Bobcat goes Shark Fishing on Florida Beach

It’s not often that one see’s a bobcat in the swampy humid extravagances of Florida, but this particular bobcat had been seen poking around a secluded beach many times over the years and was counted by the locals as a lonely soul. For it is common knowledge that the bobcat walks along the beach at night, yowling at the water with a sound so piercing it can be felt in the soul.
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Manhattan, 1901

Johanna Rossman stared at her reflection, a solemn expression on her face. So what if she was beautiful? She pushed her black, shiny curls behind her shoulders and sighed. Why is it that society felt that every beautiful young woman needed to be married off early? Okay, she’s a debutante, so she is just supposed to grin and bear it? She turned her head only slightly, so the light could catch her high cheekbones and long neck. Yes, she was beautiful. But it didn’t matter to her now. She slowly began to undo her corset, her body finally feeling at ease as the strings loosened. Everything had been so perfect, and then it changed.

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The Parkway Bench

The breeze is brisk today, but not in an unpleasant way – at least not for him.  He sits on a parkway bench watching as a young business woman pulls at her wool pea coat, hoping that’ll keep out the cold.  She wears matching gloves and a scarf wrapped neatly around her – only her hair is unkempt.  Not even the well-to-do can maintain a perfect composed exterior, he smirks.  Not out here, where the weather doesn’t lie and the cold hard ground will stay hard until Mother Nature decides it’s time to thaw.  He watches the woman disappear among the after-lunch crowd, all tightening their coats around their chest as they run back to the office or the next appointment.  Surely the excitement of the lunch hour is lost behind them and responsibility must settle in.  Adult play-time, he thinks. That’s all the lunch hour is; a time to play and pretend they don’t have to go back to a dreary desk job, watching the second hand tick the minutes away until they can clock out and make it home before the 5 o’clock rush hour.  That’s why this is his favorite time of day – the just-after-lunch hour.  All the people disperse, leaving him and a few others to enjoy the solitude of the well-to-do’s absence.  The wind blows a little harder now and he welcomes it, face turned upward so the cool air can sting his stubbled face – but oh how good it feels.  The cold never bothers him, not since he came back.  He spent too many days, too many nights in the hot and humid depths of the jungle; too many times spent trudging through morasses, always looking over his shoulder.  No matter.  He was here now on this bench, the cold sting always keeping him awake, never allowing him to go back there again – not even in his dreams.

The Clearing

The two lovers kiss each other feverishly in the clearing of a field. The ground is soft, and the blanket they brought is warm. They stole away at dusk to be together. When they first arrived in the clearing, fireworks greeted them, as if there arrival was expected. The fireworks are long forgotten now. They whisper sweet nothings in each others ears and hold each other tight. Their innocence is lost among the sounds of crickets and the wind against the tall wheat surrounding them. “I want you to have this” he says, giving her his high school ring. “It’s my promise to you.” She smiles as she puts it around the chain she has on her neck. Her eyes sparkle as she looks into his. He would take her out of this small town in the middle-of-no-where. He would save her. They kiss once more, until she notices the sky has gotten lighter and dawn is upon them already. Her father is working the late shift at the hospital, but he’d be back soon. They run out of the clearing holding each other’s hands, knowing that they will do the same thing tomorrow night. Hardly sleeping and not caring, because they will be together. When the sun sets, and rises.

Big Bang

They lit another one, and the shock of it going off threw them back about a foot. They watched the sky as another illegal firework blasted in bright blues. Beer cans scattered the ground as they stumbled, laughing and admiring their work. They were on a dirt road by the crick near the woods where no one would see them. They were shooting towards a clearing somewhere. Only in small towns like this could they get away with it. No one gave a shit about them. The police had better things to do then arrest a couple of kids. One of them passed out by the fire, beer can still in hand. Cheap PBRs. The only kind you can get someone old enough to buy you. The last one was still awake and sat down. He watched the  fire sparkle in front of him, knowing he’ll have a hangover in the morning. But he didn’t care. He did this shit all the time. He couldn’t wait to get out of this stuck-in-a-rut town. No more fields. No more farms. He toppled over. He was pretty drunk. At least his Ma won’t be home – babysitting their cousin while her mom works late. With a slight chuckle, he too, passed out, beer can crushed.

Late Shift

The doors fly open, and a stretcher comes rushing in with men shouting. If the shouting didn’t catch his attention, it would have been the squeaky wheels. The sound made his hair stand on end; they always brought trouble. Especially during the late shift.

“What happened?” he asks as he rushes along with them, notepad in had.

“Motorcycle crash, she didn’t see the truck. Tractor trailer- tired driver at the wheel. The helmet prevented head damage, but there’s internal bleeding.”

“In here!” He directs them to the nearest empty room. “1, 2, 3, lift!”  They transfer her onto a table. He feels for her pulse. There is none.

“She has no pulse!” He rips open her shirt to gain access to her chest. Nurses rush to bring him the defibrillator.

“Clear!” He shocks her once, right between her breasts. Nothing. He shocks her again, and then once more, but nothing can stop the flat line he is hearing.

Being a doctor, he was used to this, and it didn’t get any easier. But seeing her there has his vision blurred. She is… was so young, and he couldn’t save her. A failure for the night, one of despair.

He thinks of his family asleep at home, and a girl with similar eyes to the ones that are now closed forever. Out of the corner of his eye, comes a single tear.

“Mark it,” he says in a small voice.”Time of death, 3:15 am.”

Late Night Drive

2:00 am. Baby won’t stop crying. Been driving around the block for a half hour. Wife suggests I go on the highway. Anything to stop that sound. Three weeks old and all he does is cry. What are we doing wrong? Will it get better? I hope so. If this keeps up, I’ll lose my job for loss of focus. Or lack of sleep. Headache kicking in. Surprised it took this long. Turning onto highway. 2:15 am. Not much traffic. Good. Don’t have to worry about idiots.  Wife is now crying. She feels like she’s a bad mother. Say something soothing. No, you aren’t a bad mother, we are just new at this. It’ll get better. She’s still crying. Not as hard. I bet crying won’t help the baby stop crying. Sirens in the background. Great. Just another added sound to the high wails in the backseat. Shit. They are behind me. Pull over so they can pass. Damn. An accident. Say a small prayer. Thank God it wasn’t us. Get off at next exit and start headed for home. 2:30 am. An hour in. The baby hiccuped. Crying has turned to splutters. Wife is shushing me. I haven’t said anything for the last fifteen minutes. She’s tired. So am I. The gas tank is almost empty. Perfect. Pull off highway into gas station. Fill up tank. Guy at the counter was an asshole. Well yea buddy, I’m tired too, but you haven’t been listening to a crying baby for over an hour. Get back in car. Full gas tank – 50 bucks. Ugh. Drive home. Pulling into driveway. 3:00 am. Wife and baby are asleep. Well, at least it’s quiet.

The Diner

“One coffee honey, cream and extra sugar. The usual.”

I only took this job to get some extra cash for the bills.

God, it’s so hard. I’m lucky my sister can stay home with Sophie. She isn’t old enough to be on her own yet, but certainly old enough to get a temper. Jesus she’s just like her father.

Oh, I hate leaving her, but one day she’ll understand her mama had to do what she had to do. I’m doing it for us. It’s not like I want to spend all night on my feet, go home for breakfast, and I’m back out for the next job.

I wouldn’t have to do this if her dumbass father hadn’t walked out … Damn it! Spilled Ted’s coffee. That’s what I get for thinking bout him on the job. Oh Ted. He’s a nice guy. He’s been a regular here since Steve’s All-Night Diner opened, which was years ago. What did he want in his coffee again…? There are only a couple of other people in the diner tonight – some old man and I think his grandson. He seems bored. Kids these days. When I left the house Sophie was angry with me. That damned temper. She didn’t want me to leave her. Oh someday, babygirl. Someday you’ll understand.

“Hey girl, when will I get that coffee? I’ve gotta drive this truck all night!”

Oh Ted’s coffee! Here we go, cream and extra sugar.

“Comin’ Honey!

Tractor trailer men, always so impatient. Ha. It’s gonna be a long shift tonight. Sigh.

A Night of Blues

“What do you mean you don’t like the blues?!”

An old man leans against the old brick wall outside of a small blues club, his old fedora tilted to the side. He wore it for the occasion, thinking it’d be special.  He takes a puff of his cigar while maintaining a look of exasperation he directs at his 20-year-old grandson.

He continues, “The blue’s is what started it all! B.B. King himself said it’s the mother of America’s music.” He coughs, pauses, and then takes another puff.

“I’m sorry gramps, but I’ve never really gotten into it…my generation is more into pop! No one listens to old school stuff anymore.” The old man shakes his head.  He thought by bringing his grandson here, he could connect with him. But of course 55 years difference in age will make it hard.

“You don’t just listen to the blues, boy,” he says, “you’ve gotta feel it.”

He closed his dark eyes and could hear some of the music from the club leak out onto the street. He let the smooth rendition of Ella’s “Blues in the Night” move through him, bringing him back to the good ol’ days.  He took the last puff of his cigar and sighed.

“Well okay son, let’s have you take your old grandfather somewhere then. I know it’s late, but I could go for some food.”

The boy just stared at him, a blank expression. He sighed again, realizing he willll never be able to connect with this child. “Let’s try to find a good diner,” he suggested.

Club de Blues – Steve Underwood

They leave just as the copy cat Ella sings “and the moon’ll hide its light, when you get the blues, blues in the night.