Member Monday: Midnight at the Sit ‘n Eat by Aaron Steinmetz

Welcome back to Member Monday. Aaron Steinmetz will be providing today’s entertainment. An article about Aaron was recently published in The Record Searchlight. Aaron will be signing copies of both of his books at Lisa’s Book Nook on January 26th from 11:30am-1:00pm.

Midnight at the Sit ‘n Eat

by Aaron Steinmetz

She walked by me as I sat nursing my cup of coffee alone at my table at the Sit ‘n Eat. Her black hair was swaying down her back, her glorious eyes large and enticing, her smile wide as she spoke delicately, “Could I borrow this chair?” And I guess I said yes because she thanked me and slid the chair over to her table where another man was seated.

That other man must be her brother. He must be consoling her over a messy break-up. That’s why this beautiful woman is here. She’s surely single, and interested in a mildly over-weight man sitting alone in a restaurant in the middle of the night on his 30th birthday. That has to be why she asked me for my chair. She is probably telling her brother that a cute guy sits behind her, how hopeful she is that he might be single too, and interested in her, this lonely, beautiful woman that radiates such loveliness in my world.

I’ll walk up to her and introduce myself, and she’ll tell me her name is, oh, Marian, and she’ll ask me to sit down, and then laugh embarrassed because there are no other chairs in the restaurant, and then I’ll laugh and say it’s all right, that standing in her presence is better than sitting alone. She’ll smile, her eyes moist, and her brother, sensing the connection, would stand, offer me his chair and welcome me in. He’ll leave smiling, knowing his sister is in good hands. Marian and I will then share a wonderful evening talking, talking, really communicating on a deeper level, I getting to know her, she me, and the two of us will leave the restaurant arm in arm gazing into each other’s eyes. She’ll step into my Pinto and I’ll drive her to her place, and she’ll invite me in using the old “Care for a nightcap?” line, and I’ll take her hand, and I’ll follow her in. She’ll pour the wine, I’ll take a sip, we’ll share a kiss.

And then we would hear the bedroom window smash, and we’d recoil in alarm, and, ducking behind the counter, I would hold her back with my arm saying, “Stay back, Marian! I’ll handle this!” And deftly crawling across the floor on my knees and elbows, I would peek through the bedroom door to see the two masked criminals with guns ransacking her room. I would rise up, find a baseball bat and, kicking the door open, I would rush the first criminal. With a death-thud, the first would be on the floor. The second, seeing his partner on the ground would feel the mortal danger. He would see the vengeance in my blood-thirsty eyes, so he would fire off a round at me as I’d slowly, menacingly approach. There would be no stopping me, despite the bullet in my shoulder, so his desperation would reach its peak and he’d back into a corner. I’d reach down to grasp the first criminal’s revolver and then I’d check it and curse finding the gun not loaded. Glancing back at the criminal, I would half-smile and reach into the gaping wound of my left shoulder and painlessly pull the bullet from the wound. I would insert the bloody bullet into the gun, cock it, and point it directly at the criminal’s face. In a menacing growl I’d say, “Drop your gun.” The criminal would faint before my feet.

And as I stumble back into the living room, I’ll hear the sound of sirens in the distance before collapsing at Marian’s feet. She’ll appear above me, tears streaming down her face as she sees my end is so near, and I place one hand on her cheek. And as I slip from this world she’ll know, she will truly know that I loved her, and there will be someone on this planet who’s life has been changed because of me, because I was there, because my presence on this planet has been taking up space for thirty years, and she’ll never be the same from then on out. She’ll carry my memory in her bosom and tell my story to her children and their children, and they’ll ask about me for years to come. I’ll live on in their memories, and she’ll thank her lucky stars she had the fortune of meeting me.

Whoever she is.

aaron-steinmetz1Aaron Steinmetz is the ‘word-renowned’ author of Sleepy P.I. and Highland High, two quirky comedies about a private investigator who doesn’t sleep until he closes his case.

He is currently working on a third book in the Sleepy P.I. series and putting the finishing touches on a collection of short stories called Anomalous Confessions, due out in February.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday: Too Many Graves by Larry Watters

Welcome back to Member Monday!  It’s a pleasure to feature our beloved Writers Forum President, Larry Watters.

Author’s Note: Larry has a thing for cemetaries, and sometimes lets his imagination fly. This is from a members read in 2010. Visit us at our next meeting on December 8 for our twice-a-year readings. See info on our calendar page.

Too Many Graves

by Larry Watters

Matt shook his head in frustration. The first time he counted he thought he had made a mistake. He just as easily could have signed off on the tally, but being a perfectionist, he just had to get it right.

But when the second go-around came up with the same number, he got concerned. “Boy,” he said aloud to himself, “there should only be eighty-one graves, not eighty-three.” Then he giggled at the thought of what someone would think if they overheard him; a mass murderer maybe.

Matt Wampler was the supervisor of the, some would say gruesome, job of relocating graves before water started covering them next month.  Matt had won the bid for relocating the old Brandy Creek Cemetery to higher ground before the waters behind the new dam started flooding what had been the old communities of Brandy and Bourbon, both so named from the freely flowing kegs of yore.

It was a mix of old and new graves. Some of the sites dated back to the Gold Rush days when the area was host to California’s second major gold find. It was said that gold was on the surface back then, needing no picks, or even shovels, to gather it up.

Others were fairly recent. While the soon-to-be-covered towns were technically ghost towns, the cemetery was still active, popular with descendants of the early pioneers.

But having two too many graves was unsettling. He had hired a crew of five to dig the new graves, dig-up the old and rebury the remains. He suspected that his crew had got a little over eager when digging fresh sites with the backhoe and had simply lost count. He had let them go; except for Paul. He briefly considered that he and his sole helper could uncover all to find the empties, and then decided that they didn’t really have to go to that extreme; that they only needed to poke a rod down to find the empty ones.

They didn’t really need to check all either; only the twenty-three that were unmarked. Well, now twenty-five. The rest had markers.

He rang Paul on his cell, and explained the mystery. Paul said he’d be there the next morning with a couple of long rods for probing.

Contented, Matt decided to call it a day and enjoy the beauty of the new location. Situated on a small rise above the dam, it overlooked the soon to be lake. Scrub pines and oaks with their raucous Scrub Jays filled most of the hill side. But in clearings a cavalcade of color ran riot. The native wildflowers were in bloom.

Sighing, Matt pulled his lunch from his backpack in the shade. He ate the same thing most every time when he was working at the site; cheddar cheese from a local creamery, salami from a local meat locker, and Ritz crackers. It was a meal that seemed made for graveyards. Well, not really. But it was one that he was used to.

He fondly remembered being with his dad on road trips, and how it was almost a rule to have that same snack on stops. Sometimes roadside, but most of the time dad detoured off and found an old cemetery. After wandering to see who found the oldest grave, they would sit on the tailgate of the pickup and chow down; Matt with his sodas and Dad with his beers. Matt had outgrown sodas, preferring water these days.

He wished his dad had outgrown beers, but alas, it never came to be. Hal had never been one to get drunk, but Matt could never remember when his dad didn’t have a beer can stuck between his legs while driving, sitting on a tree stump when they stopped, or perched on the tail gate eating.

Listening to the birds, Matt sliced his salami, cut his cheese, and piled each on crackers. Cracker by cracker, he polished off the tube. He had a sense of being watched. Maybe it was the squirrels expecting a hand out. He hoped so any way.

Not many people shared his love of eating with dead people. It was an oddity that he could not explain. But today was different.

He really had the feeling that more than squirrels were watching. It was a sense that had saved his life back in ‘Nam.

“To be continued sometime in the future. I promise”

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.  Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free.  Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links.  The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter.  Thank you!

Member Monday: The Accidental Vigil by Aaron Steinmetz

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to welcome my friend and new Writers Forum member, Aaron Steinmetz.

Aaron Steinmetz

Author’s Note: Aaron Steinmetz is the ‘word-renowned’ author of Sleepy P.I., a quirky comedy about a private investigator who doesn’t sleep until he closes his case. He is currently working on several more books, including a follow-up to Sleepy P.I. due out in November, and a comedy about a cat with homicidal tendencies. With any luck, his cat will let him live long enough to see these things through.

The Accidental Vigil
Short Fiction by Aaron Steinmetz

I tried to pick the lock with a credit card but it didn’t work. At least not like it works in the movies. Figure the movies are bogus or the door-making industry figured out a way around that old trick. Either way, I won’t be using that credit card again.

So I was stuck. I’d done it again, locked myself out of my apartment. And this time Karen wasn’t around to bail me out. What’s a grown man to do when he has no one to call? He can only sit on the front step and watch the birds eat leftovers from some discarded fast food bag, or the sun as it disappears behind the tree-covered mountains for an early sunset, or the homeless guy who mutters obscenities in his sleep.

There’s always so much to watch, so much to see going on at any moment of the day, and it was so engrossing. You know, I almost didn’t mind sitting there leaning my back against the front door of my apartment.

Mine is a simple complex: the parking lot for it is square, and the light blue buildings surrounding it rise only two stories. There’s covered parking spots for the tenants and a few more uncovered spots thrown in for good measure. There are trees all around the complex, sometimes green, sometimes brown, sometimes naked in the cold mountain winters. It’s a quiet complex, and I was fortunate to lock myself out in August when it’s warm by night and scorching by day. And the sun had set. So I dozed off.

When I woke up, I was still leaning against the front door, and what little activity I’d observed the previous day was gone. It was replaced by a neighbor boy practicing his juggling and his kid sister watching him learn. He was so engrossing I didn’t even mind my numb bottom.

After he and his sister went back inside there came a bevy of birds, probably migratory, arriving late or leaving early. They landed in the giant oak tree near the entrance to the apartment complex. Each one seemed to have its own idea about where to perch and each one had no problem voicing its opinion. I laughed out loud at their screeching noises.

Before I knew it, it was evening again. And the stars were out in amazing splendor. And I think I saw a shooting star though it may have just been a dream. Don’t really remember because I woke up the next morning a bit sore. That’s when Catherine found me. She’s an older lady who lives in section ‘A’ across the parking lot. She said she’d seen me sitting here quite a bit and wondered if everything was okay. I told her everything was grand. I’d completely forgotten about the locked door.

She still seemed worried, so she asked me if I’d had any food or water recently. To be honest I hadn’t even thought about it. She brought me some leftovers and a few bottles of water. They lasted me through sunset, that glorious evening show and the follow-up sunrise the next morning. It was pure bliss. I had even forgotten about Karen.

I’ve lost track of how many days went by. Sorry. Never was good at counting. That was Karen’s thing; I was just the janitor. And I forgot about my job too. Didn’t know I lost it ‘til Jimbo came by to check on me, see what was wrong and all. I didn’t mind all that much losing my job because the juggler was back out and he was getting better. He even had the two-in-one-hand thing going. Jimbo wanted to know how I was taking Karen leaving me. I told him the juggler was getting better.

Jimbo must have thought so too because he showed up a little later with some food and joined me for that night’s sunset. We chatted a bit but he wasn’t the least bit interested in the splendor around us. He kept wanting to talk about Karen and how I was doing, completely irrelevant stuff about feelings and reactions and moving on. I don’t remember everything. The stars were back and they were fantastic!

Karen showed up mid-morning the next day and told me what I was doing was childish and stupid, that no dumb vigil would bring her back. I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. I didn’t really care, though. A vulture was circling around overhead and I was trying to figure out what it was watching. I think it was a squirrel, because he seemed to be over the park where a lot of people feed the squirrels so their population has increased to record numbers, though I’m not too sure about that. He could have been examining road kill or rodents or anything really.

Karen said a very bad word and left.

Catherine kept me fed and watered. I don’t understand why she was so worried. I was enjoying the outdoors so much. I’d never been happier. Between the birds in the air and the people in the complex and the stars at night and the sounds and smells and warm atmosphere of the outdoor complex I really wondered why I even had an apartment.

Some more time went by. Don’t know how, but a news crew found out that I was sitting there. Jennifer Waters herself interviewed me! She called it some kind of human relations story thing. Don’t know what she meant by that. Catherine said they ran the story that night on the news, and apparently a lot of people found out how great nature is at my complex because a whole bunch came out to hang out with me. Some of them held signs that read, “Come back, Karen” for some reason. Guess they were friends of hers who wanted her to enjoy the scenery. Doesn’t really matter. The juggler was teaching his sister the two-hand thing.

More people showed up to watch the world around us and they started inviting other friends. One guy held a sign that read, “Take me Back, Becky” and another held one that read “I’ll Stand with the Parking Lot Patron.” Don’t know who the Parking Lot Patron was. Probably the juggler. Some folks brought a barbecue and we all ate well. They even brought me my food so I wouldn’t have to get up. Good thing, too, because I’d lost all feeling in my legs.

Someone must have called her because Karen showed up again and she had this worried look. I wanted to get up and greet her, tell her about the cloud that looked like a giant abalone and the worms that crossed the sidewalk that got cooked in the sun and the ants that came to clean them up. I wanted to show her the bee that had pollinated the flowers next to me but my legs wouldn’t work. She helped me, though. Karen was always good at helping me out. She had a key to my apartment. Karen helped me inside, told me she wouldn’t leave me again.

And for some reason, everyone outside cheered.

A Note from the Webmaster: Writers Forum has the author’s permission to publish this work. The author retains full copyright ownership and protection. This work may not be reproduced or used in any way without the permission of the author.  If  you’re a member in good standing, please consider submitting a piece of your work to share.  Essays, poems, songs, articles and any other stand alone pieces are welcome.  To submit your piece, please e-mail it to webmaster, Alicia McCauley, at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.   Members featured here are guests in our Writers Forum house.  Treat them as such in the comments section and enjoy this beautiful thing we call writing.

Member Monday: Blind Billy Bongos, Sleepy Jim and Larry Two Shoes by Laura Hernandez

Welcome  back to Member Monday.  Today it’s my pleasure to share a piece by my friend and fellow Director at Large, Laura Hernandez.

Blind Billy Bongos, Sleepy Jimmy, and Larry Two Shoes
By Laura Hernandez

Walking past the Courthouse, on my way back to the Public Defenders’ Office, whipping my yo-yo up and down real fast ‘cause I was pissed that the preliminary hearing transcript that I ordered from the court clerk still wasn’t ready for me to take, I passed Blind Billy Bongos. He wasn’t really blind. The cops call him that because he talks to himself and plays invisible bongos in the air, “blind” to what it looks like, hands floating side to side, slapping one lid then another, back and forth; while he stands, struts or walks around town. I know it doesn’t make sense, but the name has a ring to it, Billy seems to like it, and it fits. Blind Billy would say “hi” to you, if you said “hi” to him, but it wouldn’t necessarily stop him from talking to himself, nor would it stop his bongo playing. I said, “Hi, Blind Billy!” and he said, “Hi Miss Laura!” and slapped the air about four feet from the ground on the left, then the right, before I got all the way past him. “Nice day for yo-yo-ing! Have you learned to ‘walk the dog’ yet?”

“No, Blind Billy, not yet!” It wasn’t quite true. I could do the yo-yo trick a little bit, but I was inconsistent, so the trick wasn’t ready “for the street” just yet. It involves throwing the yo straight out, low to the ground, letting it zing for a second, and snapping it back with an under and back snap to the wrist at the same time you pull you whole arm back to your side. You also need to bend at the waist to do this, and usually I had a sheaf of papers in one arm, so this trick wasn’t always graceful for me. I can’t juggle yet, either, but I’m trying.

Sleepy Jimmy was crossing the street in front of me, and called me over to show me something. I try real hard to be nice to the Guys in the Street because you never know when they might have some information about missing witnesses or something you might need. It’s not that I would send them on some “intelligence mission,” but My Boss might be real interested in the information and could send a real investigator to do the info gathering. Sleepy Jimmy always had his eyes at half-mast, kinda like he was about to go to sleep at any minute.He talked slow enough to make you think he was about to drop off any second, too. Today he showed me he had found a baby bird that had fallen from someplace, but seemed to be alright. I looked into Jimmy’s cupped hands and smiled at the tiny, brown, feathered, fluff ball that wasn’t even struggling to get away. The little thing just looked snuggled into a new kind of nest. It seemed happy to be there, and Jimmy was happy to have it. “That’s real nice, Jimmy! What you gonna feed it?”

“I dunno. I was thinking of some hamburger but I don’t got some.”

“Why don’t you go to the Law Dogs hot dog stand and see if they’ve got somethin’ to give ya?”

“Thas’ a good idea, Miss Laura! I gotta get over there, then! See ya!”

I think it’s funny that all the Street Guys seemed to call me “Miss Laura” just cause they heard one of my bosses, a southern guy, call me that once on the street in front of a couple of cops we were chatting with one day. They passed the name on, I guess. Most of the lawyers I worked with weren’t southern. In fact, that guy was the only one. I guess the Street Guys wanted to call me something “respectful” but not stuffy, so I got the “Miss” with the First-Name-Casual. Considering the names I coulda been called, this is not bad at all.

As I crossed Main Street onto Market, I waved to Larry Two Shoes who was on the next block. I always liked Larry Two Shoes, ever since he picked me up from an almost fall on the sidewalk one cold day. I was running in my high heels over another cobblestoned street downtown when I hit a broken, sticking-up stone and started to go down. Larry Two Shoes had just turned the corner behind me with his cart and ran to scoop me up just before I could hit the hard street. He was surprisingly strong for a Street Guy who didn’t eat often. He had one arm around me and the other outstretched to balance us both, like a teetering dancer. He straightened us in one swoop and settled me on the ground upright, smiling like he had just shagged an easy fly ball. “God, thanks, man!”

“No problem, Miss Laura! Glad I was here!” I clutched my papers tighter with one hand while sticking out my right to shake. He pulled back his own hand, “Oh, no, Miss Laura, I’m too dirty for you!”

“Well, we’ve never been introduced, but you know my name, so it’s only fair you tell me yours!” I said.

“It’s Larry Two Shoes, Miss Laura!”

“Why Two Shoes?” I asked.

“Well look,” he said reaching back to grab his shopping cart full of his household things. Tied by their grimy laces to the handle bars like Footlocker’s fuzzy dice were two old, cruddy tennis shoes, his “spares.”

“Oh, well that’s handy!” What else? “It was nice to meet you, and thank you for catching me, Larry Two Shoes!” I called over my shoulder as I heel-click hurried back to the office.

“My pleasure, Miss Laura!” he called back, bowing slightly. I didn’t know it yet, but one day Larry Two Shoes would show up on the street outta nowhere to save my bacon again.

A Note from the Webmaster: Writers Forum has the author’s permission to publish this work. The author retains full copyright ownership and protection. This work may not be reproduced or used in any way without the permission of the author.  If you’re a member in good standing, please consider submitting a piece of your work to share.  Essays, poems, songs, articles and any other stand alone pieces are welcome.  To submit your piece, please e-mail it to webmaster, Alicia McCauley, at writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com.   Members featured here are guests in our Writers Forum house.  Treat them as such in the comments section and enjoy this beautiful thing we call writing.