The Nones of May

Kevin Cane stood on the margin of the car park where the painted lines gave way to a paved road between tourist shops. The asphalt looked like it had been poured thin and hot over a poorly groomed dirt road then hardened in place. Its fresh black with grey aggregate matched his goatee and moustache. The vespers sun blah blah.

[He is in San Diego attending the marriage of his friend Colin Abes. This is Colin’s second marriage; the bride is the same age as the bride at the first—which Kevin also attended.

At the first wedding fifteen or so years ago, Kevin had an affinity for the couple. Even though he was single, even though he’d been right in the middle of his first stint in the Navy, the event felt like a beginning for him. This obvious affair be contrast feels like an end.

Kevin turned forty recently, that gives him the right to say he feels old and wise even though he’s neither.]

186 words on day 967

Melodies or Landscapes

At a glance Narkkid didn’t look ex-military. Her body was small and lithe; her black hair was long and straight; and her brown eyes were soft and light. But when she spoke, when she asked her mechanics to prep a flit or when she told a customer their ride wouldn’t be ready for another week, then the evidence of her past life surfaced like a dead body in a river. Listeners knew that she’d seen and done things they could only imagine. They knew she had told people to “Go there; do that.” knowing full well they’d die in that going and doing. And that she’d done it more than once.

Though she had been very good at what she’d done, she never liked it much. She’d have rather been a musician or a painter creating melodies or landscapes with her hands; being a flit mechanic was as close as she’d gotten in the ten years since she’d retired.

Knowing she wouldn’t utter the next number in her countdown, she went to her office and set the door near closed.

180 words on day 910

Steve’s Place

I looked for a better source of this photo but didn’t find one before I started running out of time to write.

Steven Tattersall lived in New Zealand and that gave him a familiar but exotic mystique. It also made him funny—to Karen at least. And for some reason she held the impression he was or had been a sailor, but he never had. This is his home.

Steve’s place is unusual, and part of the problem describing it is that you want to stop there and just say, “Well, you’d have to see it.” But all the pieces of Steve’s treehouse—because that’s where you go after you’ve already said ‘unusual’—are completely normal. They just aren’t combined in an expected way. Imagine a perfectly usual cabin with a hipped roof and a Queen Anne style dormer above the classically centered front door. Then float that cabin two stories above the shoreline of a good-sized pond, build in the first and second stories with tin and cedar and plywood to hold your perfectly usual cabin up, sprout an extra-tall extra bedroom out of the top of your usual cabin, and finally add a bell tower to the top of that. As time permits, cobble on some walkways and lean-outs and fashion a multi-tiered redwood party deck to hover out over the pond. Just call the whiskey barrels and teak love-seat homey embellishments.

236 words on day 821

Brother Taig’s Maquette

Brother Taig had a knack for being both happy and lop-sided. When circled in casual conversation with his fellow brothers they would swear his left leg was at least an inch shorter than the right, but gathered again later in the day—maybe just prior to Nones—the same gathered group would swear the opposite: that his right leg was now the shorter of the two. His moustache would—depending on the time of the year—favor one side or the other as well. His fellows imagined him at the glass with his razor carefully matching one side with the other but always just a little uneven. They assumed he attended to one half till he realized the other was too long then switched sides to bring them up even only to discover he’d taken to wide a whack again. These same moustache appraisers then concluded that he eventually just stopped as to avoid a moustache breadth no longer in style. Asymmetrical being preferable to arcane. When he moved it was like bales being dumped out of the back of a hay truck. Presumably his leg length switched sides uncontrollably during locomotion.

He never once acknowledged his incongruity. He never said ‘I should just shave this whole blasted thing off’ or ‘Sorry for bumping into you. I’ve got two extra knees and elbows, you know?’ He just smiled, bobbed his whole upper half like a bow, and drew you in with a hello that made you wish you were as comfortable in your own misshapen body…your own imperfect life as he was in his.

260 words on day 747

Four More Two-Sentence Maquettes

I know I’ve been stumbling through much of the last few weeks of writing. Bad timing and schedule interuptions have eroded my morning habit so much that I’m finding I struggle to to write when I formerly I did not. In part, I believe I need a serious planning session for each of my recent discoveries, but I won’t have the time for that till after Christmas. Until then I’m mucking around in a near empty jelly jar. What you’ve been reading lately is the sound of the knife rattling around in those corners.

I’ve also been reading more than usual.

Some two-sentence maquettes ought to grease the skids a bit…

John wore all his weight in his reddened face. His belly stretched the holes of a new belt every six months, but his cheeks and his jowls and his neck and even his forehead and ears summarized who he was and how much he weighed.

Aunt Jane cooked to make people happy. She wore her blonde hair up and out of the way, and a smudge of flour always decorated her chin and apron.

John looked up to most men, but what he lacked in physical stature he made up for in productive energy—painting portraits and scenes not Napolianic complexity. Men who couldn’t care less of another’s appearance often noted how neatly trimmed he kept his light brown hair.

I’m worried I have a thing for hair. Maybe I should do eyes?

Jane’s large brown eyes centered her soul for most women, but John found them glassy and uncommunicative. Her tits and low-cut blouses should have had him fumbling to help her at every opportunity; instead her cow-like eyes insisted she thought only of herself and turned him away.

299 words on day 620

Two Two-Sentence Maquettes

I’m writing dark on light tonight instead of my usual bright on black…and now I’ve stopped that shit. Oh, sweet Jesus that’s better!

John could make his face smile without turning up the corners of his mouth or flashing his white teeth. He wore his black hair military-short which kept his greying temples a secret at a distance.

Jane would have made a great Hippie had she not been born in the late 80s. You wanted to see her in a peasant dress and hemp sandals; you expected ribbons mixed with her straight brown hair. Instead you’d most often find her wearing a babydoll tee with the Bat Signal or a Rubik’s Cube on the chest, low-rise cargos, bare feet, and a streak of pink dyed into her bangs.

139 words on day 618

The Makers Marcail

“Bugger off! Of course she’s got a name.” The fist I thought would punch me square in the chest swings down to the gunwale and opens to a caress. “Come over here, lass.”

The captain or pilot—I don’t know which—beckons largely, so my eyes follow the hands up to the face. Until now I’d been careful to stay clear of the eyes, but not this time. My body stayed put, but my soul drew closer. This happens occasionally; this time I knew it would.

“Bloody Hell.” I broke the moment by turning my head forward. Below us lay the carcasses of broke ships and rusting sargasso. I was now bound to another human.

“Come over here, lass.” The hand patted a golden-gate red post like nothing had passed. I steadied myself for the off-balanced sway of the small ship but none came. No slosh, no swing, no sag, no dip. “She’s static at anchor.”

Strong hands gripped my shoulders and turned me around. I couldn’t see everything but I could see enough. A patchwork of metal welded together from flotsam like a boy-made tree house stuttered before me.

The pieces were well picked for shape and size and utility, but, in every other aspect, they were incongruous. A flash white bulkhead pocked with bullet holes stood next to a mustard yellow door. Marine blue paint dried where it dripped from something above. A fiberglass roof made from half an amusement park whale and clashing blue tarpaulins ended abruptly at the red again wheelhouse. Atop that two jet engines mounted with vent pipes, a ladder, and bumper stickers—round and rectangular—exhaled black smoke like a whisper.

The deck I stood on warped down at all the fringes. Rain water would drain well from that concave hump of boards. It had to have been vertical in its original orientation on whatever building or bridge or dam it had been salvaged from. The rails, which might have protected a quarter of the edges, were made of household plumbing. The J-bend mounted just outside a weathered green door proved it.

“This,” arms spread expansively, “this, is The Maker’s Marcail.”

361 words on day 552