Lady and Man were asleep. Man was snoring. Theodore was awake.

A sound had woken Theodore. He’d heard voices and other sounds, and they had woken him.

Theodore emerged from beneath the covers and jumped to the hardwood floor. The thump and claw clicks did not wake Lady andMan.

Man had failed to shut the bedroom door. Theodore worked the door back with his nose and snuck through a thin opening. He shuffled across the hallway and into the guest bedroom.

Man continued to snore.

Theodore leaped into the seat and then the top of the chair near the window. He peered through the linen curtains.

The scene outside was dark and still. Theodore surveyed the yard, walkway, houses, street, trees, cars. Wait. Lady’s car was different. It was parked off the street, but that was normal. It faced away from the tree, but that was normal. White markings smeared the windshield, windows, sunroof and mirrors. This was not normal. Theodore growled. The white shapes and words were not usually on the car. Theodore continued to growl. Man and Lady still slept.

A head bobbed above the car’s hood. Theodore’s ears perked. Another face appeared near the car’s rear. Theodore’s building growl returned. More »

He wouldn’t call it “manifest destiny,” but Michael Boss said his name destined him for a position of power. He was born to be a leader.

Leaders, he said, author rules.

We would not refer to him as “Mr. Boss” but call him just “Boss.” With only one syllable, we would communicate name and title. His directives were efficient.

And our logo’s colors would be, without exception, white and alizarin crimson. Our logo would an eagle gripping the sun, and the image’s outlines were alizarin crimson.

Boss had approved a team for the Cancer Walk. He had budgeted a donation, as well as dollars to purchase t-shirts, not only for the five walkers but for all of us. We would wear them the Friday before. We would fight cancer and build morale.

I was in charge of ordering the shirts. More »

I yelled, “Nice pancake!” So what? I also yell things like, “Nice swing!” “Nice dig!” “Nice block!” and “Nice serve!” But when I yell about a pancake, others in the crowd turn to look at me.

That’s because people like Delmar don’t know what a pancake is.

Brenda, my niece, had dived to the floor and slid a fully splayed right hand, palm down, beneath the volleyball before it touched the hardwood. That’s called a “pancake,” and it was a nice pancake.

“Nice waffle!” That’s what Delmar yelled only a couple of seconds after I’d cheered for the pancake. He was sitting a few rows up to the right. I don’t know why he was at the game, but he was rooting for the other team. I couldn’t help but to think he was rooting for them just to spite me. Delmar is my son-of-a-bitch neighbor. More »

You can talk all you want about the virtues of wings, but I’m a burger guy. I believe in beef. I like burgers medium-rare with swiss, guacamole and a tomato.

Steve, though – he loves wings. I’ve seen him eat wings many times, and I understand his willingness to explore, with all kinds of flavors and heat levels. But he’s more often than not going to order chipotle barbeque, and the new sports bar, Recovery, has great chipotle barbeque, at least according to Steve.

Again, I wouldn’t know, because when I’m in a place like Recovery, I’m going with a burger. And on this particular day, I’m adding on sweet potato fries.

“God, the wings here,” Steve says, predictably adding, “And the chipotle barbeque! God!”

“Is it too early for beer?” I ask.

“Noon? Probably,” Barry answers. I’ve never had lunch with Barry. I’ve had lots to drinks with Barry. But I notice he’s reading the menu intently.

“What you goin’ with?” Steve asks Barry. I’m fairly certain, even though I met Barry through Steve, Steve’s never been around him for a meal either.

“I’m not sure,” Barry says. “Just reading through my options here.”

I see an opening. I’m competitive, even when it comes to something as unimportant as which unhealthy lunch option to sell.

“Want my suggestion?” I say to Barry. “Try the burger.”

“Big mistake,” Steve says immediately. “You gotta try the wings. You can get a burger anywhere.”

“Yeah, and wings are rare,” I say. We’re arguing for Barry’s sake.

Barry is tipping his head back and forth, still reading, still concentrating. “Wings, burger. Wings, burger.” He’s going back and forth. More »

 

It’s not an island. It’s a riverbank. Maybe a peninsula. It’s a park near the river.

“If it goes in, we have to get it,” Cyndy said.

“I wouldn’t worry either way,” Ted said.

“It was my brother’s.”

“Someone’s going to have to really smash it for it to reach the river.”

The Interstate crosses near here. The passing cars, trucks and motorcycles make roars in a vacuum, loud clicks echoing beneath. One of the pillars supporting the bridge was painted white partly, and black numbers teased what Cyndy hoped were impossibly high flood marks.

Cyndy’s brother had crashed through the barrier on the other side, but the river was the same. These waters and currents are the same.

People call this an island, she thought to herself. It’s not. It’s a park below the boulevard and near the river. Ted watched as she gazed, and they waited without conversation as others arrived. More »

He backed away from the shower stream until it was hitting his chest and allowed the shampoo lather to slide down his forehead. His eyelids were shut tightly.

This was his idea: To allow the suds to settle in his eyelashes.

“Is that white gunk still in your eyelashes?” Anne asked as they sat down for lunch at the diner.

“It might be dried shampoo,” he said.

“Are you not rinsing your face in the shower?” she asked, genuinely confused.

Kurt enjoyed the newfound ability to detect confusion on his wife’s face without the help of contact lenses or glasses. He could see her sandy hair poof just a bit in the back, a hint of teeth between thin, maroon lips and rounded chin. Lint on the black, wood coat. Strands of fabric reaching from the black and white checkered scarf. A melted snowflake on her silky, lime-green collar.

“Why are you staring at my neck?” she asked. “Are you okay?”

“I see a line where your makeup ends,” he answered.

“That’s fantastic,” she said with a smirk. “I’m happy you’re using your new powers for good.” More »