Friday, September 28, 2012

Uncool at Any Speed

Photo by Milkmandan

Squid Rosenfield drummed a tattoo on the countertop. He picked up a green mini flashlight from a bin marked “3 for $5,” clicked it on, clicked it off, and put it back. He singled out a quart of synthetic oil from a counter display and looked at the back label, wondering if it would tell him the real difference between the contents and the stuff they got from the ground.
The label kept him occupied until Jordy Halverson emerged from the shelves with a plain cardboard box cupped in a hand.  He set it on the counter and pushed it across to Squid.
"There's your PCV valve, Squid," Jordy said. "Probably the least expensive part you've had to replace on that thing."
"How much?"
"Thirty-three ninety-four."
Squid ripped open the box and shook out the valve, a black plastic contraption that looked like two plungers stuck together. There had to be more to it than this, Squid thought. He fished out a folded paper wad from the box and smoothed the sheets: a packing slip, an inspection sheet, and sixteen diagrams of the part labeled in as many languages.
"Seems like a rip-off to me," Squid said.
Jordy snorted. "Maybe you should've bought yourself another car. Hell, you could have bought a new one by now with all the cash you spent keeping it running — not that I don't mind the business, Squid. But finding parts for a '96 Suzuki X-90 is like finding a nun who gives hummers."
Squid set his jaw and stood straighter. "It'll be a classic one day, just you wait."
"It might be, but is it worth it, Squid?"
Squid held up the PCV valve. "Put it on my account, okay?"

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Funeral

by Colleen Sutherland

(Note: The Funeral began as part of a mystery novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo a few years ago. Unfortunately everyone that read it knew whodunnit by Chapter 3 so I put it aside. I still liked the funeral, so I changed the sex of the deceased, her back story, the past tense to the present, and added a few other touches. In other words, I recycled.)

Autumn is coming to Glen Valley. Sugar maples vie with red oaks for color along the river trail. The days are warm, the nights cold. Glen Valley is far enough north to be visited by wild creatures. Down on the trail five eagles perch on the old “eagle tree” watching for carp. The loons are still around calling and fishing as they have for thousands of years. Their calls are a ghostly wail as they get ready to get out of here and be on their way to more pleasant climes. I know exactly how they feel.

          I spent my youth trying to get out of Glen Valley and my adult years doing everything I could to stay away from it. Once I left for college, I only came back twice, for two funerals, one for my mother and one for my father. And here I am back at the cemetery on a sunny September morning being laid to rest beside them.
          Rest is not the proper word for a phantasm who hovers over the proceedings, watching because there is nothing else for anyone living or dead to do in this no horse town. Plus living or dead, I am a writer and writers observe. So I float around the empty excavation, the coffin, and in and out of the souls of the mourners. Mourners is not the right word here.Writers should always use the appropriate word. Gawkers would be more accurate.
          It is not often in this town that somebody of note dies and remains to be buried here. More accurately, within memory it never happened before. I am not terribly well known in high brow literary circles, but I cranked out romance novels for three decades and to Harlequin readers I was a star, I suppose. I was particularly good at the mandatory sex scenes two thirds through each book. Matronly readers who scoffed at porn skimmed until they found those naughty bits, read them over and over until the book fell open in the same place, then hung around the book racks at the local supermarkets until the next cheap romance came out.