The Wall of No Names

The lost man screams at the wall of no names all night long, then at sunrise blends in soundlessly with the anonymous bricks.  Sun brings out the morning wall worshippers, dressed in black robes, to kiss random bricks, while every fourth one drops to their knees and bashes their heads against the wall until the front of their skulls are thoroughly caved in, dropping like charcoal ash figures into the bloody dust then melting into black oily pools. Each morning, for thousands of years, this ritual has played out, losing one out of every four– and it will go on apparently, until there are only four left. With each cycle there is one lost man among millions of acolytes that screams at the wall, then each one fuses with the wall at sunrise.

The lost man, with eyes of iron will, watches the great looming shadows on the horizon, watches them fast progressing across the plain, for what is coming will surely raze this wall of no names, of no known origin, erected well beyond recollected time.  Great clouds of sun-tinged dust, and flaming shadows race across the sun-scorched desolate plain.  The remaining four wall worshippers seem to take no notice, but all have begun to bash heads against their beloved wall, if only now to save them from some more sinister fate. Bits of bloody hairy scalp drop off the wall, clods of macabre mud. As useless now as mud.

The last lost man waits with the dull intensity of brick for the sun’s black purge. Which will surely come.

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Go Away

The fog was slow to recede that morning. Denny looked out the window and saw all the big oaks halfway across the backyard, half-visible, submerged in a fallen cloud. That’s how he liked to think of fog– as a fallen cloud, too heavy to stay up in the sky. He was only eight, but he was fanciful like that.

The football lay on a pile of wet leaves, the same spot he left it last night just before dinner, when he had been playing catch by himself. His dad was in London for two months, on business. He loved his mom, but she just couldn’t toss a football worth a damn, even though she had actually tried. On the first attempt the football clunked about ten feet in front of her. She smiled, embarassed, then tried again: this time the ball sailed funkily through the air (his dad slung a perfect spiral) and hit one of the fat oaks, ricocheting at a weird angle and sent their cat, Wilma, running for safety underneath the back porch. “Oh damn, Denny, I think I’ve broken a nail. I’m sorry, I suck at this. Maybe a game of scrabble later? Well, have fun, I’m going to cook dinner. Stay in the yard, honey.”

But she had been too tired for scrabble, on her third glass of burgandy, staring at the telephone as if trying telepathically to get it to ring. Maybe she was missing dad even more than he was…
8 o’clock and still his mother hadn’t come into his room– now, finally, knocking first– to nudge him toward that before school ritual that had been going on for four years now. Too much wine again. Oh well, he’d have to give himself that nudge this morning, although he was really wanting to pretend he was still asleep and when his mother reached down to shake him gently awake, he’d throw off his covers suddenly and yell, “Boo!” But he’d done it a lot lately, so she would probably be expecting it anyway. But this morning, she did not come. When his clock flashed 8:20, he slipped out of bed, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, then wandered downstairs to the kitchen to see if his mother might be there. He didn’t see her there, or smell the fading morning cigarette he usually smelled either.

He looked out onto the patio to see if she was there; she sometimes sat out on the wicker chair in good weather to watch the birds peck at ground, or chat with her senile neighbor Gladys, who on her worst days talked to the crows like they were her errant children, but on her better days, beamed with the dulled sun of age, that weak autumn sun breaking through late fog, if only to scour out one last, happy, bright, before death.

Close Call

A little brown recluse spider came in from the cold. It was resting on the handle of my screendoor and I just caught sight of it before I reached for the handle to go outside. Any other spot and I might of not squashed you in the green-white folds of a discarded snot rag. Any other– but it was like you were waiting for me, right there perched on the only spot that allowed an exit. Out into the cold night. Man, it’s a cold night tonight.

It’s All Theater From Here On Out

flypaper personalities attend the bright parties of paperfly debutantes,
sticking to everyone and everything with unbiased glee,
a killing spree of sticky connotations and sourpusses without opposites,
and where only decisive scissors and letter openers get laid.
Shit happened, but it was the lingering smell that bothered everyone the most.