A Night Outside

I walked out onto the patio with a glass of wine in my hand. On a bench was a young woman smoking a cigarette. I sat across from her and said hi. We talked for a little bit then she said to me,

“Can you do me a favor?” and I said “Sure.”

She was a lady, after all. If maybe a bit young, unshapely, frizzy hair up in a bun (it was a wet winter)—at least she wasn’t a man.

“Can you get me a glass of wine?” she asked me.

“Oh…Sorry, no. I can’t.”

“Oh…Okay then. It’s just, I started this cigarette, and forgot to get my drink, and–”

“Wait, how old are you?”

“26.”

“Oh! Okay. I though you were, like, sixteen, and you snuck in, and you were trying to get me to buy some shit, and I’m not going off to jail or anything. Who knows these days…”

“Oh! Haha, no, no, not at all…God, thank you! I didn’t know I looked so young. That makes me happy. I just was smoking and now here I am, and I can’t go inside…”

“Alright, well, you got cash? What do you want?”

“Yeah, uhm,” she fumbled through her bag, “here’s five, get me a glass of the house white—it’s exactly five.”

“Alright then.”

I went inside, bought her the wine (the bartender smiled at me, remarking how quick I had finished my drink), and went back outside.

Continue reading “A Night Outside”

The Iceberg Mind

Jeb McKinney sat in the bathtub. His wrinkled, withered body was being washed by his oldest, Sandy. He stared at the granite wall as his daughter lifted his arm, scrubbed, put down his arm, lifted the other, scrubbed, put that one down, too, and continued in this fashion until they were finished.

Sometimes, though, thankfully not this morning, Jeb would get confused, frightened and embarrassed all at once. He couldn’t possibly lash out at his daughter—the thought could never cross the tender man’s mind. He had always been a sweet, considerate soul—Sandy had loved him for this since the day she was born—but in more trying moments he would be brash, boorish and unhinged, flailing about the room, making a fuss and yelling as loud as he could “Why?! Why do I have to bathe, damn it? Just let it be, if I can’t do it myself, there’s no use! I don’t smell anything! To hell with the others who can! I think I smell fine! No, no need to go out if I have to bathe first…To hell with the grocery store, the doctor and the rest!”

Continue reading “The Iceberg Mind”

The Road Runner

In the thick of Desert Hills – a redneck, American small town north of Phoenix – I was house sitting for my parents. The dogs were fine other than their usual dog problems of elbow sores and anxiety. I fed them and let them out, then I napped and did it all again.

I had seen The Road Runner restaurant and saloon many times throughout my youth.

It sat on the side of the freeway, in New River – one of the deepest cuts of Phoenix ruralism, second only to Black Canyon City. Something piqued my interest, now that I’m old enough, to finally go and enjoy this cultural monument.

Groggy, I drove through the winding horse-lands of Desert Hills, Continue reading “The Road Runner”

The Turners

Outside of a Wendy’s parking lot, a man collects cans in a trash bag. His daughter is in a shopping cart playing with a doll.

“Daddy…It’s hot.”

The city of Phoenix hit a high of 117 degrees that afternoon and the people felt it. The heat followed them into their cars and into their psyche where it frazzled, fried and left them lethargic, limping over the crosswalks and crooked asphalt.

“I know, sweetie. Please, put some more sunscreen on.” Continue reading “The Turners”