Friday, June 27, 2014

Life Partner - Part I

By Bettyann Moore

I only have 12 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds of freedom left and I feel utterly paralyzed. Though I have never met any, the Old Ones say that the last 24 hours are the worst, that the paralysis sets in and there’s nothing you can do about it. I believe it now. I always swore that it would be different for me, that I’d be Partnering with somebody – or several somebodies – up to the last second. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There are those who whisper that our last vaccination, always given at puberty, contains a drug that keeps our minds and bodies ready and open for Partnering and that its effects wear off exactly 24 hours before our twentieth birthdays. I believe that now, too. It was as if a light went out in my head and between my legs. The very idea of Partnering makes me sick to the stomach. If it is a drug wearing off, it’s damn timely and effective.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Neutral Ground

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Author's note: this story features characters introduced in Carne Fresco.

I stare at my number. It is printed on a thumb-sized slip of paper in the kind of ink that gets all over your fingers but never wants to wash off. My number today is G106. Yesterday it was H55. I wonder if the guy who replaces the roll of tickets in the take-a-number machine each night is trying to be funny, going backwards through the alphabet while time moves forward. Maybe he just grabs a roll at random. But then I think that can’t be right because the red LED display behind the counters has to read the same thing as the tickets or the system all falls apart. If there’s one thing the DMV values, it’s a system.

A man in a ripped-sleeve denim jacket stares at the ceiling. He’s mouthing words silently, tilting his head this way and that as if weighing them in his head. The words are short, single syllables all, but his head sloshes from side to side as if they weigh tons. The reason the DMV needs its systems are for people like him.

“The word of the day is …” he says out loud.

The younger woman sitting next to him taps at her phone’s screen. That’s what most people do while waiting for their number to be called. It used to be magazines or books, but now it’s all hand-held idiot boxes. Stimulus, response. She pops the gum in her mouth and sighs when she realizes the guy is waiting for a response.

“Is what?” she asks.

The man holds up a finger. “Boobs.”


He nods with a smile. “Ding.”

The woman shakes her head and turns back to her phone.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dance For Me

By Bettyann Moore

Panic was starting to set in as Lynne Gould erased the last brainstorming ideas from the chalkboard. If the Silverman-Gould Agency didn’t come up with a blockbuster ad campaign for Cheesy Pizza Noodles, she – and the rest of the team – could find themselves in the unemployment line. She put the chalk back in the tray, resisted the urge to wipe her hands on her black slacks and faced the group.

“What’s up, people?” she said. “We’re getting down to the wire here and we’ve got nothing.”

No one on the small team met her eyes. Ben Young scribbled on a legal pad. Barb Poston had a compact open and was re-applying mascara. Sylvie Brown was methodically crushing the contents of a bag of Cheesy Pizza Noodles into powder on the conference room table by using a pencil as a rolling pin. Half a dozen bags of the product lay open on the table. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Corncob and Michael Visit the Old Folk's Home - Part 4

Photo by Thomas Wolf via Wikimedia Commons

Corncob stood in Archie’s doorway with his arms folded, doing his very best imitation of a CIA heavy. It would have helped if he was wearing a suit with shiny leather shoes rather than torn work pants, muddy steel-toes, and a t-shirt with the Abbey Road album cover on it. He thought even a pair of sunglasses would have helped if only to armor himself against Archie’s narrowed eyes as Michael poked about. If the geriatric actually had the morphine stashed away, it was nowhere to be found in his room. Thankfully, Archie didn’t seem to have any weapons either because Corncob was pretty sure the old codger wouldn’t hesitate to use one right now.

“You ain’t never going to find it, so just piss off,” Archie said.

Michael went to the closet for the fourth time, listening with one ear cocked as he rapped on the walls.

“If you come clean now,” Michael said, “Special Agent X and I can make sure you won’t get sent to Guantanamo.”

Archie made a rattling noise with his mouth that sounded like a set of dentures getting in the way of a raspberry. “Now I know you two Nimrods aren’t with the government. Gitmo? The spooks only put towel-heads there. Citizens get put under Yucca Mountain with the Nazi rocket scientists.”