Once upon a time there was a little boy who had both a dog and a monster.
This boy spent his summer days with the dog traveling out with him in the morning and returning each afternoon in the hottest part of the day to cool in the shade of the back porch with the glass of lemonade provided by the woman known to the adults as The Girl and to the boy as Maya. Maya was unique among the Girls of the neighborhood in that she agreed with her boy on two subjects. One, that the grey dog, called Roy, was the best dog in the neighborhood and deserved his spot at the north end of the boy’s bed every night. Two, that the monster that took its days in the cool dirt under the back porch stairs and its nights with the dust and stray dog bones under the south end of the boy’s bed was just the right sort of monster for a 10 year-old boy to have. Of course, this also meant that Maya believed in the monster. She was the only adult in Grifter’s Bend who did not subscribe to the views of Dr. September, the child psychologist. She knew that the monsters were as real as the dogs, and the sister’s cats, and the hamsters in dirty aquariums that also existed in the boys’ worlds. Our boy, whose name is Duffy Jackson, is particularly lucky to have Maya in his house from 9 to 6 Monday through Saturday excepting Wednesday afternoons, when she goes to see her own mama and get ready for church.
Not quite a day late, but pretty much a dollar — or a piece of software and a margin change — short.
So without further ado — or proper inking — I give you the first installment of The Big G.
Tomas looked down from the balcony.
This house, the house he’d grown up in, was old, faded. The cool blues and sweet melons of his childhood forgotten and replaced with dry grays and dingy mustards. It was as if his mother had taken all of the color with her when she left. Papa had told them that she died. Suddenly one night when Tomas was 12 and Hugo had just turned 4.
Tomas had believed Papa and Hugo had not. And that is all you need to know about the two Claudio brothers.
When I left, it was winter.
I had arrived on a clear cold August night. Stopping on the butte overlooking the canyon, I wondered if there was any reason not to simply continue riding north.
To be continued…
First line courtesy of The Oracle. But yours won’t be the same.
The attendant held out the distinctive yellow and orange envelope.
“Thank you Mr. Su” he said cheerfully as Kam took the envelope. “Have a nice day, Sir.”
Kam stepped out of the arcade into the Pacific Avenue rush. He squinted against the low October afternoon sun. Damn, no sunglasses.
He crossed the street to the new two-story Starbucks and stood in line behind the usual collection of black clad teenagers, under-employed hipsters, and multi-level marketers in cheap sports coats. Kam stared at the logo on his envelope. A laughably cheap image of crossed fingers on a background of the initials LD and the motto “Only Time Will Tell.” He flipped the envelope over and fingered the flap. Turned it back over and stared at the crossed fingers again. His brother had told him that the initials LD stood for Lucky Dayz and that the company that produced the AnswerMachine™ had originally been in the business of manufacturing claw crane games and bar-top slot machines. In fact the machine itself was originally designed as a fortune telling game called “How Shall I Die?” The designer had had the brilliant idea of getting cryptic sounding answers by taking random phrases from a live connection to Wikipedia. Marketing had loved the fortune cookie vibe of the answers but had nixed the name in favor of the less definite AnswerMachine™. Still ‘everyone’ knew that the machine only answered one question — How am I going to die? And ‘everyone’ knew that the machine was never wrong.
“Lucky Dayz. That’s rich.” he said aloud and then remembered he wasn’t alone.
He turned the envelope back over and slid his finger under the flap. There were two pieces of paper. A closely printed double-sided “Guide to your Answer”. He ignored this and looked at the 3x5 card with it’s happy orange border and the LD logo in the corner.
“Leonard Cohen?” it read. “What the fuck, they’ve given me someone else’s results.”
He shoved the papers back into the envelope and stuffed it back into his messenger bag, elbowing the man behind him in the process.
“Oh, sorry.” He apologized as he stepped up to the counter.
Americano in hand Kam walked to the condiments bar to get half-n-half. Waiting behind the goth girl adding four Splendas to her soy latte, his curiosity got the better of him and he dug the envelope out of his messenger bag. As he pulled out the card the Guide fell to the floor. An older woman with lots of precise spikes and angles in her gray hair stopped to pick it up for him. Handing it over she stiffened when she saw the envelope in Kam’s hand.
“Superstitious nonsense.” she muttered Continue reading