Sunday, February 26, 2012

Another successful sex strike!

Thanks to my friend Susan McNerney ( for tweeting this to my attention!

John Hudson Feb 24, 2012
"Virginia's proposed ultrasound bill requiring a transvaginal procedure prior to an abortion got a lot of women angry this week. Turns out, one of those women happened to be married to a GOP lawmaker and she made him pay for it in the sack."

(or not so much, as it were)

hee hee


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Free Story #4 "Slow Rodeo"

This is one of my favorite shorts.  It is based on a real rodeo event, in case any of you haven't heard of "Bull Poker." 

“Slow Rodeo”
Maren Bradley Anderson

Casey wasn’t 100-percent sure that he could actually ride a bull, but he was damn sure he could sit at a card table in a ring with an angry bull longer than the other jackasses who had signed up.
“Shee-it,” he’d said to Amber, his sweet little girlfriend. “If that nut-sack Charlie thinks he can do it, I sure as hell can, too!” She had batted her eyes at him adoringly as he hitched up his Wranglers and sauntered to the sign-up desk. There was time for three more Silver Bullets before the Bull Poker began, and Amber sat on his lap for an entire round of buckin’ broncos. Casey hadn’t gotten any from her, yet, but he figgered that with beer and Bull Poker, tonight was the night. He slid his hand between her knees possessively. She put on his hat and bounced as she cheered for the cowboys.
Amber wasn’t the brightest tool in the shed, but she was in beauty school and thought that Casey’s job selling real estate was glamorous. He didn’t quite have his license yet, but he was planning on taking the test sometime in the next couple years. He was making enough to make the payments on the sweet truck he bought as soon as he got the job from his Daddy and to pay his part of the rent on the apartment he shared with his buddy Art. Plus a little to show the ladies a good time, too. He caught a wiff of Amber’s hair and smiled.
He was so focused on the girl on his lap, that Casey didn’t hear the loudspeaker announcement calling the Bull Poker contestants. Art slugged him in the shoulder. “Dude. That’s you and the other dummies.”
Casey slugged Art back. “You mean me and the losers.” He laughed as he set Amber down on the bleacher seat. “Be back with the prize money, sweetie.” He kissed her harder than usual and tossed her a wink as he walked off.
Casey found his way to the spot behind the chutes where the other Bull Poker players had gathered, including his friend Charlie.
“Casey!” Charlie looked relieved to see him. “Is Art coming down?”
“Nah. That pussy’s afraid of hurting himself so he couldn’t fuckin’ study his college books no more.” Casey grinned. “That guy’s got no money, no girl, and no fuckin’ balls.”
Charlie’s grin was weak and jiggly. “What’s up with you?” Casey asked.
“Oh, nothin’,” Charlie said. “Um, didja see the bull?”
Casey turned to look where Charlie pointed. Through the slats of the chute, he could see a small, dense black shape and a white horn poking out. “What is it?”
“Mexican fighting bull,” said a contestant in a black hat.
Casey squinted at it a moment. “Huh,” he said. “Little.”
The bull snorted. A huge huff of air kicked dirt up off the floor. Casey looked at that horn again, curved and blunted, but plenty wicked-looking. Then the bull caught his eye.
Casey wasn’t one for poetics, or turning a phrase without an explicative, or talking about his feelings, but the way that bull looked at him made him feel like all the air’d been let outta his tires. “Shit,” he muttered. “That thing’s evil!”
“Who? Pussycat?” the event organizer asked as he walked up. “He’s hasn’t killed a single person yet. And only three in the hospital for more’n a week.” The man grinned in an unpleasant way. “Here are your waiver forms. Sign ‘em or you ain’t goin’ in that ring.”
“Waiver?” Charlie’s voice did, too.
“No suin’,” the man said. “This is the dumbest thing you’ll ever do, and you’ll do it knowingly and absolving us of any responsibility for your stupidity.”
Casey glanced at the dense text of the waiver before giving up and signing it. He tried to be flip as he handed the form back, but he could feel the bull watching him. The other contestants signed and handed the forms back, too.
“Well, good luck to ya,” the man said and walked off as a clown opened the gate and waved them in to the arena.
A card table and four plastic patio chairs stood in the middle of the dirt arena. Casey’d never really noticed how spindly a card table is until he saw this one standing all alone, a single target in the wide open expanse. As he passed the gate, another clown handed him a heavy vest. He musta looked confused because the clown said, “Safety vest. Need help?” Casey shook his head and pulled it on. He looked at Charlie who had gone white.
“Dude,” Casey whispered. “Why’re you out here?”
“Brother dared me.” Charlie stared at the table. “You?”
Casey nodded. As a group, they walked toward the table.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” cried the MC as he galloped around atop his paint horse. “This here is the most reckless sport in rodeo! What we have here is four young men who have all paid $50 for the opportunity to play Bull Poker!”
The crowd cheered, and Casey looked up to see Amber bouncing and waving and Art sitting with his arms crossed looking grim. Casey waved to her and shot Art a look that he hoped relayed what an asshole he was. Casey sat at the table and picked up the cards.
“The rules of Bull Poker are simple,” the MC went on as he cantered around the ring, his horse’s tail bannering out behind him. “Here is the $200 from the kitty!” He handed the money to a clown who tossed it onto the table. “We are going to let Pussycat the bull out of the chute in a minute. Simply put, the last man sitting at the table gets the $200!
“Now, Pussycat hasn’t killed anyone, but he’s put more’n a few in the hospital. These fellas’ve signed a waiver. I’m-a gonna read it to ya now!
“Bull Poker is a very dangerous endeavor. I know that if that bull hits me, I could be broken, maimed or outright killed. By signing this waiver, I hereby declare that I am eighteen years of age, not inebriated, and I absolve this arena and this rodeo company from any responsibility for my stupidity and ill-advised actions.
“Furthermore, I acknowledge that by playing Bull Poker, I am admitting that I think with the lower of my two brains and that this is the dumbest thing I have ever done.
“However, if I win at Bull Poker, I get bragging rights for a whole year, and a special place in the ladies’ hearts. Are we ready to play? Deal the cards!”
Casey shuffled and dealt out some cards. “Five card stud?” he said. He got a nervous chuckle from Charlie on his left, but the other two guys were already focused on their cards. Black Hat pulled his Stetson low over his eyes, but he looked like he was about to faint. The one across from Casey had a blue shirt and the jaw-set of a linebacker.
It was only when he heard the chute open that Casey realized that he had taken the seat facing the crowd. Not only was his back to the bull, but he was the closest one to the chute. 
Staring hard at his cards, Casey listened to the bull as it leapt from the chute and charged around behind him. “Come on, Pussycat!” the MC hollered into his microphone. “We ain’t got all night!”
The crowd gasped and Casey looked up, ready to run, as the bull attacked the clown in the barrel with savage ferocity that Casey had never seen up close. Pussycat’s eyes bulged white as he thrashed his head at the barrel, venting his fury on what he thought was a human being. The barrel rolled away, and Pussycat stood center ring, snorting, head high.
Pussycat met Casey’s eye. Casey swore he heard the bull say, “So, it’s you again?” before it lowered its head, pawed the ground once, and charged the table.
Casey couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He sold real estate, what was he doing staring down 800-pounds of angry pot roast? Okay, maybe he didn’t actually sell the properties—all he really did was fill in paperwork for the agents. But was he even going to be able to do that when Pussycat was done with him?
He noticed that the sounds in the arena had taken on an indoor-pool quality and that Pussycat was charging much slower than he thought possible. Casey looked back at the table and saw all of his compatriots were high-tailing it for the arena fence.  A lopsided grin split half his face as he thought, “Hey, I won.”
Pussycat split the other half.
And stomped on his leg.
And stared him in the eye and spat, “That’s for McDonalds, asshole,” before he flicked the table in the air and trotted off.
Casey opened his eye and watched as the cards and money fluttered down around him like confetti, the arena lights like supernovas. The noises still sounded pool-like but that was because his ears were filling up with blood from his broken nose. The first faces he saw were the rodeo clowns, and they struck him as so absurd that he laughed. Or gurgled, rather.
“Was it worth it?” a clown asked as paramedics gathered.
“Fuck, yeah,” Casey said. “I’m getting laid tonight!”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Free Story #3 "Bangs"


I don’t interests me. If I’d been born a girl, maybe I’d have spent a bunch of time messing with my own hair, braiding, cutting, setting, dyeing. Instead, when I tied bows in my hair like my sister’s when I was six, my father beat me so my ears rang for two days.  So I didn’t do that again. Since then, my hair has been so sort that you’d have to use glue to keep the bows in place, although a little sticky tape works in a pinch.
Now that I think of it, most of my girlfriends were vain about their hair. The first, Becky, had this wave of mahogany hair down to her waist. She wore a clip with feathers in it most days—it was the thing to do that year in Mr. Brewster’s 5th grad class—but some days her mother took the time to feather Becky’s bangs, transforming her from a seemingly stationary object to a goddess facing a gale with only her bangs sweeping gently across her forehead. 
Once, I was allowed to watch the process of feathering her hair. I forget the circumstances, but I remember Becky’s half-hearted protests at having an audience until my rapt attention appealed to her vanity. Then she basked as I watched her mother comb and curl and spray her hair into place. It was like alchemy—how did something as fluid as Becky’s cape of hair become a solid expression of movement? I was in as much awe as I would later be standing in front of a Greek statue of a warrior mid sword-swing.
Becky and some of the other girlfriends let me play with their hair all the time. I ran my fingers through warm locks and let them teach me how to braid, French braid, herring bone. I developed a skill for scalp massage that served me well in high school and collage as a way to break physical barriers between myself and girls. Of course I thought of going to beauty school or barber college, but, frankly, that would have been like my sister majoring in unicorns instead of economics. Besides, I was always able to get a hair fix from some girl at work with a headache.
All was fine until Roberta. Roberta—hair of my dreams. A veritable cascade of curly red hair bounced down hr back as she strode by me at a party. So compelling, I actually excused myself and followed her. Roberta, cute enough in a homey way (as in, one letter away from “homely”). Roberta, round in all the right places, and some of the not-right places. I asked her out to get my hands on that mane.
I don’t’ remember  much about the first date except for the instant I realized Roberta wasn’t going to allow me to touch her hair. She let me kiss her goodnight n her doorstep,  but pushed my hands down when I reached for her head. That lead to a second date, and a third, each ending the same way—a kiss goodnight as she held my hands firmly. I went hom each time adn abused myself while holding a fox tail I keep under that bathroom sink.
Finally, we went on a movie date, and I was able to manouvre my arm across the back of her seat. Gingerly, I geban to play with her ringlets, so carefully that she didn’t even notice. I wrapped my finger in red lusciousness and wondered what she did to maintain such glorious curls. I twirled locks in my fingers and felt myself get hard. Silky. Curly. Lush.
Then, I wanted her to know. I wanted her to know that I was in her hair. That I was into her hair, so I wrapped a lock around a finger and tugged gently. She didn’t even flinch, so I tugged harder. And harder. Finally, I pulled so hard that I felt a little give. Roberta absently shook her head and continued to watch the movie, oblivious. I extracted my fingers, then my arm, when the realization sank in that Roberta was wearing a wig.
I claimed that the movie gave me a headache and dropped Roberta, confused, at her curb. I went home and sat in the dark, twiddling the foxtail in the fingers that had recently held strands of Roberta’s wig. I’d never encountered a wig on a person younger than seventy before. I’d seen them in shops, of course, but I had always assumed that only old ladies and whores wore wigs. Roberta was hardly old and an unlikelier whore I couldn’t imagine.
I wondered about this new type of wig-wearer, the Roberta type, and re-ran our conversations in my head to try to tease out clues about her. I admit that I hadn’t really been listening to her most of the time as I tried not to be too conspicuous, mostly staring at her frothy bangs. Nothing I could remember about the 26 year-old research assistant with four siblings and a penchant for boutique teas screamed “Wig!” to me. I called her up the next morning to apologize and arrange for our next date.
In the days between dates, I thought a lot about wigs. As I said, it’s not like a fake hairpiece was a new concept to me, but for some reason, Roberta in a wig was a revelation to me. Suddenly, I realized that women didn’t have to settle for the hair they were born with. What’s more, I realized that I didn’t have to settle for the hair women were born with. As I walked down the street that week, the pool of dateable women opened up like the expanse of the ocean after traveling down a river your whole life. I was jubilant.
I took Roberta to a nice restaurant that night. Her hair, her wig, gleamed in the soft light and I wondered if it were easier to tend to ringlets if they sat on a stand in front of you than if they sprouted from your head. After the waiter took our order, I reached across the table, took her hands in mine, and began interrogating her.
“When did you begin wearing a wig?” I started.
She blushed to the same color as her fake hair. “Excuse me?”
“It’s a wig, right? I tugged on your hair last week at the movie, and you didn’t notice. And now that I look, I can see where it’s glued down on your forehead.” I reached out and traced a fingertip across her hairline.
She swatted me away. “I don’t wear a wig,” she hissed, casting embarrassed glances over her shoulders.
“Yes, you do.”
“Yes. Look!” I shot my hand out and snatched a lock and tugged on it. “See? You don’t feel that, do you?” Roberta sat immobile, staring at me as the color drained from her face. “Do you?”
“No,” she whispered. “I don’t feel it. Please let go.”
I dropped the hair and sat back, satisfied. “So, when did the wig thing start?” I asked again.
Roberta looked up at me with her big brown eyes, and it suddenly struck me that I had not noticed they were brown before. “Why do you care?” she sniffled and looked away. “You’re just going to leave me now.”
“What makes you say that?”
She shrugged. “That’s what men do,” she said. “They find out you wear a wig and they decide you’re damaged, maybe sick, and they take off.” She folded her napkin and started to rise. “I’ll just go now and save you the expense of dinner.”
“You misunderstand me,” I said. “Please sit down.”
Roberta sat and frowned at me. “Really?” she said. “You don’t care that I wear a wig?”
“I think it’s fascinating,” I said, leaning in. “I want to know all about it.”
So Roberta explained about hating her mousey, dishwater-blonde hair since she was a child and discovering wigs via her trashy roommate in college.  She told the story of how she only wore them out on the town at first, and then more frequently, until she actually wore this red one to a job interview and got the job. Now, she said, it was part of her.
I pressed her for more and more information. She told me where she bought her wigs, how she cared for them. She told me her best and worst wig stories. She laughed at herself and at other people’s reactions to her wigs. Finally, over dessert, she was smiling happily as I fondled her wig and dug my fingers down to the mesh pinned to her scalp.
“What’s your real hair like?” I asked.
“Why don’t we go to my house for a nightcap, and you can find out for yourself?” she suggested.
Her hair was just as disappointing as she claimed it to be. Cropped short and mashed under the wig, it curled against her scalp tightly and was exactly the color of a mud puddle. I made her put the wig back on before she led me to her bedroom. That room was magic because Roberta, never one to throw anything away, had a wall covered with wigs. We spent the whole night trying them on and having sex. When I crept out later that night, I stuffed my favorite under my shirt and wore it in the car on the way home.
I am so grateful that I met Roberta because now I can date any girl, even interesting ones with terrible hair. I’ve got about a dozen wigs in play now, one for any mood life finds me in. For example, I enjoy the black bob for the evenings I feel frisky, but the “Loni Anderson” is perfect for those nights of watching 80’s television at home. Of course, I really prefer the real thing, but even a Playboy-quality platinum blonde mane can get tiresome if you date it—her—long enough.  Roberta’s wig is a little tired now, so I have retired it to the spot under the sink: I threw out the foxtail when I got home from Roberta’s that last night.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Carpe Diem! Pre-order LSCTS for $10! Save almost $4

Thank you to all of you who have sent in your pre-order forms for Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store! Here is some added incentive for those of you on the fence:

Since I originally posted the pre-order offer, I have decided to market the paperback at $13.99, not $12 as I originally said. However, you can still pre-order the book for $10! You will save $3.99 if you order the book now!

Also, I want to extend the offer to anyone who'd like to review the book: I will send you a free e-copy of the book if you will post a review to Goodreads, and/or wherever else you think it might be read or seen. If your review is especially nice, I can include it in the front matter of the paperback and on the book's website!

Thank you all for your support. This venture is pretty terrifying to me, and it is nice to have so many people believe in me.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Free short story #2--Halloween!

Here's another bit for the "Original Content" month. This story was written, guess when, in October last year as a response to NPR's 3-minute fiction contest. However, it was not finished before the deadline for entry.

No worries. Now you all can enjoy it!



by Maren Bradley Anderson

Some people swore that the house was haunted. They were wrong. It was just me hiding out. I guess I can understand how they’d make that mistake. I didn’t look right, and the house was creepy and empty, and I only came out after dark ‘cause Sam was at work then.
See, Sam didn’t know that I was pregnant or that I was still in town. He thought I was in Albany, going to art school—so did everyone else. I passed as just fat for a long time, but when the baby got to wiggling inside me, and my belly started to round out, I knew it was time for me to disappear, though I couldn’t afford to be far away.
Some guys, you know, just can’t think about being dads. One I was with was hurt by his daddy—actually, most of the guys I’ve been with were hurt by their daddies, come to think of it. But, anyway, most of them don’t never want kids. Sam was a little different: he said he didn’t want kids now. That’s why I hid. Sam could say “no” to a pregnancy, but he wouldn’t say it to a baby. A boy baby, especially if I named him “Sam.”
It wasn’t so bad, living in the “haunted house.” I hid my car out back, so Sam wouldn’t see it. It was still warm, so I slept with the windows open. I figured out where to turn the water on, and when the utility company came, I hid in the house and turned it back on when they left. When I needed food, I walked to the Circle K and got enough burritos to last a while with my school money. On Thursdays, the public library is open late, so I went and checked out stacks of books on babies to read during the week.
Sam called my cell almost every day and told me how much he missed me, though it wasn’t every day after a while. He said he was busy and asked when I was coming home. I would pat my round beach-ball belly and tell him “soon” and imagine the look on his face when I knocked on the door holding his son. It made me smile and love him even more.
I don’t really know what I was thinking. Maybe that the baby would just slide out of me, and I could surprise everyone with him? But on Halloween, my belly hurt for the whole day. When I started howling in pain, I finally dialed 911. The operator actually said, “Isn’t that the haunted house?” when I gave her the address. When they heard me shrieking inside, even the EMT guys hesitated on the dark doorstep as the trick-or-treaters who had been daring each other to ring the bell ran away. Cowards.
The baby was backwards, and, insurance or no insurance, I needed a C-section. He is so beautiful, with hair so blond it makes a white halo around him. But I couldn’t leave the hospital without someone’s help. I chickened out and called my surprised parents.
They were going to call Sam, but I begged them not to. Instead, I convinced my dad to drive me to Sam’s place with Little Sam so I could tell him myself. I dragged my sore body to the apartment’s front door with our baby in my arms and rang the bell, grinning ear to ear.
Polly answered it clutching a filmy robe and a cigarette.
Nothing was ever the same again after that.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pre-Order LASCTS for only $10

I am holding a pre-order sale for Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store! 

All orders postmarked before the book's official launch date (sometime this spring) will be $10 each. Regular price will be $12.

Click the link above and fill out the form. Mail the form and a check to me, and I will send your book to you the day it is available!

Be the first on your block to read the saucy adventures of Liz and her friends!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Isn't it pretty?

Flawed, but pretty.

On to the copy editing! Ho!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

LASCTS Proof Arrives!

I have the proof copy of Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store in my hands!

It feels goooood.

It feels much better than the beat-up manila folder which holds the only other current draft of the book. Looking at it, I could actually believe that someone might give me money to take it home with them. It makes my head a little swirly.

It is also a little surreal. 

I mean, that beaten-up pile of pages held together by a monster binder clip represents a work, more specifically, a work in progress.  The book is, well, a book. It's done. It's all it can be.

This shouldn't bother me. I've completed another novel and have begun edits on a third novel since I sent Liz out to the first editor that rejected it. I am so done with writing this book.

But that loud Editor's voice is still hollering in the cage in the back of my mind, "What if???" Then she rattles the cage bars and bangs her cup against the floor. She's quite noisy.

She is right that the proof needs to be gone over carefully, at the very least to clean up any random orphans (single lines/words on a page), and other formatting things that will make the book scream "SELF-PUBLISHED BY A HACK." I'd prefer to avoid the "hack" part of it. But I'm not re-writing the book at this stage.

The other scary part of the proof is that once the physical book is done, I still need to launch/promote it. I'm still figuring that part out. But one part of that is to put myself out there and attach ME to the book.

You know the Editor in her cage? Her sister, Ms. Self-Doubt has a cage behind the editor. I try never to let her out, but, fuck, she is even louder than the Edtior.

"What if your book doesn't sell? What if it's an embarassment? What if people laugh at you for even trying this? You are so pathetically grandiose. What a fraud."

The Editor I can ignore until I need her. Ms. Self-Doubt has the ability to crush me into inaction. However, the answer to all her criticism and fear mongering is the same:

What's the worst that could happen?
  • I'm embarassed.
  • I lose a little money.
  • I learn something.
And then,

What's the best that could happen?
  • I'm celebrated.
  • I make lots of money.
  • I learn something.
With the scales balanced like this, it's easier to step into the course of action.

Here goes.

*holds nose and dives in*


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free Short Story!

In the spirit of "Original Content Month" here is a free short story for you. This is the first of many, I hope.


This story was written a couple days ago, based on the image linked to below. The image is from the Postsecret blog. That blog is a treasure trove of story ideas. Go check it out (after you read my story).

See the picture.


Yes, I am drawing the people around me on the train. I also want them to confront me about it. So far, only one person has. No, it wasn’t him, that guy today who nodded off even though he made eye contact when he noticed me staring. I would have liked him to stand up and wobble over to me like the molded Jello he resembled and asked me what the hell I was doing. Instead, he allowed his chin to sink into the folds of his extra chins and his fat eyelids to slide into his cheeks. When he snored, his jowls rippled. It took me the whole train ride, but I made a flip-book that captured that ripple. Unless a miracle occurs and he loses like half his body weight, he’ll be dead before I’m thirty-five.

Yesterday, I drew a skinny girl who was all knees and elbows who had that “I am starving myself to be a model” look to her. I could tell she wasn’t drinking enough water by the way the skin bunched around her elbows and knuckles, but that’s not a good opening line, you know? “Hey, your makeup looks great, but if you don’t drink two pints of water before you hit that audition, you’re just going to dry up and blow away.” When she noticed me sketching, she tilted her chin up and turned her head to what I know she thought was her “good side,” just like all those girls do, assuming that I was trying to capture her particular beauty. Actually, I was fascinated by that rough, pinched elephant skin on her elbow. She would have freaked out if she’d seen my sketchbook, with its page of cross-hatched joints and puckered hands. I was tempted to drop it in her lap as I exited the train, but I’m honest, not sadistic.

I digress.

A month ago when it was not as cold—in fact, on the last fine day of fall—I boarded the train, picking my victim/subject even before I sat down. He had a romance novel-cover ruggedness about him; just the kind of person I normally reject as a subject. Seriously, beautiful people are way over-rated as artistic subjects. My all-time favorite painting is one by Renoir of an ancient lady. The quality of the light was beautiful, the stroke work magnificent, yadda yadda. But in the miles of creases and lines on her face, the painter catches the weight of the years and the sadness as some sentimental old feeling wallops her, but she tries to hide it because she is sitting for a portrait by the famous painter. God, I wish I could paint like that.

You never see that kind of emotion in a beautiful face.

Well, I never had until that guy on the train. He was looking out the window. No, he was leaning on the window, his classically chiseled jaw with its end-of-the-day stubble pressed against the glass. He had a catalogue-shoot ready grey scarf draped around his shoulders in a big “O” over his navy pea coat. If it hadn’t been for his posture and the truly tortured stare wound around his eyebrows, I would have sketched the amputee with the cigar sitting a row in front of him.

I opened my pad, tried to be discrete as I pulled my yellow pencil from behind my ear, and set to work, focusing on Mr. Ima Torturedsoul. His posture was a little challenging because I had to think of the glass as a solid thing, without drawing it as solid, which is something I’ve struggled with. Finally, I got his head-set right and began working on those eyes. The way he looked heavenward every now and then reminded me of an archangel in one of Michelangelo’s paintings, those angels who are supposed to be in “rapture,” which my mom used to say was churchy-talk for “full of God.” I always thought they looked ready to come.

Not Mr. Torturedsoul. He looked like he was trying not to cry in public by tilting his head back so the tears couldn’t escape his eyelids. That’s never worked for me, personally, but I loved the way his chin pointed to the sky like a butte, and his throat undulated down to his Adam’s apple.

When he finally threw his arm across the seat in front of him and buried his face in the crook of his sleeve, I actually said, “Shit!” out loud, but not really loud enough for anyone to hear over the train noise and the music blaring from Mr. Iwillbedeaf’s earphones behind me. I flipped to a new page and attacked the whiteness with the side of my now-dull pencil, scrubbing to get as much dark pea coat onto the paper as fast as I could. The drape of the fabric, the way gravity drew his shoulders toward the center of the earth, he looked like a Dali painting, melting, dissolving, weeping.

The train lurched. I will have to erase that line later, I remember thinking to myself. But this time when I looked up at my subject, he was staring directly at me. There was no tragic beauty about his face now. The chiseled face was stony. The eyes, flinty. I felt myself shrink away from his anger. The train slowed, and I knew I had to get off, no matter which stop it was, so I stood and scuttled down the aisle. I glanced over my shoulder and said “Shit!” again because he was standing and following me. I made it to the door before he caught me by the elbow and spun me around.

“Who the hell are you?” he hissed into my face.

“Just Jack,” I said.

“What were you doing?”


He snatched my sketchbook and stared at the drawing of him draped over the back of the bench. He flipped to the other page of him as an archangel. He visibly relaxed and handed the book back to me.

“Nice,” he said. “Remind me to sue you for invasion of privacy.”

The train doors opened, and I backed out onto the platform.

As the train slid off, he flipped me the bird.



Did you like it? Leave a comment below!
Didn't like it? Tell me why!