“The Security Guard” first draft

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“God damn it!” he mutters to himself as the cigarette he is smoking singes the fore and middle fingers of his right hand. He drops the butt and puts it out.
Frank looked behind the rakes in the corner of the quanza hut barn, rusted with age and oxidation. There are golf carts, mowers and endless spools of poly flex sprinkler tubing in here.
“How did it fall off?” he questions the air. He drops to a knee and begins moving the shovels and spades and gardening gloves that lay in a pile next to the massive door. He wears a scowl on his face as he scours the ground for something he’s lost. His paunchy belly sticks out from his pants a little and his salt and pepper hair is combed meticulously. He has a kind face bearing a nose slightly too big and big blue eyes. His cheeks are rosy form the effort of bending down.
“What are you doing Frank?” a voice echoes in the tin building.
“Huh? Oh, Jim. I’m lookin’… I lost my wedding ring in here. Son of a bitch just fell right off my hand.”
“Here, I’ll help you look.” Jim lowers his substantial 6’6” frame to the ground and begins scanning the dirt with his much older and less attractive counterpart.
Frank has always liked Jim. He is a hulking red head with a muscular frame and a devious gleam in his eye. He came to Muriel’s funeral with a twelve-pack of Bud Light in his car waiting to help Frank drown his miseries after the service. He stayed with him for two whole days, listening intently to Frank’s reminiscence over his wife. Frank told him about the day they met at a softball game in the hot sun of June. He told him about their only chance at a kid and the miscarriage she had had at two in the morning that sad and dark day in December and how they thought they would get over it, but never did. Jim had been there for him during the trying months when Frank had to learn to take care of himself all over again, cooking meals together, drinking and playing cribbage under the light of his kitchen table. The table Muriel’s mother had given them as a wedding present in 1978.
“I don’t see it, man.” Jim said.
“Yeah, I’m not seeing it either. You go on ahead and I’ll just look a bit longer.”
“Tough break on your last day, bub.”
“Uh, huh. Well, what are you gonna do?”
Frank looked around the old sprinkler heads and the elbows and ends and then got to his feet brushing his knees.
“How’d that happen? I took out my cigarettes and it was just gone.” Frank adjusted his name tag and pulled his pants up. He was glad this was his last day in his Securico uniform. He’d been patrolling the campus of Weinhart’s College for twenty-seven years, and this was finally his last day. He jumped into a golf cart and scooted away down the lane.
At eight o’clock, Jim met Frank at the barista’s hut on the south side of campus for their ritualistic morning coffee. The smell of the dark roasted beans always brightened Frank’s morning, but today a cloud hung over his head. Jim seemed to sense his friend’s mood.
“Any luck?” he said sympathetically as they waited in line behind ten college students who looked like death warmed over.
“Nope. I guess I’ll have to tell Muriel when I say goodbye.”
“So you’re really going to the Bahamas, huh?”
“Yeah, I need a little sunshine. Need to get out of town for a while. You know clear my head and get ready for retirement.”
“Well don’t hook up with any hotties down there without calling me first.”
Jim was always talking about “hotties”. He often saw girls on campus and would proclaim, “That hottie was made for me.”
“What are you going to do with the house? You know now you’re retired.”
“Dunno yet. I might keep it. Or I might move into an apartment when I get back. It hasn’t been the same since, well you know.”
“Yeah, I know. So, I’m still feeding Buster while you’re away, right?’
“Uh, huh. One scoop in the morning one at night. Don’t let her get into the house neither. She’ll pee all over from excitement. She just loves you. “
“Yeah, yeah. Okay.” Jim had moved to the front of the line. “I’ll have a triple nonfat mocha, and one regular tall. No, put your money away Frank, it’s on me today.”
Frank slid his wallet back into his back pocket and raised his eyebrows at Jim in a meaningful signal.
“Getting’ a little too big for your britches already.”
“Your damn right. I’m the boss around her now. Gotta start acting like it don’t I?”
Frank snorted and took his coffee back to his golf cart. Jim met him shortly and they sipped their coffees as the sun beat down on the final May morning Frank would ever get his morning coffee with his friend. He thought of Buster, his red heeler. Buster who would wet the floor if you said his name or made like you were going to grab a leash and go for a walk. He was Jim’s idea. Jim had told him that he needed a friend around all the time after the passing of Muriel. Frank liked the dog okay but it was no replacement.
“Gonna hit the north lot today.” Jim said waking him from his day dream.
“Yup. I’ll take the south. Want to meet up for lunch?”
“Of course, my treat.”
“No don’t go spending all of your folding money on me today. I’m not gonna die tomorrow. Plenty of time to catch me later.”
“Whatever, old-timer. I’ll see you at the café for lunch. 11:30 sound good.”
“Sure ‘nough.”
Jim sped away waving to every good looking girl he passed on his way to the north side of campus. Frank turned his cart and began his rounds up and down the parking lots looking for cars without parking passes.
At ten o’clock Frank was pleased to see Professor Huggins pull into her usual spot. He had planned the encounter just for the bit of conversation it added to an otherwise monotonous job.
“Hi there young lady!” Frank called as her long and shapely legs slid out of her red Beamer.
“Well, hi Frank. How are you doing this fine morning?”
“Can’t complain miss. And you?”
“Well, I’ll tell you. If I hear one more student tell me that his or her grade wasn’t fair I’m going to scream. Did you ever do that Frank?”
“Uh, no ma’am,” Frank lied. “I never had occasion to since my grades were so good.”
Jennifer Huggins stood to her full 5’8” length and Frank almost whistled. Her beautiful tweed jacket fell around her well proportioned body like a bed cloth over her naked body. There was just a hint of cleavage poking out from her plum blouse and Frank had to remind himself not to stare. She was magnificently beautiful, with long slightly graying hair pulled back and folded into some kind of half bunned hair style that accentuated her long and beautiful neck. She approached Frank’s cart and leaned in a bit.
“Frank, I hear that this is your last day.”
“Um, yes ma’am. It is.”
“Well, I want you to know I am going to miss you greeting me every morning. I’ll be leaving at 3:45 for a meeting. Come by so I can say goodbye, okay?”
“Um, yes ma’am I’ll surely do that.”
Her perfume was like heaven on rose petals and it filled his nostrils like a beautiful song fills his ears. She smiled gracefully and turned to leave. Frank thought he noticed a little extra swish in her walk as she went, and wondered if it was for him. He felt a little rise in his pulse and could hear the beat of his heart in his ears.
‘Oh, look at me like a school boy’ he thought. And then a pang of guilt struck him.
“I’ve got a crush, and the same time I lost your ring Muriel.” He muttered to himself.
‘I’m a married man’ he thought as he whined the golf cart into life again. He stopped and gave a car a ticket just to shake the feeling in his heart of guilt and lust. But he it didn’t work. He felt even guiltier for realizing he could do whatever he wanted.
‘But it was your imagination. Why would a professor want to be with you?’
He imagined riding along in her car with the top down and her hair whipping gently in the breeze while he kissed her neck and slid his hand up her…
‘Stop that now. Muriel, think about Muriel. You kept her ring on all this time cause you still love her. Stop this foolishness.’ He thought.
He finished the ticket and jumped into the cart.
At lunch, Jim didn’t help matters when Frank told him about the encounter.
“You old dog. You’re gonna get some professor tail.” He said with egg salad stuck to his cheek.
“It’s not like that. I can’t even if she wanted…”
“And why not? You’re a man you’ve got needs. And so does she apparently. Come on your saying your wouldn’t be interested?”
“I don’t know…No, no I don’t think I am.”
“You don’t think…Listen, man, you gotta take a chance sometimes. Start enjoying life again. I’ve watched you for the last year…”
“You’ve watched me. Jim, excuse my rudeness but you’ve only known me for two years. I had thirty years with my wife. Thirty years. I’m sorry if that doesn’t just go away with every skirt I see. I’m not you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothin’.”
“No, man, speak your mind. What was that supposed to mean? I chase too much tail. I’m too old for college girls? What is it you want to say?”
“Drop it okay.”
“No, I won’t drop it,” Jim’s face reddened and his eyes got wider as he dropped his sandwich onto his plate. “Do you think I’m a letch? Is that what you think? Cause I can go out with girls and I don’t hold onto the memory of someone who has been gone for a year.”
“Jim, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t think you’re a letch, you’re just young. I don’t just let go of someone after a year. I hold on to them. Listen I’m sorry I said anything, so just calm down and finish your lunch.”
“Frank, I love you man. You’ve been like a father to me. But you are not thinking clearly and you’ve got yourself all out of whack. Muriel would want you to be happy. I want you to be happy. Why don’t you want that for yourself?”
Frank’s ears got red and he felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck. Sweat started rolling down his forehead.
“How dare you? How do you know what Muriel would want? You never even knew her. You met her once, twice. She wanted me, she loved me. Why is that different now?” he was almost yelling and some students at the tables adjacent to them looked on uncomfortably.
“Because she is dead, man. She is dead, and I know she…”
“I know she’s dead! I buried her. I put my wife in the ground a year ago and you want me to find someone new? Who sounds crazier?”
“I know she would want what is best for you.” Jim finished.
“And you know what is best for me, do ya?” Frank stood and grabbed his tray roughly.
“Frank, sit down.”
“I will not listen to this,” Frank growled, “I’m going back to work. You take the south, I’m getting the north. This conversation is over.”
Frank walked to the garbage can and threw away his lunch, tray and all.
It took several minutes for Frank to feel somewhat normal. He stood in the quanza hut tears swelling in his eyes and a pang in his heart. His throat felt rough and dry. He thought about the conversation over and over.
‘Was Jim right? Is it time to move on already? Oh Muriel, If only you were still here. I like the professor, I think she likes me. Give me a sign babe. Anything.’
Frank waited and nothing happened. He decided to have a cigarette to calm his nerves and when he pulled out the pack he heard a thud on the ground at his feet. There sat his wedding ring in a pile of dust. It glinted in the afternoon light. Frank bent to pick it up. It was still the same weight, but something was different. He held it up to the sky to examine it. Where it had rubbed against the bottom of his finger for thirty years had split. He gazed at it for ten minutes turning it over and over in his hand as he smoked cigarettes.
‘Damn thing. What does this mean? Should I talk to Jennifer? Should I still go to the Bahamas? I wonder what a last minute fare would cost.’

Rumors

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The engines whine into life in front
And back of the hundred transports and hot fumes
surround the diesel driven cars. The red light
blinks out and the engines tug on the first
car, beginning their slow and arduous work
like playing tug-o –war with a tree. The first
shipment whines as its wheels commence
and the long trip begins across the county
to an old and lonely grain silo
in the middle of nowhere, where it stands
silently waiting for news. The message
moves down the rolling stock like an unstoppable
tsunami in the sea of Japan. The consist
gains steam as it crosses the first road
and increases momentum on its way
out of town. Picking up speed quickly
now, the train lets out a baleful “HONK”
at each intersection to spread its message
to every ear in the village. It hits
the outskirts with sparking wheels that set brushfires
like careless campers in July
or August. But up ahead there is something
amiss. The track is out, the ties are broken
scattered like so many toothpicks or Lincoln Logs
in a small child’s bedroom. The train buckles
with wheels screeching and sputtering fire
and cars pile on cars and coal and grain and corn
syrup spill onto the ground like sloppy
leftovers scooped down the drain by a careless
hand. The trainset has toppled, torn from its route
and no one quite remembers how it began.

Ender’s Game Movie?

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Why are we still waiting for Ender’s Game to come to the big screen? With movies like Star Trek, Inception and Avatar making ground breaking leaps in the evolution of film how is this movie still not being made? I have been an Ender’s Game fan for almost twenty years and now finally the technology has caught up with the vision of Card. Please get to work and get this project moving. I would pay to see this movie, twice or thrice.

One-Eyed Kelly

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He walks into the dusty, musty
bar like a tiger walking into his den
after a long and dangerous hunt
that yielded nothing but an empty stomach
and four sore paws on which to limp.

The rough and scarred wooden bar has more character
than the characters sitting at it. The taste
of the stale beer is like eating three-day-old
bread dipped in balsamic vinegar.

He orders a whiskey on the rocks and downs
the spirit like fire eaters swallow the tips
of long flaming sticks burning orange
and smelling of kerosene. He squints
and pounds the bar with a powder keg fist.
Glasses tinkle, smoke rolls from cigars
glowing at the tip and laughter emanates
unintelligibly from the room like the waves
of praises at an old Shaker church
in the space filled with men and whores.

He calls the bartender over
again and with a crooked eye he
spits “I’m lookin’ for one-eyed Kelly.” “Well,
you found ‘im right over here” says a
gravelly voice from the end of the bar.

The shadows are so dark you could hide
the night in their black gruesome claws
strong as talons on a raven. The room
is quiet, dead quiet like the tomb
of some Egyptian pharaoh in the desert.

“I’m aiming to kill you” says the man
at the bar as he throws his coat back revealing
the worn ivory and walnut grip of his Colt
.45 fit with enough lead to stop
a stampeding bull with his nuts in a bind.

The room is empty and muffled cries report
the fear in the bartender’s eyes
behind the bar where he is buried under
boxes like a woodchuck afraid to come
out of his hole in February.

“Then draw” says Kelley as quick as the wind
and he blows and blows holes into the man
from Kalamazoo. The man slumps
and with his dying breath he calls
to One-Eyed Kelly, “Goodbye, Father.”

Dumped

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Gulls cry their piercing moans above the dolly’s

head, lamenting for all eternity

the mewling cats are disgusting

and rank from their walk in the dump. The smell,

the stench of this place is as foul

as gelatinous garbage on a hot

street corner in the middle of August. The sun

glimmers off the discarded tin and aluminum

with their labels still wet like a shirt

after a hard sweaty run through

a city filled with horns blowing and cars crashing

and filthy brown clouds drifting above head, flying

to some distant land far from this hustle

and bustle. Dozers rev and give the air

its acrid smell so rich to the nose it smells

like a pool of petrol in the gulf  long after

a sealed well has begun to seep. The dolly’s

 arms fling here and there as the choking black

smoke trundles by, shifting the pile in its ever-

changing mass of destitute. The flavor of rot is rank

and one gets sense that this is where

discarded and lost toys come to die.

Shaving Sexy

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You must make sure the water is comfortably warm
to wet where it will occur. Splash your
face with the fragrant stream and begin working
the soap into a hot rich lather. Spread it softly
across your gentle and yielding cheeks. Use your
fingertips to tickle your lips
with sudsy white froth. The razor will drip
hot, steamy water as you begin stroking
the blade tenderly down the length
of your face. Make an “O” with your
mouth to clean from the base to the
hilt on your lips. Go with the grain
to smoothly remove the three-day-whiskers
upon the neck, careful not to nick
the soft and supple skin. Do it all
again from the other side and enjoy the feel
of comfortable familiarity. Splash your face
with the sudsy liquid and towel
off thoroughly when you are finished.

#1

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#1
By: Matthew Hankins

Cornflower blue skies
Puffy white clouds
Pause
He hushes the
Rumbling, low moan

The sweat drips from
A furrowed brow
Drenched
The wind whistles
About his head

Loads hefted upon
Weary shoulders
Tired
Trudging forward
On fatigued legs

Hip placed hands anchor
His arching back cracks
Fresh
Cut grass on
Sweltering summer days

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