Page 20

Through the window, Kinzie signs at her.  /Hey.  Come here./
Elle walks through the side door.  The store has a smell she can't place.  Not bad.  Not good either.  Odd.  Distinct.
“Cedrick.  This is my friend Elle.”  Kinzie slows her signing down.
Cedrick nods.  /Nice to meet you./
Elle holds her breath and signs back. /Nice to meet you./
He turns to Kinzie and begins signing quickly.  Elle catches that there is a question about her.  Maybe where she is from?  Kinzie signs back with equal speed.  All she catches is the signs for meet and friend.
They look at her again.  Cedric signs and Kinzie translates.  “You look familiar.  Have we met before?”
“No.  I mean, I don't think so.”
“But you're not sure?”
“I'm sure I don't remember meeting you.”
Cedric and Kizie exchange a look.
“And where are you from?”
“I… I don't know.”
Cedric nods and starts signing again with Kinzie.  More about Elle and then several times a sign that looks like little wings sprouting from their shoulders is exchanged back and forth.  When they turn back to Elle, she copies the wings sign and furrows her eyebrows.
“Angel.”  Kinzie says.


Flower, Flower on the Wall

You've come to a small clearing.  Inky leans against a tree and begins to roll up a cigarette.  “Want to hear the story?”
“Which one?”  You motion that you also want to smoke.
He nods and begins to roll a second cigarette.  “The story of the old man who sought after eternal life, who sought the purple flower.”
“Well we found it pretty damn easy.  Nearly pissed on immortality.”  You kick a nearby log to see if it will make a sturdy seat.  Chunks of rot fly off.  You mumble and then sit down on the forest floor.
He taps the decapitated plant.  “What if the bloom avoids those who seek it out and seeks out those who avoid it?”  He fires up the lighter and hands you one of the burning cigarettes.
"Then I'd say it reminds me of some bitchy girlfriends I've had."
Inky begins his story.


Page 19

/Follow me./  Kinzie signs.  Elle sighs and walks behind.
When they turn on to a major road full of people, Elle nods.  “I was starting to think this whole town was made of alleys.”  She looks at Kinzie’s back.  “I know you can't hear me.”
After a few blocks the buildings change from residential to storefronts.  Elle looks up.  The upper stories are still apartments.  The street level are stores.
Kinzie turns right into an alley.
“Finally.”  Elle says.
Kinzie turns around.  “I'm going inside.  I'll wave you in when things are good.”  She walks through a side door.
Through the window, Elle watches Kinzie walk up to the store owner and start signing.  The middle aged, white haired man signs back at her.  Their conversation becomes a dance in Elle’s eyes and what few signs she knows lose their meaning and become movement.
A middle aged woman is talking to someone else.  A scavenger.  He's handing the woman electronic parts.  A teenaged boy.  The woman is handing him cash.  He scowls at everyone.  Kinzie.  The two shop owners.  Her.  It takes Elle a moment to figure out the boy is scowling at her, too.  He exits the shop through the side door and deliberately walks into her with his shoulder.
Elle yields and says nothing.  Watches him walk away.


There I Go, Up on the Roof Again

“What are you doing?”
“Looking at the roof.”  He points.
“Ah.  Is mom sleeping up there again?”
“No.  She's awake.”
Rolling down the driver side window, you poke your head out and see your mother up on the roof, staring off into the distance.  “Hey mom!”  She blinks and plays with her hair.  “Nin!”  She brings her knees in close to her chest.  “We're going for a ride.  We'll be back...”  You shift your voice down several notches and glance at your brother.  “When are we coming back?”
In a most unhelpful and serene voice, Inky replies.  “Depends on how long we stay.”
You snort quietly then lift your eyes back up to your mother.  “Yeah, so… We'll be back soon.  Love you.”

I Don't Know

Goals, gaols, gall ghouls.
Semper tedium: always tarry.
Liner, loner, litergically literal.
Uber flippant: over whatever.

The battle of circles and lines
A jumble of circuits and rhymes.
The prison of nickles and time
found at the sign of the crime.

Pick, peck, poked pock.
Powdered pigeon? Perseverance park?
Truth, toot, tethered tack.
Tedious timer? Terraced tock?


Together to be Apart

The goal of most writers is to construct a cohesive world.  They work hard to create believable characters that evolve in ways that make sense given their environment and the challenges they face.  If the world they build isn't the same as ours (as in many fantasy and sci fi novels), the author works to be consistent in the way that magic and/or technology functions.  History, backstory and supporting cast are all constructed in such a way to shore up the main characters and the story arc.

So what if an author built up a cohesive world and then deliberately starting yanking out the support beams one by one?  No need to speculate.  Read Viciconium. The world and characters get built.  They make sense.  Then, character's names start changing.  Street names change.  Character's personalities and backstories shift.  People disappear and reappear.  Timelines get ripped apart and sewn back together in new ways.  The world itself seems unsure of how it should be.

The marvelous thing is that the reader (me, in this case) still tries really hard to put things together.  Why?  Because that's what humans do with stories.  They try and make sense of them.  Even when the author is dismantling, rearranging and renaming his world page by page, the reader still tries desperately to find the heart and meaning within.

As a drawing of a pipe is not a pipe, so the words on a page that make a story are not a story.  What a beautiful read.  In addition to the dismantling, the book is filled with amazing shifts in tone that perfectly match the mood of every scene.  The author's use of color adjectives is particularly impressive.  Every scene is a painting and the whole book feels like touring a massive museum while each room burns behind you.


Wake up, ya drunk

You count twice.  Including your own, there are three naked bodies in the bed.  Across the floor you spy five beer bottles, three shot glasses and an empty fifth of rum.
You start to sit up to get out of bed but fail.  A combination of muscle cramps and the warning signs of a vicious headache slap you back down onto the mattress.
Trying again, you roll cautiously to the edge of the bed, let yourself down slowly to the floor with a sloppy push-up then crawl to the toilet that sits isolated in the middle of the basement.  You carefully hoist yourself to standing using the splinter cactus of a support beam then empty your bladder.
“I prefer waking to the sounds of a flowing river.”  Inky's voice startles you, causing your stream of urine to splatter on the toilet seat lid and the floor.