Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Leaning against the car, he twirled a piece of tasseled grass from the roadside.

He didn't look at the house anymore.

The empty windows reminded him of deep water. The more he stared into the murkiness, the more he wondered what could be swimming down there.

A cruiser rolled up. No flashing lights.

Good. Nothing to disturb the heat weighing on the corn. Nothing to disturb the syrupy smell of pollen in the air.

"Captain," the trooper said, nodding.

He nodded back.

"Have you been here for the whole thing?" The trooper gazed into the distance. Probably at the windows.

"Since first light," he said. "The call came in sometime after four."

"What's he saying?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. No word from him. No movement in the house."

"You sure he's in there?"

"Yeah. He's there."

A rumble crept across the farmland.

In the long sweep of sky, black clouds clawed out of the summer heat.

"Is he armed?" the trooper said.

"Assume so. He's got the usual. Shotguns. Hunting rifles."

The trooper adjusted his Kevlar vest.

Over the old outhouse in the yard, the storm took shape. Already, it was coming.

"How long are you going to wait?"

He dropped the long blade of grass, and it landed across his shoes. "That storm's going to be a dandy."

The trooper turned, and he saw himself in the reflection of the man's sunglasses.

"You know what I used to think when I was little?" he said. "I used to think that big thunderstorms whipped up because they were coming for someone. Somebody bad. Somebody who messed up. All that wind and lightning spells punishment for someone."

He stared at the lean in the front porch. The flaking paint on the window pane.

The house wasn't holding it's breath any more. No longer choking in the heat.

"Yeah," he said. "Don't move the guys any closer. Let's wait a bit. That storm's on its way."

He didn't tell the young man that he knew that fellow wasn't going to walk out of there. That he felt it in the stillness. Even breathing changed a place, and the house now sounded like eons frozen in stone.

The first raindrop hit his arm.

Just a few more minutes to let the world attend to its business.

The wind would bend the trees, and the black storm would come.

Monday, July 28, 2008


I used to live in Buffalo.

Not that one up there.

Buffalo, New York.

Not that big a deal, really. It had its cool points. Wings. Beef on Kimmelweck (a Kaiser roll with rock salt and caraway seeds). It was really close to Canada.

But still, just a city.

The thing is, I lived there between the ages of 7 and 14, and damn, those are some important years. Whenever I hear Fleetwood Mac, Gypsy, or Kim Carnes, Betty Davis Eyes, I'm back there. Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd were on Saturday Night Live. New wave music was on the radio. My parents played in a midnight bowling league, and once in a great while, they let me go.

I didn't want to leave Buffalo. And to this day, I feel I missed an entire life because we moved away.

New neighborhood. New school. Isolation.

They changed me.

Deep down I believe I'm better off for having my comfort ripped away.

Stronger. Watchful. Far more capable.

If only I could stop wishing to go back.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Losing My Religion

              I thought that I heard you laughing
              I thought that I heard you sing
              I think I saw you try

              --Losing My Religion, R.E.M., Cover by Tori Amos

He saw her sitting alone.

She glanced at him and stirred her drink.

The ice cubes swirled lazily with her straw.

"Hey," he said.

She didn't look up. "Hey."

"They abandoned you here?"

"Looks that way."

"That's pretty cold," he said.

No answer.

Even the ice cubes didn't make a sound.

He thumbed toward the group chuckling at the bar. "If you want, you can--"

"No. Thanks. I'm going to head out," she said. "Right after I finish this."

"It's just some people from work."

"You better head back before they miss you."

He straightened. If only those damn ice cubes would stop moving.

"You know, I left a message on your cell phone," he said.

"You left two, actually."

"Okay, two. I guess was giving you the benefit of the doubt."

"I've been busy," she said.

"Sure you have."

She took a drink.

"You know," he said, "usually this is the point where I wander away not understanding what the hell happened and thinking I blew it. This is the point where I apologize and wonder what's wrong with me."

She finally looked up. She did have amazing eyes. Too bad.

"But not this time," he said

She nodded a yeah-okay-gotcha kind of nod.

"So, I just want to thank you."

"Oh?" she said. "For what?"

"For saving me a whole lot of trouble."

Not long after, he saw her empty table had filled again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Writing Roundtable--"Running Wind"

Before we get started, hop over to Book Roast sometime today. I'm the Roast Master turning up the heat on Jeff Somers and his novel The Digital Plague. There's fun, conversation, and a signed copy of his book up for grabs!

In this latest Clarity of Night contest, we saw many amazing approaches to bringing a simple photograph and title to life. As I've always stressed in my contest rules and announcements, my judging is based on writing technique first, then story second. Technical elements are weighted substantially higher. Why do I do this? Because my theory is that if you're a strong writer, any story you choose to write will shine. If you're a great a storyteller, but not strong in technique, any story you write, even a great one, will struggle to come alive on the page.

This roundtable discussion today is to share each other's thoughts on what works and doesn't work in flash fiction. I posed this question to each of yesterday's winners:

What is your personal approach to flash fiction--things you shoot for and things you avoid?

Sarah Hina says: "I usually focus on a driving emotion to propel the story, since the characters are somewhat short-changed in the flash format. I've come to realize how important pacing and readability are to accompany a reader's sense of discovery, so I am learning to make my writing more muscular (less ostentatious), and hopefully more powerful, too."

Sean Ferrell says: "My personal approach to flash fiction is to remember the phrase: In medias res. I think that flash fiction, in order to capture the reader, has to contain the pre-story elements and hint at the post-story elements. It must "read bigger" than it actually is. Unlike a snapshot I don't think it should be merely descriptive of a moment. I am loathe to simply describe a thing or person in a short-short. Actions should reveal what is necessary for the reader. Hair color, physical size, other details which longer pieces give space for are peeled away. I think it's not unlike witnessing something awe-inspiring or shocking (a birth, a death) where the actions of the event itself bring more of who the participants are to the fore; and even though the event may take seconds it leaves an enormous impact on viewer and participant."

Josh Vogt says: "Since one is so restricted by word count in flash fiction, I try to aim for sentences and dialogue that pull double duty as both action and description. Plus, I know readers have great imaginations themselves, and often fill in the scenery 'cracks' for themselves, freeing up a lot of embroidery words that one might be tempted to pad the story with."

Paul Liadis says: "My goal in flash fiction is my goal in all writing: to entertain and hopefully to get the reader to think a bit. I definitely try to avoid superfluous description in flash fiction because you don't have the space for it with a limited word count. I hate a lot of description as a reader anyhow, so I try to avoid it in all my writing. I've found that a good way to tell a story in a small amount of words is to use dialog to move the story along and let the readers fill in the blanks."

Jeff Brandimarte says: "What I aim for most in a flash fiction piece is a fully realized story, with a beginning, middle, and end. Though it is always a happy accident when a flash fiction piece spurs one on to write something longer, I don't go into these with the notion that I'm writing a sketch."

Charles Gramlich says: "I remind myself first that the canvas is small. There's probably not room for more than two characters, and usuallly only one twist. Of course, every word has to count, although I've found from experience that I can cut material pretty drastically so I don't mind if the first draft goes even a 100 to 200 words over the count I'm looking for. Then, focus on the visuals."

What do think? Can you see these approaches at work in the winning entries? What are your struggles or theories in flash fiction?

We've shared our creations, now let's share how we got there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Winners Announcement--"Running Wind" Short Fiction Contest

After another wonderful contest experience, complete with stunning writing, new friends, and great mutual support, it's my pleasure to recognize the following writers:

1st Place--SARAH HINA, And Miles to Go Before She Sleeps (#27)
[Prize: $25 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Running Wind" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)]

2nd Place--SEAN FERRELL, Reversal (#56)
[Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate]

3rd Place--JOSH VOGT, Time is a Road (#49)
[Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate]

4th Place--PAUL LIADIS, Ar'n Man (#39)
[Prize: $10 Amazon gift certificate]

5th Place--JEFE B, You Can't Get There from Here (#61)
[Prize: $5 Amazon gift certificate]

Honorable Mention--CHARLES GRAMLICH, Precious Cargo (#1)

Honorable Mention--SCOTT SIMPSON, Blurred Vision (#6)

Honorable Mention--POSOLXSTVO, Anywhere But Here (#19)

Honorable Mention--SCOTT ELLIS, Freebird (#32)

Honorable Mention--AERIN, Dreamland Eyes (#62)


Readers' Choice--CHARLES GRAMLICH, Precious Cargo (#1)
[Prize: $15 Amazon gift certificate, 8 x 10 print of the "Running Wind" photograph (inscribed by Jason Evans)]

1st Runner-Up--SARAH HINA, And Miles to Go Before She Sleeps (#27)

2nd Runner-Up--JOSH VOGT, Time is a Road (#49)


As always, choosing was painful. You all deserve a massive round of applause. Everyone has something valuable to take away.

Just how successful was it? Your 64 entries have generated 17,124 hits from 4,755 unique visitors! I'm grateful for such a wonderful turnout.

Over the course of next few days, Aine and I will be adding comments to each entry saying what each of us liked best about it. So much talent here. Wow!

Don't let the community end here. I hope to see all of you back at The Clarity of Night and on your own blogs. I'd love to trade links if you're up to it!

On the great suggestion of Aerin, I'm going to open a post-contest writing roundtable tomorrow. In comments, we can discuss flash fiction, successful approaches to writing, and trade ideas and techniques. I'll ask each of the winners to give us a thought to get the discussion started.


Thanks again for a great contest experience and for all of the excellent writing. Give the winners a pat on the back for their outstanding work.

The Clarity of Night will now be powering down from contest mode and returning to normal content.

It's been great fun! Feel free to contact me anytime.

You will always find a welcoming place here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Readers' Choice Voting is Closed

That's it, everyone! The votes are in, and we're counting down the hours until the winners announcement tomorrow morning.

The commenting and support in this contest has been astounding. Thanks for a wonderful contest week!

If you're in the mood for more fun and comraderie (and if you like to win books), stop by Book Roast this week. We're roasting five books (and their authors) in five days. Mingle, try your hand at answering funky questions, and maybe come away with a prize. I'll be the Roast Master on Tuesday.

Hope you stop by!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No More

Keep those votes for Readers' Choice coming! You all have done a wonderful job commenting and supporting each other. I love to see all the new friends being made.

In keeping with tradition and spirit of community, I always do a story myself. Here is what I felt moving on the running wind.

No More
by Jason Evans

He shifted gears.

The forest pulled into a blur with his speed.

As his thoughts churned, the curves folded and unfolded, and he slid deeper into the dark exhale of the trees.

Her devil's smile.

The yellow lines straightened and rose.

Her laugh when she didn't want to laugh.

Ahead, a hill sketched darkness against the twilight.

The skin on her shoulder. Like a sunset on calm water.

The weight of the bike lifted.

The bending of her neck.

He soared from the road into milky blue.

Ripping into her. Her arson eyes.

Gravity dragged at him.

Crashing against her naked body. The sweetest violence.

He sank back into the seat and rumbled with the scream of the engine.

In the valley, the motorcycle leaned deep with the rolling land.

Her vicious smile. Her Sadistic words.

He tasted her on the wind.

How he wanted to save her.

How she needed.

To hurt him.

He squeezed out the thoughts, but they wriggled through.


The speed swept him faster and faster. A farewell billboard whooshed back with the lonely state line.

Out of the forest to the edge of fields, a warm pocket of honeysuckle bathed him.


Even without her.

Even without anyone.

The claw grip on his chest relaxed. One painted fingernail. Maybe two.

Ahead, a reflected word emerged in the distance. Welcome. And he tried not to taste her on the wind.

Readers' Choice Award ("Running Wind")

The "Running Wind" Short Fiction Contest is now closed.

Thank you everyone for a wonderful week! The response, the writing, and the mutual support has been fantastic!!


But the fun is not over!

Voting for the Readers' Choice Award is now open!

This portion of the contest is open to all people who submitted an entry. Here are the rules:

  1. Contest participants are invited to vote on their top 5 favorite entries by emailing me their votes to jevanswriter at yahoo dot com.
  2. Please vote by entry number and list your votes from 1 to 5 with 1 being your top vote.
  3. I will award 5 points for your 1st vote, 4 points for your 2nd vote, 3 points for your 3rd, 2 points for your 4th, and 1 point for your 5th.
  4. You may not vote for your own entry. Please specify your entry number at the beginning of your email.
  5. At the close of Readers' Choice Award voting, I will tally the points. The winner will be the entry with the most points.
  6. I guarantee at least one Readers' Choice Award; however, depending upon the results of the contest, I reserve the right to award additional Readers' Choice Awards in the order of their rank. Additional awards, if given, may be with or without a prize.

As you read, please keep the comments coming. Feedback and appreciation is the fuel along the lonely road of writing. If you find folks whose writing moves you, visit their blogs or ask where you can find more. Enjoy your own judging, and above all, have fun!

Cast your votes before Sunday, July 20, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (U.S.).

Lastly, in the tradition of Clarity of Night contests, tomorrow I will share my own vision of the "Running Wind" photo. Have a good night!

"Running Wind" Short Fiction Contest


Click HERE for the winners announcement.

Click HERE for the contest announcement, prizes, rules, and judging information.

Index of Entries
Aerin, Dreamland Eyes (#62) HONORABLE MENTION
Amy T., Winnie Rides Again (#16)
Angel, Done (#59)
Ansari, Sameera, Highway No 57 (#26)
Avila, Esther, Letting Go (#45)
BernardL, Childish Things (#5)
Caffrey, Angelique H., Lunar Cycles (#57)
Camptown, Dottie, Shadow Cast – 4:18 (#34)
Canterbury Soul, Cold Coffee (#54)
Courtland, Linda, Riding to Extinction (#21)
Durfee, Mark, Being an Environmentalist Requires Some Sacrifice (#40)
Ellis, J. Scott, Freebird (#32) HONORABLE MENTION
Ello, Speed (#18)
Evans, Jason, No More Your Host
Ferrell, Sean, Reversal (#56) SECOND PLACE
Gilbert, K. Lawson, Visiting You In Ward B (#13)
Gordon, Betty, The Phone Call (#33)
Gramlich, Charles, Precious Cargo (#1) READERS' CHOICE & HONORABLE MENTION
Greenberg, KJ Hannah, Squamata’s Rumble: Certain Results of Biker Attitude (#38)
Hina, Sarah, And Miles To Go Before She Sleeps (#27) FIRST PLACE
JaneyV, Blind Ambition (#53)
Jefe B, You Can’t Get There From Here (#61) FIFTH PLACE
Joujan, Anna G., On Her Own (#14)
Karlan T, The Last Mile (#46)
Kechula, Michael A., Heading for Los Banos (#30)
Kempka, Hal, Forever Together (#42)
King, Ronald, Pure Evel (#15)
La Violette, Rusty, Ridin’ in the Dark (#28)
Laughingwolf, Hubris... (#55)
Lena, It All Is Over (#25)
Liadis, Paul, Ar’n Man (#39) FOURTH PLACE
Lidell, Pernille Novotni, The Right Decision (#48)
Lidell, Peter, Me, Myself and I (#47)
Lynn, Rita, First Blush (#20)
Martinez, Mike, Alone in the Dark (#11)
Millie, Losing Freedom (#31)
Montgomery, J.C., Out Running (#43)
Mystico, Running Away (#2)
Nicolson, Ewen, You Don’t Know Who You’re Dealing With, Do You? (#51)
Nothingman, The Name of Hope (#37)
Odhner, Melanie, Something There (#7)
Ostrander, Beth, The Gray Ghost (#10)
Perl-Oshins, Sheri, GPS (#9)
Pinto, Joanita, Birthday Happy (#35)
Poppen, Sharon, Blond Hair (#4)
Posolxstvo, Anywhere But Here (#19) HONORABLE MENTION
Salas, Alexander, Yogi’s Last Ride (#3)
Seamans, Sandra, Running Psych-Oh (#8)
Simpson, Scott, Blurred Vision (#6) HONORABLE MENTION
Mr. Schprock, Not a Jap Bike (#58)
Summers, J., You Go Ghoul Friend (#41)
SzélsőFa, The White Room (#29)
Teglia, Charlene, Mystery Hill (#60)
Tomlinson, James R., Crisscrossing Over (#22)
Trexler, Roger Dale, Chameleon (#17)
Trizzino, Catherine, A Short Fast Ride (#52)
Vesper, Time and Again (#50)
Vinson, Missy, Goodnight, Ladies (#64)
Vogt, Josh, Time is a Road (#49) THIRD PLACE
Watters, Charlene, Born to be Wild (#23)
Watters, Kim, Running Wind…Whispering Shadows (#24)
Wavemancali, Robin’s Flight (#44)
Weathers, Julie, Chasing the Moon (#63)
Wuff Al, Only One Thing (#36)
Young, Henry, Bitch (#12)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Entry #64

Goodnight, Ladies
by Missy Vinson

Screaming over his body, the wind disheveled any remainder of the ordered life Norman led. Flying twenty-six inches off the ground at an exhilarating speed does that.

Norman hugged each sensual curve in the road with a perfect balance of nonchalance and powerful control. As he glanced askew to avoid the brights of on-coming traffic, Norm sensed a female in the passing car, knowing she was imagining his smooth dexterity in another way altogether. The taut, worn leather encasing Norman was more than protective road gear – it revealed an animal nature displayed in his puma-like posture. Crouched low for speed, Norman did indeed appear almost predatory.

Licking his lips and scanning the roadside as he stopped at a light, Norman noticed the looker from the night before. He gunned the engine the second the light turned green. The wheels spun, creating an unforgettable mark with sound, smoke and a few sparks. She’d move a little quicker next time, maybe slide in behind him and slip her arms around him before he peeled off again. It was her call; Norman didn’t chase anyone.

He picked up speed again, weaving in and out of cruising cars full of wandering teens. A vibration hit him in the chest. Norman pulled over and quickly slid off his helmet.

“This is Norm…”

“Norman Mankin, where the hell are you? I need those diapers, NOW! The twins are both wet, and there’s only one left!”

“I’ll be home right away, dear!”

“That damn bike…”

Entry #63

Chasing the Moon
by Julie Weathers

The beacon of light before her seemed to point the way to the rising moon. Somewhere deep in her soul she imagined she might even catch that luminous, silver disk if she just kept riding long enough.

Might not catch it, but I'm damned sure going to try.

Marge chuckled softly. What would her kids think if she told them she spent all night long chasing the moon? They would probably want her to repeat it so they could record it and use it as proof she was incompetent.

Frank wouldn't, though. He was the one who helped her pick out the bike and taught her to ride it. He knew her heart while her other children only looked at her wrinkles.

A doe stepped out of the trees ahead of her, twitching those great ears and watching as she approached. Marge raised a finger in greeting. The doe flashed her tail and bounded back into the forest. She was wise to be cautious. Marge gave thanks she wasn't a deer. She had no desire to be careful or prudent or even sensible.

She smiled again as she thought about riding up to the senior center before she embarked on her little road trip. Gretta had fainted. Barbara shivered at the thought of bugs in her teeth.

Even Marge had to admit to herself that wasn't very appealing, It wasn't a concern anymore, though. She lost her teeth about forty miles back when she hit that bump.

Entry #62

Dreamland Eyes
by Aerin

You smell cow manure even with the wind beating your face at 70 mph. Skip brought me here. Nighttime in the corn fields. White trash faerieland. I haven't been on this road in years, but the bike knows the way.

I pull through rows of adolescent corn and stop.

“Where are we?” Annie asks, dismounting.

“Starcatcher's Rock,” I say. “I used to hang out here. With guys.”

She walks around it, puts her fourteen-year-old palms against its ancient face.

“It's pretty,” she says. I nod. Wet my lips. Skip brought me here young, young enough I only wanted to watch the sky.

She perches on the rock, doesn't look at me.

“Do you regret it?”

“What? Messing around?”

“Having me. Giving me up.”

“Sure,” I lie. She waits. “Okay, no. I don't regret it. You were a cute baby.” I sit at her feet. “But I wanted to go out on Friday nights. Go to prom. Maybe college.”

“Did you? Go to your prom?”

I shrug. “Yep. Hot pink dress. Big hair.”

“How about college?”

“Yeah. Nursing degree. Obstetrics.”

She sighs. Starlight drops into her dirty blonde hair. Did she inherit that wistful look or is it something all of us born here share? Skip said I had dreamland eyes. To see them in this stranger, my daughter, catches me off guard.

“Do you want to head back?” I ask.

“Not really,” she says, and hops off the rock, heads toward the bike.

“Me neither,” I say, and follow her.

Entry #61

You Can’t Get There From Here
by Jefe B

Watch, says Frank. He mounts the unicycle swiftly and circles the yard.

Now you, he says. Frank holds my hands for balance at first, picks me up from the dust, wipes the blood from my split lip. Again, says Frank. After three days, bruises cover my body. A ringing persists in my left ear. But I am circling the yard.

Now we add the juggling, says Frank, pulling from his shed a wagon loaded with cannonballs.

Our finale will be something Frank calls the Wheels of Fire. He saw it performed in Germany during the war. Two men on motorcycles in a spherical cage of wire mesh, buzzing around one another, each high-speed pass a near collision. A ring of flames introduced at the end of the act. The crowd roared, says Frank.

Each day, through the bars of my locked cell at the back of the hayloft, I watch Frank return with spare parts. From the pile of debris two bikes begin to take shape, one large, one small, flimsy looking contraptions of battered chrome. He assembles an iron ring and ignites it just as the sun is setting one evening. He looks up toward my hayloft and begins to make his way across the yard.

I watch Frank approach. I finger the rusty manacle at my wrist. I hide a cannonball in the hay. I look out beyond the rustling trees to where I know the dirt road joins a stretch of black top, leading away.

Entry #60

Mystery Hill
by Charlene Teglia

“Your name’s Lee, right?”

I nodded, not trusting myself to open my mouth just now. I got up and untangled myself from my wrecked ten speed. The frame was bent. Now I’d have to walk in the gathering dark, a nice, slow-moving target for winged things. Unbelievable bad luck that I’d darted into his path and had to swerve into a tree to keep from going head-on with a Harley Sportster.

“You okay?”

I nodded again, wishing he’d just go. There was no way I could explain any of this. Especially not to Nick Austin.

He didn’t grant my wish. Instead, he made a gesture at the seat behind him. “Want a ride?” When I didn’t answer, he added, “If you like to go like a bat out of hell, it helps to have a motor.”

“Mind giving me a demonstration?” I hopped on and tried to act nonchalant, as if riding behind the class bad boy was no big deal. I could die of embarrassment later. Right now, I just didn’t want to die.

He gave a short laugh. “You’ll get scared before I run out of torque.”

I was already scared, but not of speed. “Try me.”

“Are you in trouble, Lee?”

I looked over my shoulder and saw two pairs of wings outlined against the moon. I didn’t think the gargoyles had spotted us. Yet. “Yeah. I’m dead if I don’t get home on time,” I said with utter truthfulness.

Entry #59

by Angel

My life was beginning.
I had nowhere to go but forward. No one to worry about but me.
How many times I had asked myself why it had taken me more than thirteen years to reach this point. I had lost count. Then again… no amount of nagging or begging or pleading had ever gotten through to the bitch. I had tried reasoning with her. I had run away. She always found me. The bruises healed quickly enough… but I still bore the scars. They would never go away.

But enough was enough. I was finally outta there.

And I had her bike.

Inevitably, the mental self interrogation started.
I had hoped that the lines flashing under the wheels would be hypnotising and help keep my mind off what I had just done. That the light, dark, light, dark stuttering of the streetlights would distract me. That the engine beneath me would numb my mind and my body and let me just escape before I started grilling myself.
The “what ifs” started to cloud my thinking, taking my focus away from the road under me and onto the whirlpool that was my subconscious.
What if someone looked for me?
What if someone noticed her bike was gone?
What if one of her clients wondered where I had gone?
NO! No, no, no! I couldn’t think like that. Not now.

I glanced down at the severed head in the bottom of the sidecar.
I knew I was free.

Entry #58

Not a Jap Bike
by Mr. Schprock

His T-shirt said in big letters: "I'D RATHER EAT SHIT THAN RIDE A JAP BIKE." Not too subtle. I thought those undercover guys were supposed to be inconspicuous, blend in, you know? So anyway, he comes into my office with a fucking tire iron, no preliminaries, and nearly caves in my skull, just like that. I'm old, but the reflexes are still good. I dive and then I'm up again. Dope leaves the door to my office open, so out I go, Mister Shit Eater hot on my trail.

"Lester says 'hi,' you spic cocksucker!" he yells, spit flying everywhere.

I don't bother tell him I ain't a spic. I run to my car but see the tires have been slashed. Figures. It's near midnight, no help anywhere. Score one for him.

"You're a cop!" I yell back as I run around the car. "Serve and protect, asshole!"

He doesn't dare use his gun, too traceable. But that slows him down, because he didn't know I knew he was a cop. I watch his dumb face form a big question mark. Just enough time to reach in my glove box.

"Tire iron. Gun. Gun beats tire iron," I shout, and let him have it, four rounds. Moron still has the big question mark on his face. He does a drunken ballet step and hits the pavement. Hard.

Stupid cop. Nice bike. Little sloppy going from second to third though.

Entry #57

Lunar Cycles
by Angelique H. Caffrey

The stage is dark except for a spotlight in which a young woman stands before a tombstone.

Audrey: Hi. [lightly touches tombstone] I’m sorry. [pauses] I… I… don’t know what to say. Except that I’m… sorry. [pauses] I kept the license plate… It’s been eleven days, you know? Eleven days. Weird. We’ve never been apart eleven days. [suddenly laughs] Oh, wait. Except for that time… remember… you were hammered and made out with that girl… You were a real bastard. It’s a good thing I didn’t… [trails off, closes eyes]

Sound of crickets.

Audrey: [strangely giddy] Hear that chirping? Crick-it! Crick-it! God, I love that. It’s beautiful. It’s so alive. [suddenly opens eyes] How could you be so goddamned selfish? How could you do this? We had a life together, you son of a bitch. And you had to go and die. Well, thanks. Thanks a hell of a lot. [cries] I’m… I miss you.

Sound of jet plane overhead.

Audrey: [lifts face to sky] I’m looking up… are you looking down? [pauses] There’s not much moon tonight. [pauses] What did it feel like, Jack? Did it hurt? You were such a mess they wouldn’t let me see you. Your dad – he saw you. He fainted. Said he’d never talk about it. But I want to know. I want to know everything. [sits on grave] Everything.

Audrey: I’m tired. [lies down] Are you tired? [puts her ear to grave] I hear your heart beating. [closes eyes] Sweet dreams.

Entry #56

by Sean Ferrell

For reasons he couldn't fathom, his motorcycle only moved in reverse. He engaged the engine and lurched backward hard. He called a friend, a gear-head with perpetually dirty nails, asked him to look it over.

His friend looked. "Nothing's wrong. Works fine." His friend climbed aboard and ran it around the barren yard, kicked up pebbles. He left a circle of raw earth behind. "See."

But for him it ran backward. He motored the wrong way, off the yard, into the street.

His friend watched. "God damn."

He trucked it to a repair shop. Two days later they called. "Nothing's wrong with it." He picked it up. In the parking lot he ran it in a lazy circle, backward, watching for cars in his mirrors. He was able to lift his feet and complete the circle.

He practiced riding at night, after his shift, even tired as he was and knew he always would be. At first he stayed in the neighborhood. Dogs barked and filthy kids chased him, laughing. After a week dogs barked but kids didn't chase, or look. He found himself on the highway out of town, the engine's roar in his bones and the wind at his back. He steered by second nature, his eyes on both the horizon and mirrors. He smiled in the dark as the town he had come from faded to a glow outshone by the lights of his machine, its noise the only warning to those behind him that he approached.

Entry #55

by Laughingwolf

i sit astride the '53 hardtail panhead chopper as it throbs thunderously 'tween my thighs, the wind whips wild hair from a fevered brow, leathers flap against bare skin

we approach 120 mph on the tar-smooth blacktop

tendrils of joy perc to the surface of my addled brain, i scream it into the ether:

'yeah, ya sumbitches!

'baddest of all badasses!

'live to ride, ride to live!

'outta mah way, muthafukkahs!


we catch, and leave stupefied in our wake, some dorky dude and his lame-ass family duddering along in the constricting cage of their hummer, while we ride free

my contemptuous laugh soars above the bike's roar, to add insult to their utter humiliation


i'm da king!

without warning, the park grass rises to smack me upside the head

helmet askew, i open my eyes and spit dendritis, as blood seeps from a split lip

i see my honda elite 80 on its side, still purring softly

i limp over to retrieve my bike, and burble off... to catcalls and raucous laughter

i'd daydreamed myself into another fantasy

Entry #54

Cold Coffee
by Canterbury Soul

He knew it. It was no longer an embrace. She was merely placing her arms round his waist. As his Harley took them down the road to her home, he knew he was just running after the wind. This route he had travelled the last three years had become strangely unfamiliar.

She opened the door, uttered, “Coffee?” and disappeared into the kitchen. He looked around and noticed nothing abnormal. Yet, he sensed estrangement in this house they had made love countless times. He sat on the couch, realising he had to make a decision soon.

She handed him the coffee and sat opposite him, never looking into his eyes.

“This coffee is cold.”

“I thought you like it this way.”

“I like it this way only with ice.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll change it.”

“Never mind.”

She crossed her legs and sipped her coffee. He picked up his and drank it. He had no choice now. He withdrew his gun from his bag quietly and questioned, “Seeing someone now?” She said nothing.

“Planning to ditch me?”

“I’m in love with someone else.”

“How could you?” He pointed his gun at her.

BANG! He collapsed, clutching his bullet-hit leg. He felt woozy and was losing his vision. He had been drugged.

“Because she never likes cold coffee,” a young lady spoke as she walked to him with a pistol. He was aghast to see his own daughter before she put another round in his head. The lovers began working on their cover-up.

Entry #53

Blind Ambition
by JaneyV

Kathleen stood in her leathers and biker boots cursing the heat of the Southern Californian sun. She’d left Dublin a week before determined to do this one thing. She needed this like she needed air in her lungs. Images of James Dean and Marlon Brando, wild and free on the open road, thrilled her private fantasies as she’d led a life of quiet duty and middle-class respectability. She’d hushed those foolish thoughts before they’d made a sound. They were locked down deep inside.

It was during a routine eye-test that she first heard the term macular degeneration, thrown into air as though it was a wee thing, an insignificance. But as the months went by and the darkness crowded in, Kathleen realised that she simply had no more time left to ignore her longings. A few key-taps into a search-engine brought her here, 5000 miles from where her dreams had been imprisoned.

“Ready Kitty?”

“Ready when you are Mutt.”

He led her gently by the arm to his enormous Harley and helped her on the back. As the engine roared to life she wrapped her arms around his waist and clamped her legs to his outer thighs. She felt 21 again. The thought made her giggle.

She’d made it. She was on the back of a Harley about to ride Route 66 the whole way from Santa Monica to Santa Fe. She was 65 and damn near blind.

But I’m breathing at last! I’m still alive!

Entry #52

A Short Fast Ride
by Catherine Trizzino

Another argument. I head for my Harley - my salvation. A short fast ride should cure what ails.

I see her on the side of the road about ten miles into my ride. Under a slice of the moon’s light I can see she is gorgeous.

I slow the bike and she looks my way.

“Hop on,” I say. Aware that Jenna won’t forgive me if she finds out. Unable to stop the wheels in motion.

She gets on the bike and wraps her arms around me. Her body radiates warmth, rivaling the heat from the Harley’s engine.

“I’m, Mike,” I say.


“Great name.”

She says nothing. Just squeezes me tighter. I’ve never cheated. Not even close. Don’t think I will tonight either, but damn this feels good.

I think about Jenna. Our lives have been intertwined forever. I still love her. I always will.

I slow the bike down. I know what I need to do.

She begins to kiss my neck and I start to pull away, but it is too late. The cold blade touches my neck.

Intense pain floods me and my last thought is of the woman I love.

Entry #51

You Don’t Know Who You’re Dealing With, Do You?
by Ewen Nicolson

I’m behind the clock and I have to deliver. I take a left at the crescent, down the hill, gathering speed, crouched behind the bars, a devotee at the church of aerodynamics. What was it old Kev Schwantz used to say?

“See God, then back off....

Many people want me to die. Some for good reason, others for no reason at all. They all have their chances and I don’t always make it hard for them.

It’s the way of my kind.

The roads are quiet and I open her out, feel the power throb through the bars, the hum and rumble of the engine and road surface, the trees at the side of the road pressing down on me, accentuating the sense of speed. My mother had warned me about this sort of work, but nights like this always made it worthwhile.

A gravel driveway leads me to the door of a large white building. I park the bike and extract the package, checking my flanks for possible attacks. I press the doorbell and wait........

“You’re late! Let me check this stuff.”

“It’s not very hot, is it? I asked for Meat Feast, not Pepperoni!! And I said no bloody pineapple on the Special! Jesus! you people! Take it all back, I’m not payin’ for this crap..........”

The door slams, but I know he’s bluffing. I wait for the lights to go out then post it, bit by bit, through his letterbox. He’ll thank me in the morning..............

Entry #50

Time and Again
by Vesper

A ride from TIMEAGAIN Inc. was the perfect gift for a boy who lived for his hologame motorbikes; a boy who has never been …outside in his eighteen years. Mickey.

Adam had been a child when they sealed the Cities forever but he remembered playing among the last tufts of grass, under the dismal clouds of pollution. Now he could offer his son something infinitely superior.

In the bare launch room, the fastest bikes awaited them, three Suzukis Hayabusa, splendid antiques from the late 20th century.

He noticed Mickey looking for the neural net as he straddled his Suzuki. “No, boy, this is the real thing...” How he loved his son’s puzzled look…

He’d planned everything meticulously. Three rides to gain Guide Harlan’s loyalty and arrange the security details. His remaining fortune for the fourth.

The engines roared. The wall swirled in a psychedelic curtain and, as they charged through it blindly, air hit their eyes through the open visors. Sweet real air.

The sky held hues of bright pink, telltale of the impending sunset, stars already lit above the snowed peaks of Sierra Nevada.

Mickey’s braking reflex burned a black snake on the white concrete. He climbed down, staggering like a perpetual mariner cast to shore, and knelt, hugging the bike, sparkling tears in his eyes.

“California,” Harlan smiled. “Welcome to 1999…”

They tied Harlan well, to exonerate him of their escape.

“Happy birthday, son. Come on!”

They raced to the track’s fence, then onto the winding road beyond.

Entry #49

Time is a Road
by Josh Vogt

Time is a road, they said. Two lanes. Maybe some stop signs.

They never mentioned the detours. The potholes. The roadkill. The washed out portions flooded by quantum streams. The damn chaos butterflies slamming into the windshield.

This bike, a marvel, a gift, prints its treads across the continuum. Faces flash in the headlight, along the periphery. Ghostly then gone. The highbeam pierces the fog a few centuries ahead. Far enough for me to dodge alternate Hitler histories, to skirt futures filled with monkey-men.

I gas up at the Great Inflation of the 60s and 70s. My tire goes flat on the population spike of 3193.

Patched. Drive on.

Time is a road, but this one doesn’t lead to Rome. I’m mapping every mile so others can drive it safely. I’ll show them how to avoid the roadblocks of potential apocalypses. Warn them about swerving over the line and plowing into oncoming existence.

I am the first to drive it, and many will come behind me. They’ll see the skid marks, smell the fumes, note the occasional diamond-dribble of glass and know someone sacrificed much to chart the course they follow.

But first I must find the way home.

Entry #48

The Right Decision
by Pernille Novotni Lidell

The wind is blowing in my hair as I look at the sun setting. I know that it is now or never. My stuff is packed in boxes and I have the most important things in my backpack.

I drive up the road and stop at the red light. I look over my shoulder. Is this going to be the last time I will ever see my hometown? I feel the tears in my eyes. Could it be the wind?

The light turns green, but I am frozen on the spot. Have I made the right decision? Am I out of my mind? I hear horns honk behind me and I start driving again.

I stop at Starbucks for a cup of coffee and a final thought. As I pay for the coffee his picture falls out of my wallet. He smiles at me and I can’t help smiling back. At this moment there is no doubt in my heart. I am leaving home to be with him no matter what it takes.

I drive into the sunset filled with excitement knowing that I might be out of my mind, but at the same time knowing that I am true to my heart.

Entry #47

Me, Myself and I
by Peter Lidell

It wasn’t my fault… was it?!

Of cause not! Bitch! Yeah, she fucking deserved it!

Absolutely! No doubt!

You sure about that

What!? Who said that?!!


What!? Who’s Me??!


What the fu…!? What’s going on here?!

Ahh…I must be stressed out.

Why did you do it?

WHAT?! I haven’t done anything!!

Yeah, right. If that’s floats your boat, then...


Damn, I love this bike. I sure did the right thing buying it. Good thing that I didn’t take that sluts advice. If I had I’d be walking right now.

From now on I will only listen to me. Me, myself and I.

Yeah baby. Finally free. Just me, my bike and the running wind!

You sure about that?

Not you again. Ok, I’ll indulge What shouldn’t I be sure about?!

You tell me...

Ahh..forget about it! If that’s the way we’re doing this then count me out, pall.

Ok ,fair enough. Then tell me this, is it freedom that you feel right now or is it the rush of fear?

Fear!? Fear of what?


Losing!? What are you talking about?!! What’s there to lose? I’m free now! Nobody to answer to anymore.

We always have to answer for what we do. Sooner or later.

Well then, it sure looks like it’s going to be later then..

Maybe. But by then you’ll be left with just ‘you’. No freedom no bike no running wind and no me myself and I. Just You.

Entry #46

The Last Mile
by Karlan T

Lenny was using all cylinders as he throttled down the highway. Like most that ran this stretch, he had a long way to go and a short time to get there. The heat of the highway radiated unbearably even at the witching hour.

He scanned the horizon under the moon, searching for the landmark that would tell him he was nearly home. The trio of plateaus was a beacon haloed by the starlit sky but the obnoxious flashing neon lights of a gas station grabbed his attention. Nothing would be better than home, but now the uncomfortable call of nature gnawed at his mind.

The journey is almost over, one last rest stop won't kill me, he decided.

Suddenly, lights flooded the air around Lenny. He panicked, glancing back to see headlights bearing down on him. Some insane instinct, beyond rationalization, compelled him to donut around and run head long into the paired beams of light.

Breaking free of the siren song, Lenny leaned into the last mile before the station. He strained to not look back. Behind, the growing thunder heightened his fear. The fear snapped his head around. A flash of reflective chrome grill was all he saw before everything went black.

The thunderous roar pulled into the gas station, rolling to a stop. Its engine idled with a guttural growl. "Damn Bugs," it muttered as it pulled Lenny from its chrome capped teeth.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Entry #45

Letting Go
by Esther Avila

Ever since Sarah could remember, Johnny wanted a motorcycle, so it did not surprise her that when he turned 16, it was what he asked for.

“No. Absolutely not,” Sarah said as she turned to face her husband. “You know how I feel about these things. Tommy would still …”

She couldn’t finish the sentence. Her younger brother had been killed on his first motorcycle – at age 16.

“Stop baby,” her husband said as he went to her side and held her. “He’s not Tommy. Look at him. He’s not a little boy anymore. Sooner or later you’ll have to learn to let go.”

She turned to look at Johnny, who had tried so hard to find his identity. Sarah couldn’t help but smile as she saw that the half-man/half-child had fallen asleep on the couch – watching cartoons – his long lean body draped over a stack of pillows on the floor.

She remembered how upset she felt when he cut his hair, first into a Mohawk, later clean-shaven. A lightening bolt tattoo followed and Sarah was relieved when he told her it was only henna.

No matter how big he got, he would always be her little boy, she thought.

“Sweetheart,” her husband interrupted her thoughts, telephone against his chest. “It’s ‘Make a Wish Foundation.’ They are bringing a motorcycle for Johnny to ride.”

Sarah nodded as tears rolled down her face. She knew she couldn’t take Johnny’s last wish away.

Entry #44

Robin’s Flight
by Wavemancali

Robin opened the window and threw down her bag. She didn't worry about the contents, learning long ago to own nothing breakable in this house.

She deftly climbed to the ground flitting from branch to branch like the bird that was her namesake. Picking up her pack she slipped into the shadows of the tree listening as the crashing and screams washed through the open window.

Cold and trembling in the night she heard a throaty growl and allowed herself at last to hope. Fredo’s motorcycle slipped into view at the top of the dead end street. She willed him to come faster so that they could be gone before the neighbors inevitably called the cops.

Wordlessly he handed her a spare helmet and she climbed up. She clasped her arms around his waist not wanting to let go of this treasure that she valued more than gold, more than life itself.

The warmth from his back spreading through her breast washed away the cares of the world. She leaned deeply into him and whispered, “Fly Fredo. Take me away from this place. I’m never coming back.”

The headlights of the bike washed the road before them in a glow of hope while falling darkness engulfed the hell behind. Robin cried for her mother who would not escape, but she now had to think about the new life within her.

Driving through the night into a new sunrise, Robin knew at last that she was free.

Entry #43

Out Running
by J.C. Montgomery

Pushing gently against my back, she lets me know she wants to race, again. I have never outrun her, but I try. It’s a game we play, she and I. Most times, I get a head start. During the day I’m lucky to get a few miles ahead, traffic slowing me down at every turn. But at night, the road is ours.

Just ahead, I see the crest of a hill, signaling a change in terrain. Here is where I lose a little time as the incline slows me down allowing her to gain ground. She comes up fast and does all she can to meet me at the top of the hill. I lean forward, giving my bike every chance to take the incline at the best possible moment, and at the fastest possible speed.

I don’t look back. It’s not necessary, as she is there waiting for me. Like I said, I can never outrun her. How can you race the running wind and ever hope to win? You don’t. You simply play the game and enjoy the brusque breeze of victory as it whips across your face, taking your breath away. However it’s never enough to prevent me from whispering her a song as I race down the hill demanding a rematch, hoping to make the next crest before she does.

Away out here they have a name for rain and wind and fire.
The rain is Tess, the fire's Joe and they call the wind Mariah.


“They Call the Wind Mariah”
Words and Music by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe

Entry #42

Forever Together
by Hal Kempka

Harry had suffered periodic bouts of depression since returning from Iraq. After his Humvee hit an IED outside Mosul, he was medivac’d to the amputee unit at Walter Reed Army hospital. Camille flew to be with him immediately.

He didn’t want her to be married to a cripple, and said if she wanted out of the marriage, he wouldn’t stop her.

“I love you,” she’d said, “whether you have legs or not. So, stop feeling sorry for yourself and learn to live with it.”

He bought her the Harley and sidecar with his first VA disability check.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because I want you to be happy,” he replied. “Besides, you always said you wanted something huge and warm between your legs.”

She smacked him in the head. “You’re all I need baby, even if you’re not huge and warm.”

Now six months later, his depression returned.

“C’mon Harry, let’s go for a ride,” Camille said. “The fresh air will do us good.”

“Nah, you go. I won’t enjoy it,” he replied.

“Sure you will, I guarantee it.”

He shrugged. “Okay, if it’ll make you feel better.”

“I’m not thinking about me, Harry!”

In the garage, Camille helped Harry into the sidecar. They sped down the freeway, holding hands with the wind in their face. Harry hollered he wanted to be with her forever. Neither one noticed the drunk driver until he swerved into their lane and hit them head on, ensuring they would indeed be together forever.

Entry #41

You Go Ghoul Friend
by J. Summers

The ghouls followed me just like I'd planned. They loped in the shadows, gangly limbs out of synch, taking care to stay away from the headlight beam. Everyone knows that nothing melts a ghoul faster than an H7 bulb. I'd puddled three on my way out of the diner parking lot.

The cycle roared beneath me, rattling my teeth as I shifted to gain speed. I'd considered everything when constructing my getaway plan--or so I thought, until I noticed the gas gauge French kissing empty. Damn ghouls had sucked it nearly dry, while I was inside wolfing down a cheeseburger. I'd passed the 'Last Gas Station For Miles' exit five road signs ago. Vegas was another fifty, not that I’d make it to the mecca of neon. It was as elusive as dawn at midnight.

Something gurgled loudly behind me. I didn’t look back. The sound was followed by similar rumbles. The fact that I could hear it over the air buzzing in my ears was a testament to the power of a ghoul’s digestive tract. They’d eaten a half dozen people back at the diner and they were still hungry. Talk about compulsive overeaters. With any luck, I’d give them all heartburn. The bike sputtered and choked, then gradually slowed, bringing my one-way ride down this ghoul highway to an end.

Bona Petite.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Entry #40

Being an Environmentalist Requires Some Sacrifice
by Mark Durfee

mmmdeeummmmmmmdoin’ my job just doin’ my job

ummmdeeummmpollinating pollinating doing what I do.

ummmdeeummdeeummmmm just doing my PLUNK!!!

Damn bugs. Glad I put a windshield on this thing. I might’ve been pickin’ that one out of my teeth.

Entry #39

Ar’n Man
by Paul Liadis

“Will it always feel this odd?” said Douglas, opening his eyes.

“No,” answered Dr. Grim. “You’re body will adapt.”

“But it feels so cold,” said Douglas, touching his face.

“Steel,” said Dr. Grim.

“How about all the dials and numbers? “Will I always…”

“You'll get used to it,” interrupted Dr. Grim. “Everything you need is in the packet the nurse gave you. My advice is to wait a few hours before looking in the mirror. We don't need you back here with a heart attack.”

“Is it that bad?” asked Douglas, peeking at the shape his shadow cast on the floor.
“Not everyone can afford the best parts, son” said Dr. Grim, walking toward the door.

“Sometimes we have to improvise. “

Douglas' shoulders dropped. “What happened, Doc?” he whispered.

“All in the packet,” said the doctor, closing the door behind him.

His mind spinning, Douglas sat alone with his uncertainty. How had he died? Who had paid for the procedure? And why couldn't feel his lips move when he talked?

Douglas opened the envelope with a shaking index finger and removed a thin pamphlet, hoping for answers. Staring back at him was the title: “Your New Head: The First Twenty-Four Hours”.

Laughing, Douglas tossed the packet in the bin marked Biohazard. He would find his answers where all great thinkers do, not in some book, but at the bottom of an icy glass. He was thirsty and his problems could wait. Now, if he could just locate his mouth....

Entry #38

Squamata’s Rumble: Certain Results of Biker Attitude
by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Johnny was a good boy. He regenerated his tail in champion time and made sure to eat both leaves and flies. Day’s off, he obeyed the speed limit, usually.

Summer’s sensual airstream had tickled him awake, moaning gust and heat, in turn. He had tried to ignore that tempestuous summons, willing each of his limbs to sleep, concentrating only on the smell of jasmine and aloe buds, counting the scales on each of his clawed feet. The warm season, unhurried as a sated cockroach, endeavored otherwise.

A new zephyr puffed at him, introducing enticement by first name. Squamata approximated a groan and reached for his goggles.

Lean in body, dexterous, and fleet, Johnny was the sovereign of the merpesset tetrapods, his taunt centimeters assuring mortality for other leaseholders. Only July’s breeze ever beguiled him away from his chopper-earned safety.

Johnny listened. No one else was chirping or whistling. No one else had donned gloves.

Again, the puff of air became insistent. Johnny swallowed, subconsciously, flicking out his tongues and then retracting it to his vomeronasal organ. No other chasse had been mounted. Eagerly, Johnny reached for his cruiser.

Counting himself down, Johnny leapt over the rail, his short neck sailing Earthward before his tail hit orbit. He surpassed his best elapsed time as well as his best terminal speed, his thirty foot free-fall toward cement having been fueled by those lusty atmospheric gases.

So marvelous was his sprint that Crows did not pick up Johnny’s pieces until morning.

Entry #37

The Name of Hope
by Nothingman

The rushing wind in my face harshly wiped away the tears from my eyes. I moved into the next gear and turned the throttle. The faster I drove the less the betrayals hurt.

My wife was having an affair with my boss.

My boss had fired me after I gave 10 years of my life to the company.

My dog refused to recognize me anymore.

The dog was actually the stick that broke the proverbial camel’s back. So, I sold the house, bought the Harley, put the rest of the money in a bank account and left the town I had lived in since the day that I was born.

The next seven months were spent on the road, and the road had not been kind to me. My back hurt from long hours of driving, my face looked old and weather beaten in the rear-view mirror, and my hair was graying.

I was on the road again tonight, my 30th birthday.

Then, I saw the girl standing on the side of the road. A small dog sat by her side.

I stopped the bike.

“I’m going to the next town.” She said.

“Hop on then.”

She sat sideways on the bike and the dog expertly jumped in her lap. She put a hand on my shoulder to balance herself.

I told her my name and asked hers as I started the bike, through the noise of the engine she whispered in my ear, “I am Hope.”

[Nothingman writes at A Story A Day and Poetry.]

Entry #36

Only One Thing
by Wuff Al

It was too late. Before Jean could hear her husband’s warning and react, the bike slammed into her. She was flung some twenty metres away. The rider went down with his Suzuki, dragging for a few seconds.

Tom ran for his heavily-pregnant wife who was bleeding all over. The rider managed to get up and hobbled towards his wrecked vehicle. He looked at Tom through his visor and said, “Sorry, I must really go.” He mounted his bike and left hastily.

Tom held Jean tight in his arms and wept. She was not breathing anymore. His sorrow overwhelmed him. It then turned into rage.

He placed Jean by the pavement. He walked back into his car and started the engine. There was only one thing on his mind.

A few minutes later, Tom’s car was tearing down the streets. Like a whirlwind in the desert, his movement on the road spelled destruction. Inevitably, the rider came into sight. There was no room for a logical uproar. Tom floored the accelerator and moments later, his car rammed the Suzuki……

“Where’s my husband, damn it! Where’s he?” the woman in the labour ward yelled. She was losing her head as the doctor urged her to push the baby out. Her mother-in-law was waiting anxiously outside. Her mobile phone rang loud as she picked up the call. The police officer on the line informed her that her son had died in a hit-and-run incident while riding his bike just half an hour earlier.

Entry #35

Birthday Happy
by Joanita Pinto

60! He was nearing 60!
And the road was an unravelling black ribbon in front of him, calling, teasing, calling.

It was his birthday.
60 he’d turned.
Yeah. 60.

He accelerated the old bike.
The one that faithfully took him to work everyday.
The one that suffered city potholes, traffic that felt like funeral processions.

‘What if I did 60?’ he’d thought
Had never done that ever.
It was a lonely highway.
It had been a lonely life:

Wake up. Pour milk over cornflakes.
Check the newspapers roll out at the printing press.
Clean up the machines, oil the gears.
Have dinner as the neighbor’s cat sat and watched.
On weekends walk through the fair. Never take the ferris wheel.
(He’d been tied to it as punishment when he was four.
Made to go round and round and round till he cried).

Today he was 60.
No going around in circles anymore.
He watched the needle move, move, move.
The wind hummed to him first.
Then it sang. Loud and free, like a rockstar.

He saw the car come up the slope in the rear-view mirror.
He smiled.

He heard the sirens.
To him they sounded like ‘Happy Birthday to You’.

Tomorrow he’d begin 61. Nice.

Entry #34

Shadow Cast – 4:18
by Dottie Camptown

My husband walked from the garage holding his throat to stem the torrent of unstoppable blood. I met him as he collapsed at the back door. The police later concluded that the jagged leg of a metal ladder sliced open his neck as he unsuccessfully tried to hoist it into the rafters.

To stop my nagging, he had been cleaning the garage. It was impossible to get anything out.

I stroked his hair. Our eyes locked together until his lost focus. I felt lucky in the way that people in trauma bargain with how things can be worse - our teenage daughter wasn’t home.

The doorbell rang. I left him to answer the door. A policeman stood holding a helmet covered in Skinny Puppy stickers, mine from college.

“Where did you get that?” I asked.

“Do you own a motorcycle?”

“It’s in the garage.” But by the look in his eyes it was not.

She had taken it. Our daughter broke rules with the inadequate judgment of someone who has never viewed the panorama of consequence. She hadn’t sped. She wore a helmet. She simply hit the soft earthen lip of a darkening road.

“Is that blood on your shirt?” he asked looking behind me, my husband’s body in plain view through the open back door. We both tried to make a linear narrative of seemingly disparate events.

He drew his gun as a precaution. I sprang toward him to flesh away the bones of his uncertainty. He justifiably fired.

Entry #33

The Phone Call
by Betty Gordon

I settled on the seat of my pride and joy, the “Horseman,” a black Harley with maroon stripes down its side, remembering the phone call I received hours before. “Come to County Road 96 at dusk for the ride of your life.” The caller didn’t give a name but spoke in familiar terms, a practical joke in all probability. I admit caution lights blinked, but I love a mystery and I love to ride during this time of the evening, so ‘nuff said.

I pulled out of a ridiculous amount of traffic onto County Road 96 and found it void of cars—strange, weird, enough to make me feel like I had wandered into “The Twilight Zone” with Rod Serling riding on my shoulder. The sun kissed the earth welcoming impending nightfall. I shook my head longing to hear the whip-poor-wills that I knew would be singing and see the dragonflies I knew would be flying along with me at 36 mph.

Sweet fragrances filled my nostrils, but it wasn’t long before the aromas flowered into robust odors causing my head to spin. About that time, I reached the end of the road that faced a dense forest. A man emerged from the woods holding a vibrant crystal unlike any I’ve ever seen. He said I could have one wish that would come true immediately. I wished to ride on this road during dusk forever.

I am still riding.

Entry #32

by J. Scott Ellis

I’d almost forgotten what this feels like. The open road. The wind in my hair. Fuck the helmet law. Nobody is tying me down with rules again.

I’m never looking back.

I’m free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change.

Skynyrd , baby! That’s what I’m talking about.

What happened to the Freebird I used to be? We had a pact that we’d never sell out. But one by one we got picked off by our own private Yoko’s like low-hanging fruit.

It’s not like it happened for me all at once. Lacy was all about the gang at first, but then she started to tug. It’s just for the weekend! But then it was just another. And another. The boys saw it for what it was and called me out. It came down to a choice.

But when Lacy got pregnant, there was only one choice.

Marriage, house, addition, mom-van, payments, painting, mowing, weeding, reaping what you fucking sowing, another kid, screaming, fighting, crying, and Lacy not even remotely the girl I met.

And my glorious Hog became a rusting derelict, banished to the recesses of the garage.

But if I were being honest, I was… empty …before Lacy. The guys had my back in a fight, but they didn’t keep me warm at night, or nurse me when I was sick.

And, sure, my kids can be righteous pains, but they’re…

… Just like me.

That’s not so bad.

No U-Turn, huh?

Just watch me.

Entry #31

Losing Freedom
by Millie

She looked at her husband lying on the sofa smoking a joint and watching Top Gear.

She was happy with him, loved him dearly, desperately.

He wasn’t aware she was studying him and was commenting on the TV, she smiled and nodded and looked back to the screen.

They’d been together six years, all good years, full of love, excitement, spontaneity, companionship….they really were meant to be.

He was the first man who had ever really < i >been there< /i > for her, throughout everything, no ifs buts or maybes; he was just there holding her hand helping her through whatever they might be facing together.

He loved their life together.
They had decent jobs, enough to pay the bills with a little left for a social life, they couldn’t always afford holidays but they could always afford to do
< i >something.< /i >

She’d lost count of the many weekends they’d jumped on his bike and just disappeared somewhere, the beaches they’d lain on getting high with nothing but each other for entertainment.

When the baby was born they would be trapped. Together because they had to be instead of the way it had always been, together because they needed to be.

He looked at her and smiled, the smile that showed he was hers forever, and then he reached over and put his hand on her belly the smile becoming ever wider as the baby kicked.

Maybe things would be ok after all…

Entry #30

Heading for Los Banos
by Michael A. Kechula

“Senor,” said the bartender. “If you must go to Los Banos tonight, do not take the highway."


“It is possessed by demons.”

Scoffing, Harry ordered another tequila. “The only other way to Los Banos is a primitive, desert road. It’s fifty miles longer. They say it’s full of bandits. I don’t want my motorcycle robbed, nor do I want to get my ass shot off.”

“Please finish your drink. I am closing early.”

“I thought cantinas stayed open all night?”

“Not in this part of Mexico--especially when the moon is full. Please, Senor, for your mother’s sake, do not take the highway tonight. Go tomorrow after the sun rises and the demons are sleeping.”

Snickering, Harry left a tip, and headed for the highway.

What a terrific night for riding. The air was calm, clear, crisp. The only sound was the purring of his new, customized Harley Davidson.

He tuned in Mexican party music. The tequila, cruising on his Harley, and the music made him joyous. The thought of meeting Teresa in Los Banos increased his exuberance. Soon they’d ride to the farthest regions of the heavens on a mattress.

Suddenly, lightening flashed across the road. Then an earthquake struck. Boulders rolled across the road. Harry lost control of the bike. His body tumbled down the road, stopping inches from a fissure.

The last things he remembered were the horrible stench, searing flames, and a voice saying, “You should have taken the other road, Harry.”

Entry #29

The White Room
by SzélsőFa

Here comes the morning shot. To make me forget, but I remember. That night’s trapped within me.

They keep asking and I keep telling them my story:


With the Sun peeking through the torn branches, the morning feels like a dirty window overlooking the backyard of a cheap hotel.

Fallen needles sputter beneath my dizzy feet.

Further away, beside his motorcycle, he lies motionless.

The vibrant colors of yester eve have faded into a distant, pale gray with prickly goosebumps on my skin.

But I do recall a shouting yellow, a high green, all rushing, clashing into one speed that evokes electricity like thunder.

Long time ago did I understand that there’s no use fighting. His will is stronger, his words are stronger. And I’d rather sway. Bend to avoid break. How much further can one bend?

Miles were consumed like years…

I tried to count the number of signs, but I lost at…somewhere.

But the wind was free.

And the wind slapped the smell of oil and rubber into my face.

That was when the thunder came. Like a balloon burst out with too much pressure to contain.

A short crimson streak across the horizon.

Was it the setting Sun?

Someone laughed and someone cried.

My hands and arms felt heavy. My muscles were tight. I felt the need to sleep.


They said it was all gone.

My yesterday’s gone.

People took his body away.

The instrument, so they said, was never found.

Entry #28

Entry #28
Ridin’ in the Dark
by Rusty La Violette

“Don’t know why we gotta leave so early, for heaven sakes! We still have 2000 miles to go on this darned campin’ trip!” Madge yanks at her helmet strap and turns on her microphone.

“Just git in the hack so we can git goin’.“ John checks the tent-trailer hitch and latches Madge into the sidecar, confining her complaints in the fiberglass capsule.

“Remember! Take the Highway 141 turn-off! ” she says. He just nods, as usual, then fires up the engine. Better watch for the turn myself ‘cause that man rides on ‘mental automatic’.

The power poles hypnotically zip past as Madge struggles to keep watch, but the engine's rumble and sidecar’s rocking soon lull her asleep. Miles down the narrow road, John cranks on the brakes and screeches to a rough stop. Madge wakes abruptly. “Crying in a bucket, John! Now what’s wrong?”

He looks around. Steep bank up the left side. A deep ditch of tall weeds on the right. Twenty feet back, the cut-off to Highway 141. And no room to turn around. He pauses, then cuts a sharp right, twists the wick and drops down through the ditch, up the short bank and onto the highway, dragging weeds and rubble into the belly parts of the rigs. He doesn’t even look down at her. Knows she’ll be wide-eyed and shouting.

“Probably should git my helmet earphones easier on the rig. But then, I sure do like hearin’ the engine purr, and the other being––silent.”

[Rusty La Violette is. That's all, just––"IS".]

Entry #27

And Miles To Go Before She Sleeps
by Sarah Hina

“You itching for a ride, darlin’?”

His was the only shadow to darken the sleepy rest stop. The chrome of his wheel reflected a crescent moon.

She noted the steel-tipped boots. Roughneck gloves. Skirting his headlamp’s glare, she cracked her knuckles behind her back.

“That depends,” she said.

His engine purred.

“On what?”

She licked her teeth.

“On what kind of horsepower you’re packing.”

Headlights skated by.

“Enough for you, Princess.” Smirking, he hooked a thumb around a Texas-sized belt buckle. “What kind of price we talking?”

She eyed the dark carcasses of two cars, considering.

“For a hundred, you’ll forget your name,” she said. “For two, you’ll forget the bike.”

“Better make it two, then,” he laughed.

The engine cut.

“There’s a spot up here,” she called. “Beyond the—”

He stumbled.


Insects scattered. The couple arrived at a rough patch of grass above a steep ravine.

The moon winked between her knees.

He left his boots on.

And when her spiked teeth smiled into his flesh, the tips pointed six feet under.

She absorbed a last, ecstatic shudder, and wiped her chin.

Slipping on his gloves, she pushed the body downhill. It landed with a whump next to Mustang and Hummer. The crickets cheered.

Gliding down to the parking lot, she reviewed her collection.

Tough choice, but—

She needed steel between these thighs.

“Hey, Harley.”

The engine roared.

Straddling the beast, she leaned west. Chasing night.

There was blood on this breeze.

And she was still hungry.

Entry #26

Highway No 57
by Sameera Ansari

Get out! She yelled. Looking daggers at her, he left, slamming the door behind him.

Noooooooooooo, she bolted upright, jactitating. Blackouts usually followed her crying fits, but not nightmares. Shafts of fading sunlight pierced the eerie shadows of the room. Getting up to turn on the light, she hoped he was alright. She could not help worrying as she cooked, tidied the house, took a warm shower and sat down for a lonely supper. The radio was playing their song.

She was about to turn it off when an announcement came on, A young motorcyclist was killed and a motorist seriously injured in a head-on collision at about 8pm on Highway No 57. The police have not yet identified the deceased, whose body has been taken to the General Hospital for autopsy.

The fork clanged on the floor, springing her into action. His phone sang Everything I Do on the refrigerator in response to her call. She hoped he was at Dan's, his childhood friend and best man. But he had not heard from Rob over the weekend. Frantically, she called whoever she could think of, only to get the same response.

Putting on a jacket, she grabbed the car keys and stepped into the chilly Sunday night, not noticing the silhouette on the dimly lit porch settee. She was about to get into the car when two strong arms seized her from behind, turning her around on the spot. Her eyes widened in shock, and then in relieved surprise.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Entry #25

It All Is Over
by Lena

7 am. She wakes up, takes a shower, has breakfast, leaves for the office.

7:50 am. She will be stuck in traffic and late for work again. But who cares. Well, the boss does. But then again... who cares.

She is tired. Only God knows how tired she is. But soon it will be over.

9.20 am. Office. Mails, calls, annoyance, indignation, anger, fights, tears.
And only one thought warms her up “Soon it all will be over.”

Colleagues. Customers. Managers.
Tired, sleepy, angry.
Looking at the clock. The time does not run as usual but crawls instead. And the only escape is the thought “Soon it all will be over.”

She smiles. She knows tomorrow she will be free.

6.00 pm. It is over. She smiles hesitantly at her colleagues, lies how much she will miss them and finally leaves the office.

Lost in her thoughts she does not notice that car. She cannot see how the car driver trying to avoid collision loses control and gets into the bus’ way. She even does not feel how the bus throws her up. She only thinks “Soon it all will be over.”

Just not the way she expected it to be. With no happiness about well deserved vacation, with no excitement about going to new places, with no riding with him on a brand new bike bought specially for this long planned trip.

With nothing but the peace and the realization of the fact that now it all is over.

Entry #24

Running Wind…Whispering Shadows
by Kim Watters

Riding along with the running wind all around me, and the shadows of dusk silently whispering their thoughts…leave no witnesses, there’s a side road coming up on your left…take it, take it…yessss!

I rode into town on my bike a month ago, thinking that a fresh start would be good. A new job, a new home, a different change of pace…after all, it was just myself.

I noticed this annoying little man following me around. I’d go shopping and he’d be there, I’d go to the Laundromat and there he was behind me. The last straw was when I went to the diner for lunch and he came and sat down at my table without asking…and just stared at me. Well I just stared back at him for one full minute, and started to eat. Oh he didn’t like that, so he leans in close and whispers, “I know what you did”. He looked furtively around and whispered that he had “seen” me do it and that he had followed me from where I had buried the body and that he’d go to the cops if I didn’t do exactly as he said…wrong thing to say. He told me to meet him tonight behind the motel for payment instructions, and maybe…

Riding along with the running wind all around me, and the shadows of dusk silently whispering their thoughts…leave no witnesses, there’s a side road coming up on your left…take it, take it…yessss!

Entry #23

Born to be Wild
by Charlene Watters

Lemon pledge oh so pretty and it sparkles oh so sweet.

The bike was supposed to make me feel cool, but every time I look at the gauges in the dark of night they remind me of lemon slices and that damn jingle runs through my mind.

And then I have to face it. I’m a middle-aged overweight housewife trying to recapture glory days that never were. I was never cool. I was never wild. Tearing down the highway in the middle of the night will never change that.

Steven was right. This is stupid, dangerous. I should just go home. Back to my husband. Back to my children. Back to my life of cooking, cleaning, and taking care, since lemon pledge follows me wherever I go.

You win, Steven. You win. The bike goes back tomorrow. I’ll go back to my life. Tomorrow.

Entry #22

Crisscrossing Over
by James R. Tomlinson

O’Malley’s leathery hands tremble more than ever, the interference in his head keeps time, counterclockwise, with his infirm grip of the throttle. He’s awash in the blue cataracted hue of flashing chrome. He slows down, but doesn’t stop. Not now. He leans into the handle bars, his down-turned helmet deflecting the oncoming dirt.

The squad car follows, its siren blaring, flanked by paramedics.

O’Malley loves the silence. He ditched his hearing aid minutes earlier. “I’m not deaf,” he screams at his daughter. “You needn’t shout,” she yells back. “Mummy,” he whimpers, “too much mumbo-jumbo.” Then he dismisses her with the wave of his hand—a non-symbolic gesture for curbing him like a piece of broken furniture.

“What do you mean, he’s gone? I just visited him,” she says.

The nursing home director explains their preventive measures. “Several alarms went off. Someone had’t’ve helped him.”

“On a motorbike? You mean like a scooter?”

O’Malley’s confused; he thinks he’s on a dirt bike, on a dirt path, tearing up the earth. He has to poop.

“Actually, I’ve got two bikes, Mr. O’Malley,” the healthcare intern says after changing bedpans. “The one outside your window and another one in my parent’s garage. I’m just doing this to defray the expense of motocross racing.”

O’Malley grunts.

“You’ve got quite a grip, Mr. O’Malley.”

His forearm weakens. He believes he’s near the finish line.

“You okay?” the policeman asks.

The paramedics wheel out a stretcher.

“I didn’t make it,” he cries.

[James R. Tomlinson teaches for the Michigan Department of Corrections. His writing has appeared in the Pebble Lake Review, Glass Fire Magazine, and Foliate Oak Online. A flash fiction story will appear in NANO Fiction this fall. He keeps a journal at]

Entry #21

Riding to Extinction
by Linda Courtland

When gas prices reached $937 a gallon, Mason parked his car for the last time. His neighbors had long since converted their SUV’s into spare bedrooms, storage facilities, and entertainment centers with surround sound.

“Wanna watch a movie?” Sally called from her minivan. “There’s a third row seat still available.”

But Mason had work to do. He had spent his career manipulating international oil prices, and now he couldn’t even afford to drive. At night, petroleum poltergeists swirled through his bedroom, keeping him awake and blaming him for global warming.

Months later, Mason negotiated an unprecedented deal between domestic food and car companies. Soon, every household had a new motorcycle powered entirely by partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

Mason hit the road each night. When he did stumble home, he was far too tired to think about phantom memories.

But when the country’s reserve of oily vegetables was finally exhausted, the economy collapsed. Grown men staggered down empty carpool lanes, longing for the glory days of soybeans and safflower, of corn syrup and abnormal carbon chains.

And Mason’s long-ignored ghosts seemed unforgiving. They woke him each night with I-told-you-so stories about the dangers of trans fats. One night, they terrorized him with a singing ensemble of feelings he had buried.

Mason quickly retrieved the tub of contraband margarine he’d hidden for emergencies. He slid the sticky substance into his motorcycle’s empty tank and sped off into darkness, trying to outrun ancient fossil-fueled memories that he feared could still destroy him.

Entry #20

First Blush
by Rita Lynn

Riding my bike makes the night come to life. It is better than a rollercoaster. Heck, with the engine vibrating between my legs who needs sex?


I walked out on him right in the middle of a fight. We’d just had mind-blowing, eyes rolled back in my head sex. Then he gets up to go to the bathroom. When he didn’t come back to bed, I went to investigate.

He was sitting in front of the computer, eyes glued to the screen, fingers typing away chatting, talking to some faceless girl. I ripped into him.

I was hurt that he could go from our bed straight to his computer. I was upset that he didn’t think anything of it. I was hurt that he’d used me to gratify himself while thinking about another.

When he started screaming back at me, I left.


Now I find myself understanding…The rush that I feel when riding this old bike is similar to the feelings of infatuation. Unfortunately this is only a temporary fix. Love is something much more than the first blush of sexual attraction. I wonder if he knows this and do I care?

Entry #19

Anywhere But Here
by Posolxstvo

Where you been?
Out riding?
Honestly, I have no idea
Why you bought that goddam thing
Just gonna wind up dead in a ditch.
First your father leaves,
Then you'd be gone.
Christ, what would happen to me then?

I hope you weren't drinking.
Bad things can happen
When you drink and drive.
Especially riding a motorcycle.

Did she go with you?
I don't like her.
Thinks she's better than us -
All uppity!
She's no better than us.
Comes from the same damn people as we do.
What do you see in her?

Could you fill me up,
As long as you're up?
This much whiskey,
Then ice,
Then soda.
There should be a new bottle under the sink.
Oh, don't look at me like that -
I'm not driving anywhere.

That recruiter called again.
I told him you're going
To community college next year.
That's still your plan, right?
We talked about it.
This way you can live at home.
Save money.
Don't have to get so damn deep in debt.

Oh yeah. There's a notice from
The electric folks.
Second notice.
Could you call them
Before they shut us off again?
I should do it, but I just
Love it when you take care of me.
You're so good at that.

Well, where you going now?
You just got home.
I left you some pizza
In the fridge.
It's awful late.
Why are you always leaving me here

Just tell me where you're going...

Entry #18

by Ello

“She’s only got 75 miles on her, barely used,” the salesman said.

Sam lusted over the sleek powerful lines of the black Kawasaki 2000 Vulcan. He didn’t care that his wife would kill him, calling this his midlife crisis.

The salesman smiled at him.

“Care to take her for a spin?”

Sam rode out of the dealership. He didn’t notice the incongruity of his plaid golfing pants and pink collared polo shirt against her dark coolness. He felt only the power of the hungry motor rising up in a heat wave, enveloping him with a purr that spoke to him of speed. Faster, faster, she said to him. Faster and faster he went. Take this exit, the sultry voice told him. Turn here.

Was he in control or was she? He no longer knew nor cared. The road before him curved and dipped as she hugged the road with fierce possession.

Too fast! He tried to slow down, but she went faster. The road rose higher as she took him up a mountainside, the darkening horizon no more than a blur. He slammed frantically against the brakes. Please stop! He pleaded. I’ll do anything! He screamed. Ahead, the road banked sharply as she came to an abrupt halt. Sam flew off, over the handlebars, into a freefalling nothingness. He felt only relief that he had stopped before he crashed into the rocks below.

“She’s only got 150 miles on her, barely used,” the salesman said, his smile wide with anticipation.

Entry #17

by Roger Dale Trexler

The past lay behind me, miles away.

The future, just ahead, looms.

Somewhere out there, she awaits me. I can feel her drawing me closer, calling me. She will be the one to heal this wounded heart that beats within my chest. She will be my womb, my comfort, my panacea.

All I have to do is find her.

My true love.

The road to her is dark and lonely.

Like my soul.

The nights we shared in each other’s arms still linger in my thoughts. They always do….and that is why I search.

So many times, I thought I’d found her. Like a chameleon, she changed. I look past the transformed exterior and see her. Her eyes do not lie. They always betray her.
Every time I find her, she loves me….but only for a while. Then, she finds someone new, and leaves. It always breaks my heart.

I ride off into the sunset. We are travelers, she and I, born to traverse the great distances of the heart. The highway is our home. We travel down separate roads, always looking for one another. I can only hope the next fork in the road takes me to her.
I throttle up in anticipation.

Around the next bend, that is where I will find her.

My travels will end when I reach her, I tell myself. She will love me forever.

The highway won’t be so lonely with her at my side.

This time, I will be complete.