Benny and his three mates were in the hospital. There’d been a bobsled accident. A myriad of minor fractures, pulled tendons and twisted vertebrae. Nothing critical, Benny swore, but everyone was wrapped in casts and bandages, limbs hoisted and stretched by an intricate series of weights and pulleys.

Benny’s assistant, Dinton, was frantic. Those four barely got along anymore under the best of circumstances. He needed to get there and keep a handle on things. And to keep the paparazzi away.

A mile from the hospital, a policeman lumbered in front of a roadblock. “Sorry sir, a blizzard’s closed this road,” said Officer Tate.

Din explained the urgency of situation.

“Didn’t there used to be a trail from here to there?” he asked, pointing to the cross-country skis he had strapped on his 4×4.

“Might work. Sven was out there yesterday. My shift ended before he got back. Lemme check.”

He pulled out his phone and started pressing buttons.

“Can’t you just radio,” Din asked, clearly in a rush.

“Sven’s deaf, gotta text,” said Tate. “Good thing we’re modern. Hmmm … this oughta do it,” he grinned, and showed the message to Dinton.

“Can Din ski the path to ABBA’s traction?”


The knife went in so much easier than I’d expected. A little force to make the initial puncture, an almost indiscernible “pop”, and then it just slid in right to the hilt.

It didn’t hurt at all. I suppose my shock that she actually did it, combined with the nervous system’s natural delayed reaction, blocked any pain. Like when you slice your finger and it doesn’t hurt until you see the first drop of blood.

“I warned you,” she hissed. A ribbon of crimson flew out of my chest and I passed out.

Two days later and I’m in Mercy Hospital, just released from ICU. She punctured my lung, but the surgeon says I’ll be fine. Could have been worse. And the morphine is nice.

She kept saying my snoring was driving her mad. We joked that she was crazy long before she met me, but that was all in the past. She had been a cutter in college. She swore she’d been taking her meds.

I got a note from her yesterday. She’s three floors below me, in the psych ward.

“The girl in the bed next to me doesn’t snore,” she wrote. “I can’t sleep for the silence.”


“Daddy’d let me have one,” Lola whined. “It’s not fair.”

The back of my hand cracked against her cheek before I realised I had wanted to slap her.

“Well Daddy’s not here, is he? And believe you me, he’s more worried about fucking his Portuguese whore than getting you a goddamned iPod. Now march.”

I grabbed her arm and bee-lined out of the mall, ignoring the staring shoppers. It was getting late and the last thing I needed was another ticket for driving with no headlights.

So I probably shouldn’t have clocked her. Especially in public. And now I’d have to make another frickin’ orthodontist appointment to get her headgear unbent.

I passed the whore at the Grand Union the other day, in the spices aisle. She looked me right in the eye, lowered her head and whispered, “pesarosa.”

Like she’s one to call me names. “Right back atcha, bitch,” I said and spit at her.

More stares. Fuck them. They can’t see the bank account he’d emptied to move in with her. Or the eviction notice in my purse. Or the hunting knife that will soon live in her home-wrecking back.

Just wait lady. We’ll see who’s the pesarosa.


A tide of people swells outside the doors leading from immigration. Hired drivers hold signs for otherwise anonymous businessmen. Somebody’s mom clutches 3 Mylar “welcome home” greetings. She keeps looking at her watch, making the balloons bob up and down like buoys.

Stragglers from the last flight drip through the double doors. Those still waiting crane their necks, but nobody recognizes 9-year old Sarah. Her fresh, freckled face belies the last 8 hours alone on a transatlantic flight, pretending to sleep so the flight attendants would stop asking if she’s afraid.

“Do you see him?” her uniformed chaperone asks.

Shaking her head, Sarah’s braids are metronomes counting time across each shoulder. The uniform says, “Maybe he’s waiting over there,” and points to the mini-strip mall of newsagents and Starbucks. “Do you want to walk around?”

She pulls up the zipper on her Hello Kitty jacket. The smell of fresh coffee warms her, but she knows better than to ask for some. She had tried that on the plane, but the flight attendants just laughed. “You’re too young for that,” they said through fake smiles. “How ‘bout some hot chocolate instead?”

Daddy will let her have some coffee.

If he ever shows up.


“I have some bad news,” I said to my groggy sister. It was early in Vegas, but I’d waited as long as I could before waking her up. I was babysitting her kids while she and her new husband were honeymooning.

Specific instructions had been left. Keep the door to her 8-year-old son’s room closed to avoid any cat-eats-gerbil drama.

“What happened?” she asked.

“I think Gerbie’s a goner.” I’d heard a crash and saw the cat fly down the stairs, something in its mouth. “The Habitrail’s on the floor. Empty.”

“Where’s the corpse?”

That was another problem. No evidence of the crime. The cat had hid her would-be lunch in the basement.

I was told, in no uncertain terms, rodent remains in the cellar were unacceptable. I had to find Gerbie, and then tell Max the news when he got home.

“I’m so not qualified for pre-teen grief counseling. Can’t I just go to Pet Smart and get a new one?”

“Nope. It only had half a tail. Even if you found one the right color and amputated, it wouldn’t heal in time.”

“I’m fucked.”

“Yup, but not as bad as Gerbie. Now get to work,” she said.



“I want to start over.”

J’adore do-overs. “Okay, cool. Where from?”

“Um, without you. Sorry.”

Thus begin the seven stages of relationship grief. Denial. Pleading. Stalking. Jealousy. Rage. Homicidal Fantasies. Bitter Acceptance.

It wasn’t the healthiest of relationships. We flashed on and off so often that epileptics couldn’t watch. Friends replaced the hearts around our initials with bio-hazard symbols.

During the pleading stage, I tried the “destiny” card. No go.

“I’m tired of the ups and downs.”

Me, I like the ups and downs. I’d rather ride the roller coaster than sit and watch it twist, climb and dive. Even if it’s a ride I’ve been on before. Sure, you know where the hills are, but your heart still ends up in your throat. Like being in love. The jolt at the end of the fall, the one that made you scream the first time, it still sneaks up on you. But now it makes you laugh.

Sometimes, coming out of a corkscrew, I find myself looking for him — alone in the crowd, holding a box of popcorn for us to share. Stupidly hoping destiny will put him back in the seat next to me. It’d be the best ride.


Arlene sat on the floor playing with her bag of treasure. Daddy had brought it home from a magical land she believed was named after her. It was a place of fairy tales, where kings and queens tossed jewels to their costumed citizens. Where people danced in the streets, and ate food with funny names. It was so far away it even had its own money, enchanted coins called “double loons.”

She draped a particularly shiny set of purple, gold, and green glass beads around her neck. “I’m going to be queen there one day,” she told her father, and crawled into his lap.

A decade later, Arlene moved south and uncovered her soul. Jazz drifted through the thick, magnolia-scented air. Desire coursed beyond any streetcar route. She thrived on a gumbo of voodoo zydeco, draped in swirling white linen.

Eventually, the real world lured her back. Katrina ravaged her pseudo-namesake city and cancer stole her father.

Those first doubloons surely retained their powers. How else could she hold them today, close her eyes and be eight years old again? Wrapped safely in Daddy’s arms, breathing in his lost aura of Brylcream and Old Spice, aching to start life again.


Gay White Pirate seeks landlubber 4 friendship, possible LTR

Me: Old sea dog looking to learn new tricks. Straight-acting, semi-retired pirate seeks mates 2 share land-based adventures. Mid-40s, 6’3”, 190# (w/ prosthetics attached), dark hair, blue eye (just the 1). Authentic scrimshaw leg. Canon-sized arms, 1 w/ large shiny hook. Excellent swordsman. New 2 scene, but having been considering walking a new plank 4 many years now. Enjoy tribal culture as well as Gilbert & Sullivan. No Disney or Andrew Lloyd Weber. PnP (that’s plunder and pillage, right?) within limits.

I’m tired of being dated as a freak-show attraction, hoping to find some1 to meet the man behind the eye patch.

You: Open minded, patient landlubber, 20 – 50, who enjoys talking birds, quiet nights on a beach and the occasional search for buried treasure. Comfortable with tattoos and scarring. Sea faring knowledge not required. Viking / Visigoth background a plus.

Let’s find the treasure chests that land life has 2 offer. Doubloons are rarely an issue, but if U try 2 rob me, I’ll slit your scurvied throat before U can say Davy Jones.

Serious enquires only, please. No fats, fems, gold diggers, Peter Pan role play or Wendy rape fantasies.

Happy to mark your spot with an X.

Your pix get mine.


“So. Excited about meeting Roger?” Artie asked, sucking down the last of his mojito. He loved showing off his successes. A “career reinventor”, Artie wouldn’t just discover the color of your parachute, he had enough hot air to blow it up and send you on your journey.

“Frightened, actually. That scar under his eye looks like DIY with fishing line.”

“It was, but that was only the before photo. And please, when did you join the face fascists? You dated that albino carnie for almost a year.”

“Casper,” I sighed. “Those little pink eyes would light up a dark ….”

“Shh, here he comes.” Artie bolted up and waved across the room. “Remember, he’s not mean, just misunderstood.” A raven-haired, 6’ 3’ Adonis waved back. Smoldering hot, even with the parrot perched on his shoulder.

He swaggered towards us. Getting closer, I discovered it was more of a limp, hearing a subtle thwamp each time his left foot hit the floor.

“Ahoy mates,” he said, smile gleaming almost as much as the silver claw he extended across the table. Was I supposed to shake the hook or merely acknowledge it with a light touch?

And that’s how I met Roger, my ex-pirate boyfriend.


“Mrs. Hollister, I really need an extension on my writing assignment.”

She looked up from her papers, flicked eraser crumbs off the blotter, and peered over her turquoise-framed reading glasses. Her desk smelled like White-Out and Sharpies, which was doing my foggier-than-normal head no favors.

“What would be the problem today, Mr. Thompson?” she growled. “Another hangnail?”

I hated when she brought that up. I used that excuse once on a dare. It was never supposed to be taken seriously. Who knew she was regional chair of the Correcting Unclipped Nailbeds Trust?

Of course, things didn’t get any better when that Schweikert kid found out and told everyone she was head C.U.N.T. of Southwest LA. He’d always been such a quiet kid.

“No ma’am, the nails are great, thanks. Your cuticle oil is aces.” She stuck out her bottom lip and blew her bangs off her forehead.

“Look, I’ll cut to the chase, Mrs. H. I’ve had this really bad sore throat sinusey thing. Mom thinks it’s esophageal cancer. Alleve wasn’t cutting it so I’ve taken a bunch of codeine. It’s nice. Pain’s a little duller, but everything’s in slow motion.”

“Back to your desk. Start writing.”

She’s so mean.