Category Archives: Excerpts

Home Invasion: Safe Keeping (excerpt)

“Haven’t you ever been curious about your neighbors?” he asked, glancing at her over his shoulder with a small grin. “I have. Fortunately for me, I have the keys to all of their apartments.”

She gasped. “And you just come in and… snoop around?”

“Pretty much,” he said, tossing the keys down on the coffee table as if he owned the place. He casually picked up a stack of mail and began to flip through it. “Bills,” he said, frowning.

“We should go. What if he comes back?”

“He won’t. I know the schedules of the tenants as well as I know my own. Go ahead, take a look around.”

Her eyes widened. “Me?”

“Well I’ve seen it all,” he said with a shrug. “I already know what goes on behind the closed doors of the sickos this building seems to attract.”

She shook her head, backing toward the door. “No. No, I’m not going to just go through this guy’s stuff!”

Gnar looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “You’re sure? You won’t believe what there is to find,” he said. She kept her arms crossed defiantly over her chest, not moving from her spot, despite the growing curiosity budding in the pit of her stomach.

Finally Gnar shrugged and grabbed the keys from the table. “Fine, we can go.”

“Wait,” she conceded, stepping forward. “Are you sure we’re safe?”

He smiled. “Positive.”

“Alright. Show me to the goods.”

He led her to the bathroom attached to Keith’s room and pulled open the medicine cabinet. She gasped, leaning forward to get a better look the bottles upon bottles of prescription pills that neatly lined the narrow shelves. She reached out to grab one, but Gnar caught hold of her wrist. “Don’t touch anything,” he instructed.

She nodded, tilting her head to read the small labels. They were all prescribed to Keith Henry, Jr. “Oh, my God. Is he…a drug addict?”

“Not quite,” Gnar replied, kneeling down and pulling open the cabinet beneath the sink. She kneeled down beside him and peered into the space where she, in her own bathroom, kept the cleaning supplies. Her eyes bulged when they fell upon the large bags of marijuana and an even bigger assortment of pills.

“He’s a drug dealer,” she concluded aloud.

“That’s what it looks like,” Gnar agreed.

“Maybe he’s doing it to pay for college,” she suggested, feeling a strange need to defend the boy.

“Maybe,” Gnar replied, rising to his feet. “Anyway, we should get out of here. I have an even better one for you.” He pulled a rag out of his pocket and began to wipe down the surfaces of the bathroom.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Fingerprints” he said. “Just in case.”

The next apartment was on the fifth floor. “Who lives here?” she asked as Gnar led them inside.

“Reverend and Mrs. Pittman,” he replied. “They’re an older couple who walk around here turning their noses up at anyone who doesn’t go to church three times a week. Once I came in to fix their toilet and he pretty much told me I was going to hell after he found out I’m not baptised. A Jehovah’s witness used to live next door to them, but the Pittman’s ran her out of her after just a few months.”

Inside of the apartment, she noticed the crosses immediately. They were everywhere, spread throughout the apartment, all colors and sizes, paired with scriptures and rosaries and religious poems and pictures of J.C. himself. The next thing to catch her attention was the four-foot statue of Virgin Mary, standing next to the arm chair like a house guest. “Wow,” she said, bewildered.

“Holy shit,” Gnar said. “No pun intended.” He and Maxie exchanged glances and a chuckle. “C’mon,” he said. “Let me show you the bedrooms.”

She followed him to the first bedroom. It was small and plain, painted a pale blue with oak furniture. There were more crosses, a big one hovering over the bed like a dark cloud on a sunny day. A few family pictures were scattered about, and they even had a small television on the dresser. “I like to call this their day room,” Gnar said.

She glanced at him, confused, and he motioned for her to follow him. They went to the second bedroom next, which had to be unlocked. Maxie stepped inside and gasped, placing her hand on her chest as she peered around. Black curtains over the windows darkened the room, and there was no furniture, just…devices. The room resembled a mid-evil times torture chamber with its chains and locks and…swings. There were whips, and gags, and blindfolds, and leather costumes. Sex paraphernalia decorated the room like trophies, like art. She wrapped her arms around herself as she stepped further inside, afraid to touch anything that had previously been somewhere less than sanitary.

“They’re masochists,” she said.

He is,” Gnar said. “She’s a dominatrix.”

“Oh, my Go—”

“Don’t even say His name,” he interjected, peering around the room. “Those two walk around judging everyone else. I have no problem with strange fantasies and fetishes. But the hypocrisy.”

Maxie moved to the armoire and pulled the doors open to reveal a large, flat screen TV accompanied by a broad collection of S&M inspired porn DVDs. “Better than any sex store you’ve ever been in, huh?” he asked.

She shuddered. “Let’s get out of here. I’m starting to feel violated.”

He chuckled and they headed toward the front door, stopping short when the knob clicked and Mrs. Pittman’s voice carried from the other side…

 

Safe Keeping

Dinner: Forget Me Not (excerpt)

Excerpt from Forget Me Not! Chapter 1, coming soon!

 

“Maxie,” Isaac spoke up. “Why don’t you sit down and eat?”

Everyone looked at him. Then at her. Then back at him. “Actually, can you grab me a knife first?” Tony said.

“And some napkins, please,” Kathy added. “Anyway, speaking of work. Are you going back anytime soon, Isaac?”

“Ugh, I keep telling him to give it some more time,” Van said. “He wants to go back next week! His head isn’t even healed!”

“It’ll just be for a few hours a week,” he said quietly. “You’re the one who says we should try to go back to normal as much as possible.”

“But a boxing gym, Isaac? What if someone tries to roughhouse? What if you get hurt even more?”

“I won’t.”

“How do you know?” Kathy demanded.

He shrugged. “It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

She shook her head.  “That’s ridiculous. Why don’t you just let yourself heal?”

“It’s probably the only thing he has left that even relatively familiar.” That was Maxie, setting down Kathy’s napkins and Tony’s knife. “Anyone else need anything?” But no one replied. Their eyes were on her; Tony’s amused, Van’s annoyed, Kathy’s full of suspicion, and Isaac’s full of… of something

“Yeah,” he said. “Exactly.” How did she understand him when no one else could? He wanted so badly to remember her. He couldn’t comprehend not knowing someone who knew him so well.

Waving them off, Van said, “I still think it’s too soon. But he’ll do what he wants.”

“Maxie,” he said again. “Food’s getting cold. Just sit and eat.”

“No one needs anything else?” she asked.

Kathy opened her mouth to say something, but Isaac said firmly, “No. Just sit.”

Not raising her eyes to him or anyone else at the table, Maxie nodded and grabbed a plate, only to realize there were no more seats. “Where’s the extra chair?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Van said. “The leg broke last week. I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

Isaac looked at Van and frowned. “Well, where am I supposed to sit?” Maxie asked.

Van shrugged. “Sorry, Max. I figured by the time you sat down, someone would already be finished.”

“Are you serious?” Isaac said through clenched teeth.

“Well, when does she ever sit down and eat with the rest of us? Everyone’s usually done by the time she starts. You’re the only one who waits for her.”

“You wait for her?” Kathy asked.

“Is she supposed to just stand?” Isaac asked.

“It’s fine, I’ll just take my plate in the living room.”

Isaac turned to her, appalled by the idea. “Bullshit!” he snapped. “You cooked. You’re going to eat at the table with the rest of us.”

“Why don’t you just sit on the counter?” Kathy suggested.

“Yeah, I’ll sit on the counter.”

I’ll sit on the counter,” he said, rising to his feet. He took his full plate, which he hadn’t even touched, and switched it with her empty one. “To be honest, I’m not even hungry anymore.”

Isaac,” Van moaned. “This dinner is for you.”

“You’ve done enough for me.”

“I’m just going to go in the living room,” Maxie said.

Kathy rolled her eyes. “Here she goes. Being antisocial again.”

Isaac looked at Kathy, bewildered. “Are you joking?” He looked at Maxie again, who stared at Kathy in a way that made his heart ache. Then an image of her flashed through his thoughts:

She’s standing somewhere dark, outside maybe? Her hair is long again, pulled back in a ponytail and hanging down her back. She’s crying. Her face is red, her moist lips are trembling, she’s shaking her head as a tear drops down her cheek and wets her white shirt.

She hates me, she sobs. She’ll never forgive me. She hates me.

And then he blinks and the image is gone. But Maxie, Maxie now, is still standing there, the same pain in her eyes. And then she turns and goes to the living room. He knows he shouldn’t look at her, he knows Kathy is watching him like a hawk, but for the life of him, he can’t help it.

Alexander on passion

“Without passion it’s just…succint. But love should be intangible . Have you ever had someone ask you why you love them? You can tick off superficial reasons on all your fingers and toes but the real reasons… there aren’t any. They’re just infinite feelings, in your heart and in your brain and in your fingers when you touch them and your eyes when you see them, pulsating through you like blood in your veins whenever they’re around. You can’t explain it, no words will suffice. That… is passion.”

Square (excerpt)

The houses seemed to grow larger and larger and spread farther and farther apart as August and her mother drew closer to her aunt’s house. August peered around at her surroundings. There was so much land, so many trees. No stores, though. No restaurants, no cafes, not a person in sight. She assumed they all must have been hiding in their great big houses up their long driveways, in one of their million bedrooms.

“AJ,” came her mother’s voice from the driver’s seat. “Augie, baby, light my cigarette for me, will you?”

August turned and glanced down at the ciagrette her mother was trying to give her, and then glared up at the woman’s face before turning back to the window. Evangaline sighed. “C’mon, Aug, give me a fucking break.” She stuck the cigarette in her mouth before fumbling with the matches while still trying to steer. She lit three that all went out before she frsutratedly threw the matchbook at her daughter. “Light this fucking thing!” she yelled.

With an annoyed sigh, August obliged and then turned back to the window. Evangeline smoked a moment before August sucked her teeth. “I realized a long time ago you don’t care about me, Mother, but could you at least roll down your window so your second hand smoke doesn’t kill me before we get there?” August would have rolled down her own but nothing on her side of the old car functioned correctedly. Sometimes she couldn’t even get the door open and would have to climb out of the driver’s side.

“I don’t care about you, huh?”

“You wouldn’t be dumping me with some relative that you don’t even like if you did.”

“I’m doing this because I do care about you. And I never said I don’t like her. She’s my sister. Jesus, August.”

“She’s batshit crazy. You said said yourself, those were your own words.”

Evageline rolled her eyes as she exhaled a mouthful of smoke. “She’s not that bad. Who knows, maybe she’s gotten better with age.”

August glared at her mother, shaking her head. “You don’t even sounds like you believe yourself.”

Evangeline shrugged. “Can you please just try to be reasonable. Fuck, AJ, we both know I’ve been a shit mother, alright? I’m trying to make up for it.”

“By abandoning me. Good start, Ma.”

“No, by giving you a good home where you can go to one of the best schools and make friends who are worth something. By getting myself together so when we are together again, I can give you a halfway decent life.”

August swallowed the lump that found its way to her throat. “Why can’t I just stay with you?” she pleaded, her voice coming out as barely a squeak.

“Because I’m going to fucking rehab, AJ. When have you heard of mothers bringing their
children to rehab with them? Can’t you see I’m doing this for us?”

August shook her head. “You shouldn’t have started drinking in the first place,” she murmured.

“Yeah, well, I did. But now I’m trying to stop, alright. I’m trying to right my wrongs so give me some fucking credit, will you?” She handed her daughter another cigarette. “Light this.” August lit it and watched Evangeline take a long drag. “Look at the bright side. Juliette is filthy-fucking-rich. You’ll probably have every thing you’ve ever dreamed of wanting. And you get to live with that young husband of hers, and look at him all day. I don’t know how she got herself such a catch. At first I thought he was after her cash for sure, but it turns out the guy has bank of his own.”

“I don’t care about any of that,” August said.

Evangeline rolled her eyes. “Your such a square. Do you know that? If you take nothing from this car ride, Augie, take this: Don’t be such a square. No one likes a fucking square. It’s no wonder you don’t have any friends.” She shrugged. “Who knows, maybe it’s for the best. I was no square and look at how I turned out. And look at Juliette. She was as square as they come and she grew up to be some big shot fucking model living in a mansion with a rich, gorgeous husband half her fucking age.”

Evangeline took another deep drag of her ciagrette before flicking it out of the window. She didn’t look back at her daughter as she exhaled the smoke, and she didn’t say anything else. August watched her for a moment. Were there tears in her eyes? August looked away before she could be sure. She didn’t want to feel sorry for her mother. She was done feeling sorry for her.

Red Balloon (excerpt)

Sleep weighed heavy on her and she was a bit disoriented, but before she even opened her eyes, she knew where she was. Or, at least, she knew where she wasn’t.

Gone were the days when she would wake up in a hysterical daze, desperately trying to blink away the remnants of slumber as she gaped at her surroundings in confusion. Where am I? Where am I now? Where was I yesterday? For a moment or so, questions and panic consumed her. Until, of course, she would remember that it was just a new bed she was lying in. Another new bed. In another new room. In another new place.

That initial waking panic faded with time, however. Now she recognized the unfamiliar. Recognized it and embraced it. Before she opened her eyes in the morning, she stretched her arm out and reached for the one constant. The one things that never changed. The one thing that remained by her side even when everything else seemed to disappear.

Home wasn’t a place to her. No, home was him.

Her hands found his skin, warm under the morning sunlight. He let out a small groan under her touch. His fingers laced through hers and she breathed out as her eyes fluttered open.

Her gaze met the new ceiling. The new walls. The new window. The new bed, the new pillows, the new sheets. Then her gaze met his.

Yes. She was home.