The Park, the Tree, and the Dog


The little park was not far removed from civilization, but sitting under the oak tree, in the moments between the frequent passersby, Duncan could pretend that it was. The tree was a beautiful, old, gnarled oak tree that he thought about sometimes while sitting at his desk at work when he needed a peaceful visual to calm him down or stave off the empty feeling that everything he did was futile. The oak itself didn’t make the feeling go away, but it somehow made him care less. Having a decent picture of the oak, he thought, might help. Getting a decent picture, that captured the aspects he wanted to, however, was proving more difficult than he had expected. It was such a beautiful subject to photograph; he had thought that it would be easy to capture an attractive image. Someone more skilled in the workings of a camera and more practiced in framing an aesthetically pleasing shot could have worked wonders with it, but Duncan was neither of these things and the deep, brilliant majesty his eyes saw was somehow filtered out during the image taking process.

Every once in a while an ant came wandering along, so he had to check around him on occasion to make sure he wasn’t getting ants in his pants. Overall, though, it was a pleasant and comfortable place to sit. He leaned back and stared at the tree. Sunlight trickled through its leaves and the mottled shade around him changed slowly and smoothly from the gentle breeze tussling his hair.

Duncan was contemplating this effect of the light and wondering how he might go about capturing it, when the dog trotted by. A dog passing the small piece of trail he could see from his place of contemplation was not abnormal. The people that frequented this park were generally of three categories: exercising, contemplating, or walking their dogs. Sometimes people did several of these at once. There was a specific woman he saw often when he came to visit the tree, who would run at speeds Duncan considered a sprint, but she did them for multiple loops of the mile-long trail, and she did so keeping pace with 3 dogs. Another regular was the man Duncan called “the Brooder” in his own mind. There wasn’t much more to say about the Brooder that the name didn’t cover. He wore jeans and a t-shirt, and his hair was an untidy bush around his head. He could often be seen at this time on Sundays, staring at the trail in front of him while he walked, a little off to one side, a pensive frown on his face. If one watched him he could be seen on occasion to slow in pace momentarily, wave his head back and forth slightly as if debating a particularly troublesome point, then shrug and shuffle onward. Duncan noticed people that he saw regularly, but he was more likely to notice the dogs. He liked dogs and wanted there to be one waiting to greet him when he got home, but it didn’t feel like the responsible choice. “Soon,” he had been saying for about 5 years.

There were many dogs that he saw when he came at this time on Sundays. There was the heavy-weight chocolate lab that just wanted to sniff everything, and the group of four basset hounds that walked together like some sort of droopy sled dogs attached to a single leash and pulling the tiny woman attached to the other end so that she always seemed on the verge of tipping over. There was the ball-focused dog that was some sort of mix which included some large part German Sheppard. There was a tiny, white, fluffy terrier that was not shy about trying to get pet by every human it passed. Often Duncan saw an elderly pug that wouldn’t walk more than a few paces before sitting down and groaning until he was picked up. There was even a medium-sized pit-bull that wore a string of fake pearls atop her collar. Duncan had the vague sense that the woman who was usually walking beside the pit was attractive, but he couldn’t have picked her out of a line-up without the dog, he only remembered the glamorous, goofy dog with the string of pearls. On any given Sunday, there were more dogs than these around, but these were the core group that he saw almost every time.

No, it was not strange for a dog to come trotting down the path. What was strange about this one was that it was humanless. Perhaps, Duncan thought, the dog had just run ahead of its person a little and they were on the way. Duncan waited a few moments listening. He could hear the chatter of two teenage girls that where coming from the other direction, but he didn’t hear anyone coming from the way the dog had.

He stood and, tucking the camera back into its case, made his way to the trail. The dog had trotted a little past where he had seen him, then slowed to smell something. The two teenage girls ran past, talking incessantly while running, in the way of youth, and didn’t seem to pay the dog any mind; they didn’t belong to the dog any more than he did.

“Hey, buddy, where’s your human?” he called to the dog, approaching him. The dog looked at him and watched him approach, neither coming forward, nor running away. He was a medium-sized mutt of some sort with yellow, shaggy fur, long, floppy ears, and a thin tail. He could, perhaps have been part yellow lab, but the face was a stubbier shape and his body was much smaller. When Duncan got close, he crouched and stuck his hand out. The dog stretched his neck out to sniff the hand. He wasn’t wearing a collar.

After the customary sniff, the dog looked up at his face, then took a step towards him and Duncan reached up and rubbed the fur atop his little head. His little head pushed back into Duncan’s hand affectionately. Duncan used both hands to rub behind the dog’s ears, repeating the question “where’s your human, buddy?”

He looked around again, there was still nobody in sight. “Are you all alone?” he asked, making eye contact with the dog, “like me?”

The dog responded by pushing past his hands and angling his body so that it rested against his legs. It was, Duncan thought, as if he was saying, “Not anymore.”

A brief flutter of joy blossomed in Duncan’s chest and he sat down onto the ground. The dog climbing onto his lap, trying to lick his face. What if the dog WAS alone? Could he take him home? What real reason was there for him to not bring a dog home? He could scrape together the money for the extra deposit on his apartment, and he could budget for food and toys.

He stood up, realizing that he was getting a little ahead of himself. “We should probably look around a bit for your human, before I go getting you a key to my apartment, huh?”

The dog just looked up at him, tongue hanging out to one side and eyes smiling.

“Come on,” Duncan said, walking back the direction he had seen the dog come from, the dog watched him for a moment, then ran to catch up, staying level with Duncan’s right leg. He sniffed things as they walked, and looked around, but every few steps he would shift his weight ever so slightly so that his body would brush against Duncan’s leg. When other people came along, the dog shrunk from them or sniffed their dogs, but remained at Duncan’s side, while he asked each and every one if they had seen someone looking for a dog.

“Aw, little guy’s lost?” a man asked, reaching down to pet him. The dog backed away and remained out of reach. “Must just not like men; probably a woman’s dog,” the man offered, then moved on.

“Sure,” Duncan said with a smirk as the dog nestled back up against his leg, “you just don’t like men.”

They did the entire loop without a single person claiming the dog or having any information about a lost dog. By this time his new, hairy friend was starting to pant and Duncan realized that, being fairly hot out, the dog might be getting thirsty.

“Let’s head back to my car, get you some water, and call animal control to ask what I’m supposed to do,” he said, “Oh, don’t look at me like that, we need to check if anyone is looking for you, but if not, don’t worry, you’re coming home with me. You’ll like it there.”

On their walk back to the parking lot, Duncan let his imagination run away with him, imagining how it was going to be having this dog live with him. He smiled as he thought over potential names he could propose to see how the dog reacted. He contemplated, only briefly, if he would let the dog sleep in the bed. As a kid, his mom had strictly forbidden dogs from the furniture, but this was HIS choice and he settled very quickly on the idea that – once treated for fleas, of course – the dog would be taking over his bed in no time. The smile turned to a broad grin as he thought about becoming one of those guys that ran with a dog every morning. He had been a runner when he was young, but had fallen out of it as it held no real appeal to him, until he thought about running with a dog. For some reason, that was much better.

By the time they made it back to the parking lot, Duncan had already decided which bowls could be re-purposed for dog food. He had picked which blanket the dog would get to cuddle in that evening, and he had started contemplating how he was going to manage a trip to the store to get dog food and shampoo. He didn’t want to leave him in the car, how would he feel being left in a strange apartment alone? Could he leave him with a neighbor while he ran to the store? He didn’t really know any of his neighbors. The one he had met was an asshole with a loud television and a constant parade of different women coming and going at weird hours. The only thing these women seemed to have in common was that they screamed during sex. He didn’t want to leave the dog with that neighbor.

When they entered the parking lot, there was a Prius parked right by the trail-head, with an old woman standing next to it. When she saw them, her eyes lit up and Duncan’s heart dripped into his stomach. He immediately knew what was coming, and tried to smile, though it hurt.

“Oliver! There’s my boy!” she yelled, and the dog bound to her to get his head scratched. After a brief tousle, she opened the door, and, without so much as a backwards glance, the dog jumped into the car.

“Thank you for finding him,” the woman called to Duncan, as she went to the driver side, “that was so nice of you!”

Then, without awaiting a response, she was in the car and it was creeping silently out of the parking spot.

Duncan swallowed hard as he watched the car start to drive away, then looked to the trees at his right, taking a long, slow breath. “Sure, “ he mumbled to himself, “I was being nice.” The emptiness was back and he wanted, very much to go ponder the oak tree again, but he had already done that today, so he started toward his car. “That’s why I did it; I was being nice.”


A Single Flower

First off, apparently May 10th (last Wednesday) was my Blogiversary! My blog is 4 years old! YAY!

Okay, now onto a piece of flash fiction.

Trigger warnings: Depression, alcoholism, death of a loved one.

The empty scotch bottle slipped out of his fingers and settled next to the single flower growing from her grave. Tears ran down his cheeks into the stubble that had formed on his chin over the past week and a half since the night of the accident.

She was gone and it was his fault.

His back starting to cramp from his hunched, crumpled position leaning over her grave, he laid back onto the ground and looked into the trees, listening to the gentle hum of insects and the soft rustle of leaves in the breeze. He took a deep breath in an attempt to make the world stop spinning. The air was thick with the pungent smell of the bottle of Glenfarclas that had half gone down his throat and half gone into the ground. A warm, smokey flavor lingered in his mouth and he thought, “I better appreciate the taste now, because I doubt I’ll be able to stomach it tomorrow.” This was the sort of bender that turned one off of specific types of booze.

They had been saving this bottle of scotch for a special occasion. There would be no more special occasions now.

He had never been a big drinker, but he had been drunk that night – the night he had killed her – they both had.

For what seemed like the millionth time, the way her neck had felt beneath his hand when it snapped ran through his mind and he could almost feel it again. His stomach churned, from the booze? From the spinning sky? From the memories? Yes. Probably all of the above.

Tears had stopped flowing, but his body still went into convulsions, and his chest still tightened while he quivered in dry sobs.

He hadn’t meant to, he had loved her with all of his heart, but she was just so damn fragile. One moment she had been shrieking with laughter while they wrestled in the bed, her trying to lick his face because he had complained about her breath. The next moment they had tumbled out of bed and his hand went out to catch them. Somehow – and he still couldn’t piece it together – her neck had been twisted between his palm and the floor as her head hit the ground.

He had felt it snap and she had gone limp even while they were still falling off the bed.

One poorly placed hand. One fragile neck. Two lives ended.

The tears came back now. They tore through him as he curled into the fetal position on his side facing her grave. She had been his everything and he had killed her.

“Lance?” a small voice broke through his sobs.

He sat up and looked around frantically. It was a small, frail voice, but it was hers for sure. Was he losing his mind?

It came again, repeating his name, “Lance?”

It came from the flower. He looked closer. The flower turned towards him, petals framing a tiny face. “Lance, is that you?”

“I… I… How…?” was all he could get out and the flower smiled.

“I’ve been brought back to you, my love.”

“But,” there was a panicked tightness in his chest while he struggled to catch his breath. How was this possible, “How did you-”

“It doesn’t matter, Lance. I’m here now and we can be together.”

He crouched down so that his nose was inches from the flower.

The broad smile was strange buried between petals of a flower, but it was undeniably hers and it warmed his heart and he started to smile for the first time since she had died. “Stop crying; this wasn’t your-” she stopped short with a gasp.

“What’s wrong?”

“It wasn’t your-” she paused, the smile fading. Then the flower whipped around, looking at the ground, “GAHHH!” she cried, “My roots are burning! Make it stop! Make it-” She fell silent staring at the empty bottle of scotch on the wet soil.

“You DIDN’T!” she screamed in anguish.

“What?” he asked.

“OH god, the SCOTCH IT BURNS!”

The scotch? He grabbed the bottle. It was 120 proof, plenty high to kill just about any plant.

“You stupid son of a-” she continued, “OH DAMNIT IT BURNS!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t-”

“I worked so hard to get back AND YOU’ve POISONED ME!” The flower was leaning to one side and convulsing now.

“I’m SORRY,” he bawled, not knowing what to do, dropping the bottle and cradling the flower in his hands. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

But she was gone again.

The small, single flower wilted and died.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, rocking back and forth, “I didn’t know.”

Listen to it here:

Pocket Hole

“There’s a hole in the fabric of spacetime… in my pants.”

“No, that’s not a pick-up line. It’s true! There’s a hole in the bottom of my pocket and when I stick my finger through it, my finger doesn’t poke my leg, it goes somewhere else… somewhere cold. It’s really quite remarkable. Give it a try!”

“Miss? Miss, come back… oh, damn.”

And thus it was that Ken discovered the only stable wormhole known to humanity, but due to its unfortunate placement, nobody ever found out about it.

Audio Files

Soooo… I use Dropbox to share the audio files of me reading select stories… and Dropbox changed so all the audio files stopped working (thanks Dropbox).
I think I’ve fixed them but, unfortunately they are just links to Dropbox, rather than being embedded in the page. If anyone knows of a way to embed mp3s in WordPress without paying for premium or hosting it yourself, please let me know!

I’ve also deleted a few posts that were just lists of other posts where there were audio files. Fixing the original posts themselves was enough work, and I didn’t really see the point in fixing those too.

Please contact me if you come across one that doesn’t work, thanks!


As far as new stuff goes, I’ve added an audio file for

Norbert Faustino’s Disappearance:

and The Last Sunset:



Sonny’s Fix

Sonny was jonesing as he walked down the path toward Old Man Richardson’s garden. When he got caught, there was usually trouble, but he didn’t intend to get caught. Despite his craving, Sonny had waited patiently in the shadows of his own porch, feigning disinterest in everything, but actually watching the old man’s house. The old man had just gotten in his beat-up truck and taken off down the road. He had been wearing a nice shirt and a tie, so Sonny knew he’d be gone a while. Geezers dressed up to go to the post office and the grocery store, both of which were on the far side of town; he had plenty of time.

The truck and its trailing cloud of smoke hadn’t even disappeared around the corner yet, but Sonny was already halfway down the path that ran along the side of the old man’s house and into his backyard. Sonny’s mind was focused on the herb he knew was growing in the back corner of the garden and his heart raced in anticipation. He used to get it from his old lady but then, refusing to explain, she had stopped getting it for him and he had needed to find another source. The little patch growing in the back of the old man’s garden had been his saving grace. He would have gone out of his mind if he hadn’t gone rooting around in all the neighbor’s yards when they weren’t home and stumbled across it. It wasn’t weak stuff like what his old lady had brought him either, this was fresh, primo shit. He never took more than just a little, knowing that if he took too much, it might be missed.

Sonny made it to the fence and jumped up onto the top railing in a single bound. It was a low, rustic, wooden fence. Sonny wasn’t very heavy, but even still, the fence wobbled under his weight, uncertain if it wanted to hold him up. With a quick glance around, Sonny dropped down into the garden. The mounting thrill of his impending high steadied him and he no longer felt the need to rush. He listened to the distant buzzing of insects and savored the smell of the sun warmed soil as he meandered slowly back towards his destination. He even stopped once to stare down a grasshopper that he caught sitting next to the thin, winding path, hoping the giant beast would just pass by without noticing him. Obviously, the staring contest was short-lived and Sonny declared himself the victor when the insect bound off into a stand of tall tomato plants.

Rounding the last bend, Sonny stopped in his tracks, his jaw falling open. Where previously had stood a tight cluster of the most beautiful plants he had ever seen, there were only a series of shallow holes in the ground. They had been there the day before, but where where they now?

He looked around, not aware that in his distress his breathing was getting heavy. They were nowhere to be seen. He crept up to the closest of the holes and knelt down close to the ground, his eyes beginning to water and his teeth grinding. He was definitely not mistaken about where the plants had been; there were a few little leavings from the bush littered around in the dirt beneath where the plants used to sit. Lowering his face down to one of these, he sniffed it, the familiar, pungent smell rolled into his nose, tingling his brain and letting loose a cascade of desire for more. He picked it up with his tongue and chewed the tiny leaving frantically as he moved to the next little scrap and the next, scooping them up as well. This wasn’t how Sonny wanted it, eating off the ground like some sort of rodent, but he took what he could get.

All the little leavings hadn’t been enough. Most were too old, and all were too small, but it had taken the edge off. He sat in the middle of the patch of barren soil in the sun, thinking.

How dare Old Man Richardson tear up his plants like that and leave him high and dry? He had probably done it because he knew Sonny needed it. Obviously the old man was going to have to pay, but how? Sonny could break into his house and shit on the table… or… better yet, he thought, he could hide under the man’s porch and trip him, making him tumble headlong down the stairs. The old bastard would break a hip at the very least. Sonny smiled with a self-satisfied purr at that thought. Finally, he picked himself up and strolled back down the path away from where the catnip used to grow, his paws carrying him silently across the ground.

Listen to me read it here:

Should Have Gone

I should have gone pee before I hit the road
But now I feel like I’m going to explode

I sit here in traffic, unable to move
So instead of driving, I bust a groove

Wiggling in my seat makes me feel a bit better
But all the while my face is getting redder

The pressure builds until I’m sure that I’ll die
I’m so full of piss it should be coming out an eye

My meeting is a big one, I’m presenting the new line
I’d needed constant assurance that it’ll all work out fine

Traffic inches forward and I let the engine throttle
That’s when I spy, on the passenger floor, a bottle

Glancing around, nobody’s paying me attention
The look on my face is of a kid just before he gets detention

I reach for the bottle, taking a deep breath
Hating that the situation feels like life or death

It’s an old coke bottle and I unscrew the top
Once I start going, there’s no way to stop

The opening is tiny and it’s awkward to hold
I can’t believe I’m doing this; I’m 40 years old

As the bottle starts to fill, I get a bit worried
My plan is flawed because I made it while I hurried

What if I’m not done when there’s no more space?
I have no other bottles: a reality I can’t face

Luckily the urine begins to slow down
My only spare pants make me look like a clown

I think my boss hates me, just looking for a reason to fire
I’m not a huge fuck-up, but my work you wouldn’t admire

Traffic moves again, I’m almost there
Looks like I’ll make it, without a drip or a tear

The bottle’s 3 quarters full, and I’m all done
It worked out nicely; I feel like I’ve won

Into my pants my naughty parts slid
That’s when I realize that I’ve lost the lid

While opening in panic it got lost in the fray
If it’s under the seat, then there it will stay

The bottle goes in the cup holder to keep it upright
The whole endeavor gave me quite a big fright

That’s all my boss needs: an idea he’d catch
That I can’t dress myself, because my pants don’t match

I pull into the lot, and drive slow over bumps
I’ll need a whole new car if over it dumps

I take a moment to collect myself after I pull in
then peer around the lot for the closest trash bin

I take a peek under my seat, hoping to find the top
I’m running out of time, and I need to stop

I get out of the car and carefully grab the bottle
Then walk toward the trash: no time to dawdle

I look around while I go, afraid that someone will see
That I’m walking around with a bottle of pee

It all happens at once. I hear my name and I turn
“Watch where your going” is the lesson I learn

My heart jumps to my throat as I start to trip
And out of my grip the bottle does slip

I fumble the bottle and into the air it I toss
Soaking from head to foot, my unhappy boss

The Last Sunset

The old man had never seen the waves crashing on the beach seem so melancholy. He and the boy had sat at this very spot and watched the waves many times. Often the waves pounded the shore in anger or sometimes in desperate anguish that nobody but itself could ever understand. Many days it was playful and flirty, only to transition without warning to insecure, mocking, or downright nasty. It had never, though, reflected melancholy so well as it did at that particular moment.

“The ocean is a teenage girl,” the old man thought to himself scratching his chin.
The boy seemed to notice the obvious emotions of the waves, but, true to the form of young men and young women, he seemed to understand the subtleties of her feelings only as much as she did his – which was very little, being as she was an inanimate object. The boy was no longer really a boy, but a young man. He, however, would always be “the boy” to the old man.

The sun was sinking towards the waves and it promised to be a spectacular, if not heart-achingly forlorn, sunset. Just as it was plain to the old man that the sea was melancholy, it was plain to him that the boy’s mind was running like a greyhound on its final sprint.
The old man caught himself, shaking his head silently, “final sprint,” was too on the nose; it didn’t feel right hanging there in his mind. He tried other phrases, “charging rhino,” “fleeing gazelle,” “wolf running down its prey.” None seemed to fit, so he left it, noting that it didn’t matter. Nobody but he would ever hear the way he worded it; it’s not like he intended to commit it to paper. He didn’t do that anymore.

The major difference between the mood of the boy and the mood of the ocean was that the mood of the ocean, the old man knew, was mostly a projection of the parts of his own feelings that he didn’t want to acknowledge. The boy’s very much belonged to the young man himself, and he had them for very good reason, the old man thought.

“There’s got to be something we can do,” said the boy, fidgeting.

“We can enjoy the sunset,” said the old man.

“How?” replied the boy. The old man could feel that the boy was staring at him, but didn’t drag his eyes away from the waves. He wanted to observe and appreciate every detail.

“How can we sit here and enjoy the sunset when-”

The old man cut him off with a dismissive wave.

“Do you agree that we’ve already done everything we can to prepare for the end?” the old man asked quietly.

Among the light breeze and the sounds of the crashing waves, the boy had to lean closer to hear his voice. He pondered the old man’s question for a few long moments, then nodded his head slowly in resignation. They had done all they could; the only thing left to do was wait.

The old man still hadn’t taken his eyes from the waves, but in the way he had, he somehow knew when the boy started nodding and continued. “Then, we can either dwell on our unavoidable demise or we can enjoy the sunset.”

“How though?” asked the young man, “How can you sit there and enjoy the sunset, knowing what’s coming?”

The old man forgave the boy instantly for the disdain in his voice. His sin was only not having been beaten down by so many years as to understand. The fact that the boy wasn’t to be given the chance to become an old, broken man himself made the old man sad, but the heartache rolled off his heart like water off pants that had been worn too many days in a row.

“Knowing it’s the last makes it more beautiful, don’t you think?”

The boy sighed and pushed sand around with his feet. “I guess.”

The boy didn’t get it, but the sky was fading to magenta and the sun was about to kiss the sea, so he waited quietly, contemplated what it would feel like when the end came, and allowed the smiling old man to enjoy the last sunset in peace.

Listen to me read it here: