Archive for February, 2008

Microfiction – 057/365

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

What is this about?

Miracle On The 101

Daniel’d been pushing the little hatchback southbound on the Hollywood Freeway just about as fast as she would go. So focused was he on getting to Jess’ apartment, when he finally picked up the police car’s lights flashing red and blue behind him he honestly didn’t know if they’d been tailing him for a few seconds or a few miles.

His foot leapt off the gas pedal and he hit the right turn signal and began picking his way through the traffic flow and across the lanes, coming to a stop on a little island between the lanes and the The Vermont offramp. He dutifully turned off the engine, rolled down his window and placed both hands on the steering wheel.

Watching the officers get out of their car, he wondered exactly how drunk he was. The beers and shots he’d glumly put away that night at the Casa Vega’s bar pretty much left little doubt, but the more important question was whether or not it would be obvious to the officers. In hindsight, perhaps it hadn’t been such a good idea to act on the irrational impulse that the only way to salvage the mess he made was to go across town to her at midnight — especially if he instead wound up in jail with a DUI hung around his neck.

“Just great!” he yelled.

“Excuse me?” asked the officer who’d arrived beside the car, shining a flashlight at him.

‘I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean anything. It’s just been a helluva night that looks like it’s just gotten worse.”

“I’ll need to see your license, registration and proof of insurance, please.”

“Yes sir. My wallet’s in my back pocket. and my registration is in the glove box.”

“That’s fine.”

He moved slowly in retrieving them.

“Do you know why we stopped you?”

“No sir.”

“Well, you had been doing 85 mph for the first mile we were behind you, but you got up to 90 for the next one.”

“Yes sir,” he said, handing everything through the window to the officer who shined his light on the license.

“Mr. Stice, the speed limit is 65. Might I ask why you’re in such a hurry?”

And that’s when Daniel burst into tears so outrageously he surprised both the cop and himself.

“My girlfriend and I had a fight,” he said through the sobs. “And if I don’t get over there and try to straighten things out I’m pretty sure we’re finished!”

The way the cop initially recoiled from the raw emotion you’d think Daniel was contagious, but he quickly recovered and shot a wide-eyed look at his partner, who just shrugged in return.

“All right now,” he said to Daniel who’d dropped his head onto the steering wheel. “Just calm down. I’m going to run a check on your license and vehicle and then I’ll be back. So hang tight.”

“Yes sir,” Daniel whimpered, a little embarrassed by the display but also more than a little pleased by the diversion it created. And a minute later the officer returned, handing it all back to Daniel — everything but a ticket to sign.

“We’re going to cut you a break and let you off with a warning tonight, Mr. Stice, on the condition that you don’t exceed the speed limit the rest of the way to your girlfriend’s house. Okay?”

Daniel’s heart leapt, but outwardly he still played the griever, sniffling and wiping the tears from his eyes. “Thank you so much, officer!”

“All right then. Drive safe — and I hope things work out.”

100.1

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Nope, that’s not the number of my favorite FM radio station. That’s my temperature at the present.  In a replay of last week’s weird flash fever, I felt kinda punky achy all day at the office, but the fever didn’t really return full tilt until I was rolling home from a dentist appointment yesterday afternoon.

By the time I got inside shivering to all get out it was all I could do to get some ibuprofen into my piehole and crawl on fire under the covers. I did manage to rise later for some soup my baybee made me  and at one point my temperature had returned to normal, but this morning it’s back up — not hard into the triple digits, but it’s amazing what one-and-a-half degrees can do to muck up your outlook.

The really odd thing is that I don’t have any other symptoms. No cough, no runny nose, no sneezing. Just this heat and these aches — oh yeah and for some reason it feels like I got punched in the ribs.

The really cool thing is that work beckons so staying home and resting isn’t really an option.

Microfiction – 056/365

Monday, February 25th, 2008

What is this about?

Good Fences

A tentative voice floated up to him. A woman’s voice, old, tough and raspy, from too many years of tobacco.

“Who’s out here?”

Kelly held his breath. In the silence, he heard the neighbor tromping around her back yard, and then there was the click of a flashlight that she shined around the perimeter until she came upon the scene of the crime. He heard her sigh heavily and whisper a sharp “Sons a’ bitches!” as she poked the flashlight out into the darkness beyond the fence.

The beam of light cut into Kelly’s eyes from the spaces between the wooden slats and he turned his head away, blinded. He wondered if she’d seen him. He held his breath and felt his pulse strongly in his throat.

“If you punks are still here when the police come, I’ll be very happy to see you thrown in jail!” She yelled into the night air.

He exhaled slowly and smiled, both in relief at not being seen and at hearing an old woman say “punks.” After another minute, the woman sighed again and Kelly heard her stepping through the grass gingerly to avoid any of the broken glass, muttering under her breath as she went back inside and slammed the door. Prone there on the damp grass he laid for another couple of minutes, not wanting to fall for her potential trickery of her closing the door but staying outside silently. He figured any old woman that said “punks” would have a whole bag of tricks at her disposal.

Finally, Kelly began to move backward slowly, until he was at the fence’s edge, then after a few moments, he stood up and peered over, afraid of not only being seen, but of what he might see.

But she was gone. He stood there a few more moments before trying to move, and the minute he did, dizziness set in and the world started to spin around. He staggered backwards, falling butt-first back into the grass. He waited with eyelids shut tight until the spinning stopped, and then he wondered if the old lady had really called the police. He doubted it.

Umbrella Acacia, Serengeti

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

You don’t need me wasting keystrokes attempting to explain just how vast and magnificent Tanzania’s most famous national park is, when this picture will do just fine:

serengeti.jpg

(click to quadruplify)

Microfiction – 055/365

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

What is this about?

Payback

In hindsight it was a good lesson to learn earlier rather than later, that people who you think are your friends really are not. It was one taught quickly, too, with the slap of a hand. His teacher was Tony Sims, a ninth grader, who Bobby looked up to, being brand new to junior high as a seventh grader, which can be a lonely time and a lonelier place.

Living in the same neighborhood they’d known each other about a year. They skateboarded together. Biked together. stole shit and broke shit together. Watched TV, went to movies, argued over baseball card trades, and played on the corner vacant lot together. Their age differences mattered little on the street, but school was a different matter.

Bobby quickly realized that junior high was a lot bigger than elementary school. Everybody seemed to know everyone else, no one knew Bobby, and older students looked down on younger ones. So when he heard his name called at lunch time near the cafeteria and he turned to find Tony standing in the shade of a tree by the main building among other kids his same size, Bobby’s heart leapt. Smiling from underneath his big afro, Tony motioned for him to come over, and Bobby practically ran through the chaos of kids to them.

“Gimme five Bobby!” Tony exclaimed, holding his hand high over his head.

Bobby was thrilled and shoved his hand out palm up to receive the greating, beaming in the new-found knowledge that recognition by an older classmate was huge. And even though Tony’s hand came down hard and the collision stung, Bobbby barely felt it. A second later, the kid at Tony’s side started laughing and then Tony and everyone else in his crew followed suit.

There was a moment in which Bobby started laughing with them even though he wasn’t at all sure what was funny. But then there was a pain in his hand different from the disipating sting of the slap — something sharper and deeper and not just lingering but growing — and Bobby looked down at the end of his outstretched hand and found out what was so hilarious. Almost dead in the center of his left palm was impaled a blue bulletin board pushpin. A small rivulet of blood was already flowing from it across his life line.

Joy turning to betrayed shock, Bobby looked up Tony who seemed to tower twelve feet above him as he cringed and pointed and yelled “Oh shit!” repeatedly, alternating it with a high hyena-like cackle.

Turning his attention back to his hand, Bobby reached across with his right and yanked the pin out. Half heartedly he threw it in Tony’s direction, but Tony ducked and it sailed wide. What found it’s mark, and certainly left Tony perhaps more surprised than Bobby and certainly in greater pain was the entirely unexpected on-target punt Bobby brought immediately between Tony’s legs that immediately crumpled him to the pavement in breath-gasping agony. Somewhere in the distance, Bobby noticed that all laughter had suddenly cut off as if someone had turned a volume nob to zero. But before Bobby could follow up with the kick he wanted to bring to Tony’s head, he felt a large heavy hand on his shoulder and it was Mr. Pitman, the school security guard, who picked the flailing Bobby up and set him down about ten feet back.

With a big finger pointing in Bobby’s face Mr. Pitman instructed him not to move and he did as he was told, but by the time the security guard had turned around Tony’s friends had vanished past the crowd of students that had gathered around the scene, leaving him still curled up on the ground.

Chandler Bikeway Mural

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

nohomural.JPG

(click to quadruplify)

Snapped from the saddle Saturday biking back home from a trip to the Sherman Oaks batting cages with Blogdowntown’s Eric Richardson. Eric wisely opted to subway it back to town from the North Hollywood Red Line station. I on the otherhand didn’t and subsequently got drenched when the rains that weren’t supposed to come until later, came early…. about a mile after I took this picture.

P.S. The only thing the batting cages showed me was that if I can’t hit for shit against a machine, how the hell do I think I can make contact against a human?

Microfiction – 054/365

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

What is this about?

The Accidental Fugitive
(Inspired by actual events)

It would be an exaggeration to say he blew through the stop sign where Laverne t-bones into Duchess Street. Coasted would be a more appropiate description, but by the time he saw the patrol car on the other side of the intersection he was halfway across Laverne and it was way too late to do anything about it except just keep going and pray to the cycling gods that the cops staring at him from inside the black and white had better things to do than bust a bicyclist.

But they didn’t. Before he was fully passed them they’d hit the lights and chirped the siren and he thought “fuck!” and slowed to pull over at the curb, not even a semi-truck’s length away from the entrance to the westbound bike path that ran alongside the creek, which wound its way down past the marina to empty into the bay.

That’s when he realized the entrance was too narrow for a vehicle to follow and thought, why not? And instead of stopping he just kept on casually pedaling and banking right up the apron and across the sidewalk and the bikeway entrance while unseen behind him the cop car got stuck on the tight street and had to make a three-pointer out of the U-turn they’d started.

The siren chirped again longer this time and “Bicyclist! Halt!” came out of the vehicle’s public address speaker, but he didn’t listen, pretending not to hear. He just continued onward along the downslope of the incline past the gate, where his bike picked up speed, but he didn’t add to it by pedaling. He didn’t want to look as if he was making a blatant attend at evasion of any sort, just that he hadn’t heard or seen the commotion.

In the rearview mirror attached to his helmet, he watched as the front end of the patrol car bobbed to a stop after being driven up the apron to the entrance gate. The officer driving realized there wasn’t enough room to initiate a pursuit. Immediately thereafter the siren blew at full volume and from the PA came, “Bicyclist on the bike path! Stop now!”

Heart pounding hard, he kept going. Transitioning from the incline to the flat of the bike path it felt as if the cops stares burned holes through him and he fought the urge to pedal like a bat out of hell. Instead he just casually started cranking, moving himself and the bike around a bend and out of cops’ sight lines. Almost immediately he began to relax, calmed by the serene and silent setting that seemed not just far away but days removed from what he’d just left behind him.

He wondered to himself what might be the worst that could happen, but he already knew that answer. If the duo were cowboys, they’d already be speeding Code Three with a vengeance to cut him off at the proverbial pass, or in this case Highridge the next major street that crosses the creek. But if they were total whipcracking hardcases, he supposed they’d stay put in case he tried to double back and radio in for backup — maybe even helicopter support and any available motorcycle units to prowl the path — in an effort to lock down the creek’s access points downstream and close in on him.

He thought briefly about changing his look; shedding his helmet and jacket — hell he could even convert the hiking pants he wore to shorts by unzipping the legs. But all that struck him as silly. Maybe if he was a drug dealer or a carjacker reeking of desperation and a third-strike conviction such measures would make sense, but a bike commuter rolling a stop sign? Get real. If the call went out for a cyclist wearing a brightly colored helmet and a blue windbreaker then that’s what they’d find.

Halfway between Queen and Highridge, the sudden flatulent chopping sound of a banking copter somewhere close cut through the quiet and he came to a quick skidding stop, his heart in his throat. It wouldn’t have surprised him much had bloodhounds started baying off in the distance, and he waited for the civilian equivalent of an Apache whirlybird to materialize overhead.

Instead the steady thwoking sound diminished and his heart rate started to slow. As he started pedaling again he was left feeling a bit silly and wondering if stopping would’ve been the less stressful thing to do. In fact he knew so, and just as abruptly as he’d decided to run so did he turn around to head back to Queen in part because it was the right thing to do and also because he was afraid he’d flat out faint if he rounded the bend that would bring the Highridge overpass into view and saw so much as a bike cop stationed on it.

A minute later with the Queen overpass coming into view he was surprised to find it devoid of law enforcement. Relief overtook him and he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he moved up the incline and the entrance at the top was clear. Exiting through the gate and stopping on the sidewalk, he looked north and south seeing only civilian vehicles. Heading south on Queen to Jackson he took a right turn and in a couple minutes of pedaling he arrived at the red light at Highridge here several blocks below the creek. He didn’t want to look up the street, but did, and his head snapped back forward when he saw the solitary black and white parked on the bridge, every light on it flashing and its two uniformed occupants standing on the bridge looking eastward.

He thought for a moment about riding over to them. But then the light turned green and instead he rode onward, feeling a little bit sick and more than a little bit triumphant.