Thursday, December 27, 2012
Each year they emerge mysteriously, with a life all their own, like zombies from the mist: Strangely consistent themes cropping up amid scores and scores of short-story entries. Most of the pieces will still spool wildly over a far-ranging literary fabric, but a group will find a common thread.
One year it will be spy games. The next, teary-eyed cat stories. Another, bizarre Santa parables. This year, it was dogs in peril – pooches survived Monastery Beach riptides and misdiagnoses at the doctor’s office but also died after years of search – and-rescue heroism and by way of bittersweet goodbyes.
Other things arrive reliably as well: kooky accounts that are more poem than story, only-in-Pacific-Grove anecdotes, morbid murder ditties, Leon Panetta references. But the most predictable thing is unpredictability. We never know what readers will generate, only that it will be as rich in imagination as these shores are with natural beauty, which keeps us sifting through hundreds of stories every winter, as we did here for the 16th time.
Sweet Baby Jesus!
The trophy you found is mine. I can’t believe I was dragged to your mother’s for the holidays again. If you don’t bring me all she would talk about is how horrible I am. She hates that I’m an atheist and blames me for you losing your faith. You stopped believing before we met, but I’m her scapegoat. Driving into her Nativity scene was an honest mistake, I swear, and luckily only “God” saw me do it, but to the victor go the spoils of war. Sweetie, I’m sorry for not telling you I hid baby Jesus’ head in the trunk.
Leah Fritz, Point Reyes Station
The theory behind Maybelline’s“cleanout” diet was that by eating kale for three weeks, all impurities would be flushed from our systems. I thought she meant physical impurities, so I was surprised whenmycharacter flaws started vanishing instead. Right away I lostmyability to lie and I confessed several affairs to Maybelline. She responded by admitting she was on parole and still married to a junkie in Detroit. We hugged and I felt relieved, but the next day Maybelline cleaned outmybank account and disappeared. In a rage, I threw out the kale and swallowed a cheeseburger.
David Rasch, Carmel
Watch TV, Save Lives
“I swear I know you from somewhere.” The man smiled and shook his head. She smiled back with the same intense emotion. “Shall we go for a walk?” His eyes twinkled brightly. The man paid the waiter and the pair was off, hand in hand, to the park. In the darkness they found a park bench. She sat down in his arms, glad that they were finally alone. “I think I know where you’ve seen me.” “Where?!” she asked with excitement. He held her tighter, “Have you ever watched the show America’s Most Wanted?” His eyes twinkled again in the moonlight.
Sam Eisendrath, age 15, no city listed
Dry Sense of Future
The water company drone flew over the house every day this week. The neighbor kids kept shooting at it with their BB guns. I called their parents. “I’ll be fined for the damage if it occurs over my property line.” They were unsympathetic. “Kids will be kids. Didn’t you shoot drones when you were young? If you didn’t use so much water, they wouldn’t be on patrol.” It was true; I did shoot drones as a child. It is also true that I sneak water to the rose bush that Bruce’s Mom gave us as a wedding gift thirty-four years ago.
“Why are you crying?” he asks, handing me his handkerchief. I have a stash of handkerchiefs in my hamper. Like notches on a belt. Tears accent my reply, “I never do this, but I found out I have cancer.” Mike, the bartender, coughs bullshit into his fist. “Oh, my. Can I buy you a drink?” Mike shoots me the stink eye. But here’s how I see it. I get people to spend money. I’m good for business. And I helped this guy do a good deed. He’ll go home to his family a better man. And it’s all because of me.
Pam Walters, Carmel
The front door slamming still rings in the dark. I guess she didn’t like my Down Syndrome baby plan. There we were, lying in bed, about to go to sleep when the conversation led to what it would be like to have a baby with a disability. All I said was that if I had a Down Syndrome baby, I’d probably go out to get some milk one night and never come back. The next thing I know, she’s crying and screaming and putting on her clothes. I’m an insensitive bastard, she cries. Whatever… I mean really, it’s only milk.
Aaron Breeden, Carmel
“Here they come… right on time. Two minutes to closing. Damn! It’s your turn. I served the plate-lickers last week.” “Good evening folks. The usual? Two glasses of Chenin Blanc to start, followed by salmon with capers and a hot fudge sundae for dessert?” Voyeurs peering through the kitchen door… “Here they go.” Orthopedic shoes off, stocking feet up, mutual toe massaging begins. “Now for the finale.” Every morsel eaten… hot fudge swiped clean. Plate licking, lip smacking, finger sucking. Soft words murmured. Whispering, “I love watching eighty-year-old diner sex.” “Good night. Thank you for coming.”
Barbara Greenway, Carmel Valley
Ratatouille, Eat Your Heart Out
The pocket-sized creature’s whiskers are my introduction. The tiny mouse ornamental chassis, marbled black and white, looked like a miniature cow scurrying across my parchment floor. I promptly named him, Moo. Seemed more appropriate than Stuart Little. He made his purposeful way over to the spilled fettuccine sauce. Max, the adolescent cat, was out. On night reconnaissance I suppose. Facing me, Moo planted himself at the spillage destination. Twitching nose indicated acknowledgment of his accomplished self-prescribed task, I pretended. Clearly audible, articulate and with distinction, “It needs more garlic,” communicating directly to me. I nodded in agreement.
John K. Pace, Monterey
Finding Your Voice
Surrounded by books, a faint voice in his head kept saying, “write.” He poured three shots of Kentucky bourbon over ice, picked up his Mont Blanc pen, and started to write in a leather-bound notebook. The whiskey flowed down his throat and the ink flowed smoothly onto the pages. He wrote a memoir revealing everything – good, bad, successes, failures, merits, and messes. Exhausted but pleased, he stepped outside for some fresh air. He turned left and was struck by a falling roofing tile. As he lost consciousness, he heard a faint voice say, “I said RIGHT!”
PatrickW.Flanigan, Pacific Grove
One day I caught a runaway dog on Scenic Drive and got her to show me where she lived by telling her, “Let’s go home!” Her owner was very grateful. After that I rescued a runaway bouncing ball heading across Rio Road by swerving to avoid hitting it. Its owner was very grateful. Later in Safeway I rescued a lime which had rolled away from the person ahead of me in line. He was grateful for the rescue of the imminent Margarita. All in a day’s work for the Runaway Rescue Service.
Carolyn Johnson, Carmel
After he smashed the last window in the house Henry sat down. He pushed the palms of his hands into his eye sockets. The small knuckle on his right hand was sliced open and the blood rolled down his arm and dripped off of his elbow. This would be the last day Henry would spend in his home. A car slowly drove down the street stopping in front of every house. It finally parked and the driver checked the address on his paperwork. The man from the bank walked up to Henry’s house and knocked on the door.
Charlie McGovern, Salinas
I Saw Mama
“There is no Santa Claus.” There, he finally said it. Lana was shopping with the in-laws, and he was watching the kids, innocuously making morning pancakes when the truth slipped out. The youngest, Hope, looked on without batting an eyelash as he fumbled to get another pancake out of the pan without destroying it. Maybe they already knew it was a sham. Hope giggled, shaking her head. “What?” he asked, suddenly feeling like the butt of a joke. “If there is no Santa Claus, then who was the guy in the suit that snuck into mommy’s room last night?”
Iantha Larson, Pacific Grove
Announcing for Christmas, Pebble Beach Barbie! This Barbie is 50-something, wears Manolo Blahnik shoes, gold Florentine jewelry, and carefully applied layers of makeup. She pretends to only drink occasionally, but in reality she is always slightly buzzed. Her husband, Texas Tycoon Ken, is 85, drinks Viagra like water, and has a voice which can be heard all the way from the bar to the back of the restaurant. Pebble Barbie wishes he would drop dead so she can sell the McMansion and get herself a good facelift and a hot young stud.
Carolyn Johnson, Carmel
The kind doctor apologized with the diagnosis.By then, my father’s body was already receding, speech thickened.Rippling spasms, tiny snake gyrations beneath skin, measured the inevitable closer each day; muscles dying slow painful death.Soon imprisoned, protruding bones beneath thin flesh, bars.Voiceless within them, sound mind, sight, hearing, taste, touch, he conceded humiliation just once, shriveled genitals denying the father, husband, man. If we laughed or cried, he couldn’t stop.Fearing emotion, we held hands in silence.His faith never wavered.He never blamed God. To the end, Daddy’s finger crept across the alphabet board, spelling love, grace, surrender.
Mari Beraz, Salinas
Stacy downloaded a ghost app that was appropriate for her smartphone. Inside the old Victorian she asked, “Any spirits here?” The program texted, “One.” “Your name?” she asked the application. “Allistar,” the app wrote. “I knew you were here,” Stacy excitedly exclaimed wide eyed, “Are you haunting me? Do you seek the light? Can I help open a portal? What is it that you want to say?” After a long pause, Allistar finally communicated, “Who… farted?”
Shawn T. Boyle, Pacific Grove
Soldiers of Fortune
Dragoon Doug and Tombstone Ted groaned in chilly hard-rock desolation atop a steepBisbeecanyon. Bumming it since mining petered out, they’d drunk their way out of odd jobs, so this mistySaturdaynight looked grim. But habit is strong and found them ambling and cussing down canyon toward the lights of Main Street. Same old, same old. Where to get a few bucks for a six-pack? Wait! Something new! Bright lights! Art opening! Ah! Emerging two hours later they preened, splay-footed, grinning, wined, dined, newly-hatched aficionados of Art Deco and pretty women in black.
Andrea Wilson, Monterey
Open to the Elements
The convertible, closed to the elements, whipped past inelegant trunks of winter trees. Driving alone, Andrea accelerated out past the last billboard. Shreds of cold rain smeared the windshield. She wore the dress. She didn’t remember putting it on. She’d only worn it once: the evening he gave it to her. “It’s beautiful!” she’d said. “And it’s nine grand.” He smiled thinly. “Don’t spill your drink on it tonight.”… which was an eternity ago, but this car moved faster than memory, faster than his sharpened stare. Faster than pain. She pulled a silver lever. The top opened to receive the rain.
M.A. Fink, Castroville
Smells Like Home
Swinging on the swings, the breeze felt wonderful as I awaited my turn. It was Saturday – the day Mom washed our hair. One by one, we’d hop up on the kitchen counter, with our heads hanging over the sink, and we’d get the scrubbing. With strong hands she’d go to work removing the week’s dirt and remnants of hay, leaves, and whatever else had accumulated on the farm. And then came “the rinse” – lemon juice for blonds, vinegar for brunettes. I got vinegar, and smelled like a salad for hours. I didn’t mind. I grew to love that smell over time.
Robin Beckman-Jones, Prunedale
Once upon a time there was a dog named Spaghetti who lived in a big house with his owner John, a cook, and many others. One day, the cook asked Spaghetti what he wanted for dinner and he said, “Meatballs!” John overheard this and scolded Spaghetti and sent him off without any dinner. This happened for five days before the cook finally asked, “Why can’t he have meatballs?” John told him with a serious expression, “Meatballs is the new cat.” Spaghetti’s tail began to wag at the mention of the cat. Now it was the cook’s turn to send Spaghetti away.
Ashley Gonzales, Marina
She strolled through to the jellyfish exhibit. She’d seen them before, lying dead on some beach. Phlegmy remnants of a particularly bad oceanic cough. Not pretty. She’d walked past then but now she stopped, absolutely transfixed. Here was the most exquisite ballet performed to an unheard symphony. The prima ballerinas in their neon tutus, graceful and elegant. Her breathing slowed and her heart pulsed to their soft and steady rhythms. Those misshapes looked so content and serene. Effortlessly stealing the show. A lesson in how to live. She ran soft fingers over her own misshapen body. Forgiving at last.
Lynn Pickerell, Monterey
Outside the Box
When we moved 50 years ago, I remember carefully wrapping it in newspaper and packing it in the box labeled “Our Beautiful Memories.” Time flies by.I now open the box, carefully unwrapping it to see it and hold it. I still remember when he gave it to me. We were so in love, the kind you want after seeing the best “chick flick.” My heart feels something towards it as my mind rewinds to itsoriginal memory. It was once a beautiful memory, now it’sjust stuff. I smile and I cry as I place it in the Goodwill Box.
Debbie Thomas, Pacific Grove
Next to Cleanliness
Benjamin Nod was thought next to God by his village. His confusion began when he noticed a small stone in the unfashionable corner of the Jewish cemetery of another village to the east. How odd of God to choose the Jews. “People in my village think God and I have a special relationship: I am the only Jew in the village. Maybe it has to dowithmy muttering. What is one to do when he walks? God and I talk. Once, I speculated about why He chose us, the Jews. He says He may have been preoccupied.”
Lewis W. Heniford, Carmel
“Where to?” I asked the tuxedo-clad man who had just seated himself in my cab. “North, the Flamingo,” he replied brusquely. “You know where that is don’t you?” “Uh huh,” I replied. Five seconds and I could tell this wouldn’t be a good one. “You don’t sound very sure.” “No, I’ve got it, thanks,” I replied as we headed out. “You think? Because there are quite a few guys at the stand that look sharper than you.” No reply; what was the point? Fifteen minutes later I left him at the El Rancho, far south. Sometimes life gives you gifts.
Norm Morris, Salinas
She threw the slimy tennis ball towards the towering shore break. Roscoe eagerly ploughed into the swirling, boiling surf. Every time he emerged grinning, tail wagging. This time he didn’t. She couldn’t see him anywhere. She tumbled in, frantic. Her feet found the bottom but she couldn’t stand. She gasped for air, cold water entered instead. Now she was out. Way over her head. Roscoe stood on the beach seeking his master, watching, waiting. The monastery quietly loomed above, across the road. The tennis ball finally washed to shore. Game over.
Ambrose Pollock, Carmel
Mouths of Babes
In the sandbox next to the slide, I played alone until Louise came up to me. “Throw sand at me,” she taunted.“OK,” I said.She raised up her dress and I tossed a handful at her stubby legs. Laughingly, she ran and told the teacher. Miss Cunningham demanded an apology. Feeling confused, I refused.I spent the remaining lunch break at my desk. Two weeks later my mother uncovered the affair.Louise’s mommy was sleeping with my daddy.I guessed that she was just like her mother.They say you learn everything you need to know in kindergarten, sigh…
Ambrose Pollock, Carmel
When she wakes that morning, she is afraid to get out of bed. Had the mousetrap gone off in the night? She wasn’t sure what was worse, a mouse running around her room, or a mouse with its skull crushed lying under her bed. In the end, she decides not to look. Exiting the Metro, she stands on the edge of the curb waiting to cross the street. The light is long, and the corner begins to fill with others rushing to work. Traffic whizzes by, inches away from the jostling crowd. Somewhere behind her, a man begins to whistle.
Stephanie Joy Smith, Pacific Grove
Time to Think
All the clocks chime twelve. The cuckoo clock, the radio clock, the pink rubber clock, the grandfather clock, the red clock, the antique clock, the watch, the animal clock, the purple pocket watch, the gold pocket watch, the feather clock, the lighten-up clock, and the family clock. Each made a different, yet unique sound. I sit down and listen to the ringing in my ears. I remember this, all the same, back to when I was only seven, listening to the ringing of the 13 clocks at twelve.
Mariah Trinity, age 10, Marina
I knew you didn’t expect me to go. Not after all this time. As you sat there. Staring. I knew I wouldn’t save you. Couldn’t save you. You didn’t want to be saved. Not really. And I had long since thought saving you was beyond my ability. It was true. I could only save one life. The life would be mine. If I could get it right. I knew the bottle in my hand would be mourned. Not by me. So I spilled the amber liquid. Purposefully. On the sidewalk. And I, for the first time in years, walked away. Sober.
Elise Billingsley, Marina
She shuffled onto the Greyhound bus that would take her far away. The seats were a worn patterned fabric, which was comforting. Maybe she wasn’t the only small-town girl to move on to the next town – the next adventure. She took a seat in the back, and pulled her cream knit hat over her forehead to keep warm, while the bus driver slowly started to gather speed through the town. She watched the patches of houses roll by and breathed in the window, making a small patch of condensation. She wrote, “So long,” and watched as the words quickly faded away.
Tandy Johnson, Seaside
She would come, wouldn’t she? We had both known this meeting would determine whether our relationship was strong enough to overcome the… incident. I heard the bells on the door ring softly as someone entered, and my head jerked up. For a moment I thought it was her, but it wasn’t. I waited two more excruciating hours. Fine. If she was through, so was I. With tears streaming down my face, I took the appointment card from my pocket to rip it up, and froze. I read it, re-read it, blinked, and slowly went numb. I was in the wrong coffee shop.
Rio Turrini-Smith, Carmel
Spin Cycle Serenity
The all-night laundromat on the outskirts of Kansas City, the Moonlight Tumble, was her favorite place to read poetry. Rocked by the sound of towels rolling in dryers, lit by perennial fluorescent bulbs, she unraveled Yeats, Browning and Frost. Gathering her warm socks onto sorting tables, the metaphors would spin and unfold and float up the steamy walls until everything became beautiful and true, until “Do not overload the machine” and “Remember to empty your pockets before washing” and “Please visit again” became words of wisdom, signposts on her road less traveled, songs in her coat sleeves.
Deanna Ross, Del Rey Oaks
Forty Ounces to…
The witching hour was upon the town of Salinas, the moon was full and the transformation of the 40-ounce Hurricane had not taken effect. The time had come for my nightly malt-liquor-induced excursion. I was shortly into my joyride when out of nowhere Johnny Law starts riding my tail. He lingers with anticipation for a reason to pull me over. But to no avail. The cop proceeds around me eagle-eyeing as he passes. He glares at me in his rearview mirror… CRASH. I cautiously encompass the collision wearing my Cheshire cat smile and reminiscing: “There goes Salinas’ Finest.”
John Kampa, Salinas
Facing the Truth
“He thinks this is just a birthday celebration, not an intervention about his drinking,” Janice said as they waited for their friend to arrive. When Sam got there, his two best friends sat on either side of him. “We’re worried about you,” David said. Sam became eerily silent, then said in a calculating tone, “You’ve spoken with my mother, haven’t you?” “No.” Janice was perplexed. “She has no idea we invited you here to talk.” As they contemplated how to get back on track with the intervention, Sam sighed.“So, then, how did you know that I’ve been diagnosed with cancer?”
Susan Horcajo, no city listed
By a Hair
She’d cut her hair “flapper” short, dyed it fuchsia, when the vomiting first started, grateful no one had to hold back her hair over the toilet. She’d shaved it completely when the tufts left after chemo reminded her of a neglected Chia-pet, and kept it that way, alternately choosing to wear a Santa hat or bunny ears as the season dictated. Her reward, on the last day of her life, was a little girl of 7, also baldly fighting cancer, using her head as a canvas with colorful body-paint crayons as the pair laughed, sitting by the koi pond.
Elise Billingsley, Marina
I sat down at one fine dining establishment too many. The sommelier seemed too knowledgeable: “Really, there’s a hint of fresh-cut grasses in that red’s bouquet?” Not just one grass, but multiple grasses. He said notes of raspberry and cacao nibs settled on his palate AFTER, not before, the initial sip. I told him he was full of shit and dismissed him, telling him not to come back until I was done with the bottle. The glass he poured cast black-cherry beams of light on my napkin. I tasted the wine and tasted it until it was gone, speechless.
Leah Fritz, Point Reyes Station
Whole Other Animal
He gave it his all, never thinking of himself. Up and down, over boulders, scraps of metal, glass, debris, all objects with the potential to destroy his body. He was heedless to the damage and pain caused to his body, finding boundless joy and exhilaration in searching for those buried under the mounds of rubble, unable to cry out for help. Countless hours, days, weeks and years dedicated to one goal – saving human lives. At last his body gave out, wracked by the years of heroic drive. He will always be remembered, our dog Sky, a noble Urban Search and Rescue Canine.
Don Lassig, Pacific Grove
I’ve been tailgated before, but this was ridiculous. I’m going to work on Hwy. 68, and it’s raining. The tailgater is inches from my rear bumper. I’ve handled these yahoos in the past by speeding up, pulling over to let them pass, pumping my brakes, giving them a digital sign, etc. This time, when traffic grinds to a halt, I decide to confront the idiot and let him/her know how dangerous they’re driving, and threaten to call the police on ’em. I get out of my car, march up to the driver’s window and growl… “Hi, boss, rainy ain’t it?”
Mel Spehn, Carmel Valley
Orion’s Belt still held its light. The jagged electric edges of the night began to soften in the cool damp air. It was nearly dawn. The air smelled of sleeplessness. A metallic taste lingered in her mouth. She sat breathing in the silence of waiting. Out on the porch she could see the long black night fade to blue. Steeled words formed in her mind. Any mental chaos came to a halt. Still her nerves tingled but ladylike she smoothed over her hair. Ladylike she sharpened her blade. Ladylike she stood as his unapologetic car pulled up. Let the games begin.
Marie Gilmore, Pacific Grove
Baby Beluga 2.0
In the blue sea, swam Baby Whale. He was a good swimmer because he went everywhere alone. Baby Whale eventually wished he had a friend. He took a big breath and swam to the bottom. Behind a rock, he saw Starfish. “What are you doing here?” said Baby Whale. Starfish said, “Last night I fell out of the sky and landed in the water, then floated down to the bottom and here I am.” Starfish said, “You found me! Make a wish and it will come true.” Baby Whale made a wish and they were friends the rest of their lives.
Shannon Pike, Salinas
A man wanted to become a student of the sword. A master took him on as a student of the deadly arts, saying, “You will cook, clean, sweep up.” Everyday, while sweeping, the master would jump out of hiding, and hit him with a bamboo pole. No matter what defense he tried to use, the master would always win. One day, the master jumped out, and the student did not resist. He did nothing. The master paused, and said, “Ah, now we begin.” The student replied, “I have already begun. I poisoned your breakfast!”
Julian Collingwood, Pacific Grove
Mountain Mole Hill
I’ve always been terrified of death, so when I was referred to a “Dr. Kroke,”myanxiety went through the roof. “Not a good name for the man who will be examiningmy mole,” I thought. But I kept the appointment anyway, because the consequences of doing nothing were even more frightening, and he was supposedly the best doctor in the county. Dr. Kroke palpatedmymole, then shook his head and grimaced.“I’m afraid I can’t help you,” he murmured softly. “OHMYGOD, WHAT’S WRONG!?” I yelped. “He needs to be treated by a veterinarian,” Dr. Kroke replied.
David Rasch, Carmel
Camryn dangled the kitten from its armpits over her head. She blew air on its face. Its eyes squinted. Its fluffy hair blew back. It let out a silent mew. “What are you going to name your kitten?” “Justin Bieber” she squeaked. The kitten immediately kicked its hind legs back, scratching Camryn across the cheeks, leaving what looked like blood red cat whiskers on her face. Serves her right. Mom quickly uploaded the video to YouTube and it has gone viral.
Like most waitresses, Dahlia disappeared inside her uniform, a bringer of menus and runner of plates, no one of consequence beyond her customers’ appetites. That Thursday, he rushed to cover the last 200 miles into Boise and sit down at The Roadside Café for their knock-out pancake and sausage scramble. Meal over, third cup drained, he leaves a good tip, but steals his business card back at the last moment. What good could an overweight old trucker be to a girl like that? Dahlia wipes his table slowly, watching semis rush past, and waits for her life to begin.
Deanna Ross, Del Rey Oaks
Whole Other Animal
Pizzlybears they were called. Pizzlies, for short. A hybrid species. Desperately hungry polar bears who ventured inland, hunted, and mated with grizzlies. First observed in 2019, the year after the ice cap failed, by 2020 they already numbered in the hundreds. So when renowned biologist Dr. Anthropocitis flew all the way from Antarctica to observe his firstpizzly, he was simply giddy. “Global warming has its advantages,” he muttered under the roar of his private jet. As he stepped out onto the soggy Alaskan tundra, he spotted a speckle-haired giant. Running. Fast. Toward the good Doctor. Too fast.
Greta Gilbert, Monterey
Here and There
The threadbaresatcheldad carried back then always had its own ideas.sWhen he got off at 86thStreet, the bag stayed on until Pelham Bay.At a truck stop somewhere in the Balkans, it spent hours on a counter stool, gristly Serbs smoking languidly on both sides.Unassuming as it was unalluring, patient as a stone, it always came back.sA haggard, cheerful nurse from St. Luke’s brought it over after her shift, or we U-turned on the freeway in spite of the signs.It now hangs on a brass doorknob, and dad never travels.
Geoff Shullenberger, No City Given
Gray may be defined as a series of neutral colors between black and white, such as Monterey sky or whale. It’s an outlook, mood, or a vaguely defined position or character. So my therapist says. My definition had been the opposite, till my little sister came to visit. Therapy informs me that deviant behavior should be a red flag and is often signs of deeper issues. I thought it was talking about me. He was sentenced to 5 years. I hear he’s in a new relationship. Some call it prison justice. My therapist tells me I’ll get over him.
All the Fixin’
When the punch-drunk old prizefighter found a battered young hooker in an alley, he carried her to his room. “I fix.” He rocked her and hummed love songs in Spanish. Soon the whore woke up. Angelita stared at Hector’s blind cat. “It’s got two glass eyes!” “I fix.” “Por Dios! I’ve gotta go!” Hector’s dog snarled. “He’s got no hind legs. Why?” “I fix.” Hector’s tortilla soup calmed Angelita. She stayed. Her black eye healed. When she was ready to leave, Hector smashed her nose. “Bastardo! You broke it. Why?” He beamed. “Hector, he cannot fix if it ain’t broke.”
Wanda Sue Parrott, Monterey
He briskly walked to the liquor store and went directly to the newsstand. With anticipation and the rain, he licked his chops as he peeled the marginally wet pages open. He passed the 831, glanced at Squid Fry, and fought his mind from getting numb from some of the comments on the Opinion page. He didn’t even stop to check what bands were playing that weekend. His heart seemed to skip a beat when the section appeared. A surreal moment was felt seeing his 101 Word Short Story in print. He fist pumped the air and exclaimed, “Alright! Second Place!”
Shawn T. Boyle, Pacific Grove