By on January 19, 2014

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“It was the summer of ’92, and all I wanted was to be in Seattle. You know, like every other mopey kid with long hair, a flannel shirt and a guitar. But I was 16, with no license and no car. And I lived in Connecticut. It was time to get creative.”

I met Bryce by accident at one of those grad school functions everybody goes to just for the free food. He was your stereotypical late-in-lifer; one of those smart but hopelessly anarchic types that screwed around for two decades, accidentally aged past forty, and finally decided he needed a real career after all. The old grunge tattoos were a dead giveaway, as well as the black crewneck over jeans. He found me more tolerable than the milquetoasts sipping virgin martinis; I felt the same way. Besides, I needed a good subject for my biography class.

(Read More…)

By on October 27, 2013

Photo courtesy of: Rustingmustangs.com

It was all their fault, you know. Regular oil changes and the occasional tune-up would have prevented all this, but that hadn’t happened. The end result was a lifetime plagued with trouble. Little things mostly, but eventually they added up. One thing always led to another and now the car sat at the side of the house, grass growing tall beneath its body while the air leaked slowly from its tires. Forgotten.

Seasons came and went. In the autumn, leaves collected on the old car’s once fine paint. Winter a brought thick coat of ice and dirty snow; the spring, pollen and bugs. In summer, it was dust, hornets and a mouse nest in the air cleaner. One year bled into the next. The result was not really death, but the purgatory of slow degradation. The waiting was interminable, endless. As the old car sagged lifelessly on its suspension, the good times forgotten, the soul that imbues all mechanical things slowly died and in its place something darker began to grow. (Read More…)

By on October 20, 2013

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It was Sunday. Sunday was coffee day.

Gus knew some things, not everything, but he knew enough. He knew that the passenger seat in the old Malibu was his. He knew that when it rained his hips ached, and that in the hot months the floor of the kitchen felt good against his stomach. He knew that he was safe, loved and he knew Sunday was coffee day.

During the week, Stefanie usually brewed a small pot at home before work, but after she had gotten the old Chevy roadworthy, she had made a habit of driving to the diner on Sundays to get a cup of coffee. It kept the car from sitting and Gus loved it.

Stef would get up, attend to her morning routine, and then she would back the red ’66 out of the garage and let it warm up. While it idled, she would slip back inside, grab her purse and call for Gus. He would trot to the passenger side and wait for the door. Stef would let him in, roll down the passenger window, and hop in the driver’s seat.

Once at the diner, Stef would go inside for her coffee. She would speak to the regulars, occasionally engaging in an extended conversation about the unrestored ‘Boo, and more often than not, Gus would get a small slice of bacon or another treat from the woman behind the counter. Another nap on the way home and he would spend the rest of the day in the corner of the living room on a dog bed that was as old as he was.
(Read More…)

By on August 25, 2013

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The letter was longer than he had intended and Jim’s penmanship had suffered towards the end, but now that it was complete he was satisfied that it said everything he wanted to say. He put the cap back on the pen, laid it across the bottom of the paper and left them together in the middle of the kitchen table. He made one last pass through the house to ensure that all the lights were out and that everything that could possibly cause a problem had been unplugged, picked up a small overnight bag off his neatly made bed and headed out to the drive to where his new Oldsmobile sat waiting. (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2013

warning: the song in the video (“A Mistake” by Fiona Apple) contains strong language.

When I announced that fiction would be verboten on these pages, more than a few readers suggested that it might still have a place if it could be clearly marked and separated from the usual content. So here we go: “Sunday Stories” will be the place we put fiction. The usual TTAC loose restrictions on length and content will be further loosened for Sunday Stories, so read at your own peril. We’re welcoming submissions for this. If you readers don’t send me anything, you’ll be forced to see “fiction” about Tennessean hairdressers and Nevada strip clubs and whatnot, so get cracking! – JB

Kenny Huynh awoke alone in his room on the thirty fourth floor of the drab grey tenement. It had been a fitful sleep but it would be enough. He had a job to do. Only his great skill could ensure that the people he cared about had enough to eat. Fortunately he was the best. His skill would prevail. (Read More…)

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