Shaved Legs and All: LGBT Pogrom

At the Market - By Mizeta Moon 

I went to the Farmer’s Market to buy refrigerator magnets. They have the good ones there. Not all those cute sayings about how to live, be happy, and that kinda stuff. Theirs have pictures of carrots, broccoli, and the things I should be eating to stay healthy. Of course, they do sell junk food for high prices as well as organic products so I stay away from that area. When I walked into the market, I saw that sidewalk graffiti was everywhere. Evidently, modern day teen monsters found some paint and decided to destroy the beauty of the park with profanity and gang sign. The vendors had to set up or go home penniless, so they’d placed their cartons over some of the most offensive remarks but walkways had to remain open and were still exposed to shoppers with children. Hopefully, the toddlers in their strollers wouldn’t grow up as insolent and destructive as the current generation. I know. . .  I got old and cranky, and things like that bother me. I should probably look at it like cleaning up the mess creates jobs. 

Anyway, I was pondering the magnets at one of the stalls when I noticed the vendor had a portable TV and was watching a breaking news alert. A cruise ship was foundering off the coast of Mexico, and the rapidly sinking boat was being evacuated. When they said the name, I was dumbfounded. My ex-wife had sent me a text three days earlier bragging that she was going on a cruise with her rich new husband. She likes to make me feel inadequate because we always struggled on my salary as a door-to-door spot remover salesman. She considered herself above working and constantly iterated my failings instead of helping out. Why didn’t I get a better job? You might ask. I loved being outdoors and talking to strangers. You wouldn’t believe some of the conversations I’ve had. But getting back to the news. My evil side wanted her to go down with the ship but being a good person at heart I had to hope she was safe. At least she deserved a good drenching for being such a harridan. If her new husband died, she’d be a rich widow and might be good for a loan to launch my new business plan. 

I’ve always loved to Polka. Yeah, she laughed too and would never watch Lawrence Welk with me or attend dances at the Grange hall. So, my plan was to invest in some camera gear and teach people how to Polka using the Internet. My long term goal was to create a group of naked Polka dancers who could frolic in the privacy of their own homes. Once a year I could rent the Grange and invite them to a real life event where we could Polka until we dropped. Anyway, all those dreams went out the window when  I was notified three days later that she’d been eaten by a shark. I guess all I can do now is save and save until I can do it on my own. That, and watch my collection of Lawrence Welk VCR tapes and continually hone my skills. At least she won’t blow up my phone with nasty remarks anymore. As they say, every cloud has its silver lining. 

 

Adversity - By Mizeta Moon 

Her smile was insincere. I could tell she was uninterested in processing our claim but was required to play the game to keep her job. The more money she saved the company, the brighter her future would be. Poor people such as my wife and I meant nothing to her. Only the fat cats with big premiums were worth coddling. She could see from the file in her hand that my wife and I had to scrape pennies together to make ends meet and our renter’s insurance had been a strain on our budget but was required to live in company housing. That the company was unwilling to help was another issue altogether. When she left I knew we’d never see a dime. 

I’d come home from work at the PEZ dispenser factory two nights earlier and discovered our front door standing open. My wife was still at her wrapping station in the shipping department and wouldn’t learn that we’d been burgled till after the cops left. They didn’t give a damn either. Our part of town was treated like a wad of gum on their shoes. I discovered that the burglars took everything but a few old clothes and some outdated foods in the pantry. Furniture and appliances gone. Ratty TV gone. Even our mattresses and bed linens were stripped and carried away. Oh. . . Our toothbrushes lie on the bathroom floor but no toothpaste. A scrap of toilet paper hung limply by the toilet but wasn’t enough to blow my nose, let alone clean my butt. Tears welled up, then fell as I pondered the bleakness of our future. When my wife got home, we held each other and cried more before sleeping on the cold linoleum floor. Even in the face of such tragedy we couldn’t miss work. 

The next day was payday. After cashing my meager check, I paid the utility bills so we’d have heat and not live in the dark but had little left. My wife bought foods we didn’t have to refrigerate and went to a thrift store for a pot, a couple knives, spoons, forks, and a dingy quilt. Thankfully, our stove was bolted to the floor and hadn’t been taken. We ate from the cans, hoping to buy bowls and plates in two weeks. She had enough to buy a bar of soap and toilet paper and a pack of disposable razors. She was beyond menopause so tampons weren’t necessary. Our greatest commodity was each other and we took comfort in that. We would find a way to survive as we always had in the past. 

When I realized we didn’t have the means to wash clothes anymore it was disheartening. Even in poverty I’d always taken pride in presenting a clean person to the world every day. The prospect of going to work in tattered old clothes left by the burglars was humiliating. All I could do was rinse my uniform, hang it out to dry on the back fence and hope it would be available by morning. It was when I was pawing through the closet that I remembered the loose board. It concealed my hidey-hole where I kept anything I didn’t want my wife to know about or find. Anniversary presents, a couple dogeared girlie magazines, some chewing tobacco I could indulge in when she spent the night at her sister’s house. When I pried it up, I was overjoyed. Reaching in, I put my hand around the last bottle of wine from our wedding all those years ago. I hoped against hope that it was still palatable. If so, we could pass it back and forth to numb our pain and kindle a glow of hope for brighter tomorrows. We still had jobs and were reasonably healthy, so things could be worse. I could hardly wait for her to come home. Adversity visits everyone from time to time, but I wasn’t going to let it take us down         

Elements Dance - By Mizeta Moon 

“Get dressed! We need a change. These walls are closing in and I can’t take it anymore. And I don’t want any back talk. You’re coming with me, like it or not.” 

My girlfriend Jana stood in the doorway between the kitchen and living room with her dark hair in disarray and her darker eyes challenging me to defy her. At the time, I was lying on the couch in panties and bra, waiting for the news to come on. Before I could declare my desire to watch the daily barrage of chaos, she said, “You won’t miss anything by coming with me. It’s time I showed you there’s more to life than absorbing other people’s viewpoints and feeling the way you’re expected to.” 

WOW! What could I say to that? I slid off the couch and reached for the dress I’d peeled off earlier. This was one of those times that no was the wrong answer if I wanted to have a girlfriend the next day. It’s not like I’m subservient, but I understand the give and take of long-lasting meaningful relationships. 

“Don’t dress up. Wear jeans, sneakers, and something warm.” 

YES MAAM! I thought, but said, “where are we going?” 

“You’ll see when we get there.” 

When we headed west, I knew we were going to the beach. Jana grew up in Lincoln City and has an affinity for the ocean. Me, I prefer mountains, but have never been unappreciative of why people love sand between their toes. When we parked at the turnout in Road’s End, I was glad we weren’t far from restaurants and amenities but quickly realized she had no plan to visit them. She opened the trunk and procured a picnic basket, a small cooler, a blanket, and a bundle of kindling. Evidently, we were dining al fresco. Did she plan to stay all night? If so, where were our sleeping bags? 

 After gathering firewood and piling it for later, we sat holding hands on the blanket and listened to the incessant roar of waves battering the shoreline. As sunset erupted in an electric fusillade of color, I slipped into bliss generated by the power and serenity of our love. A fusion of heart, soul, and body. Surrounded by such beauty I understood Jana’s message. Our troubles mean nothing to the wind and rain. Every footprint we place in sand gets washed away by the tide. Such transience could seem sad were it not for love. Connectivity leading to meaningful existence. Though brief, splendorous. 

There were no clouds to reflect artificial light that night. Dazzling stars soon littered the sky with diamond-like brilliance. Salt air filled our lungs and we exhaled our sorrows into a playful breeze. We swam in each other’s presence while life’s water cleansed our blood from despair. We had each other. That was enough. What path lie forward would be traveled as one. Jana sensed we were falling apart while I flopped on the couch and fretted over the state of mankind. She did something about it because she wanted to continue loving me. For that, I will remain grateful. We sat there all night. Wet hair from fog that crept in like a shadow. Blanket wrapped around us while we kissed in front of our small but valiant fire. Limbs rubbery when we rose with dawn. 

As we prepared to leave, I saw that a bottle washed ashore in the night. I could see there was a message inside. I ran to it eagerly with childlike anticipation. Grasping it to my breast, I felt its moisture dampen my clothes as grains of sand merged with my skin. I waited till we were in the car and exiting the parking lot before I pried open the cap and retrieved the missive that was cast adrift from where I might never know. I read the message twice, then read it aloud to Jana as she drove us past the river through the trees. She smiled, and I felt joy from viewing her contentment as the words spilled from my lips. 

Elements dance, and life swirls through time wearing constantly shifting facades. What we feel and seem in one moment becomes the next and we are constantly transformed. Yesterday’s sorrow becomes tomorrow’s hope and the past echoes while we experience now. We struggle for understanding and forget what we’ve learned. Souls in eternal transit, on our way to who knows where.

Vanished - By Mizeta Moon 

Rowena pulled the curtain back and stared into the darkness. The silence was so dense she could hear her pulse pounding through her body. Everything outside was threatening since the dog disappeared. She didn’t mind that her husband ran away because she didn’t love him anymore. She was okay with living so far from town as long as her canine alarm system warned her someone or something was in the yard. Now, the mutants could sneak up and break in. 

When they started genetically altering plants, no one expected them to become sentient. Now, they not only thought for themselves, but they could also uproot themself and relocate. Due to the drought, many of them were inhabiting riverbanks and streams as well as ponds and lakes. They were so thick humans couldn’t access waterways for pleasure or fishing. The reason Rowena was scared was that she had over a ton of fertilizer in her shed. The mutants loved to drink it like humans did whiskey. So far, she’d been able to burn them with her propane torch and chase them away but the tank was getting low and their attacks were increasingly bold. There were times she thought about letting them have it and selling the farm, then move into the city, but this was not only her childhood home, NASA was paying top dollar for fertilizer to grow normal food on Mars. These days plants refused to be eaten so everyone was eating synthetic food. NASA felt they could finance deep space explorations by selling vegetables to Earth. 

After a long vigil through darkness, she made coffee, then carried a steaming mug onto the porch, planning to check on the shed. What she saw made her drop the mug and stare with her mouth agape. The shed was missing. Completely gone. Vanished. Only a hole in the ground remained. There were no tracks or drag marks to indicate who took it or which direction they went. Sobbing, plagued by concern over destitution from the loss of her only commodity, she went inside and called the police. 

The policeman was baffled as he walked the property. He’d never seen anything like it. “Were there any strange lights?” He asked. 

Rowena blew her nose on a tissue and said, “no. I stood at that window all night with my torch ready, but nothing moved.” 

Meanwhile, on a cargo ship bound for Andromadea, a planet in a binary-system light-years away, the captain was raising a toast to celebrate their new acquisition. “ I give you Farrah Fawcett 11009 whose tractor beam allowed us to wrest precious libation away from those heathen plants on that tawdry planet we visited recently. Her power assist technology allowed us to access what humans call fertilizer without entering their planetary defense systems’ range.” There was a sound of twigs and branches rubbing together as a slender willow-like woman with hair the color of autumn leaves stepped forward and bowed. 

Raising a cup, she said, “Go easy on this stuff. It’s undiluted. By watering it down and redistilling it we should have enough to keep us smiling till we can replant ourselves in Andromadea’s sweet soil. Three cheers to whomever hoarded it.” The only sound in the room for quite some time was lips smacking together as the good stuff went down smooth as silk.        

Inquiry - By Mizeta Moon 

The coroner adjusted her glasses, then looked at the corpse lying on a cold cement floor. The stench of rotting flesh permeated the garage of a once beautiful house now burned to the ground. She was used to the smell but the detective in charge of the investigation was struggling to not puke. 

“What do you think?” The detective asked. 

“My best guess is that the fire spread to here rather quickly. Forest fires have a way of doing that. The residents were told to evacuate but didn’t, thinking it wouldn’t reach this far. This one counted on the asbestos siding on the garage not burning as easily as the house. What he didn’t think about was the roof. Such a pity. If he’d obeyed the directive he’d be alive even if he was homeless.” 

“So. Death from exposure to noxious smoke and extreme heat? He obviously isn’t burned.” 

The coroner shook her head as if undecided, then knelt and turned the dead man’s head to the side. “See that?” She asked, pointing to a puncture wound in his neck. “How did that happen?” 

“Dunno. Maybe he fell on something in the scramble.” 

“Something’s not right. Let’s get him in a bag and I’ll take a closer look at the morgue.” 

Two weeks later, the dead man’s wife was arrested on suspicion of murder. The puncture wound had been inflicted by an ice pick and the body was placed on the garage floor after the fire. The coroner determined there was no smoke in his lungs and he showed no sign of being consumed by fire. 

At the station house, the detective rolled up his sleeves and confronted the woman sitting calmly, as if unconcerned with the charges against her. 

“Why’d you kill him?” 

“Who says I did? Dumb ass wouldn’t evacuate so he deserves what he got.” 

“I say you did. Our inquiry revealed he’d just won Megabucks and didn’t die in the fire. Did you want all the money instead of half?” 

The woman’s eyes narrowed while she thought about her answer. “Wasn’t gonna get half.” She said bitterly after a pregnant pause. “Didn’t your so called inquiry reveal he filed for divorce right after he won? That he was planning on moving to Mexico with some floozy he met at a strip club?” 

The detective took a drink from a bottle of water on his desk, then tried to play off the fact he didn’t know about that by saying. “So, where’s the money? I checked with lottery and the ticket was redeemed.” 

The questioning went on for hours before the woman admitted to killing her husband at a motel they’d fled to when the fire threatened their home. When the ashes cooled she dumped his body where they found it. Her explanation was delivered with a sigh of resignation. Her plan didn’t work because she didn’t expect the coroner to be thorough with so many deaths caused by the fire. 

“The check was bigger than I expected. I thought he won a few hundred thousand but it was millions. I couldn’t let some skank live a life of luxury after I gave him the best years of my life. You’d do the same for that much money.” 

After saying that, the woman hiked up her skirt, revealing beautiful legs the detective stared at wolfishly. “You look tired,” she said. “Ever think about retiring and spending time with a rich widow?” Watching his eyes told her everything she needed to know. He was hungry and ambitious. They’d have to be cool for a while after the charges were dropped but having a new man in her life could be fun for a moment. If she dropped him later he couldn’t change his story about lack of evidence. Who knew? They might make a good couple. Only time would tell. 

   

   

Showdown - By Mizeta Moon 

John Doyle stood looking out the saloon window as noonday sun baked a dusty deserted street. He hated these moments and wished he’d never gained fame as a gunslinger. Slapping leather and spilling blood was fun when he was young, but now it was an obligation he’d rather not fulfill. These days, he craved whiskey and loose women over violence but couldn’t outrun his reputation, even in backwater towns like this one. His horse was tired, as was he, and riding away again after killing someone wasn’t what he’d planned. He needed rest but could find no respite. 

The barkeep put another shot on his table and scurried away after Doyle flipped him a silver dollar. Most of the customers had fled the bar and were seated on the shaded porch awaiting the action. The piano player sat idle, nervously flexing his fingers as if anxious to play a jolly tune instead of a funeral dirge. Doyle tossed him a coin as well and continued looking out the fly-specked glass brought by wagon from St. Louis. 

When the lanky young cowpoke appeared at the end of the street, Doyle was overcome with pity. What would the young man become were he to not kill him? Would he marry and sire champions of great pursuits? Would he bust broncs and string barbed wire for decades? Would he be a wastrel wallowing in self-indulgence and pity? Whatever might have been would end when bullets pierced his heart. Doyle never missed, and though long in the tooth, his reflexes were still lightning quick. Survival was a harsh taskmaster and he’d learned his lessons well. 

When he rode into town earlier in the day he’d prayed for anonymity but the young buck at the livery stable recognized him despite layers of trail dust and lack of a shave. Evidently, newspapers with tales of his exploits reached beyond where he could ride. “Hey, old man. I can take you,” he said. Now it was showdown time and bloodshed lie on the horizon. Reluctantly, John Doyle raised the shot to his lips and relished the whiskey’s fire burning its way to his guts. After a soft caress to his pistol butt, he pushed the saloon doors aside and stepped onto the porch planks. The townsfolk wanted him to lose and said so. The young man was one of their own and they wanted a legend to talk about. When he stepped into the wheel rutted street, dust rose from his footsteps and a soft breeze quickly blew it away. It was symbolic of what his life had become. 

It felt like time stood still as he faced his opponent. The boy hadn’t had his first shave and his peach-fuzzed cheeks still carried the glow of youth. How could he hope to triumph over someone who’d put down hardened criminals and ranch hands with itchy trigger fingers? What was it about young people that consigned their elders to meaninglessness? As he brushed his long coat aside and prepared to draw, he hoped the young man would repent his folly and walk away. When it became apparent the boy was hell-bent for destruction, he sighed and squared up. 

There was only one gunshot. When her son fell to the ground and bled out in the dust a mother raced from the crowd to embrace her progeny but couldn’t alter his fate. John Doyle hated seeing her tears but understood that if he hadn’t fired he would be the one felled. His survival was guaranteed, but once again he was a pariah without comfort or a place in society. All he could do was walk back in the saloon and order another shot of whiskey before plodding to the livery and saddling a horse who longed for green pastures and an end to desolate trails.    

  

Door to Door - by Mizeta Moon 

Jamus Carbunkle looked down the pothole laden street at a row of ramshackle homes and sighed. So this was his new territory? Once upon a time he’d been the crackerjack lead salesman for Super Duper toilet bowl cleaner and had his own office. That was before he got the boss’ daughter pregnant. He tried to do the right thing and marry her but she didn’t love or want him and chose to have an abortion. The boss was furious about being cheated out of a grandchild, legitimate or not. As a result, Jamus was offered a choice. Get fired or join the door to door sales squad and accept the scruffiest beat the company served. He objected to such treatment but was reluctant to start a new career, so he packed up his office and went to the warehouse to  claim his sample kit and a map of his territory. 

As he approached the first house, he was nervous but also concerned. Did the residents even need toilet bowl cleaner? From the look of the place they might have an outhouse. Meeting his sales quota could be impossible in such an impoverished area. Failure would lead to him residing in similar circumstances so he had no choice but to put a smile on his face and a spring in his step. A skinny dog lie on the porch and he was concerned about being bitten but stepped onto the rickety stairs hoping the dog didn’t have the energy to confront him. Thankfully, that was the case. Knocking on a rickety screen door led to a slattern woman in a cotton housedress asking him what he wanted. Before he could get halfway through his well-rehearsed spiel the woman started laughing and shooed him away. 

So it went as he worked his way down the street. Some people showed him the courtesy of letting him complete his pitch, but still turned him down. Most of them had never heard of Super Duper toilet bowl cleaner and couldn’t afford to buy any. Several of them took free samples and his card but he didn’t expect them to call in an order. It was possible none of them had a telephone. He didn’t see many overhead wires on the street. By mid-afternoon he was tired, despondent, and hungry. Counting the change in his pocket he calculated he could afford a hamburger and a coke at a cheesy-looking stand attached to an auto repair shop. Carrying a webbed plastic basket full of greasy food, he asked a man sitting at a tilted picnic bench if he could join him. That request changed his life forever. 

While he ate, the other man finished his chili dog, then poked a finger in his mouth and fished out a partial denture. “Damn thing,” the man declared. “Always getting food stuck on it and hard as hell to clean. Used to have some of them tablets but I ran out. Now they’re getting stained cause I can’t clean em proper.” It dawned on Jamus that dentures were porcelain. “Mind trying something?” He asked as an idea flooded his mind. 

It turned out the local water was corrosive to natural teeth and most of the residents who could afford them wore dentures. His lunch companion was amazed when Jamus pulled a toothbrush from his pocket and squirted one of his free samples onto it, then scrubbed the partial to a gleaming whiteness. Three days later he was the talk of the town and completely out of free samples but walked into the warehouse with a pocketful of orders for what he would secretly relabel as Dr, Carbunkle’s magic denture cleaner. His sales increased so rapidly the boss rethought his position and granted Jamus three adjoining territories that always yielded poor returns. Eventually, Jamus bought the company and marketed Super Duper toilet bowl cleaner as well as Dr, Carbunkle’s magic denture cleaner using the same formula. After he grew rich the boss’ daughter decided he was worthy of consideration, but by then he’d figured out he was gay and moved his headquarters to a city where he could enjoy the fruits of his labor and hopefully meet the man of his dreams.    

Runaway - By Mizeta Moon 

Lindy Albright was tired and cold. She hadn’t thought the consequences of running away from home through, and now she was confused, hungry, and without a penny to her name. She spent the last of her babysitting money on a bus ticket and a sandwich from the bus depot vending machine. Coming from a small town near Spokane she’d never had to fend for herself in a big city and had no idea how challenging it would be. Blind flight into unknown territory turned out to be a poor decision. After stepping into a strange new world the night before, she huddled in a doorway in downtown Portland but couldn’t sleep. She quickly discovered how vulnerable a young girl alone could be. She fought off a crazy homeless man who kept touching her and rejected the advances of a smooth-talking man who promised to make her a star if she were willing to do dirty things with strangers. All she wanted when she ran away was escape from overbearing parents who beat her for not saying her prayers properly and skipping church. She didn’t know a lot but knew she didn’t want to be like them. Their desire to have her marry one of the church elders disgusted her. She wanted to be free but now realized she should have waited and planned instead of acting on emotional impulses. When a woman in a gray KIA pulled to the curb in front of where she sat, then waved at her, she waved back. 

“Hi, honey. You look cold.” The woman said after exiting the car. “Been out here all night? Bet you’re hungry. I know I would be.” 

Lindy sniffed, and a tear crept out of her eye though she didn’t want it to. The woman seemed friendly and had a great smile, but did she stop? “Yeah. But why should you care? I’m nobody.” 

The woman smiled warmly. “I care because you’re in trouble and I can help. What say we go somewhere warm and get you some grub? My treat.” 

“What makes you think I’m in trouble?” Lindy asked, without the defiance in her voice she intended. 

“Because I’ve been there, honey. I know someone hurt you and you’re alone in a strange place. Come on. Hop in. I know a great place for breakfast. Later, we can shop for a warmer coat. Is that all you brought with you?” The woman asked, pointing at a small tote and Lindy’s denim purse sitting on the sidewalk. 

Seconds later, another human fell into the web of deceit, to become a pawn in a centuries old game of usury and exploitation. It was warm in the car. Breakfast was the best thing she’d tasted in a long time. By nightfall, the woman had her in a holding cell in Rockwood, awaiting transport to Bogota and slavery to a cocaine magnate who ordered such freshness. 

What happened to Lindy? 

Part two of Runaway 

As Lindy woke to blackness, her mother paced the kitchen of her home. Where did she go wrong? Not enough love at the right time? Trying to shape Lindy into a copy of herself? Or had she tried hard and wasn’t guilty of neglect? All she could do was pray that God would guide her daughter home. It was too late for that as Lindy was tied in the hold of a ship riding heavy seas near Nicaragua. Hurricane warnings crackled through radio static as the crew battened the hatches and stowed loose gear. Lindy wound up lying in a pool of vomit as they lurched and plowed through monstrous waves. 

Surviving the storm, the ship docked at a seldom used pier near a rundown warehouse in Cartagena. When freed from the dark hold and drug on deck, the light was blinding. Two muscular shirtless men stripped her reeking clothes from her starving body, then hosed her down and scrubbed her with a brush. When they were done, a well-dressed Hispanic woman came from the forecastle and eyed her nakedness with disdain. 

“You’re a sorry sight. We’ll have to clean you up before we take you to meet Chato.” 

“Why are you doing this to me?” Lindy blubbered, trembling with fear and exhaustion. 

“Money. Stark naked profit. Pretty young girls are worth a lot to powerful men. If you come peacefully, you won’t be hurt again. Resist and I’ll have you whipped before being tied in the trunk of my car. I’d rather get you into a pretty dress than drop you off covered in welts.” There was no choice but to comply. She had no idea where she was and lacked the strength to run. 

“Could I have some water please?” 

“Sure. There’s food at my house if you behave.” 

Hours later, Lindy was full and warm for the first time in days. She was experiencing the onset of Stockholm Syndrome, grateful for the woman’s kindness. For the moment, the horror of her situation slipped into the background. 

“Will I ever go home again?” 

“No. You belong to Chato now. How your life proceeds depends on your behavior. He kills anyone who displeases him. Let’s not talk about the future. Enjoy tonight. Tomorrow will bring what it brings.” 

She cried herself to sleep after contemplating escape, but realized she’d easily be captured and punished. Her only hope lie in finding out where she was, then looking for a way out. 

The next morning she found fresh clothing laid out and decided it would be best to put it on and do as told to avoid being tied and dragged to her new master. Her body ached and her mind was tired and confused. Who was this person who purchased her? What kind of monster preyed on teenage captives? Was he hideous and couldn’t lure a girlfriend, or was it a game of power and manipulation? She wasn’t a virgin but the thought of being defiled by a stranger made her cry again. When the woman stepped into the room, she tried to compose herself, but failed. Instead of handing her a tissue or comforting her, the woman slapped her hard. 

“Okay, Chica. Time to quit crying and put a smile on that face. Chato’s lack of patience is well known. If we’re late he might shoot both of us and I’m not ready to die.” 

Meanwhile, her mother genuflected in front of a rhinestone covered plastic cross she bought at the bible store. “Are you listening? I need your help. Why don’t you speak to me? My daughter needs help and I don’t know what to do. I’m probably a bad mom but don’t kill her to punish me.” 

No one answered.          

Rejection 

Part three of Runaway 

She was forced to kneel in front of a hawk-faced man with cruel dark eyes. He sat like an emperor on a throne, in charge of everything and everyone. The ground was hard and bit into her flesh as she quaked with fear. 

“Too fat.” The man declared angrily. “I said I wanted skinny. Give her to the crew. They’ll have fun with her.” 

Chato’s edict spelled danger for his procurer. Not pleasing him could lead to her death. “I’ll starve her again,” she said. “I let her eat so she wouldn’t die. I’m sorry you’re unhappy with my choice.” 

“I said I don’t want her. Don’t make me punish you. Find someone else.” 

Unknown to Chato, his greatest rival was watching this interaction through binoculars from a nearby hill. His soldados were poised and ready to attack. 

Lindy rose when a rifle was placed in her back. She meekly preceded a brutish-looking man with knife scars on his face to an enclosure surrounded by barbed wire. Tears streamed as she realized she was about to be gang raped or worse. Had she curried the big man’s favor she might have bought time to plan an escape. 

As the man shoved her into the enclosure, gunfire erupted. Diego Suarez and his men swarmed into Chato’s enclave like locusts. Blood spilled as bodies fell in every direction. Lindy hugged the ground and put her arms around her head. She had no idea whether rescue or death was imminent. All she knew was that she’d placed herself in harm’s way and wished she’d made better choices. The bus depot in Spokane seemed a million miles away and a lifetime ago. 

While Lindy waited for death to come calling, her parents were receiving visitors expressing sympathy for their loss of a wayward daughter. The consensus was that they’d offered their child the comfort of Jesus and she chose to be a heathen. Everyone brought food and prayed for their offerings to be blessed. 

Meanwhile, Lindy found an opening in the barbed wire and started running. She had no destination and no idea where safety lie. Unfortunately, bullets were flying in every direction and one of them tore through her thigh. She fell and writhed in pain. 

A man with broken teeth soon stood over her grinning. Was he there to save her? Her blood flowed freely and without aid she would exsanguinate. In fiction stories heroes rise and come to the rescue in the nick of time. In real life, heroes are few and far between. In the heat of battle the man could only address his carnal desires. As Lindy took her last breaths, the man lowered his pants and delivered the final humiliation. As she died, her parents thanked everyone for coming and swore to bravely carry on.   

     

 

Sitting - By Mizeta Moon 

The path led to a creek quietly wandering through a stand of old growth conifers. Birds chirped and warbled as they flitted through filtered light and shadows, filling the air with their symphony. A stump on the bank invited me to sit and watch the water tumble over a pile of rocks and become a pool before continuing on its way to the river. A hummingbird hovered near the waterfall where a sunbeam turned its feathers into an iridescent display of natural beauty. By staying quiet and becoming one with the forest I was treated to a variety of creatures stopping by for a drink. 

All care slipped away and my insides calmed while I sat. The outside world never touches such magical places. The more I looked, the more I saw. The textures of moss and lichen. Flowers peeking from behind fallen branches and rocks. Grass waving in the hint of breeze. A snail inching its way to an unknown destination. A raccoon digging for grubs in an old half-rotted log. Ants marching in both directions from a piece of fruit dropped by a previous visitor. 

I didn’t want to leave but knew I had to. Appointments and responsibilities were unavoidable. Back to life in the big city and its noisy progression. Before rising, I breathed in deeply and inhaled every bit of serenity I could. I stretched my arms in an all-encompassing gesture, then drew them towards my body to scoop beauty into my soul. As I stood to leave, I walked to the bank before kneeling and touching my lips to the water. A gentle kiss like I’d seen the hummingbird do. I splashed some on my face and shivered from its coldness. It was ice before sunlight caressed the glacier’s face. 

As I slowly walked back to the trailhead, I adsorbed every detail so the memories would go deep in my memory bank and be there for viewing should the world and its woes threaten my peace. I wanted the joy I felt to be transmitted into the air around me so everyone could share my wealth. I was rich with understanding at that moment. Understanding how tiny we are in a universe with billions of stars. How trivial our issues are juxtaposed to wonder and glory. How every breath we take shouldn’t be taken for granted. Understanding the passage of time and its effect on every living thing. Though my body won’t survive that finite journey, my soul will. One last look back down the path, then wave goodbye to the trees. 

            

Trail's End - By Mizeta Moon 

The two men had seen better times. In the 1950’s, their television show was watched by millions, their images were on all manner of merchandise, and they were adored by the American public. But now their money was just about gone, they lived in the foothills outside of town in a ramshackle squatters hut, and the humiliation of it all had taken its toll. They were nobodies and they knew it. 

“I just checked on Silver,” the once daring and resourceful masked rider said to his faithful Indian companion. “I figure he’s got about one more ride in him and then it’s curtains for the big fellow, Tonto!” 

“Mmmm, Kemosabe,” was the answer from his taciturn companion. ”A fiery horse with the speed of light. Too bad. Me like Silver.” 

“Your eloquence is, well, impressive, trusted scout. Must be the firewater. Which reminds me, we’re down to our last bottle and the food’s almost gone, too. You know what that means, faithful friend?” the masked man queried. “If we’re to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, we’re going to have to do something with this place to make some money!” Then, looking excitedly at Tonto, he asked, “Do you think you can stay out of trouble long enough for us to make this into a cute little B and B?” 

“Mmmm, trouble find Tonto even when him not look for it, Kemosabe.” 

“Yeah, like you and that young cowgirl at the Tuscosa County Fair back in ‘87.” 

“Hmm, Tonto remember, Kemosabe. Him not make same mistake again.” 

“Good, good. Now, what do you think of my idea of a B and B right here in this box canyon, Tonto? We could fix it up and I think folks would flock to it? You know, retro, and all that.” 

“Hmm,” Tonto thought, “Tonto never use bed or eat breakfast.” 

Taken aback, the Lone Ranger mulled over that last comment, “You’re right! We’ve never slept in beds, eaten breakfast, or even changed our outfits! Not once during all our episodes or since!” Sitting down dejectedly, the masked rider asked himself, “How could I have possibly imagined we’d know how to run a B and B, faithful companion?” 

“What we do now, Kemosabe? Tonto has needs.” 

“Right. Well, we’ve got the stimulus checks, a few bucks in the bank, the horses, and this place. Can you think of anything else we have that might be worth something, trusty scout? Anything at all?” 

“Hmmm, Tonto remember something.” 

“Good. What is it?” 

“Silver bullets.” 

The Lone Ranger stood up suddenly as he, too, remembered about the bullets. “Yes, Tonto, the silver bullets! I had them made not as weapons, but as symbols. Symbols of justice to remind me and others that life, like silver, has value and is not to be wasted!” He quickly ran to his secret hiding place where he found them just where he’d hidden them years before. “We’re rich, Tonto, rich! There must be tens of thousands of dollars in silver here, my old friend. We can live out our lives in security and luxury!” 

As the Lone Ranger counted out his silver bullets, his taciturn companion took the opportunity to make a point,  “Tonto like Absolut, masked man, not that rotgut you get in town. And Tonto want go back to Tuscosa. Tonto has needs.” 

“Sure, sure, old friend. But first, I’m thinking maybe we buy a couple of beds, some new duds, and a toaster. Oh, and a new headband for you and maybe some fancy masks for me. Whatya  say, companion? You ready for some changes around here?” his masked friend wondered. 

Tonto just grunted. 

End