2008/09
September 2008 Photofictional
A Daily Blog Posting By Bryan Costales

Free, September, short-short stories from 2008.
BP20080905.jpg

He sold sweet, delicious strawberries
(1 of 14) (6915 views)

Slow Food Nation '08
Photo Posted Friday 5 September 2008 internal link
(31 August 2008) Civic Center, San Francisco
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080905.jpg

Strawberry
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Jane Diggens wanted to eat better. Pizza, mac and cheese, and burgers, she feared, were going to ruin her son. So that Saturday after laundry and weeding, Jane brought her young son, Henry, to the Slow Food festival.

The day was too hot. Jane had forgotten her hat. Henry yanked on her arm and complained. He complained using his most annoying voice, the high pitched one that speared through her temples.

"How about a nice slice of cheese?" Jane asked her son.

"No! I want food! I'm hungry!"

"But dear. Cheese is food. Try a little, you'll like it."

"I'm hungry! I want MacDonalds!"

Jane couldn't believe her ears. Here she was at a natural food festival and her son yelled for a hamburger. Jane stopped. She dug through her purse looking for aspirin. She was certain she had put a bottle in there before leaving home.

"I'm hungry! I'm hungry!"

No aspirin. Jane snapped her purse shut and took Henry's hand again. "Let's go. Let's get out of here."

"MacDonalds! I want MacDonalds!"

There was no easy way out. Jane had to follow the line of booths to the end. She led her complaining son and wished for an aspirin.

"MacDonalds! I want MacDonalds!"

Around her, Jane overheard others talking about her.

One voice said, "That poor boy. Doesn't she know how to feed him?"

Another voice said, "Can you imagine such a thing. Dragging a meat eating brat to a fair like this."

And yet another said, "I bet she cooks with lard. I bet she even cooks with tallow."

Jane didn't know what tallow was, but is sounded bad.

"Mam?" A friendly sounding male voice asked. Deeply soothing. It stopped her and made her look. Behind the counter of a booth stood a healthy looking older man, a farmer by his looks.

"Excuse me," he said. "I'd like to offer your boy a strawberry."

"I'm hungry. I want MacDonalds!"

Jane shook her head, "He won't eat fruit when he gets like this."

"Son," the man said. His voice was deep and demanded attention.

Henry stopped jabbering and looked at the man.

The man smiled. "Here. Taste this," he said and held out a perfectly red strawberry. "I guarantee you it will be better than candy."

"Candy?" Henry asked.

Jane led her son forward.

The man leaned over the counter and extended his hand. He held the strawberry open in his palm. Red and glistening.

Henry took the strawberry. He looked at it, then stuffed the whole thing into his mouth. He chewed and smiled. He swallowed, wiped his mouth with his sleeve, and smiled again broadly.

"Was it good?" the man asked.

"I want strawberries! I want strawberries!" Henry complained, again using his nagging voice. Jane felt his voice pierce her temples. Her headache, she realized, was back.

But then she heard an odd sound. It sounded like clapping. Jane opened her eyes, surprised she had closed them, and looked around.

The people surrounding her were clapping. They were applauding her, they were applauding her son. Even the farmer man was clapping.

In that instant, Jane's headache fled as if it had never been there. She opened her purse and found crumpled money. "How much?" she asked. "How much for a box of strawberries?"


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Monoscope?
BP20080904.jpg

He clearly wished for cat-like pupils
(2 of 14) (6915 views)

Pride Parade 2008
Photo Posted Thursday 4 September 2008
(29 June 2008) Market Street, San Francisco
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080904.jpg

The Wrong Man
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Frank liked costume parties because they allowed you to remain anonymous. The party that night was mixed, which made it a bit harder to find a good gay man. He approached a man in drag only to discover the man was a woman.

"You're a woman," he blurted.

"Duh." She looked at him. "What are you supposed to be? A cat?"

Frank held his hand up for her to see. "Engaged."

"Nice stones. So why you talking to me?"

"Thought you were a guy in drag."

"What!"

Frank sensed a mistake. "But a really pretty man in drag. Really sexy. You know."

"Where's your fiance? You here trying to cheat on him?"

"Did that once. So it doesn't matter. He doesn't trust me any more. Never will."

"So you're here, prowling to compound the crime. Is that it?"

"No. He's gone for weeks at a time. But next time he's in town we'll get hitched."

"So he's not here?"

Frank didn't like the direction this conversation was beginning to go. "For the moment. Yeah. He's away."

"So the cat will play?"

Frank couldn't help it. He laughed. "Say," he said. "You want to join me for a drink?"

"I don't drink alcohol."

Frank was stuck. He didn't know how to answer that. He looked around and spotted a buff man in a gray suit wearing a nurse's hat. "Excuse me," he said to the woman.

"There's no excuse for a man like you."

But Frank paid her no mind. He was going to get plowed and have a good time despite her. No fake man like her was going to spoil his evening.

Frank squared his shoulders and walked away from her.

Perhaps it was the woman's perfume. Or perhaps it was the five vodkas he'd already consumed. Or perhaps it was the guilt and frustration he was trying to drown. But the walk across that floor that night to the man in the hat was the longest walk he had ever taken in his not-so-long life. It was a walk he wished fervently afterward he had never taken.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need Black Clippers?
BP20080901.jpg

Off they sped by the hundreds up Market Street
(3 of 14) (6881 views)

Critical Mass, Market Street at Stuart Street
Photo Posted Monday 1 September 2008 internal link
(29 August 2008) San Francisco, California
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080901.jpg

Not A Quitter
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Pat Barnstormski began to jog, she told her friends, so that she could get back into shape. She jogged daily for a month, then ran in the Bay To Breakers race. The next day she stopped running.

Pat said, when she signed up for the gym, "I like to exercise. It's good for me." She took swimming lessons and learned to swim laps. The swam daily until the gym's annual Christmas party. The next day she stopped swimming.

Dove Fox (not her real name, but her name de jure) had been Pat's on-again off-again friend for about a year. Pat found Dove near the Ferry Building. They were going to bicycle together for Critical Mass.

Pat stood by her old Schwinn that had once belonged to her brother. She'd only been riding it a month. By contrast, Dove's bike looked strange and exotic.

Dove looked Pat's bike up and down. "You haven't been riding long have you?"

"About a month. How can you tell."

"That bike. It's a silly bike." Dove lifted her own bike with on finger. "Four pounds. Can you believe it? Carbon fiber!"

Bells started to ring. A air horn sounded. Around them everyone began mounting bikes and preparing to ride.

Pat put one foot on a peddle and one on the ground. She tooted the little horn on her handlebars.

Dove asked, "You have any plans for tomorrow?"

"I'll take a day off from bike riding. That's for sure."

"Like you did for swimming?"

"You were around for that?"

"And jogging. I've known you for a year remember. Face it Pat. You're a quitter."

Pat thought about that. "No I'm not."

Time to ride arrived and they peddled off down Market street among hundreds of like-minded riders.

Pat rode without talking. She was trying to remember why she'd stopped jogging. She vaguely remembered a twisted ankle, or was it a blister. She remembered whatever it was took a long time to heal.

Dove pinged her bell and rode next to Pat. "Funny," she half-shouted. "How you can do something over and over and not remember doing it."

Pat looked at Dove and remembered why she was an on-again off-again friend. "I'm not a quitter."

"You remind me of my alcoholic ex."

"In what way? I'm not a quitter."

"Neither was he."

Pat looked at Dove. She was smiling.

Then Pat said, "Oh!"

Dove's smile brightened. "Now you get it. Way to go girl."

But the next day Pat stopped bicycling anyway.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Serious Keep Out Sign?
BP20080929.jpg

Abandoned buildings line the old railway
(4 of 14) (7137 views)

Viewed from Calle 17 Bis
Photo Posted Monday 29 September 2008 internal link
(7 September 2008) San José, Costa Rica
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080929.jpg

Went Home
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Don Juaze was born in Costa Rica. Child of a Yank father and a Tica mother, he'd been raised in the States since he was six. His mother died giving birth to his younger sister. His sister had died quietly in her sleep when she was five. His father passed from cancer while Don was in College.

Don rarely spoke of his youth. But as he aged, especially into middle age, he began to speak of it more often. Among friends, over beer and pizza or around the barbecue on July 4th, he and his friends would speak of their youth.

His best friend, Taylor Donnalson, once described a trip to visit his childhood home. "The cab pulled up and I couldn't believe my eyes. The house where I grew up had become a gas station."

Don remembered the look of disappointment on Taylor's face at the time. So he thought of Taylor when he scored two tickets to Costa Rica in a poker game.

He and Taylor flew together first to Los Angeles, then to San José, Costa Rica. They stayed in an affordable hotel and got up late the next morning to explore.

Don knew from old letters exactly where his childhood home was. He led the way downhill in search of his past.

Don asked Taylor, "What did you think when you found your childhood home had become a gas station?"

"Oh gosh. I don't know. Betrayed I suppose. I mean why couldn't it have been a flower store? You know. A proper memory for my mother. Or a liquor store? You know. For that souse of an old man I had. But a gas station? I mean where's the meaning in that?"

"Maybe it's a metaphor. Not a literal thing. Maybe it's a symbol of what you've become. You know. Your hobby with cars."

"Maybe. No. I don't buy it. It's just random."

They arrived at the foot of Calle 17 and turned diagonally down a side street, Calle 15 Bis, toward the train tracks.

Taylor was having trouble with the heat. He kept pausing to pat his head with a white handkerchief.

Don stopped.

"Are we there?" Taylor asked. "Let's find some shade."

Don looked left and right. "This must be it. This is exactly the right place."

Taylor gestured with his handkerchief, damp and limp. "You mean that derelict of a house?"

Don nodded.

Together they walked up to the run down house. It's paint was peeling and covered with graffiti. Its roof was gone. So were all its windows and doors. Even the floor was missing, exposing a basement filled with trash.

Taylor nodded his head. "What's that you were saying about a metaphor?"

Don searched with his eyes for a sign, any sign at all that he had once lived there. But there was none. Not a scrap.

Taylor looked at Don. "Cat got your tongue?"

Don swallowed then rubbed his chin. "I guess I was right."

"What do you mean?"

"I guess these ruins are a symbol for my life."

"What do you mean?"

Don looked at his friend. "Nothing, I guess. Or everything. Do you want to get a beer?"

"Do I," Taylor shouted. "I'd kill for a cold beer."

"You take after your dad, don't you?"

"Yeah. Maybe. Yeah, I guess I do."

Don clapped his friend on his back. Then the two walked further downhill in search of a beer.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need Tattoo Art the Book?
BP20080924.jpg

Angela pointed out the ceiling to Rod Scales
(5 of 14) (7119 views)

Christmas at the Hyatt Regency Hotel
Photo Posted Wednesday 24 September 2008
(2007) San Francisco, California
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080924.jpg

His Edge
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Ace detective Rod Scales may have finally met his match. Either that or he somehow lost his edge.

He rested in a plush sofa in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. To his left sat AB, the great lady detective from Germany.

He watched AB lean back and examine the ceiling. "There," she said without indicating where, as if it were obvious. "That is what turned him. That is what made him do it."

Rod didn't know if AB was her name or her initials. "Where?" he asked and immediately regretted asking. "Which? I mean." Gone. Yes, he was convinced. His edge was gone.

AB frowned the kind of frown one made at a stupid child. "The loop."

Rod didn't want to ask who did what. That would betray his lack of information. So he stared silently at the ceiling display and stewed.

It was Christmas season so the lobby ceiling was decorated with long strings of white lights. They hung waterfall-like in waves below the high sloped ceiling. A strange kink on one string caught Rod's eye. "Of course," he said aloud.

AB glanced at Rod. "You aren't one such fool after all."

Rod smiled and said, "Thanks."

"There he is now!" AB sat up straight. "Shall we confront him with our proof?"

Rod looked around the lobby. It was full of people coming and going. He still wasn't sure who. Then he spotted the man in the silk top hat. Rod almost slapped his head in realization but withheld the move. Instead he simply said, "No, not yet. Let's wait for his wife to arrive."

AB leaned back into the sofa again. "Of course," she said. "We must wait."

Rod smiled. He hadn't lost his edge after all. He still had it.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need Ratchet Pruning Shears?
BP20080902.jpg

Smokers have a comfortable area in which to smoke
(6 of 14) (6892 views)

The International Terminal
San Francisco International Airport
Photo Posted Tuesday 2 September 2008 internal link
(29 August 2008) Just east of Milbrae, California
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080902.jpg

He
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Wendy Franks, on her twenty-ninth birthday, traveled with her Grandmother (who she called Grams) to Atlanta for a funeral. The day was lovely and not too hot, so they sat outside the terminal to await their flight.

"Smokers," Grams said. "How come the only places to sit down are in the smokers area?"

"I imagine they have to smoke somewhere."

"Sub-human," Grams said a bit too loudly. Then even louder, "Not a one of them is worth spit."

"But why shouldn't they have a place to smoke? They can't smoke inside the terminal."

"But why should they have a special area? Why don't we just throw down mattresses and let them smoke opium?"

"Don't you mean crack cocaine?"

"No dear. Not in my day. Back then a man could travel to the east, China was one place, and they would smoke opium in opium dens."

"You're not that old Grams."

"He'd be gone for months at a time. Then he'd come back as if he had never left. But he couldn't get opium. Not in the suburbs. So he'd drink instead and sit on the back porch and smoke. My Mother you see couldn't stand him smoking inside."

"Who's this he you're talking about?"

"Why the man who died of course. That's why we're flying to Atlanta. That's why we're sitting outside with smokers."

"Oh, Grams! You have to tell me all about him."

"I do not and I won't." Her Grams moved as if to stand. "Help me up."

Wendy helped her grandmother stand. "Time to go inside?"

"Let the sub-human smokers sit out here. And drink on the back porch. We don't smoke. We can sit inside. They, the smokers, have to sit outside."

"Wow," Wendy said as she led her grandmother inside. "It turns out you have a past after all."

"Maybe," Grams said. "And maybe not."


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Mueller Fitted Wrist Brace
BP20080930.jpg

Drawn people illustrated the former attire
(7 of 14) (6986 views)

Museo Nacional
Photo Posted Tuesday 30 September 2008 internal link
(7 September 2008) San José, Costa Rica
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080930.jpg

Reborn
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Brenda Mendoza became aware that the sun had just set. Just like that. The sun had set and she stood on a platform in a dark room.

She looked around a little afraid. The room was large, larger than her living room at home. Across from her stood dozens of cardboard cutouts of people. She looked left and right and found she was standing among cutout people on her side too.

Brenda stepped off the platform. Her clothing felt odd. She looked herself over with a frown. She was wearing old-time clothes, a petticoat and a stiffly starched shirt.

"Where am I?" she asked aloud. "How did I get here?"

She walked cautiously out of the room. She next found herself in a large hallway. Pictures lined the walls. Artifacts were housed in plexiglass cases. "I must be in a museum."

Brenda walked through the exhibits examining them. She searched for clues. "This must be Costa Rica. This must be a history museum."

"Hey you," a voice called to her.

Brenda looked around but there was nobody there.

"Over here. The bust on the pedestal."

Brenda located the bust and walked up to it. The label was in shadow where she couldn't read it. "Who are you?"

"I was Bob McFee. I had a farm in Kansas. I figure I died and came back as this statue. I can only talk at night. I bet you can only walk around at night too."

"I think so. The first thing I remember was the sun setting."

"Yeah. I was like you at first. Every night seemed new. Then, after a while, I started to remember. Now I remember every night."

"But where are we? How did I get here?"

"I figure you died. Say. Have you ever heard of reincarnation?"

Brenda thought about it. "Yes. That's where you're reborn after death. As a baby or animal."

"Exactly. That's what I figure. We died. But instead of being reborn into a person or an animal, we were reborn into art."

"What about heaven?"

"Heaven, shmeven. You're art now. I suggest you get used to it."

Brenda didn't want to be dead. She didn't want to be art. "It's not fair."

"Death's not fair. That's for sure. But don't take my word for it. You see that window behind you?"

Brenda lookd over her shoulder. "Yes."

"Just outside is an ox cart. He's been around for over two hundred years. You want wisdom, you talk to the ox cart."

Brenda noticed the room was getting brighter. "Is the sun rising already?"

"Yeah. That's something else you'll learn. Time passes faster here. The nights are only a dozen or so minutes long."

Brenda thought the statue winked at her.

Brenda Mendoza became aware that the sun had just set. Just like that. The sun had set and she stood on a platform in a dark room. The platform seemed familiar. Had she been here before?


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need an Over The Door Shoe Rack?
BP20080928.jpg

Toadstool benches seemed too uncomfortable
(8 of 14) (7295 views)

Better to stand for for newspaper reading
Parque Nacional, northeast of downtown
Photo Posted Sunday 28 September 2008 internal link
(7 September 2008) San José, Costa Rica
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080928.jpg

Lesson Learned
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Dan Hollday vacationed often in Costa Rica. He fancied himself a mature traveler, rarely able to make a mistake. He long ago discovered it best to dress like the locals, the better to not stand out.

One unusually hot Sunday found Dan in downtown San José, Costa Rica's capitol city. He sought shade in a local park and found a newspaper to read.

"War!" it read. Dan was still poor in his understanding of Spanish. "Or perhaps Battle," he muttered.

Dan was still puzzling out the odd news when a light breeze came up. Dan sniffed. "Is that me?" He lifted his arm to smell. "Jeeze," he said. "I must have forgotten my deodorant this morning."

"Hey Yank!" someone shouted.

Dan looked around. A man casually dressed and clearly out for a stroll, approached him. "You look like a tourist," the man said.

Dan stood up straight and faced the man. "No I don't."

"No," the man said and waved his hand. "Not your clothes. It's the way you smelled your underarm. Only Americans do that in that way. It was a dead give-away."

Dave wasn't sure how to reply. It seemed an important lesson to learn, but on a par with someone discussing a fart. Not rude, just unseemly. Dave just said, "Thanks."

"Glad to help," the man said and tipped an imaginary hat. "Well I'm off for a bit of shopping. Enjoy your visit."

Dan watched the man walking away. He looked just like a local.

Dan leaned back over his newspaper. But his eyes wouldn't focus. He was worried about unconscious accidents. "It's amazing," he muttered at last. "How the smallest little thing can trip me up. Gotta be more careful."


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
BP20080903.jpg

The universe smiles on he who meditates
(9 of 14) (6838 views)

"Gateway" by artist: Ik-Joong Kang
Photo Posted Wednesday 3 September 2008
(29 August 2008) SFO International Terminal
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080903.jpg

Pickle-terry-ann
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Karl Gefeltsen liked to visit the art at the airport. He fancied himself a bit of a writer and believed the art inspired his stories. He gazed at a wall filled with little 3x3 squares, each a tiny bit of art.

"What are they?" A young boy's voice floated up from his right knee.

Karl looked down and saw a healthy flushed blue-eyed boy looking up at him. Karl looked around and found the boy's mother standing by a bench a few paces away.

She smiled at Karl and shrugged. She was busy with a younger child's needs. Her shrug appeared to mean, "What can I do?"

Karl looked at the boy then back at the wall. "It's art," he said. "Like a whole bunch of collages."

"What's that?"

Karl looked where the boy pointed. A plastic priest sat atop one of the squares "It's a Buddha."

"What's that?"

Karl looked were the boy pointed next. A pizza cutter hung from one of the squares. "It's a pizza cutter."

"What's a pizza?"

"You mean you've never eaten pizza?"

"No. We're pickle-terry-anns."

Karl looked at the mother again.

She said loudly enough for him to hear, "He means pescetarian. We're vegetarians that also eat fish."

The boy asked. "Why are you here? You flying too?"

"No, I just come here to get ideas for my stories."

"Did you get one? An idea?"

Karl looked at the boy and blinked. "Yeah. I think I did. I think I'll write a story about pickle-terry-anns."

The boy smiled at him.

His mother called, "Time to go."

Karl walked the boy back to his mother. She looked awfully healthy too. "Where you off to?" Karl asked her.

"Miami. Their dad just moved there. We're on our way to join him."

"Hot there."

"Hot here."

"Yeah," Karl laughed. They'd been having a heat wave in the City. "Well, have a nice flight."

"Bye," the boy called and waved as they walked away toward security.

Karl watched them go. He felt in his pocket for his BART ticket home. It was there.

Karl never wrote the story about the pickle-terry-ann. Instead he learned everything there was to learn about being one. Then he became one.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need Juggling Rings?
BP20080906.jpg

A few waited by the larger pieces of art
(10 of 14) (6997 views)

Sausalito Arts Festival 2008
Photo Posted Saturday 6 September 2008 internal link
(1 September 2008) Sausalito, California
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080906.jpg

Fluffy Ass
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Dan McLent was reincarnated as a statue. He thought he had it made. A nice room in a nice home, probably surrounded by wealth. A big change from his prior life, scratching for crops in rocky bad land. Unfortunately he had never sold.

Dan couldn't see himself, of course. He was covered when moved so couldn't spot himself in a mirror. One day he would be uncovered in a warehouse, the next he would be uncovered as art at an art show. Art shows were the best because people would talk about him.

Dan watched the women watch him. Usually it was women, sometimes men. Soft men not Dan's sort. At the last art show it was soccer moms. This time it was rich looking ladies.

"They're so big."

That one comment bugged him the most. What were so big? Did he have more than one?

"I love the fluffy ass."

Comments like this caused him to believe he was a naked statue. But why his ass? And why was it fluffy?

A teenage girl wandered into view. She carried a large hand mirror and appeared to be looking for the right light in which to check out a hat she was wearing.

Turn! Dave screamed silently inside his statue self. Show me, me!

The girl turned this way and that. She tilted her head this way and that. She came close to reflecting Dan but missed by just a degree.

Damn you! Dan silently screamed. Hold still!

The girl appeared to tire. She let the mirror drop to her side. She held it upside down and facing backward, directly toward Dan.

A rabbit? Dan silently said. I'm a giant rabbit?

"You think you got it bad," a booming man's voice said.

Dan realized the voice came from a large red painting across from him. "Did you say something?" Dan asked.

"At least you're a handsome rabbit. How would you like it if you were an ugly red painting like me?"

Dan didn't say anything. Farm life hadn't prepared him to appreciate modern art.

Two men came into view. They were dressed in overalls. One carried a clipboard. They stopped at the red painting, took it down and walked it away.

"Yippee!" the red painting called. "I've been sold."

Dan felt sad. He felt he had lost a friend.

Can anyone else out there hear me? He called, but no other art replied.

Dan sighed. Silently.

Then he again noticed the women noticing him. He again heard, "I like the fluffy ass."

I guess, Dan silently said. Being a rabbit isn't all that bad. There could be worse things.

But that made him sad again. He missed the red painting. He missed having someone to talk to.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Poncho In A Bag?
BP20080923.jpg

Rides ran through sunset into the evening
(11 of 14) (7163 views)

Disneyland® Park
Photo Posted Tuesday 23 September 2008 internal link
(4 August 2008) Anaheim, California
© 2008 Denver Welte
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080923.jpg

Goofy
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Gil Duffy leaned on a bridge railing in Disneyland and thought back on his life. He remembered his last trip overseas all those long years ago. He remembered his wife, rest her soul, and how she never wanted to travel again after their passports were stolen in Spain.

Gil was getting old, very old, frighteningly old. He'd seen that movie about a bucket list which had inspired him to write his own list. Unlike the movie, his list was modest. To visit Disneyland but not ride the rides. To visit the Eiffel Tower but not ascend. To visit the Grand Canyon but not descend.

Gil laughed a jovial laugh at how safe his list was.

"What's so funny?"

Gil answered without bothering to see who had asked the question. "Passports," he said. "Our passports were stolen so my departed wife never wanted to travel again."

Gil looked. He found someone dressed in a Goofy costume standing next to him. Goofy looked bored and leaned on the rail too.

Goofy said, "Get back on the horse."

Gill thought the voice was that of a woman, or maybe a gay man. He couldn't tell these days. "She's dead," Gil told the cartoon suit. "Let's see her get back on that horse."

Goofy remained silent.

Gil thought about what he'd said and found that funny. He laughed a jovial laugh.

Goofy looked at him. "Did you listen to yourself? That laugh. It was a resentful laugh, a rueful laugh."

"No it wasn't. I laughed because I said something funny."

Goofy looked away. Then the cartoon character shook his head, stood, and walked away.

Gil watched Goofy walk and thought there might be a bit of a swish in that walk.

The thought made Gil laugh. But this time he listened to his own laugh. Gil heard himself for the first time. He heard a rueful laugh. Gil stopped laughing.

Gil looked at the rides. "You know," he said aloud, then looked to see if anyone was listening. Gil stood alone at the rail. "I think," he said at last. "I'll take a ride after all."


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Mulberry Plant?
BP20080927.jpg

The mirror casually leaned against a chair back
(12 of 14) (6887 views)

Jane Strong's house
Photo Posted Saturday 27 September 2008
(10 August 2008) Berkeley, California
© 2008 Bryan Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080927.jpg

The Studio Mirror
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Alice sat in her wicker chair and sipped green tea. What a night the night before had been. Wine at first. Then whiskey. And Doug. Or was his name Don?

Alice heard him up and making noise from the bathroom. She smiled and called, "You're awake!"

Alice heard the toilet stop filling. It was her. She had used the bathroom and flushed and forgotten. Dave, or was it Dexter, was not there. That's right. She'd come home alone again.

Her art studio was her place of solace. She remembered buying the wicker chair at that shop on Ashby that wasn't there anymore. It fit her. It was her glove. It kept her warm when her soul was cold.

He was tall, she remembered. He had a tattoo around his upper arm. A line of ducks.

Alice looked at the mirror she kept in her studio. It leaned against the wall and reflected unfinished projects. "Don't taunt me," she said to the mirror. "I'm sorry, but I just can't face you yet."

That's right, she remembered. He was a flight attendant. He was English. He had no idea where Memphis was or why his tattoo reminded her of a hotel there. He smelled different to her, very British.

Alice was startled to hear the toilet flush. "Are you up?" she called. She decided to investigate. She stood.

Was that puttering sounds from the bathroom?

Clutching her tea in both hands, like a candle in the dark, she walked cautiously to the bathroom. It was empty of course. The toilet filled and stopped. Alice watched it. It flushed again on its own. "Gotta fix that."

Steve. That was his name. Alice held her tea and tried to remember. His phone number. That's right. He'd given her his phone number.

"Which mirror?" she asked herself. "The bathroom or the studio?"

Alice walked back to the studio. The mirror in the studio was the friendly one. That mirror was casual and uncritical. The mirror on the chair, she felt, always accepted her as she was.

"Steve Hiller," she said aloud. That's right. That was his name.

Alice stepped in front of the mirror and screamed a surprised scream. "When did I get a tattoo?" she asked her reflection. Ducks? Then she remembered.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Pickle Mug?
BP20080925.jpg

Denver held back a giggle at the beach
(13 of 14) (7036 views)

Ocean Beach
Photo Posted Thursday 25 September 2008 internal link
(2 July 2008) San Francisco, California
© 2008 Terry Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080925.jpg

Giggle
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Dixie Morgan was a twenty-something who valued appearances. Every morning, before her first cup of coffee, she would spend exactly one hour preparing her face and hair for the day. Only after her look was fixed and perfect, would she drink her first cup of strong light-roast coffee. Once fully awake, she would then face the more daunting task of dressing for the day.

Dixie, on again and off again, lived with her mother. She and her mother reached détente years before and no longer despised each other. As a young girl, Dixie liked nothing more than a trip to the beach with her mother. So, with subdued excitement, she stood that day on the sand of Ocean Beach with her mother beside her and watched the surf.

"Dixie," her Mom said. "Let's take off our shoes and wiggle our toes in the surf."

Dixie looked at the water lapping the sand. It looked dirty and cold. "No thanks," she said. "You go. I'll watch."

"But it's no fun alone. Let's do it together. It'll be fun."

Dixie looked at her Mom. Still girlish but much older, her mother appeared genuinely excited. "Can't," Dixie said. "I'm wearing hose," she lied.

Dixie saw her mother's shoulder's slump and felt a pang of guilt. "Well maybe. Tomorrow, you know. We can come back dressed right for walking in the surf. You know. Tomorrow."

Dixie's mom turned and looked Dixie square in the face. "You've got to learn to loosen up. I swear. You twenty-somethings just don't know a thing."

Dixie didn't say anything. She knew better than to argue. She watched as her Mom took off her shoes. Then her Mom ran happily down and into the surf.

Dixie noticed many other people on the beach dressed in suits. She looked at her watch. "It must be lunch time."

One woman about her same age struck her as perfect. She wore a grey suit for business, with her hair done up just right. The woman stood alone and stared at the surf.

"Another sensible woman," Dixie said to herself.

Then the woman did something surprising. She lifted one foot at a time and removed her shoes. Dixie notice they were black pumps, the kind needed for a standing job.

The woman wiggled her feet in the sand.

"Don't do it," Dixie said softly and watched. She felt a giggle trying to emerge and ignored it.

The woman looked around as if to see if anyone was watching. It must have been a token look because she didn't see Dixie staring at her.

The woman walked calmly and deliberately toward the surf. She didn't hurry. She walked as if her lunch hour had only just started.

Dixie felt that giggle trying to emerge again.

The woman reached the surf and didn't stop. She walked until her feet were submerged. She smiled.

Dixie giggled.

"I wonder," she said to herself.

Dixie pulled off her shoes and stood in the sand.

She wiggled her toes. She giggled again.

From the surf her mother waved at her, and for some reason that caused Dixie to giggle again. She giggled once more, then couldn't stop giggling. She wiggle her toes and giggled. She wiggled her toes in the sand and giggled. She felt good. She felt happy. She felt released.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Cat Pillow?
BP20080926.jpg

Unwisely, they both stood to look at once
(14 of 14) (7081 views)

Summer Sailstice Celebration
Photo Posted Friday 26 September 2008 internal link
(21 June 2008) Treasure Island, San Francisco, California
© 2008 Terry Costales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License
#BP20080926.jpg

What's That Ed?
Copyright 2008 Bryan Costales

Ed stood in his wide but small fishing boat. He enjoyed the sunshine and music from a festival on shore. He finished the last from his can of beer, crushed it with one hand, and tossed it into a bucket that doubled as a trash can.

"Now there's something you don't see every day, Chet."

Chet lounged against a deck cushion at the back of the small boat. He looked up and shaded his eyes. "What's that Ed?"

"Two men standing in a boat."

Chet got up with a single swear word for each move of his muscles. A look of pain on his face, he rose to stand next to Ed.

Chet looked. "What's wrong with that? I mean we're both standing too."

"But that's a canoe."

"Oh, I see what you mean. Oops. There they go!"

Ed nodded toward the cooler. "We got any beers left?"

"Should we help them?"

"Naw. See. They're swimming to shore already. And the bald guy is pulling the canoe by its painter."

"Okay. I guess they're okay." Chet admitted. He bent over and swore and opened the cooler. "Nothing left but Buds."

"Isn't that the company that those foreigner's bought?"

"Nope. I think that was Coors."

"You're crazy! Coors is a Rocky Mountain beer. The sold company was back east somewhere."

Chet stood and swore. He handed Ed a beer. "You want to talk politics or drink?"

Ed took his beer and popped it open. "Drink of course."

"Hey," Chet pointed with his beer. A little spilled overboard. "Isn't that Dan Hicks on the stage."

"No. I think that's Asleep At The Wheel."

"You're asleep at the wheel."

"Maybe." Ed sipped his beer. "Maybe you're right. Did we remember the chips?"

Chet swore again. "Sure did. Potato and corn chips."

"Now there's something you don't see every day, Chet."

"What's that Ed?" Chet stood and swore and looked. He held a bag of chips in his hand.

But then the music started again. It was snappy and fun. It was Dan Hicks after all.

Ed forgot what he had seen that was so odd. He blinked but couldn't remember.

Ed and Chet stood side by side under the sunshine on Ed's boat. They drank beer and ate chips and listened to the band play.


add a comment or report a mistake
[amazon ad] Need a Bluetooth Transmitter?
home contact topic guide top 25 photos video writing blogs upload terms privacy