Guys Like Him

“I wasn’t sure you’d come.”

“You kidding? My curiosity is killing me.”

“I just thought that after what he did. To you, I mean.”

“And a whole lot of other women. Yeah, well. I’m over it. Getting over it, anyway. Maybe this will help.”

“The detective told me that nobody’s been in here since he was executed.”

“Who’s been paying the rent?”

“I guess he set it up to get paid automatically. A bank sends a check every month.”

“So he was expecting to be caught.”

“I guess guys like him get more brazen as they go.”

“Guys like him.”


Friday Fictioneers

Note: I often abstain when the prompt photograph comes from this particular contributor since his prose poems often feature brutal violence against women and sometimes children (always from the point of view of the perpetrator), but every so often I can’t resist poking the bear. 

A Dream Beneath A Tree

Dubreiel slouched in the shade of a roadside tree, his despair and pain intolerable.

The wound in his foot ached horribly, and for a moment he regretted casting his pistol into the pond the previous night. I could have at least shot myself, he thought.

But the warm May breezes were heavy with the scent of apple blossoms. They combined with melodious birdsong to soothe him, and soon the young deserter was fast asleep, softly snoring with his chin against his tunic.

For years afterward, he would try to recapture his dream beneath the tree that day, the phenomenal sense of hope and curiosity it contained.

Even half-remembered, the force of it was such that when he awoke some hours later he was, for the first time in his life, certain of what he needed to do next.

He stood and dusted off his uniform, then set out limping up the road.

What Pegman Saw: Brittany


Is This The Boy?

He used to come up here after school or whatever he does during the day.  Anyways, I let him feed the pigeons. He don’t say much, but I seen him smile when the blue dragoon eat out of his hand. I says to him that it’s unusual for a bird to do that with somebody they don’t know so good. He dropped that smile like a hot rock and I didn’t see him again for two, three weeks. When he come back, it was like nothing happened. He fed them like always.

What did you say he done again?

Friday Fictioneers


The Captive Freed

God shows his irony by allowing me this beautiful place and all the time in the world.

I have outlived my compatriots and peers, my lovers and wives, my children, and even my enemies, but this itself is no reward. Indeed, there are mornings when the floor of my sleeping chamber is slick with frost and I feel the weight of decades as oppression, though I am cured of this when my mind freely darts among the pillared decades like a swallow flitting between the posts of a barn.

I witnessed my native country twice destroyed, first with oafish violence by the Nazis and then, more pervasively, by Stalin’s gunpoint socialism, a poison pill forced down our collective throats with the promise of happiness and health, delivering neither. We learned what thoughts were acceptable, discounting all the rest.

But I am free from all that now, adrift on this lovely lake, home at last.


What Pegman Saw: Polanczyk

This post was inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz. In the 1950s, while working as a diplomatic attaché in Paris, he claimed political asylum and published The Captive Mind,  a collection of essays about his experience with Communist doctrine. He lived and taught in the United States from 1960 until his death in 2004.

Milosz’s poems, novels, essays, and other works are written in his native Polish and translated by the author and others into English. Having lived under the two great totalitarian systems of modern history, national socialism and communism, Milosz wrote of the past in a tragic, ironic style that nonetheless affirmed the value of human life. He is one of my all-time favorite minds. 

Before the Storm

After the emergency broadcast, he got busy, talking the whole time.

“My great-grandfather was a whaler,” he said as he slid a heavy-duty cable over the bollard, cranking the capstan to draw the hull tight against the fenders.

“He wrote about rounding the horn down by the roaring forties.” He tightened down the hatch battens.  “Waves as tall as the mainmast, the sea foaming white as a wedding cake.”

He placed the plywood deadlights over the ports to protect the glass. “This little hurricane would have been nothing to him.”

He smiled, but the deep-set eyes looked worried to me.

Friday Fictioneers

Hi-Ho Hoosegow

“You sure he’s in there?” said Jeffus. He squinted at the cabin.  “Don’t see no smoke from the chimbly.”

The marshal slid another cartridge into his Henry, then ran his wipe along the brass side.  “Warm night,” he said. “And appearances to the contrary, Happy Jack is nobody’s fool.”

“So what you got in mind?”

“Go find his horse.”

“Maybe he brung it inside with him.”

“Doorway is too narrow. He’ll have it staked nearby. Find it and walk it around front.”

“Hell, Marshal,” said Jeffus. “What’s to keep him from plugging me?”

“Keep the horse between you and the doorway. Keep your head down.”

Shaking his head, Jeffus checked his revolver, then set out into the woods. Soon he came out of the trees, walking slowly alongside the big sorrel, ludicrously ducking and bobbing.

The marshal drew a bead on the horse’s head and yelled out the bandit’s name.

What Pegman Saw

inlinkz frog

The Grim Journal

Saturday, September 26
The first of the leaves falling. It’s a month now since they took Molly to the hospital.  I often catch myself unconsciously weeping.


Wednesday, November 4
Frost came early this year. When the electricity is on I try to warm myself. There’s the gas range, but the ration box is late again so nothing to cook.


Friday, January 8
I kept the holidays by avoiding them, draped in black as though they were mirrors in a mourning household.


Thursday March 11
Has it only been a year?


Friday May 1
The armored trucks now broadcast news through loudspeakers in the president’s voice.


Friday Fictioneers


For those who asked for a longer version, I have an expanded version I wrote for Prose Magazine.

As Golpistas

Cuandon had a good Saturday. He told me he’d run the airport scam twice, each time picking up the tourists by yelling the name of a hotel from the van window, then taking them up to the mountain shack until they paid the ransom which he calls a “travel fee.”

I was down in the Federal District learning a new golpista, the fake arrest.

Cuandon sat back with his beer while I explained it, smiling  and shaking his head once in a while in amazement.

“It’s as easy as that?”

“Seems to be,” I said. “They are so afraid of police they will give up their personal information without hesitation. Bribes, too. All we need are the uniforms, which I can get for ten percent off the top. You won’t even need to shave your mustache.”

“Why are they so weak, do you think?”

“They aren’t weak, Cuandon. Just afraid.”


What Pegman Saw: Brasilia


Dear Kid,

I couldn’t help but look at the calendar as the day approached.

Three more days. Two more days. 

Though only  ten, she felt it too.

Only once did she ask me why she had to go, why she couldn’t live with me.

The question floated over my sea of bitter resentment me like a scrap of paper drifting across a bed of molten lava, burning away before it could touch.

I swallowed.

You just can’t, honey.

Later, I dragged out my old Hermes Rocket and started the first of many letters to her.

You can’t save a box of emails.


Friday Fictioneers

 Since my daughters moved away in 2013, I have written more than three hundred letters to them, typing almost all of them. They seldom write back, but that’s not why I do it.

Father Arnaud

Father Arnaud hung his surplice on the teak peg and turned to face the bright-eyed visitor.  “You were at Mass?”

“Yes. I’ve been coming every Sunday for the past four weeks.”

“Yet you did not take Communion.”

“No. I’m not Catholic.”

“Then why do you come to Mass?”  The ancient priest gave his most winning smile. “All are welcome, of course. I am merely curious.”

“I came because I had to be sure. You see, we’ve spent a long time searching you out.” The young man gestured toward the limitless sea they both could view through the open chapel door. “To the ends of the earth, it seems.”

Father Arnaud’s smile stiffened. “Me? Whatever for?”

The man pulled a photograph from his breast pocket.  It showed a young man in the uniform of an SS Ünteroffizier,  young and fresh and wearing an expression of placid confidence.

And clearly, indisputably, Father Arnaud.


What Pegman Saw

inlinkz frog