the red white & blues

coals cool on barbecue grills
haze clears after fireworks
cans of bud light are tossed aside.
on july fourth, no one remembers
that the american dream
doesn’t apply to anyone who
isn’t a straight old white man.

Advertisements

(atlanta) the city I call home

the city I call home has
a terrible nickname: hotlanta.
like all slang, it was popularized
by white people who genuinely
thought it was cool long after it wasn’t.

the city I call home has
streets all named peachtree
which intersect a sprawling grid
that defies logic in its layout,
confusing drivers & bikers alike.

the city I call home has
the best parts of the deep south
(soul food, whiskey bars, & friendly residents)
without (as many) willfully ignorant people
outside the bourgey neighborhoods.

(actual) nice guys (don’t) finish last

The doorbell chimed and woke Bea with a start. She slid from the couch to the floor, adjusting her blanket cocoon. (A blanket cape gave her more mobility.) She wiped sleep from her eyes and ambled to the front door. Not bothering to check the peep hole, she unlocked and opened it.

“Hey…?”

Bea couldn’t blame her confusion on her waning fever. A vaguely familiar gangly guy stood on her front porch. His name escaped her (or had never been committed to her memory).

“Hey Bea!” The disheveled hipster thrust a cup of melting ice cream into her hands. “I knew you were craving it, so I thought I’d stop by with some.”

Her eyes widened. “Are you psychic?”

“You tweeted about it this afternoon.”

“Do I know you?”

Ice cream dripped from the paper cup onto her hands. Her fingers stuck together as she gripped the cup tighter.

“I’m Miller. We met at The Cults show a couple weeks ago?”

Bea squinted and cocked her head.

“Your line was when you asked if I was named after the shitty beer –”

“Oh. You’re that guy. For future reference, that wasn’t a line.”

“Sure it was. You were negging me.”

That was your justification to stalk me on Twitter?”

“You wouldn’t give me your number, so you gave me your Twitter handle.”

“Being hammered makes me pity assholes like you.”

“Why am I an asshole? I brought you ice cream because you’re sick!”

“I mocked you at the bar because you were quizzing some poor girl wearing a Toro Y Moi shirt –”

“I just wanted to know if she was a real fan or –”

“–just a poser? How old are you, fourteen?”

“Twenty-seven.”

“Get out of my house. And take this with you.” Bea threw the Coldstone cup at his car and cheered when it splattered on his windshield.

“What the hell is wrong with you?! I was just trying to be nice –”

“That’s the problem with guys like you, Miller –”

“Guysplural — like me? I’m one of a kind! Women don’t appreciate men who treat them well –”

“– you say you’re nice, but are incensed when a woman won’t fuck you because of your niceness.”

“I never said I was –”

“Your creepiness says it for you.”

“So because you’re not interested that makes me a creep?”

Exactly!

The door slammed behind Bea. She locked and dead-bolted it. Disgusted, she shuffled to the kitchen and scrubbed her hands clean.

The Heist

A little boy pedaled his rusted red tricycle down the sidewalk toward Venice Beach. The street was deserted. Surfers, vendors, and street performers weren’t awake, much less at the boardwalk at sunrise.

Brakes screeching to a stop beside a No Parking sign, he slipped off his backpack and retrieved a bike lock. A chill ran down his spine. His mother always cautioned him about his overactive imagination. It was impossible to hear an irritated, whispered conversation when he was the only person on the boardwalk.

“This is bullshit.”

“It’s part of initiation –”

“Hazing. It’s part of a hazing ritual.”

“If you can’t handle a simple task, then –”

“– I’m not daring or scary enough to haunt with you. I know the rhetoric.”

“How can I be your mentor if you won’t let me ment?”

“That’s not a verb.”

“Quit stalling, ghoul.”

“What is it with ghosts and puns?”

“You’re also a fool.”

“Whoomp, there is it!”

“Ford.”

“Nixon.”

“The compatibility test was inaccurate. The Head Haunter appointed you as my mentor because we both had the misfortune of being named after terrible American presidents.”

“Can you be serious for one minute?”

“Who assigned our Fright Crew to haunt Venice Beach? These assholes just think their hallucinogens are extremely potent — they never get scared.”

“It’s a weird gig, but someone’s gotta do it.”

Nixon motioned for the younger ghost to follow him. Nixon and Ford hovered behind the suspicious little boy. He locked the back of his tricycle to the No Parking sign. Beaming, he sat on the curb and rummaged through his backpack for his iPad.

“The kid’s got an attention span of a flea.”

“You’re not gonna be able to spook him by rattling the sign or something. Get creative.”

Ford sighed and circled the little boy closely. The boy shuddered, but remained focused on his Candy Crush game. Ford dove and snatched the front wheel from the boy’s tricycle.

The boy gasped. “Hey!” He grabbed fistfuls of air, but Ford evaded him and dangled the wheel above his head.

Nixon smiled at his protégé. He cocked his head toward the hills, where the Haunting Headquarters cave was hidden. Ford flew past, tricycle wheel held above his head triumphantly.

“Kids these days –” Nixon snickered.

“– they should know better than to improperly lock their bikes, lest some ghosts steal their wheels.”

 

*Note: this story was inspired by this photo I took while in California last week.