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Maximilian Alexander Quéripel

handfishing volume one

written & illustrated by maximilian alexander quĂŠripel

you can find me at

In the rolling hills and thickets of South Eastern Oklahoma two young men are about to forge an unlikely friendship.

black dog PART ONE

A short and stocky young man sat at the crest of a hill overlooking the rolling hills where the Ozarks end. The valleys are riddled with ponds, lakes and streams. The hills are thickly covered with cedar, pine and cypress. Along the water there’s all kinds of willow, dogwood, and flowering brush. The stocky young man ate a biscuit flaking it apart piece by piece. It was dry and hard to swallow. Breadcrumbs stuck in his scraggly mustache and his pail green eyes sat deeply in his face covered in freckles. He choked down the last of the biscuit and stood, brushing the crumbs from his clothes. His left hand flicked his wavy hair from his face as he threw his duffel bag over his other shoulder. The bag was fine brown leather with brass zippers and the rich smell of an owner with who had an affinity for fine tobacco and musky cologne. The bag was several years old, but in that sweet spot of being nicely broken in. The bag’s aroma, fine craftsmanship, and heavy brass zippers reflected an owner with wealth and style. He had taken it from his fathers house the day he left. He started down the hill on a black bicycle following the dirt path to some bluffs surrounding one of the larger lakes in view. 3 miles south along the banks of the mountain fork river a tall man with a pompadour sat in his overalls whittling a stick. The late afternoon sun made his silhouette cut sharply against the dusty air along the riverside. Reaching to grab something from a green canvas ditty bag, the kind a sailors’ apprentice would make, he pulled out a radio. It was a hard black plastic shell with faux wood front and chrome edges. He had taken it from his father’s cabin that morning. The tall man gave the radio a crank and mindlessly sifted through the fuzz with the knob until he hit a clear channel. He whistled along with a Wayne Hancock tune and continued whittling and whistling- he didn’t notice when the song had ended and the radio host came on with a deep, course voice, “I’ve got urgent news for the tri-state area around Texarkana. Two men escaped their federal marshal transport headed for Dallas. The two men are wanted for charges of theft and manslaughter. They were last seen at a gas station in Idabell, Oklahoma. They’re in their late forties; one Caucasian and the other African American. They are wearing grey striped suits with brown leather shoes. The subjects are considered dangerous. Do not attempt to make contact with the suspects. Please call the authorities if you see either of the men. They were driving an unmarked, dark blue Chevrolet impala when they left Texarkana.” Gil didn’t seem to notice the interruption and another country tune came on the radio as he tossed his hunk of wood in his canvas ditty bag and switched off the radio. He swung the bag over his shoulder and walked past a cabin, then past a fresh grave in the family plot-then past the barn and got into his truck. He stopped and put a letter in the mailbox made from an old milk crate and some dust waved goodbye as he started up the road. The stalky kid was getting close to quitting. He had left his bike locked up to a tree about half a mile back at the start of the trail. After he crested the bluff he scurried down to where the river met a large green lake and sat skipping stones for while trying to catch his breath. He had no idea where he was. He’d never been on dirt with out a fence around it. The sky was getting pink with sunset as he looked in his bag for foodall he had left was jack shit and shit. He scoffed and hung his head low-remembering a survival show he’d seen where a guy caught fish with his hands. “Well, shit, might as well…” He tried more for his own amusement than anything. Wading into the middle of the ingress, with his shorts rolled up, he stopped and tried to stay still as possible. After a few minutes a little sunfish was swimming perpendicular to him. He bent down slowly, and suddenly shot his hand into the water grabbing at the tail of the fish, but the little fish slipped out of his hands. “Ya’ aint gonna’ catch anything like that!” The kid turned to look back at shore. He couldn’t make out in much detail as the man was in silhouette, but the pompadour gave him a quick assumption of the fellow. The kid waded back to shore. “And who are you?” he asked as he walked up to the beach. He kept a few feet distance with his toes still in the water.

“I’m Gill.” the tall man replied. “My name is Sam. You don’t look like much of a fisher” Sam snarked. “How come? No beer belly, no Bass Pro shop hat, the hair? Yeah, probably the hair huh?” Sam raised an eyebrow at Gil and with his hands on his hips he walked up the sand and sat on rock-turning to see his new acquaintance. He didn’t know what to make of him. “My daddy taught me to fish. I live but a few miles south o’ here.” Gill noted. Gill sat down and began unlacing his boots. “I can show how to grab a fish if you like?” “Yeah, alright.” Sam replied. “Just sit and watch from the beach at first. Problem is you’re castin’ a shadow. The fish can see you.”

“Something your dad taught you?” Sam inquired “No, learned that one from the Duke” Gil smiled. “Who’s the duke?” “Y’know, John Wayne. Where you from, Sam was it?” Gil was genuinely shocked Sam had not heard of the duke. It was unimaginable to him. More real than Santa Claus to a six year old. “I’m from N’lawns” Replied Sam. Gil waded out into the water. Sam sat and watched as Gil kneeled in the shallow water; the corner of his eye caught a glimpse of Gil’s green bag. Sam crawled over to it and looked up to make sure Gil hadn’t noticed. He opened up the bag & pulled out a book and a shirt of no interest to him, till he saw the radio. Sam pulled out the radio leaving the rest of the contents. Sam looked again to make sure Gil hadn’t seen him and scurried back over to his own bag and with out looking back walked off into the woods. Gil had noticed Sam being a rude dick, but figured he could find him easy enough later, or that Sam would come back at the scent of the fish on the fire. About half an hour later, Gil came back to the beach with a few fish in his hands and took the time to find a flat rock to lay the fish out on. Gil gathered some dry brush and some old man’s beard hanging from an old willow at the edge of the water. He made a small pile and lit it up with his brass zippo before heading to find some thicker branches to keep the fire going. He wiped his hands off and noticed the shirt and his book sitting in the sand. Gil pulled his bag closer and noticed the radio was missing. “Soma’ bitch. Of all the things to take.” Gil put his boots back on, grabbed a flashlight, and started off into the woods. Gil looked around searching for any freshly broken branches or footprints. Gil followed the impression Sams overpriced red Puma shoes had left etched in the ground up to a muddy hillside. There were broken branches and torn grass making a trail to the top. “Guess he had a hard time climbing up this hill” Gil muttered. Gil made his way up the hill quietly as he didn’t want Sam to run off again. Gil sat behind a boulder watching Sam struggle to start a fire. He pitied Sam for some reason; maybe it really was just that Sam hadn’t heard of the Duke, and for Gil, that was damn near a crime. Gil stepped out from hiding. “You’re going to need to start with some smaller tinder first. Hell, might as well pray for lightnin’” Gils voice broke the silence and Sam turned slowly. The radio was playing the same radio broadcast from earlier. Sam shifted his weight. “ Don’t go runnin’ I just want my radio, idjit” Gil delivered his words impatiently with a tilt of his head. Sam shut the radio off and tossed it to Gil. Gil turned to leave. “Wait up…” “I don’t wanna hear it” Gil interrupted. Sam sat and knew he’d need Gil’s help to get out of the forest but couldn’t bring himself to say anything. It was getting dark. A night in the woods tends to shake most people up a bit. Gil hesitated, but kept on and flipped his light on to head back for the beach. Some faint voices started popping up as Gil got closer to the beach and he recognized the smell of fish on a fire. He switched his light off and approached slowly. There were two men in suits sitting and roasting the fish he had caught earlier. “What the hell is going on here today…” Gil thought to himself. “Can I help you two?” Gil’s tone was sharp and accompanied the sound of dogwood branches sliding off his overalls as he stepped out onto the sand. The two men were startled and got up. “No” One man replied, “we are just eating dinner if you want to mind your own business, boy” “Yeah, my dinner. If you had asked I would have just given y’all some fish. Let me guess, y’all from N’lawns?” Gil asked facetiously. The brush rustled and everyone looked over for a second in silence.

The two men walked up to Gil, but Gil didn’t back down. “Who’re you, boy?” The fatter of the two men asked. “Just a guy, who got his fish stolen.” Gil smirked. “I suggest you just back off, now, and run along. Go n’ grease your hair up, trailer-trash.” Sam burst out of the bushes, “Hey, stop!” The fat man turned, “Sam!?” Gil looked confused, the other suited man took the chance to land an uppercut on Gil knocking him straight out. “G’dammit, pops!” Sam exclaimed, running over to see if Gil was ok. “You know this kid?” Sam’s father looked surprised, “No, not really, but you didn’t have to do that” Sam sunk down into the sand. “Sam, me and Antoine here are on a sort of evasion from johnny law. That peon laying there could have run off and turned us in.” Sam’s father placed his hand on Sam’s shoulder. “Yeah, you don’t want your old man and me going to jail do you?” Asked Antoine. Sam remained quiet. They all walked over to the fire and started eating again. “what the hell you doing all the way up here anyhow boy? Oh, and thanks for bringing me my duffle bag.” “Wait, I think I know,” interrupting Sam, “You always were a quitter like your mother, just run away from ya’ problems. But I’ll give you another chance, son. Polish the family name you show such disdain for. Come morning you can come up to kansas City with me and Antoine. Your uncle Beau is gonna’ get us on a charter down to Sao Paulo.” “Yeah, sure pops…” Sam mumbled. His father patted him on the back and laughed. Antoine took a big swig from the bottle and smiled. Sam, couldn’t bring himself to look at his father and only upon working up to it broke his gaze from the fire to see if Gil was alright. Sam slipped back in the cold sand and stared at the black country sky with a frog in his throat. He kept his eyes open as long as he could until the breeze shaking the willows and the crickets in the grass overtook the ruckus of Antoine and his father telling jokes and taking long pulls from a bottle of gin. Sam woke up to the sound of a bird chirping. He sat up and the bird fluttered away. First thing, he looked for Gil and didn’t see him. Then he swung his head to the other side where he saw his father and Antoine sleeping. He got up and stumbled, wobbling in the sand on one leg at a time, he tried not to fall and make any noise. Sam headed back down to the trail on his numb morning legs. Gil was down at his truck with the hood propped up-it wouldn’t start. He leaned over-forehead to the top of his joined hands and let out a deep sigh. “Fuck…” He reached over and pulled his radio out and flicked it on; thinking some music would help. The same warning came on as the day before. Gil’s eyes widened as he heard the broadcast again. “Truck broke?” Sam’s naïve question surprised Gil. Gil spun around with his fist drilling into Sam’s gut, knocking Sam to the ground. “What do you want? Thought you were leaving with yo’ daddy today?” Gil quipped. Sam lay gasping to get the words out “Did you try the car my dad stole?” “I’m not keen on driving a stolen cop car.” Gil replied. Sam got up slowly and took some cautious steps forward. Gil circled around to the back of his truck and climbed in. He unzipped a padded case and pulled out a bow. Sam’s eyes narrowed and his brow furled. “You…gonna’ bow fish now, Bear Gryls?!’” Sam snickered like the ass he was. Gil looked up, “Yeah, just like Bear. No, I think you know...” “Look, I’m sorry they hit ya’ and I’ve been a jerk too, but let’s just go. One of them probably has a gun.” Sam pleaded. Gil continued inspecting his equipment. “Somebody’s gon’ to have to take care of these guys. They’re out of gas, they’ll just find someone else out here and ruin their day. And that could be some youngins’ or a lady…” “They wouldn’t…” Sam interjected but stopped short. He knew Gil was right. “What’s the story anyway?” Gil asked

“My dad and…?” “Yeah, Matlock.” Gil was losing patience. “He’s a businessman down in N’lawns. He was beating my mom. She left me there one day. I remember coming home from school-everything was still there. She left me a note on my pillow. All it said was sorry and she put in a few hundred bucks.” “Any idea where she went?” “Not really. Maybe Tulsa. She used to tell me a story about a house near there she would visit when she was a kid. An aunt or something.” “So, you trying to get to Tulsa then?” Sam nodded. Gil Stood up and hopped out of his truck-bow in one hand arrow in the other. A crow sat making noise in a tree and fluttered off when Gil dropped the hood of his truck back down. He turned to Sam before leaving. “That your bike a lil’ ways down the road?” Sam nodded. “I reckon you ought to just keep riding kid. There’s a truck stop maybe an hours ride from here. You can probably get a seat to Tulsa there.” Sam stayed quiet as Gil started back up the trail. “Are you gonna’ kill them?” “Do I look like a murderer to you?” Gil chuckled, “Just gonna’ hold em up; have them tie one another’s hands. Then I guess I’ll just wait for someone to come by and get the cops.” Gil took a couple of steps and turned back for a moment, “Don’t go and mess this up though. If ya follow me, you’re gonna’ sneeze, trip, and or talk real loud, blow my cover, and make this the worst gawt’dang trip to this lake I ever had. Good luck kid, but really…You could call the cops when you get to the gas station, though, that’d help.” He turned to the east, his silhouette broke apart in the rays punching through the foliage. Sam turned and started walking towards the road. He saw a black case in Gil’s truck on his way out. He stopped and starred at it. He opened it. It was an empty gun case. Gil sat watching Sam’s dad and Antoine waking up from their night of drinking. Sam’s dad pushed him self up and walked over to the edge of the lake; proceeding to take a leek. “Ahhh, I love nature” The fat excuse for a father, muttered. Antoine pulled a handkerchief from his silken vest and wiped his face. He put it back, reached over and pulled a cigar from his coat pocket. Antoine bit the end off and spat the tobacco out in the sand. Gil drew his bow half way. But stopped. He turned his head around. “I thought I told you to go on your way dammit.” Gil with a strained whisper. Sam had followed him and was just sitting down as Gil turned. Sam was surprised and fell back. A few leaves rustled. “Why do you have a gun?” Asked Sam. “Dammit, ya’ little shit. Be quiet. I aint gonna’ shoot em’-it’s just in case.” Gil’s glare intensified, “Just stay here”, Sam opened his mouth and Gil motioned from him to be quiet, “You can talk to him after I tie him up.” Gil turned and stepped out on to the sand, he threw some rope near Antoine and immediately drew his bow. “Don’t make any sudden moves now.” Gil’s voice echoed across the empty beach. The zip of Sam’s father’s fly closing was unusually loud. Antoine sat calmly puffing on his cigar. The smoke hung in the sunrise all around him and Sam’s father walked over arrogantly. “We were wondering where you’d run off to last night” the fat father smiled and swaggered across the sand. One could tell he was quite amused with peeing in the lake. Gil wasn’t amused. “Just tie up smokey over here and shut the hell up. And do a good job. I slipped right outta’ your knots last night like an oily prostitute. Ya’ seem like you’d appreciate that metaphor.” The fat man laughed. The old crook talked with that old soft, southern gentry, not often heard in today’s world. “You’ve got a way with words, son” he replied. “Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot. You seem like a smart young man. I’m a businessman. No, I’m more of an investor really. I’d like to invest in your future, uh what’s your name son?” the fat man paced clos-

er. “Gil, name’s Gil.” “Well, Gil, I’d like to invest in your skills to get me and my friend here out of this place, and in return I can offer you a world full of opportunities for money-get you out of this place.” “Got enough money. Now why don’t you stop walking. I can shoot this thing, y’know. You can quit the Mafioso brotherhood shit.” “Women? You like women, Gil?” Asked the fatman, “I can get you those kinds of things too.” The words oozed out of the father’s mouth like molasses on a hot day or black tar. A loud sneeze broke both men’s concentration. Sam looked up, wiping his nose on his arm; he locked eyes with his father. Sam stepped out form the bushes. “Well, my boy, I declare you have impeccable timing.” The father let out a hearty laugh, “say, Gil, it seems to be three against one here. I’d think it wise that you reconsider my offer.” “My God, shut up. Back you and your dumb suit up and sit next to the one in the other dumb silk git’up.” Gil barked. Antoine removed the cigar from his mouth and stood, “Don’t hate a player, boy. Just a jealous fag aren’t ya?” quipped Antoine. “You’re the one wearing a pink, silk vest, ya’ damn bigot. Sit down!” Gil was getting more aggravated, “fatty, tie smokey up. Sam, then you tie up your old man.” Sam’s father laughed again, “You’re not friends with this stubborn country boy are you, Samuel?” Sam was quiet. “Sammy, Sammy, Sammy… maybe you could learn to grow some peaches like Gil here. Or did you leave them down the road locked up with your bike? I’m giving you one last shot here to help your old padre and man up… No? Alright, Antoine-I’m growing tired of this bother. Take care of it.” Antoine Rushed Gil. Gil’s fingers released and the bowstring made a quiet thump. An arrow shot strait into Antoine’s neck. The thug collapsed, his cigar rolled from his lips into the sand; strings of saliva dangled in the breeze like spider’s webs. Smoke trailed out of Antoine’s noise as he fell face first to the ground pushing the arrow further through his neck. The father pulled a knife. Sam rushed him, but the man elbowed him in the face sending Sam flying. Gil scrambled to get out of the way. No time to reload he threw his bow to the side and pulled a revolver from his overall pocket. He tripped backwards and the fat man rushed in over him. Gil kicked the portly beast back and pulled the trigger. Click. Saftey was on. The fat father came crashing back in and Gil shuffled backwards up to his feet. Sam ran up and pushed his father. The beast turned and pushed Sam over. Lunging again at Gil, three shots rang out. Gil slipped back in the sand and fell. The fat man fell with a rumble down next to Gil’s legs. A final scoff exited the otherwise contorted face of the fat man. Veins shown in his neck; smirk turning to cringe, the fat man’s eyes went blank. “Bitch, pee’d in my lake…” Gil muttered as he rose.

Gil rose slowly. Switched the safety on and put the gun back in his pocket. His head felt heavy and the sun, now risen, was rippling across his face through the leaves of the willows scraping the surface of the lake. He walked past Sam towards the water. Sam stood there staring at his father’s body. Gil dropped to his knees. A loud rumbling sound interrupted the stunned silence in Gil’s ears. He rose from the water breathing heavily; he sat back with the water lapping at his ankles. Sam came and sat next to him. Gil looked at him and began to say something. Sam looked back at him. Gil stopped. They both faced the lake for a while until the rumble grew louder and a boat came by. It was the game warden- he had heard the shots. Gil stood and waded out to help pull the warden’s boat in. Sam looked and could tell the two knew one another. The Warden talked for a few minutes. The warden gave Gil a big hug. Sam thought it was strange at the time. They waited with the Warden until the cops got there to take their statements. The next day Sam and Gil got a ride back to the truck from the warden. Gil walked round to the driver’s side and shook the warden’s hand-a gas can in his other. The warden tipped his hat and drove off. Neither Sam nor Gil said anything while Gil unscrewed the gas cap and emptied the red gas can. Sam went and sat in the cab and Gil rolled the cover of the truck-bed closed. The old truck door creaked open when Gil got in cuing Sam to turn towards Gil. “You know the Warden for a long time?” Sam asked. “Yeah, friend of my dad’s. Known him since I was born.” Gil said quietly. Sam paused for a moment before asking another question. “Where’re you goin?” “Tulsa” Gil smiled, “Figure at the very least your Aunt owes me some pie. Besides I got somebody I need to see in Tulsa anyways. I was just planning on stopping by hear for an hour or so when I ran into you two nights ago. Gil cranked the key. It turned over this time. They started down the road for about half a mile until Something appeared in the middle of the road. Gil slammed on the brakes and a dust cloud swelled from the gravel road. “What…” Sam muttered. There was a black dog straddling both lanes. Gil got out of the car and carefully approached the dog. It wagged its tale and seemed friendly. The dog approached gill and sat continuing to wag its tail. Gil checked for tags, but the dog didn’t have any. He looked around, but he knew in this area there wasn’t a house for a good three miles in any direction-at least not one that would let it’s dog run around with out tags. Not likely a dog in this parts wasn’t well trained either. “Must be a stray, aren’t you, boy” Gil happily talked to the dog and scratched it’s ears. Gil started back at the truck and the dog followed. Gil stood and patted down on the seat signaling the dog to get in. “I picked up two strays, how ‘bout that?” Gil laughed. Sam stared at the dog and seemed uneasy. The dog growled quietly at Sam until Sam turned away. “You grow up with dogs, Sam?” “No, not really.” Sam said. “Well, just relax. If you’re relaxed, the dog will relax.” It was a long uneasy drive to Tulsa for Sam, but he headed Gil’s word. He didn’t look at the dog once the whole ride. To be continued...

933 Miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina, a barista and her customer share glances.

yellow ribbons

Yellow Ribbons Sat with black coffee coughing Dimes rattling table top. Dagger tattoo. Dirty army jacket. Patches busted lip Looking at all the yellow ribbons on the cars Outside. Yellow ribbon in her hair Young and sharing stares He told himself stop said he wasn’t worth it In need of a shave he up and left Left right left. Left the letter at the table Girl with the ribbon cleared the cups All the spoons and things tangled In her little fingers. Picked up the paper. Sat hand to forehead. Eyes to letter Words to lips. Heart to hips.

“Dear American veteran, we regret to inform you…”

Across the street from the coffee shop, a tall pasty man has just ben rejected at a job interview for the 10th time this month. Joe goes across the street to think about his next move.

big joe

Big Joe

Joe is a little too white. Lookin’ for work with degrees in the arts The job market is tight. Girl said, “Joe, you’re teeth aint quite right” Joes’ voice is a little too deep. Can’t get a job cause he scares the kids. Looking for work. Too bad his past was too right. It’s a shame you is, you. Joes’ arms are a little too hairy. They’re worried it’ll get caught in the gears Down at the factory. Foreman said, “Joe, you’re a liability.”

Joe is a little too white. With skin like a mirror, he reflects the light Neighbors are worried about the dry-brush. Can’t mow a lawn. They say, “Joe, you’re a fire hazard.” Joe’s a little too nice. So all day he sits at home alone. Lookin’ for work with degrees in the arts. They say, “Son, you just shine too bright” So big Joe said, “Y’all aint seen bright. To hell with you, I got a life.

That afternoon in the outer neighborhoods of Boston two repairmen stumble upon an unusual find.

the golden box

“Yes, okay thank you. I’ll have the door left unlocked for you. Someone should show you where it is. See you at one.” The doctor hung up the phone. The doctor was the guy with a corner office, more in charge of managing everyone else rather than practicing medicine at this point. Long story short, he’s a hard ass. One hour later. The two portly repairmen made their way across the wasteland that is a parking lot on a hot day. They looked like the stereotype of a repairman you have in your head. It was almost ironic, but they were authentic. That’s really how they looked and really how they talked. They got into the hospital and the air conditioning blasted them. The security guard at the front desk came up to greet them. “Hey, you guys from Taft Heating & Cooling?” the guard said with a smile. The older of the two, Chief, replied in his thick Massachusetts accent, “Yeah, here we are.” Chief ’s face didn’t show much emotion but his white handlebar mustache smiled for him. The younger guy with him was his partner Daniel, who had only been on the job a couple of months. Chief and Daniel would never say it, but they got along in that constant arguing kind of way. They were so hilariously like Mario and Luigi, the security guard had to hold back a boyish smile. The repairmen were a bit out of place. One was husky and the other was young and scrawny, both wearing modest and worn work clothing. “I’ll walk you guys up to the stair case. I’m glad you two showed up, we’ve had a lot of complaints about the heat up on the top floor.” “Yeah, it’s a steamer out there today.” Daniel said. The three guys got out of the elevator and made their way down the hallway and around a corner to a door. “Okay, gents. Here we are. Just go up this staircase and the rest is up to you. There’s a red phone on the wall next to the door at the top, just dial zero if you need me to patch you through to the director or if one of you have a heat stroke, ha.” The jolly security guard left them with these words and swaggered back down the hall. Daniel turned to Chief, “Energetic guy huh?” Chief responded with a raised eyebrow and looked back down the hallway at the guard. The guard was chatting up a pretty nurse. They exchanged some words in close proximity and the guard slapped the nurse’s butt before starting down the hallway again. She smiled back at him and went back to her work. Chief chuckled and the door closed behind him. When they opened the door at the top, it took their eyes time to adjust from the dim staircase and all they saw was white. It was hot up there- really damn hot, but the gravel made a pleasant noise underneath the repairmen’s feet. Daniel was amused with the noise and was about a second away from bursting into a river-dance. Chief was annoyed. “Danny, we’re here to work. What’re you five?” Chief had that surly way of talking that most guys his age have when they’ve spent their life working hard jobs and dealing with all sorts of folks. “Sorry, Chief…” Danny put down his toolbox and the two started checking the units on top of the building. Daniel narrowed in on one that was making a rattling sound. Daniel pulled out his long flathead screwdriver and popped the electrical panel on the side open. Daniel took a moment to inspect it, but everything seemed fine. He started unscrewing the sides when Chief walked over. “This one?” asked Chief. “Think so, doesn’t sound right. Panel is fine though, so I’m taking a look inside.” Daniel said as he unscrewed the side while his tongue stuck out the corner of his mouth. Daniel pulled the side away. The two of them immediately turned to one another with puzzled looks. “Last guy leave his box here?” muttered Chief. “That’s a blingin’ tool box!” Daniel exclaimed. Chief looked over with obvious disdaind eminating from his brooding eyebrows, “Danny, don’t ever say blingin’ again or so help me I will-“ “Ok, ok, ok…” Daniel bowed like a serf to a king mockingly. “Should we open it up?” Asked Daniel (with the tool box in his hands and already half open). Chief responded with his usual raised eyebrow and shrugged shoulders. Daniel lit up like a kid on Christmas morn-

ing and opened up the golden toolbox. Chief peered back into the AC unit and noticed a loose hose, which was probably causing the problems. He leaned in and reattached it and added a hose-clamp that it was missing. “Hey, Chief. This is weird, take a look.” Daniel said wide-eyed. “What is it?” Chief kneeled down next to Daniel. “It’s just a bunch of stuff. Some sand, some letters. I don’t know, nothing really.” “Well, what do the letters say?” Chief was unusually interested in something for once. Daniel started reading the letter aloud: Dear SJ, Enclosed are some things I think you might like. Some sand from the beach. Some ocean water. Some grass from your lawn. Your neighbors threatened to call the cops when they saw me sprawled out on your lawn taking some clippings with my day-glo lefty scissors. I put your favorite handkerchief in here along with your bottle of cologne. Dolce & Gabana? Gotta’ say I’m surprised, SJ. I also found the recipe you were telling me about-your mom’s cookie recipe. I made some, I hope they do justice to your mom’s. Did you know it’s not that hard to pick a lock? I dusted and cleaned your place up a bit. I hope you don’t mind, but you ought to have a nice place to come home to. And your favorite book is in there-the all red one with no title on the front. I wanted to bring you a radio too, but I didn’t get one in time. I’ll bring one next time I come by. Sorry I missed you today. I painted the box gold so you could find it easily. There’s a pack of cigarettes too-enjoy them, doctor’s orders! See you soon! Xoxo, Love Charlotte Chief and Daniel seemed puzzled. Chief put his hands on his hips and tried to make sense of it. He looked up to see Daniel eating one of the cookies from the box. “Dammit, Danny, get that out of your mouth, those weren’t meant for you.” “Sorry chief…”Daniel replied by spitting out the cookie. “I didn’t say make a mess either…” Chief grumbled, “hold up, there’s another letter open it up.” Chief was really interested now. Daniel put down the bag of cookies and opened up the second letter. He read it aloud just like the first one. Dear SJ, I remember the first time we meet. We both had the same idea to sneak up here and have a smoke. I was surprised you were here. Remember how much I jumped? Haha. I was out of cigarettes so you gave me on of yours. Six months earlier… “You know smoking is bad for you?” “Yeah, is that why you’re up here in your hospital gown?” “My name is SJ. Nice to meet you.” “I’m Charlotte. Thanks again for the smoke.” “No problem. So what happened to your hand, Charlotte?” “I cut it trying to carve the Turkey.” “It’s not November already is it!?” “Ha, don’t worry. It’s Easter weekend. My family is odd. Turkey for Easter, ham for Thanksgiving. I tried to tell them they’re all mixed up, but they insisted it was my turn to carve the turkey, so here I am. What about you, butter knife too sharp?” “No, more long-term kinda thing “Oh…you from around here?” “No, I immigrated when I was teenager. But you live here long enough I guess you can say so.” “Well, I’ll be here overnight. They say I lost a lot of blood for a turkey carving accident. Maybe I’ll see you up here tomorrow?” “Yeah, I’ll be here.” …I kept making excuses to come into town so I could get to this roof and see you after we met that day. Every night I think of when we danced up here to the band playing music in the park across the street on the Fourth of July or all the other good times. I came today with the radio cause I didn’t catch you yesterday. I know I won’t see you again, at least not for a long time, so I sat up here today and burned a couple for you. I listened to the

rumble of the A.C. units for a while. The toolbox really is pretty shiny, but I don’t want someone to take it, so I’ll put it inside our favorite A.C. unit. I hope you find it. Till I see you again. Xoxo, Yours always. Love Charlotte. “What are you two bums doing up here?!” Barked the doctor. The doctor marched over, ready for a pissing match. “I came up to see how it was going, and you’re sitting here having a picnic?” “Do you know Charlotte and S.J.?” Daniel interjected. Chief rolled his eyes at Daniel and the doctor turned to Chief for answers. Chief looked the doctor in the eye and told him. “We found this box lodged inside one of the units. That’s why it wasn’t working. But I got it working again. We were just taking a look at the box.” “It’s like a time capsule. A romantic time capsule.” Daniel jumped in again. The doctor now seemed thoroughly annoyed. “I’m not paying you two to be detectives. I don’t care if someone put some crap in there. It’s fixed so give me your invoice and leave!” Daniel stood up, fists clenched, voice raised at the doctor, “S.J. is dead, show some respect here! They had a beautiful thing!” Chief turned and pushed Daniel back lightly and gave him a stern look, but one of understanding; with his white eyebrows raised. Daniel understood and quieted down again. Chief turned and let out a sigh. “I’ll give you five minutes to clean up and get out of my hospital. Leave the invoice with security.” The doctor trotted off while Chief and Daniel put everything back in the box without a word. Chief looked over his shoulder to see if the doctor was gone before placing the box back inside the unit. “Won’t that mess up the hose again?” asked Daniel. “Naw, it should be fine. The hose was missing a hose-clamp before anyways, so I figure that’s why it wasn’t working.” Chief started packing up the tools and Daniel reattached the cover to the unit. Chief picked up the red phone and dialed zero. “Hey, we’re all done up here. Your boss told us to leave the invoice with you” The guard and Chief exchanged some ‘okays’ and Chief hung up the phone. He looked back over and to see Daniel capping a spray can. “Danny what’re you doing over there?” “Nothing, I’m coming boss.” Chief filled out the invoice on the elevator ride down to the lobby. They got out and walked over to the main desk. The guard wasn’t there, but one of the screens at the desk caught Chief ’s eye. He saw the Guard in a storage closet with the nurse from earlier furiously making out with each other. Chief chuckled and left the invoice on the Guard’s chair. As the repairmen made there way back across the hot asphalt to their van, they saw the doctor walking to his car. Coffee in one hand, car keys in the other, and blue-tooth headset on. The doctor raised the key and the lights flashed on the nearby Mercedes when it unlocked. Chief and Daniel observed as the doctors shirt got snagged on the door as he was getting into his car and spilled the coffee all over himself. Chief smiled, this time with his face and his mustache; the two repairmen shared a good hearty laugh. When they got into the van Chief noticed some paint on Daniels hand. “You didn’t paint anything up there did you?” inquired Chief. “No, just trouble getting the cap on the can is all.” Daniel’s eyes darted away during his response. “Don’t lie to me, Danny.” “Really, nothing.” “Ok, Danny boy. Let’s head home.” “Can we stop for burgers!?” Daniel practically jumped out the windshield with enthusiasm. “No.”

The next morning. 9:34 AM. Houston, Texas. A realtor is about to sell a home with some unusual amenities to an unsuspecting couple. That is, unless Sebastian can sort things out first.

sebastian part one

Shortly after the events in Salem, Virginia, the major Judeo-Christian associations of the world convened in secret. Due to the extreme direction that the Salem witch trials took, the churches decided that exorcisms must be conducted out of the public eye for the safety of the public and to protect the churches from liability. And so, exorcisms became nothing more than fiction to the average person. Present day… “…and this is the master suite…bedroom with a large closet and an additional walk in closet. And the bathroom is the best part, I know you two are going to love this. You said you were looking for a walk in shower, so here you go. “Oh, it’s beautiful, Roy!” “Yeah, babe. I love it!” The couple slid their hands across the granite countertops as if to make sure they were real and smiled with glee at the sight of the obtuse walk in shower finished in Italian marble with eight different showerheads and the golden-footed porcelain bathtub. “Great! Should I take you guys upstairs and show you the other bedrooms and the loft?” A man sits in a car down the block from the house. The car is a shiny black with tinted windows just as dark as the car. It is exquisitely maintained and clean. Inside, the man turns on the radio and flamenco music rumbles through the high-end stereo system while he rolls a cigarette and spills not even one shred of tobacco. The motion is second nature to him and his entire demeanor is trained and mechanical like that of an elite soldier. Next to him in the passenger seat is a newspaper. The headline reads ‘wealthy investor found dead in bathtub’. “So, what do you think?” “We love it. Is there anything we should know about the house or the neighborhood? HOA or?” “No, not that I can think of. No HOA. If you want we can go back to my office to start some paper work if you’re ready?” “I’d like to, honey?” The wife turned to the husband with her arms hugging his side. “Yeah, I say let’s sign them!” The mysterious man’s cigarette crackled as he pulled a final drag and smoke slipped out between the tinted window and the doorframe of the car. He put out his cigarette in the chrome ashtray and proceeded to don his black leather gloves while he watched the realtor and her two buyers leave the home and get into their cars. He stayed still as stone as their cars drove past his own on the way out. He waited a moment for the song to finish before he turned the engine over and switched off the radio. The black sedan slid across the pavement like butter in a hot skillet, hardly picking up the red and yellow autumn leaves. He pulled up just past the house and put the parking break on. Click click click. It was a large house in an exterior suburb of the city. It had many dormers in the roof and a large sunroom off the back with a grand pointed entrance clad in stone. It was a nice home, but lacked the detail of older construction-it was a step up from the typical cookie cutter home with it’s sometimes awkward proportions. The clients that had originally commissioned the house, obviously cared more about square feet and less about craftsmanship. The man exited his car with his gloves on and a small duffel bag around his shoulder. He picked the lock with ease and shut the door softly behind him. The house had that dim gray light a house gets when the lights are off and the sun is rising outside-it gave off the sad feeling an empty home often does. The soles of the man’s black cap-toed dress shoes clacked lightly and with a precise rhythm on the tile floors. He wasted no time and headed straight for the kitchen. He lifted the rug on the floor, peeled it back and removed an acid marker from his bag, using it to draw a large invisible grand pentacle on the floor. It was not easily visible to the eye, but the acid would lightly etch the symbol permanently into the tiles. Only breaking the tiles could break the seal. The man rolled the carpet back up and sifted through his bag for a small vile of blood. Upon removing the vile, the room’s temperature dropped slightly and the sun no longer shined through the kitchen window.

Then the man opened the vile releasing its rich metallic odor. The man closed the vile and put it back after wafting it around the room, and removed a silver flask from the bag. The sound of the liquid moving inside the flask as he drank and the sway of the rosary around his neck were the only sounds in the house. There was nothing but silence for a few minutes until a cold draft swept across his face and the floor started creaking and he could hear the breathing like that of a bison or horse. “Sebastian…” The deep voice roared, echoing through the whole house. Sebastian returned his flask to his pocket and grinned. To be continued…

Two years later to the day of Sebastian entering the home in a world parallel to ours. A world different only in the smallest ways. A shift in the very balance of this world is about to change forever.

the keepers

There are two realms. The world of the living and the world of the constant. The constant is the realm of the keepers, they are not Gods and did not create the universe or our world, but they do feed off of it. The keepers exist in the space between parallel universes taking the souls of the dead from our world and giving them to another world to live again. The keepers are the thread binding our universe with all others. They are eternal. They fulfill a mathematical need; a need for balance, their only thought is matching the scales. Yoran was one such keeper. Yoran entered the realm of Earth. A cloud of dark matter sliding across streets, fields, and rooftops. Her presence bent the light around here, but she was not truly visible to us. She made her way through traffic like a flashflood-fluid and powerful. Yoran arrived at the intersection to perform her duty. The scene was that of a traffic accident where two cars collided. Glass everywhere and one car upturned, the bodies laid limp in unnatural poses. Yoran absorbed the mans soul first-he had gotten loaded on brandy and caused the accident and his contortion was the most extreme; like a knot. His soul pulled out through his pores in millions of tiny strands the consistency of milk. Passersby and bystanders had no way of knowing the man’s soul was leaving his body as they had no way of seeing through light bent by Yoran’s presence. Yoran moved on to the other two victims, a mother and child. The mother’s soul was absorbed in the same fashion as before starting on the child. The young boys heart was still beating faintly and the paramedics had arrived on the scene. Yoran looked on as the paramedics checked the bodies, eventually they narrowed in on the only survivor, the boy. The paramedics ripped his shirt open and applied gel to use the defibrillator. The machine’s highpitched whine charged up and the other paramedics braced the small body. This is when Yoran became an anomaly to the equation, perhaps where pi ends. “No, the boy must go with mother. I will take both.” With out hesitation Yoran absorbed the boys’ soul as the paramedics tried in vein, shocking the boy several times. The lifeless body convulsed as his soul cast out like a spider web. Yoran maneuvered down the road as fluidly as she had come speeding up block by block before making for the realm of the keepers. However, Yoran battled against Earth’s own gravity, against the vibration of every particle in our planet. She was a free radical trapped inside our atmosphere. Yoran returned to the streets of the world claiming more souls thinking her work was not done and reasoned this was keeping her from passing the souls on. She moved from accident to accident, murder to murder, and from war to war all over the globe. The longer Yoran stayed on Earth, the more light she collected, more dust, more sound, more frequencies, and more elements. Eventually, bone and flesh was taken along with souls, tendons and cartilage was taken, muscle fiber and fats, skin, hair, veins and arteries, emotion and memories all along with the milky white souls. Yoran became a product of our Earth, forged from the souls and bodies of the dead. She had put everything out of balance-and the weight grew heavier the longer she remained. A great rift opened and the other keepers entered Earth, confronting Yoran in unison. She stood at the edge of a wheat field during an Eastern European summer. Yoran had the head of a wolf and the skeleton of a man altered with disproportionate masses of muscle and tendon. The horrific sight was like the mangled doll of a disturbed child. The keepers descended on her, boxing her in. “Yoran, you have stepped beyond your bounds. You are the one exception we have ever seen. The only one to go against the equation. Every soul exists in all universes and they are linked, if one leaves it’s home they must all leave for a new home. This is why you could not return. Now you have amassed many souls. They cannot escape this dimension because they are bound to you and their parallels are drifting in the other dimensions. The bonds of the multiverse are just beginning to strain.” The keepers explained in unison with a grave tone. “The multiverse would not let me return. It required more souls. I am balancing the equation.” Yoran replied matter of factly. “Yoran, you are the forbidden being. The more matter you amass, the stronger you will grow, eventually creating a blackhole through all universes and all dimensions. The multiverse will fold in on itself. That is how the previous multiverse was destroyed. We are unknowing in how our multivere was created, but the equation warns us about anomalies like you. If you continue, this may be the end. You must be removed to reset the equation.”

“Then take me.” Yoran accepted her fate with out hesitation, with no regret. Her conscience was so mathematical that emotion was only a concept to her at this point. If she’d continued on perhaps one day she would have personality, sadness, hope and anger. The keepers twisted the light violently trying to destroy Yoran to no avail. The light stopped in it’s fractured state and all sound ceased. Particles seized up; sub-atomic particles stopped moving. Yoran spoke with the voice of all the keepers. It was distorted and changed pitch occasionally. She spoke her last words before the great acceleration, “I don’t. I don’t understand.” All the keepers cried out from within her. Her body contorted and jutted in an out with her skin rippling like water. The keepers were wriggling, trying to crawl out from inside her. A block dot appeared on her stomach. In an instant everything flung towards her. Trees, animals, water, the light in the air, buildings cars, dogs and families all compacted. Crushed into the unimaginably small, unfathomably dense black hole at the center of her being. Her own souls and matter began to invert and absorb itself. Objects, creatures, ships and vehicles from all the other worlds appeared in one place for the first and last time. Every single particle came to this one point and for a moment there was nothing. Absolutely nothing; not pitch black, not pure white, beyond the darkest night or the eyes of a blind man-nothing. And in an immense, soundless explosion every particle that existed before emerged again in no particular shape. No objects, no people, and no stable environments. It would be many billions of years later until I would write this story. From the death of Yoran, came a new multiverse destined to repeat until the end of the equation-until Yoran.

Exactly four months before Chief and Daniel found the golden box in Boston, a homeless man in Minneapolis writes down his scattered thoughts about braving the cold parking lots of grocery stores and colder hearts within.


Gasoline My thoughts scatter across the parking lot. It’s cold and the only warmth is setting behind The building. In the grey shadow of a grocery store The last beams crest the roof and penetrate my eye. Turquoise and lemon yellow shapes dancing across the asphalt. Neon signs trying to tell me nothing. My crimson appearance steers a mother and child away Exhausted cars exhaust hits. Hold my breath. Ice never had a good sound to give. Over at the gas station The dog is getting too close to the gasoline. And all the cars are covered in salt. I can only imagine what goes through their heads when I go buy milk. I count so many tall brown boots Carrying long legs-carrying dolls holding vodka; wrapped in down jackets and bleach blonde. Pretty thing wouldn’t think twice cause I know better The faster I get it the better. Chocolate milk vice. Butter and bacon and beer to make better. And beer. Tell myself spring’s around the corner Casue the grass is always greener when you only have a fence.

372 Miles away in Council Bluffs. A young man stops at a fast food joint on his drive across country.

four ringed grill

Council Bluffs McDonalds. A few hundred miles in my trash for their trashcan. Overly crowded for a whole lot of nothing. They grow a whole lot, but nobody cooks? Get into my foreign automobile to dirty looks. I pass a kid in his PJ’s, Spitting into the wind.

As I looked back in the rearview, I saw him covered in his own spit I saw them all watching so I split Seconds. For the sake of sanity. I guess my eagle snapback wasn’t enough to offset Stereotypes. The four rings on my grill. 75 MPH & several hours to go. These states are so big, they might as well be Their own countries.

Three days later on a foggy night in a Seattle neighborhood a man sits in his car preparing to kill his best friend.

sometimes you gotta die

I took a big gulp from my nalgene water bottle. Another cause the first didn’t sit right and I took some deep breaths for good measure. I checked my gun to see if I had loaded it and check my side for my knife more times than necessary. I yelled at myself trying to get mentally prepared for what was to come. I was as physically prepared as I would ever be. He was stronger than me, a lot stronger, but as long as I had the 12 gauge in my hands, the playing field was leveled. I coached myself through it. “Come on, come on, come on. Fuckin’ man up!” I said over and over. “It’s the only way. If you don’t do it, who’s gonna’?! Let’s fucking roll!” and those were my last private words before I stumbled into hell. The car door slammed shut and there was absolute silence from my car all the way to the back door. I’m surprised I didn’t get noticed with the big bass drum pounding out of my chest. My eyes were trained so tightly on the door, I nearly broke my ankle tripping on a soccerball in the wet grass. I let out a deep, whistling sigh. The words ‘little pig, little pig’ came into my mind. Why, of all things would that pop into my head? I probably wasn’t as ready as I had hoped, but how could I be, my friend was in there? Focus. I kicked in the door. He was sitting there eating dinner with his family. Nice job asshole, right in front of the family. “Uh, haha,” I lowered my gun and put on a strained smile, ”Mary I didn’t know you two were going to be here.” I blurted out, as if it would help the situation at all. He spoke while staring at me confusedly, “Mary, Nanc’, me and uncle Rick are just playing around, but we need some man to man time. You two want to go for a walk?” Mary took Nancy into the other room. They put on their coats and left. We both waited for the door to close behind them before it started up again. “You want to tell me what the fuck you’re doing, rick?!” I stood and starred at him silently until he raised his eyebrows and dropped his hands on the table in a gesture of frustration and confusion. I slowly walked over and sat at the table across from him. Maybe I should give a little background before we continue. The man sitting across the table from me is my best friend since childhood, Steven. Steven and I grew up in the same neighborhood, played on all the same sports teams, and even dated the same girl once. We played ball in high school and Steve went on to play one season of college ball, but he injured his ankle pretty good and had to quit. His athleticism was a huge part of his life and me and everyone else could always tell he yearned for it. Going to the gym wasn’t enough for Steve, he needed the competition of a sport, but overall, he was still the same nice guy we all knew. About two years ago, Steve got in a nasty car wreck and the doctors said they would have to amputate his legs. Steve didn’t want to lose his legs, but who the hell does? The doctors approached him with an experimental treatment that had never been tried before. The doctors said they would replace his bones with highend flexible, composite prosthetics. They could re-grow skin and muscle over it using stemcell and hormone treatments. Steven agreed to undergo the long process in exchange for the majority of the bills to be paid and for a chance to walk again. When he finally got out of rehab, everyone was ecstatic for him. But something changed when he was in rehab at the base. I seemed to be the only one to notice at first, probably because I had known him so long. I could see it in his eyes, something just seemed off. It wasn’t long before he started challenging everyone to arm wrestle or tackle games-we all took it as a sign of Steve showing off his recovery, that is until he broke our friend Cameron’s arm in a match. And that was just the start of it. “You’re not Steven, Steven…” I let out, weakly. “Is that your tagline, Willis?” he leaned in with a concerned look on his face when I didn’t laugh, “have you been drinking, Rick?” “I’m serious.” He laughed, rolled his eyes, and put his hands on top of his head. “Rick, let me give you a ride home.” He let out with a sigh. “No” “Should I call your wife to come pick you up then, Rick I-“ “I’m not fucking around. This ends tonight.” Stevens’ face got awful serious. “What ends tonight, Rick?”

“You. Ever since you got back from rehab, you’re not the same. You’re violent.” “Come on Ricky, we already talked about this. I’m sorry I went off the deep end with the rough housing. But it’s all good now, man, no one has any beef with me. Nothing’s happened for a few months now. I’ve settled down from the hormone treatments.” “You broke Cameron’s arm, Matt’s rib, and smashed up Tom’s table at poker night! I don’t think that’s fine, bro!” “That was months ago! I’m not doing this right now, Ricky!” He got up and went to open the door to show me out. “Yippie-kay-get the fuck out of my house, Bruce Willis.” He chided. “I know about the neighbors dog!” I shouted. Steve got really quiet and closed the door. He turned slowly back and said in a low, quiet voice, “What did you just say to me?” I stared back at him. I knew he knew. He came and sat back down at the table and I kept my hand on the gun. “Six miles down county road 200 off of Willow Lane.” I could see his jaw clenching. “That’s where you buried the dog. You always hated your neighbors’ dog. You used to just yell at it, but a month ago you went over and beat it to death with a shovel. I watched you do it, Steve. I’ve been keeping my eye on you for a while now.” I could hear some more confidence coming into my voice and my body felt heavier. This had been several months in the making. I pulled out an envelope of photographs from my jacket pocket and slid it across the table to him. I had photos of it all. The dog. The underground fighting ring. It was so absurd I could hardly believe any of it, it was like Steve was on his training wheels to becoming a monster. I had photos of all the guys he killed in the fights too. Steve took a moment to look through all the photos while he stroked his chin, before leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed. “You don’t know what it’s like, Rick. Being this strong, I mean.” He said it so matter-of-factly in the familiar way I had always heard him speak in. Part of me wanted to let him convince me. “Let me show you.” He said. He placed his index finger on the wall next to him and pushed it through the drywall effortlessly, like the wall was made out of flour. My heart started beating harder. “I’m just starting to control it, Rick. Imagine what I can do in a few months a year. We can rig the system man! Do you know how much money you could make betting on me? I already pulled in an easy 12 k from the fights you know about-and that was just some of them.” His voice roared loudly. The offer was tempting, it really was. I didn’t want to kill my friend. But I couldn’t let him turn into a monster either. I placed both hands on the shotgun and stared back into his eyes. He scoffed and threw his hands back in an offended gesture. “So, you would have rather I died in the accident?” “No, I-“ “Stop. We both know you would preferred that I died two years ago.” “Well, knowing what I know now, yes.” That hurt to say, and it fell out of my mouth like a heavy, steaming ball of lead that practically made an audible thud on the wooden dinner table. “I’m sorry Steve. But sometimes you just gotta’ die! Is that what you’re about to say, Van Damme?” “Goodbye, Steve.” The words crept out of my mouth like limp strands of twine and they were hardly enough to hear. I let loose blasting him with a slug shell and he slammed into the wall behind him with a heavy bang from the two inches of solid lead hitting him in the chest. I lowered my gun and took a step closer to make sure this was it. Everything was still in the room, save the smoke oozing out my barrel. That’s when I heard the click behind me. I turned and the tip of my nose met the tip of a .38 revolver. His wife Mary was standing there in a hot mess of anger and that was it.

A couple hours later and several states away, a dying breed, a cowboy exacts his revenge on the men that hurt his family. Blood is about to spill on the sands of New Mexico.

neon cowboy

Neon Cowboy Willie Nelson 65 MPH harakiri Magazine racks Idolize chicks with big chests Tumbleweed 64ounce soda Neon, electric wild-west Gunned down, gun smoke In a porn shop Back to the cabin Question the other one New Mexico sun, Lizard skinned 9mm 10 round mag. 10 minutes to sundown Revenge begins.

The barista in Charlotte North Carolina stopped at a bar on her way home. She sat and thought of the young homeless veteran she saw that day. At the other end of the bar, Stella was about to tell her friends about her strange encounter that morning.

horse cop

“Does everyone want to get another round?” Stella asked “Yeah, I’ve got time”, “sure”, “totally!” Her friends blurted out Stella waved down the bartender. “Stella, didn’t you say you were going to tell us your ‘crazy story’?” her friend asked with air-quotes. “Oh, shit, yeah! How could I forget?” The bar tender came over with their drinks and a bowl of bar nuts. Stella paused, waiting for the bartender to put the drinks down. “Ok, this is pretty weird, but really, this is how I started my day… Her three friends sat picturing the scene while Stella narrated; Madison with her mouth on her double red straws at all times, in suspense, Becky hoarding the beer nuts like a bridge troll, and Amanda never missing a moment to hype the story. “I was driving down Faye Boulevard to pick up some doughnuts for my employees, when I got to that intersection at the bottom of the hill-you know the one near the Park with the taco stand?” “Yeah”, “Yup”, “Oh my god have you had their chicken burrito? Sooo goooo-“ “Becky!.” Amanda slapped the beer nuts out of her hand. “Sorry…” Becky giggled. “Anyways, I get to the intersection and the light is flashing red so I stop and I’m waving on the people that were there first, but nobody is going so, I decide to go through and then everybody decides to go too, so this bimbo on her phone almost t-bones me. I honked at her and she just gave me the bird and made a dumb duck face.” “Pssh, bish…” “Seriously, some people’s kids, right? Okay, so then I‘m driving down the street for a bout 5 seconds when a horse jumps out in front of my car!” “Whaaaat?” “what color was it?” Becky really needed to know. “Uh, horse colored- reddish brown. But that’s not the point. I slammed on the breaks and the horse threw it’s front legs up-it scared the crap out of me. That’s when I realized it was a cop. He reined the horse in and was trying to get it to walk over to my side of the car. The horse just kind of shuffled around like it didn’t want to, but finally it started to walk towards me ass first with its tail up. When it got next to the car it let out this huge chunky poop all over the street. Then I just hear the cop say, ‘mam please exit the motor vehicle’. So I get out of the car and the cop is super buff, like an old spice model-“ “Ooh girl!” Becky cooed with peanuts falling from her lips. “So, then I asked him what was wrong and he just said ‘mam, license, registration, and proof of insurance’ so I leaned back into the car to grab my purse and the horse bites my ass!” The group burst out laughing and the bartender and everyone else in the bar cranks their heads around. Amanda waves the bartender down for another beer. “Did it hurt?” Madison joked. “Yeah, I’ve got a huge bruise on my butt!” “So, what’d the cop do next?” Amanda asked “I yelled out and the horse was huffing loudly and then the cop just says, ‘mam, don’t aggravate the horse’ So I hand this tool my papers n’ license but the horse ate it! The horse just bit them right out of my hand andStella paused for the bartender to give Amanda her beer. The bar tender also handed out another bowl of bar nuts-this time, handing them straight to Becky. Becky gave the bartender a flirtatious smile while grabbing a handful of the peanuts. Becky was getting crumbs everywhere and the bartender gave the old ‘no thanks’ smile-head shake-combo before returning to the bar. Stella continued, “Then the cop has the audacity to tell me again ‘Do not aggravate the horse or I will be forced to neutralize you’ The horse spat out my drivers license so I handed that to the cop. He takes a look at it and then just puts in his chest pocket of his uniform. So I was like ‘um, what are you doing?’ and he said he couldn’t give it back” “Why not, that’s nuts?” “He said his horse ate his ticket book earlier that day and that he would have to write me a ticket at the station and mail my drivers license to me. That’s when I got real angry and I asked him what he was even giving

me a ticket for but just kept interrupting me and saying ‘mam’ and holding out his hand. At this point the horse was getting more and more worked up-just shitting everywhere, even on my car.” “Oh my god, did you get a carwash? Please tell me you got a car wash? Were your windows rolled down?” Madison spurted out her questions rapid fire. “Yeas, the car is fine. Smelly, but fine. But here’s the craziest part,” Becky stopped chomping on the bar nuts for a moment to really listen in. “The cop gets all worked up and started saying I was a threat to his horse’s safety and he was going to ‘neutralize’ and arrest me! So I started yelling about how his damn horse bit me and why couldn’t he get down off his damn horse. And get this, he said he didn’t know. He didn’t know how to get down, I guess- he just kept shouting ‘I don’t know how! I don’t know how!” At this point he tried to pull out his taser-I presume to take me in on the back of his horse for causin’ trouble at the saloon? But he fumbled and zapped the hors instead, so they go bolting down the road.” Becky cackled and her body was lost in a fit of contorted laughs as she knocked the bar nuts all of the floor and fell out of her chair. Amanda shrugged at the annoyed bartender and threw out a smile as an apology.

The year is 2053. A father and son live on the moon making their living from the scrap that floats through space. Things aren’t what they seem on this moon colony. The scientific achievement of its structures are a poor veil for its dark origins.

billboards on the moon part one

2053. Humans live on the moon and the convicts live on Earth. Quentin 16 and his father, Caleb, operate a small scrap yard by collecting the trash that floats through space. Father son duo lives on a small parcel of land full of scrap, old billboards, and anything that can be used for something. A messy place, but if you spent enough time there, you’d learn the rhyme and reason behind the apparent chaos-or as Caleb would put it Feng Shui on the moon. Today was a day like any other for the two. Quentin had slept in as usual so his father stood shooting him in the face with a squirtgun. “Quuuuueeeentiiiiin”, Caleb bellowed, ”Dearest angel Quentin, wake the hell up!” After a moment of his fathers sing-song wake up call, Quentin opened his eyes and brushed away the water. Quentin let out a big sigh from a contorted morning face. “Overslept?” the words tumbled out of Quentins’ half awake face. “Yeah, boy. Third day in a row. Get up and eat breakfast. We got work to do.” Caleb turned to leave, but quickly wiped around and squirted Quentin again, “and take care a cold shower, tin-tin. Aint time for nudeydreams today, haha” Quentin looked down and was embarrassed at the tent pitched in his sheets. After pep-talking himself into getting up and dressed. Quentin and his father sat eating a short stack. Caleb stood when the kettle whistled to pour some coffee. “How’s your classes?” asked Caleb “Fine. Got an A on the last test.” Replied Quentin. “That’s my boy! So you’ll have that mechanics license at the end of the course?” “Yessir” Quentin said with a mouth-load of pancake. In 2053, kids don’t go to school all day. They take hands on courses twice a week. Each course rewards the students with certificates of qualification upon completion. The more courses, the more certificates-the more papers, the more you were paid. All transactions were strictly controlled by the community guardians-essentially judge, jury, and executioner. The moon is ruled by this religious oligarchy-but not everyone there is full of faith. Quentin and his father tried there best to stay out of it and just earn a living. “So, dreaming about Maya last night, kid?” Caleb jabbed at his son. Quentin responded with an irritated look. “Ok, if she comes over tonight. I was gonna’ help her study for her mechanics certificate?” Quentin with his fingers crossed underneath the table. “Yeah, but only open up one hood. Catch my drift?” Caleb pointed with a stern tone in his voice. Caleb had always had a way with words and a playful banter-it was one of the things Quentin admired most though he would never admit it aloud. Quentin washed the dishes while his father started up their collection vehicle-called an attractor-and tended to their small greenhouse. Quentin donned his boots and overalls and ran to hop in the attractor to start the days’ work. The Moon was spotted with nearly a hundred large domes. The domes are where people live, work, go to school, and where they die. The domes are an engineered artificial atmosphere that can sustain life in limited amounts. Because of these limitations, the colony enforces a strict limit of one child per household. The largest central dome houses the government centers and the main church. The uncovered areas between domes are no mans lands where the dead are laid to rest. The attractor lifted off the ground and displaced some grey moon dirt. They headed for the exit gate not far from their home. They slowed to approach the gatehouse to get Pierre to open the airlock. Pierre was a member of the French Legion back on Earth. He is the only Frenchman on this side of the moon that Caleb or Quentin know of and one of their few friends. Pierre lives on the second floor of the gatehouse, living a quiet life or at least Quentin thinks so. “Bonjour Caleb! Quentin, my man. comment allez-vous?” “Bon, Pierre. Another day another dollar.” Caleb said in a jolly manner. Pierre tipped his hat and begin opening the gate for them. “Be careful guys. See you in a bit.” Pierre’s accent is thick and charming-and like the typical French expat, all the single ladies are in line for that ride. Son and father set out about 10 miles. For the past week there has been a large cluster of debris floating by, and they had been making good, full hauls each day. The attractor is comprised of a small cabin, two maneuverable arms, and a large net that sits to the rear-it resembles a

big wasp. The two arms are outfitted with powerful magnets that pull in the valuable metal scrap. The day was moving on in typical fashion. Some old cars, some random cans and pipes, steel beams, and metal roofing. They all jumbled silently in the great net being towed by the attractor. But today is pivotal for Quentin and his father. From behind a cloud of scrap and rock came a long a plane. A fighter jet, more specifically. Quentin had never seen one before, all military operations on the moon were carried out by remotely controlled drones. Even the policing was mostly through drones and surveillance. Quentin stood up from his seat as much as the cramped cab would allow. “What is that thing?” Quentin was curious with a passion, “Some kind of vehicle?” Quentin continued in amazement. Caleb went silent with hope in his eyes, but when he turned to his son, he struggled to get the words out right, “Son, that’s a vehicle alright” he knew that wasn’t the whole truth so he continued on, hesitantly, “More, more than that though-it’s a fighter jet. Used for combat.” “So, how old is it then. I thought it’s been a century since there was a war?” Caleb was stiff lipped while he maneuvered the dual controls and brought the fighter into the net. Quentin was still waiting for an answer and just when he opened his mouth to ask again, his father turned and said to him, “Son, there’s something you need to know. It’s only been 30 years since there was a war. It happened when I was your age-on Earth.” “Earth?! But the vessels said that our Earth was plagued so, we escaped here to the moon a century ago. Earth is for criminals.” “Quentin, I thought I raised you not to be that gullible, ha. Here’s what really happened… In 2015, most of the Earth’s economy collapsed due to decades of central planning, inflated currencies, and Government corruption and collusion with large banks. It was not long till trade was drastically downsized and food supplies started to dwindle. Those that were prepared quickly banded together forming small encampments. The governments tried desperately to quell the masses, but more and more of their own police and military defected to join the citizen militias. It was not long until the global cartels who had been puppeteering the government for at least 30 years, started waging war. But the perseverance of the people was too much for the cartels’ goons-they could not compete with a gun behind every blade of grass or the other guns behind those. The citizens were well armed. The war waged for ten years until the cleansing. The cleansing was a kind of global dirty bomb meant to kill the resistance in a last ditch effort. They had no idea what the chemicals would do, so the elite captured as many of us as they could-I was one of them and so was your mother. After all, the cartels needed people to populate and work on the moon- or as the resistance came to call it, The Plantation. Unfortunately for them, the poison was a smashing success-for the resistance. Instead of killing them, it caused mutations giving them increased strength and speed. At this point, the cartels were reaping what they had begun to sew many years before. They escaped here to the moon as a last resort. “But, what about the scripture?” Asked Quentin in disbelief. “You buy that shit? ‘Tin, you really think some God helped us come to the moon and build these artificial atmospheres?” “Well, no, not really.” “Exactly. That scripture is a nice cover to give us peasants something pretty to believe in. Your fixed wage for the greater good, the one child limit, the arranged marriages-all of it is about ego and control. The evil fuckers in the central lunar hall, just doing what they did on Earth, ‘cept up here it’s easier for them because there’s no air outside the domes.” Caleb paused to let it sink in for his son. But the feeling Quentin is having is unlike a sinking anchor and more akin to something that was always in there now floating to the surface. “That’s why I’m glad we found this fighter. With some mods it will work just fine.” “Fine for what?” Caleb grinned, ”A week of work maybe and this thing will be space ready with the technology we have nowadays. Then we can make it to Earth.” “You’re going to Earth?!” Quentin exclaimed. “Yeah, and so are you, boy. WE. You can take your predetermined bride along too-if you’re into that whole arranged marriage racket?”

“what’s wrong with Maya? I like Maya!” “Oh, so you do like her?” Caleb joked with a sweet ring in his voice. “Smart ass…” muttered Quentin. Caleb let out a big wholesome laugh as he secured the net and turned the ship around. Caleb pulled the radio microphone up to his mustache. “Pierre, como estas amigo?” “Bon, just bon. You two coming in for the day? Pierre’s accent was even thicker through the crackle of the radio speaker. “Yeah, and I hope you still have your garage ready?” Caleb sang with a smile. When they neared the gate, Pierre signaled to Caleb with three flashes of his spotlight. After passing through the airlock they pulled around into to Pierre’s garage and unloaded the fighter jet. Quentin recalled that his father often brings some scrap and mechanical components to Pierre. Quentin usually didn’t think much of it, but seeing all the parts organized, cleaned and refurbished, it was all starting to click with him. Engines hung from stands, seats freshly upholstered, and body panels shining from their new protective sealants. Quentin and his father walked into the garage only to have their heels almost cut off by the door closing. Pierre seemed tense, which is out of character for the legionnaire combat veteran. “Were you followed?” Pierre questioned. “No, I put the jammers on when we came back in.” “Good. Good. The boy is filled in?” “Yeah, he’s got the memo. Right?” Caleb turned to Quentin. Quentin saluted and shouted out, “Yes sir.” Pierre put his hands on his hips, “Down. Give me 20. You call that a salute?” Quentin laughed his way into an awkward silence where he realized Pierre was not joking. “Oui, sergeant!” Quentin exclaimed before dropping to the cold floor of the garage. “I’m sorry, Quentin, but it is time for you to grow up-sadly faster than you should.” Pierre said somberly. “We’re really going aren’t we?” Caleb and Pierre both nodded. The two of them started work immediately, discussing plans they had drawn up and comparing the fit of different parts. Quentin looked on in disbelief. Quentin’s disbelief is really just denial; he knows they wouldn’t risk something like this for the sake of some elaborate prank on him. They could be laid out to die in the no mans land. Quentin broke from his morbid thoughts, when his watch alarm went off. “Shit, Pierre can I borrow your truck to get back to our place?” “Yeah sure. When will you be back?” “Probably in 3 or so hours. Is it alright?” “Yeah, yeah. Go ahead.” Pierre pulled the keys from his overalls and tossed them to Quentin. Quentin ran outside and hopped into the small truck to rush back home. Pierre turned to Caleb, “What’s the matter?” “Oh, he’s just meeting his little bride to be. Help her study for a certificate.” Caleb delivered the line in his usual fashion. Pierre stopped ratcheting for a minute to pull his head away from the engine. “You know, you can’t let him get close to her. We have to leave soon. And we could be gone for months. It’s not like they’ll just let us back in so he can visit her th-“ “I know Pierre. We’ll have targets painted on our backs come next week.” Caleb’s usual smile fluttered off his face and left him with a brooding expression rarely seen on him. _

Quentin arrived home in a rush. Embarrassed at the possibility of being late he rushed to the front door. His hand touched the door knob just as her voice touched his ear. “’Tin! Up here!” Maya shouted from up on one of the billboards. Quentin climbed up the latter and sat next to his space-bride on the mesh walkway. It was getting dark, but the lights shined on them from atop the billboard. Caleb had set everything up on a timer to be more efficient. “What’s a ‘HUGE MACK’?” Maya pointed at the billboard of a large juicy burger. “Uh, it’s a burger.” “What’s a burger? Like the protein patties we have?” “Kind of. Except it’s made from beef-cow’s meet.” “Oh, I think I read about cows in one of my fathers books. Strange looking animals.” “Yeah. My dad says they taste really damn good though. “Ha, my dad said the same thing.” Maya giggled. “so, you’re dad remembers Earth too?” “I guess so. He doesn’t mention it much though. Your dad tell you about it a lot?” “Yeah, I suppose. Mostly just about the food, haha. But sometimes about what it looked like.” “He said there are lakes and huge mountains and dunes of sand and oceans. Sounds pretty unreal sometimes.” “Yeah, it’s hard to imagine. So, sorry I’m early. I hope you didn’t rush too much to get here.” Maya said while playing with her hair. “No, no it’s fine. What do you need to know about the mechanics stuff?” The two awkward teens climbed down from the billboard and went into the garage. Quentin had a small vehicle of his own he and his dad parted together. Quentin used it to pass his mechanics course, so he figured Maya could borrow it for hers. Quentin explained how he and his father built the car with out trying too hard to impress her. Maya didn’t look at the car all that much for someone who was about to take a test on how to fix one, but Quentin didn’t seem to notice much on account of his semi-conscious struggle not to sweat so much. He popped the hood open and lifted the engine out with an engine hoist. Quentin went through and explained all the basic parts of an engine and what they do and sometimes got sidetracked on what kinds of parts or brands are better. When Quentin stood straight after finishing what was probably an extremely boring explanation, Maya took hold of his arm. They shared a kiss, to which Quentin replied, “Uh, I think we’re going to need a tool we don’t have here. We can go get it from my friend Pierre.” “Um, okay.” Maya, was confused at Quentin’s apparent lack of interest. They shuffled outside to the truck but not before they spotted another billboard hiding behind a piece of plywood. Maya pulled the board away to reveal the image of a couple kissing. They shared a hiccup of a laugh at the irony. “What’s KY?” asked Maya. “I don’t know. It says lubricant. Like for a car? But why would they show a…oh.” “Oh.” “Ok, let’s go get that part.” The two rode down the road a couple miles to Pierre’s place to get the part ‘they needed’. The little moon truck, similar to a Willy’s jeep the G.I’s used in the Second World War, was a fun little ride. “Just wait here for a second. Pierre’s kinda’ touchy about bringing people over. I’ll just be a second. “Ok. I’ll be here.” Quentin jogged over to the side door of the garage and smiled back at Maya before entering. Inside, Caleb and Pierre both noticed the smile and started in on him at the same time. “Who’s out there?” they interrogated. “It’s just Maya. It’s okay, I told her to wait in the truck. But I need y’alls help.” “Help with what? You better hope her parents don’t have a GPS on her!” Pierre pulled his hat from his head in frustration. “Brass tacks boy! What do you need?” “Well, actually nothing. I told her we came here to borrow a tool. Truth is uh…”

“Quentin, as long as your weiner stays in your pants, I’m sure you’re doing fine.” “But…” “No, buts. Here, take this can of grease. There’s your excuse, and remember your mouth can make sounds into words!” Caleb exclaimed sarcastically with a heavy pat on Quentin’s back Pierre hollered out before Quentin opened the door again. “Make sure her GPS was off if she has one, There’s a jammer in my truck, so as long as she stayed in her seat it should be fine. I don’t want any enforcers coming here to talk.” “Oui, Sergeant!” Quentin saluted. “Scan her if you need to!” Caleb added. “Oui, Sergeant!” Quentin exited the garage to see Maya standing a few yards away from the truck with her phone held to the sky, trying to find a signal. Quentin heard the word ‘shit’ ring inside of him from head to toe. He needed to scan her for sure, but he couldn’t be rude about it either. He smiled and waved at Maya, signaling for her to come over. Quentin couldn’t help but look her up and down as she walked over to the truck. Maya’s slender figure and flowing hair called out to him, and the tight shorts definitely helped him along. Maya’s freckles dusted her nose and set off her green eyes. When most everything on the moon is grey, a girl with red hair and green eyes, really catches your attention. “’Tin? We going?” asked Maya, who had been waiting in the truck for a moment now. Quentin snapped out of his daydream and into the canvas drivers seat. “Yeah, we just need some uh,” Quentin looked down at the can his father gave him, “lubricant.” Quentin looked up half expecting her to think it was a bad joke, but she smiled along with her scoff. The teen romance element rode back to the garage and Quentin heeded his fathers’ word, by getting down to brass tacks. They studied for a couple hours, but the whole time Quentin knew he had to scan her. While Maya was leaning over the engine block, Quentin came up behind her with the scanner in his hands. The scanner was a simple black bar about the length of a pencil and the width of a stick of gum. He only needed a quick pass from head to toe to pick up any trackers. Quentin knelt down and slowly scanned her, starting at her feet. When he was at about ass level, Maya turned around to meet a crotch full of Quentin’s face. “Uh…” “…” “Sorry, I dropped something” Quentin chuckled nervously, while slipping the scanner into his back pocket. “It’s okay. I thought you were making a move on me there for a second.” Maya delivered her words with a flirtatious sting and Quentin’s eyes narrowed in on her lips. Maya knealt down in front of Quentin in very much the same proximity he had been a moment ago. “What are you doing, Maya?” “I dropped something.” Maya unzipped Quentin’s pants with a smile. Maya’s smiling face quickly turned into pile of hair, when Quentin realized he was day dreaming again. “Haha, quit poking me in the butt, ‘Tin!” “I’m not. OH…haha. Just playing!” Maya turned around only to be poked again. They both looked down and there was no excuse for him now. The shared awkward laughs that turned into a kiss, when Maya’s phone rang. Maya broke away to answer and left Quentin stupefied, practically humping at the empty air. “Yeah, ok mom. I’ll come home.” Quentin listened in keenly. The word mom was probably the one word he did hear to snap him out of it. “Alright, sorry. I know…I know…okay, I’m leaving right now.” Quentin could tell the situation. Everyone’s been there before. “So, bonerman, King of the boners, can I get a ride home. I’m a little late, and you know how my mom worries.” Maya asked sweetly. “Yeah, no problem. Ms. Hot……sweet…yeah I got nothing. But I do have a car.” Quentin returned home that night to a kitchen filled with the sweet medicinal odor of fried chicken. Quentin could only be so excited about the chicken, cause his dad only cooked it on birthdays or when he

had some embarrassing life lesson to share. Today wasn’t Quentin’s birthday, and he was about 98 percent sure he couldn’t convince his father otherwise. “Chicken tiiiiiiimmmee, mijo!” Caleb sang out the minute Quentin got into the kitchen. Quentin tried, but his father could tell he was only half excited-who wouldn’t be? Quentin sat down at the table and put some chicken on his plate. “So, you’re wondering if I’m going to tell you another uncomfortable tale from my youth in an attempt to impart my wisdom, right?” “Pretty much. Accept it will be more crudely worded than your synopsis.” “Ha, fair enough. Well, I’ll get to it then,” Caleb took a sip from his mug and made a clicking sound in satisfaction, “we can’t having you getting all cross-eyed for Maya-“ “Padre…” “Or worse, pregnant! Last thing this mission needs is a damn baby drama.” “Seriously? I thought you already gave me the talk about weiner-bags, old man?” “This is some serious shit, son. Space. War. Not Dallas in space.” Caleb let out with a humorous, but condescending cadence. “What’s Dallas?” “It’s a city, but I was referring ot the soap opera television show of the same name. It-nevermind…anyways. You know she can’t come with us.” The room went cold along with the chicken. Quentin couldn’t sleep that night. Neither could Caleb-mostly due to gas, not from young angst, but he was a little sad for Quentin too. About a week passed on. Quentin and Caleb collected scrap as usual during the day, and worked with Pierre on the warship at night. Quentin hadn’t heard from Maya since he dropped her off that night-he figured her parents had grounded her. Maya’s family was more faithful to the social systems on the moon, but Quentin figured if a girl like Maya from a family like hers was taking a chance on him, she wasn’t like the others. Quentin got online to send her a message after the days work was done. Tin_scrapper: Hey, Maya you there? Message sent at 8:34 PM Maya_7394: Yeah, sorry I haven’t been around. Message sent at 8:40 PM Tin_scrapper: Parents mad huh? Maya_7394: Yeah. But I can go and see you tomorrow! Tin_scrapper: Awesome! I’ll be busy until around 7 o’clock. Maya_7394: Kay, can’t wait to see you, ‘Tin-tin. ttyl <3 Tin_scrapper: Me too. See you mañana.

Maya_7394 has logged off. 8:41 PM

Quentin felt relieved to finally hear from his bride to be. It was weird to think about, but that’s how it was on the moon. The community guardians selected the pairings to take free will to organize away from the peoplean arranged spouse is more likely to snitch to the government or church, than a naturally devoted one. The obvious loophole in this system, is that the guardians could choose the pairs for their own children, essentially creating a caste system-the highest ranking children would go on to continue the moon dynasty. The new lunar scripture dictates that on their 18th birthday the highest-ranking children will be blessed by God with beyond human intellect and power. Like most cults, a strong hierarchy and flow of disinformation is necessary for it’s smooth function. Quentin ignored these heavy questions and slept well knowing he would see Maya the next day. Quentin rose early and took advantage of the extra time to cook breakfast-bacon and waffles. Caleb entered the room with a stiff tiptoe walk and arms out stretched mid-yawn. Caleb was looking grey in the face from not shaving for a few days. “Padre, go camping last night or just practicing pitching your tent?!” Quentin quipped. “Shit!” Caleb covered his boxers with a magazine-a magazine centerfold.

“Ha, nice nipples!” Quentin laughed uncontrollably. Caleb looked down at the nudey mag only making the situation worse. “Ahem, make sure you clean those pans, I’ll be back in a minute. I expect food on the table and coffee brewed.” Caleb held his head high, talking with a mockingly snobby voice as he shuffled out of the room. After a delicious, bacon induced high, the duo set out on the days work. Caleb piloted the attractor out into space as usual and the typical scrap was collected along with a few bags of miscellanea. It was just a typical day scrapping in the near space of the moon. Quentin turned to his father to break the silence in the cab, “Maya wants to come say hi tonight.” Caleb was silent for a spell, hesitating, knowing his heavy words would land a haymaker on his boy. “That’s fine.” “Thanks old man!” “But, today, you say goodbye. We’re leaving tonight.” Quentin couldn’t argue with this, so he nodded silently. They rode home to a dark moon where the rays of the sun splintered against the curve of its surface. They stopped at Pierre’s to search through the days haul. Quentin hadn’t realized till just then, but why would they even bother? scrapping that day only to leave that night? But after a few minutes of sorting it started making sense, when he saw his father light up like a kid on Christmas. “Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo! Alright!” Caleb howled like a dog while flexing his arms, “Seen these floating around out there the last week or two.” “What is it?” asked Pierre. “Beautiful, just beautiful!” Caleb pulled a handful of porno magazines from the box. Quentin was embarrassed and so was Pierre. “Caleb, those are old! Are those your grandpas magazines. What’s the date?” Pierre picked on up, “2012? Ewww. These girls are grannies by now, man!” “Hey now, a beauty is a beauty-and we’re gonna need some reading material for the flight back to Earth-“ “reading?” “Hey, carbon! Articles, articles man!” Caleb defended loudly. Pierre tossed the magazine back in the box and walked over to Quentin. “Boy, you’re father needs help.” Pierre said with a pat on the back. “Oui, Sergeant!” “Pierre, I’m going to load these up. Will you take ‘Tin back in the attractor and pick up our bags before we go?” asked Caleb with out looking up from the page. “Sure thing, homme étrange… homme sale…” Pierre muttered to himself on his way up the latter into the cabin of the scrap-collecting beast. Pierre and Quentin arrived at the scrap yard to see Maya waiting on the hood of an old car. Pierre put up his hands signaling that Quentin had 10 minutes the grab their bags and say his goodbyes. Quentin nodded somberly and climbed down the latter. Pierre watched in silence from inside the cab as Maya and Quentin walked into the house. Maya followed Quentin into his room. “So, is that your French friend?” “Yeah! That’s pie-wait you knew he’s French?” “Well, yeah, my mom’s friends are always gawking over him.” “Oh, haha, yeah. Frenchman abroad and all…so-“ “Where are you going?” Maya interrupted. Quentin struggled to find the words with out giving anything away. “A different sphere?” Maya seemed awful serious, even for a serious situation. “Uh, yeah. One of the domes on the other side of the moon.” Maya turned and locked the door. Quentin was puzzled, but his questions ceased when Maya unzipped her jumpsuit to expose her fine, milky skin and plump breasts. Quentin stepped forward and removed his shirt. The white inside of his shirt were the curtains that revealed a shinning blade between her breasts. “Oh, don’t look so surprised, ‘Tin-tin. You think it would be that easy?” Quentin backed off in disbelief. “You never thought it was odd, that a pretty, well off thing like me, was paired with a scrappers son? I could

have anyone I want. Why would I choose you?” “What are you talking about?!” Quentin barked. “I’ll jump to it then, so you can change your pants before they take you in. We know about the ship your father and his Legion friend have been building. If you come with me nicely and tell us what we want-you wont loose a hair on your head.” “Fuck you.” “Oh, fuck me? Well if that’s what will sweeten the pot then by all means. I’m prepared to do what it takes to raise my rank around here.” Maya approached Quentin caressing her breasts lightly with the dull side of her knife. She got close to him and rubbed her body on his with a rhythm. Quentin embraced her and turned her around against the wall. The two shared a deep kiss and Maya slid Quentin’s hand down her stomach into the bottom of her jumpsuit. Their lips pulled apart leaving a strand of saliva and Maya chuckled at Quentin. “Aw, little Quentin, your first?” Quentin responded with a sharp crooked grin. “Puta!” Quentin put emphasis on calling Maya a bitch, slut by giving a head butt as his exclamation point. Maya crumpled against the wall, stunned and bleed out of her broken nose. Quentin ran and locked the door behind him. He grabbed the bags and burst out of the front door, to see a dozen enforcers weaving into the yard between the scrap. The enforcers wore all white and clad themselves in deep hooded cloaks so that not even their eyes were visible. The slid in between the broken down cars and billboards like ghosts. Quentin looked up to Pierre in the cab. Pierre pointed for Quentin to hop in the net below. He ran and dove into the net as the magnets on the arms of the attractor charged up. The enforcers charged in trying to get to Quentin, but they were knocked across the yard by the arms of the attractor. Pierre piloted the machine with the finesse and agility of a great boxer. Pierre swung the arms side to side knocking the enforcers around, smashing them through billboards for burgers, ambulance chasers, and pictures of kissing couples. One of the enforcers managed to slip past the giant arms and scurried into the net after Quentin. The enforcer tripped on his long cape and got tangled in the net. Quentin picked up a scrap pipe laying next to him an turned the mans cape from white to red. Pierre could see more of the deadly milk men rushing to the scene so he picked up a scrapper truck and flung it out, crushing the enemies and sending others flying like ragdolls. Pierre swung the attractor around rapidly with Quentin white-knuckling it below in the net. They blasted across the moonscape towards the gatehouse. Quentin could see Maya following them in the truck he and his father had built-the same one he taught her on for her exam. They came to a hard stop in a cloud of dust. Quentin wrangled out of the net with the bags on his back to see Maya barreling towards his father with the blood wicking off her cheeks into the dusty breeze. Caleb was standing his ground with a box in his hands. Quentin thought for sure he was a deer in the headlights about to be crushed by his own truck. But Caleb, in his usual style, side stepped just in time to pelt Maya in the face with a box full of porn videos. Maya lost control of the truck and crashed into a pile of steel. Pierre ran inside and fired up the ship. Quentin ran over to his father. “Nice shot, padre!” “Nothing says karma like a box of smut to the head, HA! What’s her deal?” “Bitch spy.” “Typical. Well, lets go before those milkmen grab us.” The father son team ran into the garage and entered the ship. “Hurry up, Pepe! Those statists are hot on our heals!” Pierre flicked switches, turned knobs and engaged the thrusters with authority. He looked back at his friends with a smile before busting through the thin garage doors with a boom. The place was crawling with the Michelin-men-warriors. “chattes au revoir!” Pierre howled as he let the guns loose on the throng of enforcers. The high-caliber guns on the ship tore through the enforcers like knives through sheets, scattering them. Down feathers on the

moon. The bloody snowfall was a good bye parade for the three men who had just started a war. To be continued...

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Handfishing Vol.1  

Sam & Gil strike up an unusual friendship in the Oklahoma woods. Caleb and his son escape the grips of an oppressive colony on the moon. A y...

Handfishing Vol.1  

Sam & Gil strike up an unusual friendship in the Oklahoma woods. Caleb and his son escape the grips of an oppressive colony on the moon. A y...