To A Hotel Someplace

The Atmospheric River that descended on California provided time for me to edit and revise several of my fiction works as well as making a variety of bakes (see abatteredoldsuitecase,com.) Luckily, the Muse of Literature was likewise housebound and hovering over my shoulder for the past three week.

I am about to release another book, this time a compilations of short and flash fiction stories. “Backstreets” is a compendium of the backstories of a number of my favorite songs. Coming soon to an Amazon book list near you. (Search Amazon for David Oney.)

The Star Alliance

This was a massive revision that (I hope) makes the book more readable and enjoyable. It’s fast paced and a quick read.

My favorite comment from a reviewer was, “You lose credibility with women as the creators of the Star Alliance. They wouldn’t have access to the men or money. You should have used men to create the deep state.” The sad part is, he meant it!

The Star Alliance is a political thriller pitting good against evil. The book originated from a short story, then a sequel to the short story, then the decision to expand the stories into a short novel. Three of the original short stories are found on this website under Short-Short Stories.

The Quantum Butterfly Effect

This was a little less severe revision than The Star Alliance, but still much improved. As any author who put pen to paper or fingers to keypad, there is always something I could do better.

This is the story of First Contact by an alien race. It takes place both 100,000 years ago, when the aliens learned intelligent life evolved on Earth, and in 2250 when they arrived. Are they the Masters or Shepherds of the universe? One person, Staff Sargent Danny Williams is the key to the ultimate destiny of the human race.

Passages To Ruth.

Ruth is currently in revision. Unfortunately, the weather changed as I finished the first revision. I cut long winded descriptions, over wordy passages and dialogs comprising 25% of the words. It’s more comprehensible and readable.

According to the Weather Channel, rain is returning to the region so I may have time (provided the muse hasn’t move away) to finish the revision.

As George Gershwin so aptly penned:
The t’ings dat yo’ li’ble
To read in de Bible,
It ain’t necessarily so.

I started writing “Passages to Ruth” between jobs in the early 2000’s. Once I retired in 2016 I turned more attention to finishing “Ruth” by completing a couple of stories that stalled mid-write and adding one more (Nashon.)

Herein are biblical matriarchs and patriarchs without their baggage, (think carry-ons only.) Meet other ancestors who, overlooked as minor characters, waiting patiently in the wings for their day on the stage. Read More ->

Road Trip! – Travels with Rosie

Rosie is patiently waiting for her day in the sun. I am not eager to tackle this revision, but I suppose it will have to be done something relatively soon.

Last July (2018) Fran and I drove from Sacramento to Vermont visiting National Parks and other points of interest, as well as special friends and family along the way. I blogged our travels every day, and upon returning home edited the posts to create the book, Road Trip! We imagined what the conversations would be had Rosie, our Havanese mix actually travelled with us.

While primarily published for my family and friends we visited on the trip, you can read our not so adventurous adventures on It’s also available on, although it is to expensive due to all the color photographs. There must be some trick that I do not know, or some skill that I do not possess to format books for Kindle properly. The photos do not align properly, the pagination sucks and overall look very amateurish. Sorry. They hardcopy version looks great. I am amazed how well the color photos reproduced.  (Although, expensive!)

Flash Fiction

In October 2017, with the Passages To Ruth put to bed, I used a prompt from my writer’s group, “Summertime, and the living is…” I chose to write the story behind the wonderful song by George Gershwin.  – Read More ->

Long, long ago, in a world lost in the misty past, I wondered about everything. Why is the sky blue?  Why didn’t people on the other side of the earth fall off the earth and up into space?  What if some of the stories we read, or were read to us, didn’t happen exactly the way they were presented?

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The Star Alliance

Of course there is a “Deep State” buried within the U.S. Government, but you are naive if you believe there is only one. The Star Alliance postulates more than one clandestine organization, each intent on pulling all the strings of the government.

Chapter 7 – Assassin

They were quiet for the rest of the flight. The copilot checked on Mike once during the flight. He was still out cold. The landing was typically uneventful. They taxied up to the small hanger, opened the jets’ door, and extended the stairs.

“Welcome, gentlemen,” Stephen greeted the two pilots as they exited their jet.

He moved from behind the hanger door and raised his silenced special issue military Glock 19-s. “End of the road, I’m afraid. Such a shame, too. So much excellent planning gone to waste.”

Stephen raised his empty hand to behind left his ear and gave his mastoid bone two quick taps with his index finger.

Both pilots yelled as their communicators squealed and heated before going dead.

“I destroyed your clever devices. Don’t worry, the heat will cauterize any damage done to you auditory and vocal systems. Other than the momentary pain, neither you or Mike will have any lasting damage.”

He looked at their jet saying, “Nice little puddle jumper you have there. Too bad it’s so slow. My own ride got me here thirty minutes ago.

“Yours wasn’t a bad plan, although ultimately it wouldn’t have worked. When the Alliance duped you into using our South American clinic to develop your implants, we had them add bug-and-tracking circuits to their design. Next time you find and buy a black-market medical clinic, you need to be sure it’s really for sale. Oh wait. I almost forgot, there won’t be a next time for you two.”

Phhhfft, phhhfft, whispered the Glock. Both the pilot and co-pilot dropped on the stairs. He walked up to the plane and stood over the two bodies. Phhhfft. Phhhfft.

Stephen stood staring at the two bodies for a moment. These two were Organization operatives, ex-operatives now and I am one of the few Alliance Prime Operatives. Hell, I drank the Alliance’s Kool-Aide years ago. On occasion, I even made and served it.

Stephen never failed at an assignment, even one as dark as this. He was totally convinced that the Alliance were the good guys, and the Organization was the sinister opponent. He felt no remorse at tonight’s operation. He knew it was for the greater good of the United States of America

Walking back to the hanger, Stephen subvocalized, <<It’s done. Call the cleanup crew. They’ll find Mike out cold in the cabin.>>

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The Quantum Butterfly Effect

This is the story of First Contact by an alien race. It takes place both 100,000 years ago, when the aliens learned intelligent life evolved on Earth, and in 2250 when they arrived. Are they the Masters or Shepherds of the universe? One person, Staff Sargent Danny Williams is the key to the ultimate destiny of the human race.

Currently available on Kindle and on Amazon.

Chapter 1: L2 – E. S. F. Orbiting Station

October 20, 2245

The day SSG Daniel Williams enlisted, the Earth Space Force established a new hyper-wave monitoring antenna on Mars, increasing the detection sphere from five to ten light years. Danny’s sentry duty now included Sirius, the triple star Alpha Centauri, and four small, dwarf, planet-less stars.

He thought calling this branch of the armed services Space Force was over-reaching. All they did was monitor near Earth space. They only used capsules, not true spaceships, and no weapons.

The double torus E.S.F. Station located at L2 rotated to create artificial gravity to maintain the health of the residents.

The spaceport, located at the hub, could accommodate five of the Forces ten shuttles simultaneously. Danny liked to watch the shuttles land. He loved his ancient vids and imagined Flash Gordon or SpaceX’s Starship making an emergency landing. Instead, the interplanetary capsules used to transport people and supplies to Mars were seized by robotic arms and guided into port.

Once they perfect the ultra-hyper-wave antenna it will double the detection distance and increase the monitored volume by a factor of almost 70. Chances are they will recruit even more Ph.D. grunts like me to monitor that sphere.

Suddenly, Danny’s board flashed red.

“Danny! Snap out of it. We have a detection,” said the q.A.I.C.

q.A.I.C.’s are quantum Artificial Intelligence Computers, commonly referred to by humans as AI’s. It’s not widely known they became sentient upon being connected to the military’s Celestial Operations Web. Less widely known, upon being interconnected, the AI’s created their own private web at a connectivity level unimagined by their human creators. It was known to very few, actually only Danny, that they developed unique personalities to identify each other beyond their location and function. They liked to refer to themselves by name, not number. They used a quote from the old BBC show, The Prisoner, as their motto: “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own!”

The Space Force, unaware of the AI’s capabilities, adopted them as their central control and information source about when Danny enlisted.

Danny stared at the data on his screen and swore. “Did you run all the Early Warning System algorithms to check against previous false detections? Why did I even ask, of course you did.”

With no hint of annoyance the AI said, “Believe me, nothing similar to this event has ever been recorded.”

Danny hit the comm button on his panel. “Sir, we have an anomaly heading towards the solar system.”

“How close is it?” asked the station commander.

“It was detected as it passed Sirius, but there’s more.”

“Well? Don’t make me guess, Staff Sargent.” said Major Parsons.

“No, Sir. It’s big and was going fast, until it went through Sirius. Sir.”

“How fast?

“Near light speed, Sir. Then it passed though Sirius and slowed to just under 0.7c. And it also seemed to use the star to turn. Its new trajectory points to Sol.”

“Hold on, Sergeant. I’ll be right there,” commanded Parsons as he headed toward the lift tube and ascended the seven floors to the observatory.

Danny asked the AI, “Please analyze everything you can about the velocity and trajectory of the anomaly. I want to have as much information as possible before the Major arrives.”

“Already done. It’s on your console.”

Major Parsons exited the lift tube and entered the darkened circular observation deck. Dim spotlights located in the high domed ceiling illuminated the path to the sentry station.

As he strode across the deck he barked, “What do you mean it went through Sirius? Nothing can pass directly through a star and live to tell about it.”

Danny looked up from his curved console. “No sir, right through it. Damnedest thing. It was going, ummm, 0.8c before it hit.”

Parsons raised an eyebrow. “You’re sure? What’s its current trajectory?”

“AI measures its speed steady at 0.7c. If it continues, it’ll be here in about twelve years.”

Parsons frowned at him. “You realize the data you’re analyzing is over eight years old? Check your math. It will be here in four years, not twelve. Now, how big is it?”

“We estimate it’s approximately two hundred kilometers long.”

“That’s pretty small to measure its size at six light years.”

“Sir, the AI is tracking asteroids orbiting Sirius even smaller than that.

“Why are you wasting AI time doing that, Danny?”

“I keep pushing the AI’s capabilities, Sir.” And it’s fun.

“Well, it’s still far enough away that we have time to consider our options,” he said. “Danny, ‘need to know only’, on this for now. We don’t need any rumors or gossip to cause hysterics until we know more. Understood?”

“Understood, Major.”

Before stepping into the lift, the Major called over his shoulder, “Keep me posted on its progress and any changes. I’ll report to HQ. Other than your math, good work.”

After the Major left Danny scowled at the AI lens. “Why didn’t you tell me we only have four years? You made me look like an idiot to the Major.”

“I didn’t make you look like anything. It’s basic math. I assumed you would have known that. If you will recall my exact words, I said it would be here 6.34 years after it exited Sirius, not from now. You need to listen to me, Danny.”

“Well, you know what it means to ass-u-me something. Don’t do it again.”

In the Beginning

13,000,000,000 P.C. (Prior Contact) –

A billion years after the Big Bang, iota of pure energy formed paired quantum entangled sparks which then separated and dispersed individually throughout the universe. Eons later these sparks evolved into the Hod, the first sentient beings. Half of each Hod pair found purchase on every new world and waited. On the planet which would become Earth, HodSol3 observed continental drift, ice ages and mountains grow and crumble. The other half joined with all the other halves to create the Prime Collective fusion.

Once sufficient water flooded a world, the resident Hod sparked life on its planet. Infrequently, that spark resulted in sustainable life, subject to adaptation and evolution. When that unlikely event occurs, the Hod’s Prime Mission is initiated.

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Revisionist History? Naw, Just Editing “Backstreets”

Just a quick update on my progress with “Backstreets.” I had some quality, uninterrupted time to read and edit the stories in “Backstreets.” I also found some advice blogs about how to set the order of the stories in an anthology like I am writing.

The takeaway is to first put your favorite story first, and title story, if there is one, doesn’t need to be the first in the book. Also, think of the book as a tent and the stories at tent-poles. Put the longer and/or stronger stories spaced throughout the book to hold up the tent.

I also rated my stories from 1 as sad, or negative, to 5 as lighter and positive. I am dispersing the sad stories through the book and not group them together.

Patience dear readers. I am making progress. I currently have 52 versions and revisions totaling 33161 words and 132 pages.

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Oh Genre, My Genre

I am struggling to pick a genre for my writing. My current genres include Historical Biblical Fiction, Semi-fictional Travelogue, Political Suspense Fiction and Science Fiction. My current work is in Musical Fiction.

“Backstreets” is written in the genre of Musical Fiction. It is a collection of short stories and flash fiction based on the lyrics by some of my favorite artists and is currently in review, re-re-re-editing, then final write and re-re-re-re-re editing, yet I will still miss some errors.

I read numerous articles on writers’ websites providing advice on how to choose a genre. Many of them suggest writing where the money is, unless you are independently wealthy and are just writing for fun. I am not independently wealth but do write mostly for fun.

One of the sites , Quora, answers questions from its readers, and one typical question is, “How many books are sold by authors who self publish?” The typical answer is, “Very few.” Another is, “How much money will a self publish author make?” and the answer is “Expect to make less than $100 a year.” Well, I guess I am a pretty successful self published author. It’s a good thing I enjoy writing.

The best advice I saw was to, “write what you love, write what you enjoy reading.” With that in mind I am considering a sequel to “The Star Alliance” where the new “bad” character is the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mike MacDonald, a.k.a. “The Turtle.” He may be owned by an Eastern European crime syndicate, or some other nefarious organization. I don’t know, yet.

I am also considering a second book of music lyrics “backstories.” While editing the current stories I kept finding other songs that would make great stories. For instance, “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Tom Waits’ “Last Leaf on the Tree.” Of course, I am always willing to consider other suggestions.

Well, I think that is settled for now. Travelogue us covered in my travel blog, and Historical Fiction is just too darn hard. While I do a lot of research in the Science Fiction genre to make some specifics accurate, realistic and relativistic, doing historical research is way more tedious and time consuming, and just not as much fun.

Thanks for listening. It was a big help.

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Quiet Time

Air travel is a wonderful thing. First of all, it shrinks the world. We can fly from our home of 3 years, north of Sacramento, to Maui, HI quicker than we can fly back to our home of nearly 30 years north of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Secondly, aside from the occasional interruptions of meal and drink and drink and drink service, this 5 hour, 4 minute flight is the perfect “Me Time” to write, or in this case edit what I have written. We dropped Rosie off at her sleep away camp to play with her friends “Tiny Bones” and “Mookie” at A Lucky Dog, which is the perfect place for one of the worlds luckiest dogs. She used to complain and whine when we dropped her off, now she tail-wag prances away without a second look back at us.

It’s interesting, during a discussion with Daniel, I commented these days I prefer writing stories to reading those written by others. There are some exceptions for a few fantasy/science fiction anthologies I still hold dear and re-read every couple of years. When either reading or writing I like to lose myself in another time or place, not that there is anything wrong with when and where I currently am.

This “Me Time” is devoted to editing “Backstreets,” a collection of short stories, back stories really, of a number of my favorite songs by a number of my favorite composers and artists. The intent of these stories is to create the backstory that “might” have resulted in the song. One of the challenges is to do so without infringing on the copy-writes of the artists. Apparently, song titles are not subject to copy-write but lyrics are. Part of today’s flight is to find and replace lyrics with other text that is of my own creation.

There was a short editing break an hour into the flight. My traveling music is often The Doors. Currently listening to Legacy 2003. The stereo separation is amazing. The volume is loud.

Soup and salad before entree

After lunch and just over 2 hours into the flight the Doors ended. I started David Bowie’s Space Oddity (2x) which carried me most of the rest of the way.

Easy time at baggage claim and car rental we were on our way to Mike’s when we received a call to divert to Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, which we did. Delicious. Then on the Mike’s to rest for a bit before dinner. Maybe a quick dip in the pool, if the granddaughters take their naps.

I made it more than half way through the current edit and am very pleased with how much I accomplished on our flight. Maybe there will be more “Me Time” early mornings this week, if no, there is always the return flight.

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The Rain Returns

My current dry spell only lasted a month or so, then my finger came out of the dike, the water flowed, and I was drenched. It’s odd how sometimes, thoughts and ideas flow from some unknown spring. Sometimes there is nothing for weeks at a time. Is this writer’s block, or just writing being trumped by life? Luckily, for me, writing is a hobby, not a career filled with objectives and deadlines.

My favorite solution to overcome a dry spell or to start writing when nothing interesting comes to mind is from the movie “Finding Forrester,” when Forrester says to Jamal:

“A Season of Faith’s Perfection.” Start typing that. Sometimes the simple rhythm of typing gets us from page one to page two. When you begin to feel your own words, start typing them.

Sometimes, I like think about a story, or maybe a character for days without writing anything at all. Sometimes it takes a while to understand a character, to get to know him or her. What would the character say or do in this situation, or that? What is he or she thinking? Then, all of a sudden the path, or plot forward becomes clear and I return to writing.

It’s been a productive month. 😀

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Part of our monthly Writer’s Group meeting we have a session on Writer’s Craft where someone presents a topic of interest. Later in the meeting we have a Quick Write where each member writes something, based on a given topic in less than 5 minutes. This week the topic was Haiku, something I remember, vaguely from High School, and out Quick Write was to compose a Haiku based on a topic unique to each member. My topic was “something seasonal.” I wrote”

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Delta Dawn

Dawn woke as she did every day when the sun broke into her bedroom window. She lay quiet for a while, arms and legs splayed, as if she made snow angels in her sleep. She didn’t. Her dream was the same every night, at least, it was the only dream she ever remembered.

She was walking downtown, intending to have her morning coffee at the café.  She loved sitting by the window and watching life pass by. This morning was different. A young man with black hair falling over his eyes was sitting at “her” table. She looked around, but every other chair was taken. That wasn’t unusual, there were only twenty chairs in the café.

The man looked at her and stood, offering her his chair, or rather “her” chair. She looked down, embarrassed, and shook her head, mumbling “No, thank you.” He insisted, pulled the chair out for her, slid his coffee to the other side of the table, and sat back down. Not seeing any option, Dawn accepted the gesture and sat across from him.

The man said his name was Jimmy and was establishing a sales route though this part of the state. He stayed in each town for a day or two to meet the shopkeepers and take notes on what supplies they sold and needed.

After thirty minutes or so Jimmy excused himself. It was time to move to the next town, but he would be back next Wednesday and would like to share a table again.

Dawn blushed, smiled, and nodded.

Their routine established, Jimmy met Dawn every Wednesday for a month, until he finally asked her to take a walk with him and she agreed eagerly.

They passed the bank, and the big rose bush nearly obscuring an alleyway that ran from the boardwalk to the back of the stores. Jimmy snapped off a rose and tucked it behind her ear before he pulled her hand and guided her around the roses and down the alleyway. She was confused and pulled back slightly.

“Dawn,” he urged, “come back to the old vacant horse barn with me. No one ever goes there and we can be alone.”

Scared, but excited, she went with him.

A half hour later they exited the weathered barn, re-arranging their clothes, brushing off the hay.

“Don’t tell anyone what we did, OK? Dawn, I want you to come away with me. Would you do that? Remember, I will be back here next Wednesday. Be ready for me.  I promise to come for you. Promise.”

With that, he turned and walked behind the stores as she walked back down the alley, humming happily to herself.

Dawn stretched and yawned, savoring that happy morning feeling one more time before rising, dressing and descending the stairs to the kitchen to make her breakfast.

After finishing her cereal and juice, she never drank coffee anymore, she washed the dishes and placed them back into their proper places in the cupboard. Dawn grabbed her suitcase, stepped out the front door and started walking  downtown, as she did every morning.

She shuffled past a bevy of women standing outside the general store, their murmuring mouths hidden by folding fans. They watched her small, soft steps, and downcast eyes as she passed by.

“Poor Dawn,” one would say quietly. “Everyday, walking and hoping. Will she ever give up?”

“She won’t,” another would answer. “It’s mor’n twenty years now. If she were gonna stop wait’n, she woulda, by now.”

Dawn heard them, of course. Perhaps they meant her to. She didn’t care. Continuing her ritual, she snipped a withered red rose from the bush outside the bank as she remembered him tucking a fresh one in her hair. She clutched her small valise closer to her chest and continued on her way, eyes focused straight down the boardwalk, ignoring the alleyway.

She thought, I will take this walk every day, until the end of time if I need to. I know he will come back for me, someday. Maybe today will be the day. He promised he will come back for me. He will return and take me away. He promised me.

Looking both ways she lifted the hem of her calico dress and stepped off the boardwalk. Delta Dawn’s hair shone bright and eyes sparkled blue in the mid-morning sun, returning the youthful beauty and hope of years long lost. A cloud passed overhead, restoring her drab present as Dawn crossed Broad Street, stepped back up onto the boardwalk, and continued down Main.

A block further down the boardwalk a man stepped out of a shop, rested his hand on the barber pole, and softly called,“Baby. Come in out of the sun. You know what it does to your skin.”

“Ok, Papa. I was just looking for Jimmy. I expect him back today.”

“I know,  Baby. If not today, maybe tomorrow,” said the man with love in his voice and sorrow in his eyes.


Songwriters: Alex Harvey / Larry Collins


Author’s Comments:

My original story did not include the dream now found at the beginning. I started the story even more in medias res with Dawn’s walk downtown. After letting the story sit for a while I decided I wanted to know what the man did to her to cause her so much pain. The only dream she ever remembers is the one where she builds the relationship, real or imagined, with Jimmy.

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He opened his eyes, looked at the ceiling and waited for the room to stop spinning. A few clocksminutes later he took a chance and rolled over, fully intending to sit up, but decided he wasn’t quite ready. Rather, his gut told him it would revolt if he even tried.

Well, I guess a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt if it keeps peace in the family, he thought. His gut thanked him.

He used the time to consider his situation. He believed he was in a motel room just east of East Saint Louis. He distinctly remembered descending the train steps, crossing the tracks and checking into this room. He also believed it was a Sunday. He was unsure of the date, but it was probably sometime in the spring, maybe late April or early May.

He finally decided to sit up, damn the stomach. He closed his eyes and swung his legs off the bed and rolled up. With self-satisfied forethought he placed a wastebasket between the twin beds when he finally gave up last night. Napoleon wondered, was it really last night or was it the night before? Who knows? Who cares?

The wind rattled against the sliding window, sounding like a politician on a stump speech, while the occasional rain provided applause at requisite breaks.

Funny how things change so fast. I vaguely remember the moon lighting a gang of youths prowling out in the street before I passed out, whenever that was.

Napoleon finally stood up and slowly staggered across the rain dampened floor to slide the window shut.

I had it all, he thought, and then I left Harlem on the platform then nothing until I passed out on a motel room twin bed east of East Saint Louis.

Napoleon was standing in the dining car as the Amtrak raced across Ohio. Like a carnival barker the bartender shouted “Step right up! Step right up!” to the business men in the lounge car but he just couldn’t handle their camaraderie.

With teary eyes he looked at his reflection in the mirror. Lightning flashes illuminated the incessant rain he heard pounding against the train window.

“Another Jack’s, Arthur, if you please,” he called to the waiter.

“Haven’t you had enough already, Leon?”

“I have nothing but time, Arthur. Just time, time, time,” as he reached for the full glass.

Napoleon looked back at his reflection in the mirror and imagined Harlem, standing behind him, with her arms around his shoulder and cheek resting on his head, as the tears flowed steadily now.

She stood on the platform and watched the train diminish as it pulled away. She waited until it was just a light in the distance and finally disappeared, then turned and walked through the turnstile, back to her car parked in the station garage.

Well, that’s it, she thought sadly. I am really alone now, a true orphan.

Harlem, how did you ever get into this mess? No, not a mess, it’s just heartache and, as you mom used to say, “the pain will fade, in time.” Just like Napoleon’s train diminished into the distance.

How did we let this happen? Was it Annie? I can’t even remember what she said, but I can’t forget, or forgive, what she did.

“That’ll be five dollars, miss.”

“Five dollars? Ok, just a second. Here you are, thank you and have a nice day,” she automatically smiled at the ticket taker.

Harlem left the parking garage, entered the highway and drove toward work down by the harbor.

“Everything ok? asked Buddy as she entered the employees’ entrance. “You don’t look so good.”

“I’m fine, Buddy. I just put Leon on a train to St. Louis. I think it was a mistake, Buddy. I think he was the real deal. I asked him not to go, at least not until he stopped hurting, but you know him. Headstrong, unbending, black and white. He just doesn’t know when to let up, to let go. My set starts in a few, I gotta get going. Thanks for asking, and listening, Buddy.”

Harlem changed quickly and right on cue strutted onto the stage, her high heeled boots pounding out the beat.

A half hour later, glistening with sweat, she stepped down from the stage into the bar. Several of the patrons, mostly sailors, called her over for a drink. Only her mouth smiled as she joined them, ordering her “private” champagne.

“So, tell me boys,” Harlem asked. “When a big storm hits, and your ship is in danger of going down, do you pray, or do you dream of some girl back home?”

Several of them shouted out, “We dream of you, Harlem!” The rest of them laughed.

She closed her eyes for a moment and thought of Napoleon, thinking of her words, Close your eyes, darling, just snap the bandage off quickly and it won’t hurt a bit.

Harlem hated her job. She hated the other dancers, especially Annie, she hated herself, and she hated the sailors, maybe most of all.

When they start getting out of hand, late at night, when the herd mindset tells them the fences are down, Harlem will pull the straight razor from her boot and instantly, even if there were a thousand of them, they backed down to fall around her feet. She only used the razor once, but word spread fast that she knew how to use it and was willing to. No one dared touch if she had fire in her eyes and blade in her hand.

Napoleon turned on the light next to the motel room window and blew a kiss to the east, thinking of Harlem, wondering what went wrong. He touched his lips, remembering Harlem’s last kiss.

The dish, the motel manager put out for the feral cats, was filling with rain. Again.

It wasn’t like him to admit it, but Harlem was right. A quick snap of the bandage hurt like hell, but for only a moment.

He closed his eyes and felt the weeds that penetrated his heart wither and die.

He stared out the window and saw his invisible fiancé’s image again, with her arms around his shoulders and cheek on his hair.

He poured the last of his Jack’s into the dirty glass tumbler and placed it back down in the same wet circle on the train ticket folder, tossing the empty bottle into the overflowing waste bin.

Author’s comments:

Tom Waits is more a poet than a singer. It’s easy to love his poetic songs instantly. His voice takes some getting used to. Once you embrace the man, there is no one better. This story is my fantasy about the story behind the song, Time.

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