continue reading “Pay The Fiddler”

The Right Way

“You’re not doing that right,” Ted said, crowding up against my side, using his considerable bulk to nudge me out of his way. He opened the upper cabinet, swinging it so wide it almost hit the side of my head.

I moved a step to my right, pausing the round and round motion of the paring knife circling the potato in my hand. Taking a deep breath, I stared out the small window at the red sky cradling the late-evening sun sinking over the distant mountains.. A hot puff of desert air found its way between the two panes of roll-out glass, riffling the sweaty tendrils of fading auburn hair sticking to my cheeks. I sighed.

He thunked down a cup on the countertop, then snagged the carafe brimming with fresh brewed coffee, sloshing some onto the Formica I had wiped down not five minutes ago.

“You need to use the peeler like I do…”

And just when’s the last time you did that? I thought.

“…not a knife,” he continued. “You’re wasting too much of the potato. Why do you always have to do things the hard way, Lulu?”

“It’s not hard for me. It’s the way I’ve always done it, the way my mama done it.” Go away! Leave me alone! I focused on the melancholy saguaro cactuses dotting the landscape, their heavy arms raised in silent surrender.

“But you’d save time and potato if you did it my way.” Continue reading “The Right Way”