Tag Archives: junk

Out my window again

I took this picture at work today. Looks like the thaw, combined with the rain brought us another piece of junk. I hate it when people drop things in our waterways. Still, one man’s junk is another man’s story prompt.


Fishing was lousy. Seven turns of the glass at least, and it rained the whole time. The scarf I used to cover my head was soaked before I cast out my first shrimp. One sand dab wouldn’t feed my sisters, let alone me and ma. Logs drifted past on their way to the bay, and I imagined the fish hid under them to get out of the rain. Then one came by that didn’t float right. It rode low in the water, and barely broke the surface. It had square corners too.

It rode until it lodged in the sand. I dropped my stringer and pole on the shore and ran after it. Maybe someone tipped a wagon upriver, and dumped something valuable in the water. Whatever it was broke loose and drifted again, but not far. The snag of a tree root grabbed it and anchored it until I could catch up.

Its lid was gone by now, and I looked inside. Something looked back.

A skull, not bleached and white like a proper skull, but muddy and covered with sand from upstream somewhere. I approached on tip toes. I’m not superstitious, mind you, but this isn’t something a kid finds everyday.

It was a casket. Nothing fancy, just a wooden box, and the person inside not more than a skeleton but for a few bits and pieces. Those pieces were covered with crabs, and none of ’em were big enough to cook. I looked at the poor skull, and it wore a big tricorn hat. The head rolled toward the sea, and revealed the fellow’s broken neck bones. “So it’s the sea you want, is it?”

I flipped the crabs into the bay. Sometimes people gets buried with coins and such. He didn’t need ’em, and my ma could sure use ’em. I patted down his rags, and found iron shackles around his wrists. I poked and prodded, but turned up nowt.

I looked around his eye holes, ’cause sometimes that’s where the coins goes, but there weren’t any. His hat was oily and stiff, but nothing was tucked inside. I tossed it on the shore. He wore better leather boots than I did, and be damned I decided to take ’em.

They were tall and fine, and turned over at the knee to make a large cuff. I tossed ’em beside the hat, and decided to push the box toward the sea. Better the sea than ¬†another hole in the ground for this one. When the water reached my belly, I let him go. He rode higher in the waves somehow, like a small boat. Almost like he appreciated me setting him on his way.

I wrung the hat out first, and it weren’t in bad shape. Maybe after it dried, I could make some use of it. I poured another crab out of the first boot, and knocked the boot against a rock to make sure there wasn’t any more.

A couple of bones poured out of the second one. Could be I tugged too hard getting it off, but these boots were mine now, by right of salvage. At least that’s what I told myself. I reached inside to make sure there weren’t more pieces. I pulled out a soaked piece of parchment.

The parchment had some kind of writing on it, but it made no sense to me. There was a drawing of the local area too. I recognized the old West Road, and Barrow Point, but not much more. That and a big drawing of a skull, with an X to mark something north of Barrow Point. Maybe ma could read it after it dries out some. She used to know the letters, and maybe she could remember some of ’em. Might be it’d tell who he was, and I could make him a little marker of some kind.


Okay, so my favorite Superbowl ad was the one for the new pirate movie. Somebody needs to come haul their junk out of the stream.


Filed under Short Stories & Vignettes

The Bone Yard

I cringed as I pulled into the garage tonight. Lorelei* had already opened the hidden door and was waiting beside my gyrocopter. She wore a long canvas duster, knee high boots, and a silk scarf.

“Hey. What brings you out tonight?” I asked.

“Let’s fly,” she said. “I’ll tell you where to go.”

We lifted off the street and I banked toward the Misty Mountains.

“We aren’t going to the writing cabin tonight,” she said. “Head east toward the coast. Better kick in ballistic turbo whatever. It’s quite a ways.”

I knew what she meant, trimmed the wing angles and pushed the accelerators forward all the way. When we came to the sea, she told me to skim the surface.

“What are we looking for?”

“Wildlife.” She pointed off to our left, “Over there.”

I banked and saw a long serpentine back rolling in the water. “What is that?”

“Mosasaur. Better climb a little higher. It can jump pretty high.”

“Are you going to tell me what this place is?”

“Jurassic Water Park.”

“You’re kidding. That’s pretty cool, I guess.”

“The island is just up ahead. Circle Mt. Spooky and find a place to land.”

There was only one mountain, and it was surrounded by a junkyard and small village. I spotted an open field and made a low pass. It was clear enough, so I landed. We followed a red brick road into the village.

Lorelei led me to a warehouse and held the door for me. It was filled with shelves, crates, and boxes. I picked up a musty yellow rag and raised an eyebrow toward her.

“That’s the yellow badge of courage. Keep looking.”

I flinched as rodent scurried across my feet. When I turned the corner there were millions of them. I stepped behind her and pushed her forward.

“Are you afraid of hamsters?”

“Hamsters? Really? Why are they here, and why so many?”

She shrugged and said, “Eleventh plague of Egypt.”

“I never heard of an eleventh plague. This AMC Pacer has plates that say Christine.”

“You’re catching on. Let’s head for the Tardis.”

“Cool,” I said. “I’d love to look inside that.”

“It stands for ‘Take a real detour in stories’.”

It turned out to be a bar. It was the same size on the inside. The walls were decorated with memorabilia. I spotted a baseball bat with a lightning bolt carved on the side.

“Special Kid? Shouldn’t it say Wonder Boy?” The Sorcerer’s Rock was framed next to it. A wooden case held the Maltese Mallard.

I sat at the bar and put my chin in my hand. The waitress, Polly Pan, brought me a beer. “This place is almost fun,” I said.

“On Saturday nights Polly Pan performs an epic sword fight with the pirate, Captain Colostomy Bag,” a severed head said.

A chill ran down my spine as I glanced toward Lorelei.

“Washington Irving left him here,” she said. “He lives with Khaleesi, the mother of wombats.”

“And what about the robots by the pool table?”

She grabbed my hand and dragged me over. “Craig, meet 4Q2 and 5319009. Let’s just say these really aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” She cupped her hand around my ear and whispered, “They came here on the Aluminum Falcon.”

I downed my beer and stepped outside. Lorelei grabbed my hand and tugged me back toward Mt. Spooky. She said, “One more thing to see. You’ve nearly got it.”

We entered a tunnel and she led me to a pedestal with a cheap tin brooch on top. “Read it,” she said.

I picked up the brooch and turned it over. “One brooch to rule them all. One brooch to find them–

“Make it stop,” I said. “Nothing here’s good. It’s almost fun, but not quite. Can we go home?”

“Alright. Follow me.” She led the way back down the trail. At the red brick road she shoved me into the bushes and we froze.

I six foot tall woodpecker hopped down the trail and we waited until he was out of sight.

“What’s his deal?” I asked.

“Peter Benchley left him here.”

“Of course he did. Let’s fly, there wasn’t even any alcohol in that beer.” We buckled up and headed home in silence.

Lorelei spoke when we hit the coast. “I know you’ve been editing. I’m trying to help. Sometimes it takes a small change to make the story better.”

“How will I know what to change? Should I be sending stuff to the bone yard too?”

“There’s a space reserved for your stuff. You have a good critique group, listen to them. You should find some decent beta readers too. Listen to everything they say, but only you can make the final decisions.”

* Lorelei is my Muse.


Filed under Muse, Writing