“The Lake”

April 28, 2020


From Lake Shore Drive, there was only one entrance to Montrose Harbor, a meandering one-lane road skirting the soccer fields and mostly empty grass leading to the parking lot, where you and the other “burn-outs” liked to party. From here was an excellent vantage point for spotting police should they make their sweep earlier than usual. This was the only way in. Everyone called it “the lake” even though few ever jumped into the lake from off the huge boulders rimming the shore. Unless the temperature was unusually hot or folks were tripping or both; the lake was mostly for smoking joints and drinking beer, cranking tunes and hanging out. Juice sometimes had Purple Microdot or Black Beauties. Then Pink Floyd rose from the car stereo like church music. Rex and his crew went the other way, preferring Quaaludes and Tuinal with their beer. They were more about the pussy. For them it was Van Halen and the backseat of Rex’s Trans Am or Red’s custom van. If the guy was lucky and the girl was the right combination of dazed and confused, she might grab his cock and pull on it until he came. This happened less than anyone imagined, as there were only so many girls, and too many guys. Lanky and muscled, leaning up against his gold Trans Am, Rex got his share. The wife beater, ripped jeans and dangling Marlboro cigarette created a character young females adored and he was able to bounce from one to another. He paid the price, too. Rex spent a lot of time dealing with drunk and crying girls. “You lied to me!” they’d scream after a stint in his car, punching his chest, making a scene. They were foolish as they were stoned.

To be Continued…


You are rounding a bend on a slope. The trail has become thin from lack of use, the rains having nearly washed it away. A vague impression persisted but it was enough. Beneath your feet, the decomposing leaves smelt of wetness and earth, pine needles and moss. Death was here but not death. No sadness to it. No fear… You detect a rustling. You pause, still as a deer. Something was out there. Escaping you? Stalking you? You had no way of knowing. But you are not frightened. You ached to see it. Wishing whatever it was would come out to face you.

Many years ago, you were driving in the woods at night. It was late and it was completely dark. You’d rented a cabin with ______. Coming home from a roadhouse, drunk, attempting to find it. Turning a bend your headlights met two eyes. A deer? You stopped the car. A giant white owl stood like a ghost, staring right at you. Only for a moment. Then it was gone, disappearing into the darkest night. Such creatures were rare, even as far north as you were. Sometimes you think it was a vision. In time ______ would forget all about it. But you never did. You’ve been looking for that sacred animal ever since.

To be continued…

The Locker (3)

April 6, 2020


Another man struggles to unload an ugly dresser from the back of a brown van. Inside the vehicle, pushing the dresser, his wife. She swears at him. He yells back at her. Like a birth, you think. It’s a junk piece, better left to Goodwill, or the empty lot up the street. How many of these lockers were filled with shit like that? Surely, not yours! Thump. The dresser hit the asphalt. The van sighs, free from its burden.

The good news is you were able to secure a unit right by the door, so it’s almost like having a “drive-up,” which would have cost you much more. The small victory made you feel better about things, a silver lining. You unlock the roller door and lift. It heaves and rattles upward, releasing the dank smell of old wood into your nostrils. Upon checking in last week, the manager sold you a bucket of dehumidifying crystals for eight bucks. In the parking lot, a woman shook her head and clucked: “they sell the same ones at the dollar store. That one there is a rip off!” Good to know, you said.

To be continued…

The Storage Locker (2)

April 4, 2020


Every day you brought another load, chipping away at the boxes in your soon-to-be-former home’s crawlspace, from the jammed shelves in the garage, from your wife’s endless wardrobes. Every day you filled the car with possessions. Public Storage Works was off the 101, skirting the freeway in a dilapidated neighborhood of San Rafael. It loosely resembles the fabled production lots where you once made TV commercials, but drearier. Here stuff got put away and locked down, each unit a tomb for the diminishing lives of its owners. Staring at the numbered lockers, you observe a sad looking man creeping out from under a half-lowered gate. Like a gaunt bear emerging from his den. Squinting in the sun, he lights up a cigarette. You flash on a moment. A music video was being made in the studio next to where you were filming, for the band Linkin Park. In the merciless, midday sun you had smoked a joint with the guitarist. In Hollywood anything could happen.

To be continued…

Fire & Ice.

February 10, 2020


As a child you feared an impending ice age more than global warming, like the one you were taught befell the dinosaurs. You remember winter in Chicago as eternal, the city defined by it. Wind chill. Polar vortexes. Snowmageddon! From the car, you’d stare at the vast, frozen lake, observing the gulls huddled on chunks of blue-white ice surviving barely, or the poor soul walking his dog amid the ruts passing for sidewalks. Wondering if winter would ever end.

Now the world is on fire, heating up as if in a microwave. From California to Australia all is burning. It has become the new normal. You once read that a frog will sit in a pot of water unmoved by the flame beneath it, slowly boiling to death. (That this craven experiment might occur is not the point.) Unable or unwilling to leave, the reptile allows itself to die one degree at a time. Complacency? One of these days, you need to start driving an electric car.

(Author’s note: This is a small section from an autobiographical novel I have been writing for some time. It’s looking for a home. Thoughts? In the meantime, I appreciate your readership.)