Fiction refers to literature created from the imagination. Traditionally, that includes novels, short stories, fables, myths, legends, fairy tales, plays, etc. The ever-widening scope of fiction in today's world may include comic books, cartoons, anime, video games, radio and television shows, it could be genre fiction, literary fiction or realism. But regardless of its form of conveyance, fiction is a device that immerses us in experiences that we may not otherwise discover; takes us places we may never go, introduces us to people we may never have met. It can be inspiring, captivating, and even frightening. In the end, it exposes us to a life not our own. It can help us to see ourselves and our world in a new light.
We invite you to join us as we embark on a journey of fiction created by these talented authors. We applaud all of our contributors and encourage everyone to continue to follow their artistic and literary dreams. For those whose works we’ve selected, we hope this is just the beginning of an illustrious career in the arts.
by Enza Vynn-Cara
There is death in my house.
“It's gone to a better place,” she says. "Now flush it down the toilet and wash your hands. Breakfast is ready."
Like that, she cans Juju, our goldfish. She did the same with Didi, Ma’s parrot, Brook, the family cat, and Wild E. my she-wolf— and it always happens early in the morning, right before breakfast.
In my home, since she stepped in, pets die at night and are rid of in the morning. Juju’s brother floated in the tank, belly up, the Monday after she hooked up with Pa. Two days later, Didi got eaten by Brook. Some of its feathers are still stuck against the bars, and they’re going to stay there until she cleans it up. It’s her chore. She left the cage open.
Brook herself, too fat with Didi, fell from the barn roof onto a mousetrap, lost a paw, and bled to death overnight. And a few weeks after, I found poor Wild E. dying on our doorstep with a bullet in her left eye.
Imagine that, Wild E. dying, yet seeking me out to say goodbye. That is true loyalty.
There is little loyalty in our house.
Or empathy for one's grief.
Take Pa, he hooked up with her two months after Ma kicked the bucket, and I mean that literally. Ma cut herself on the rusted chicken-feed bucket she,our farmhand from New...
by Leona Pence & Tom Whitehead
Tom Whitehead: (In the deep husky Marlboro movie guys voice) HEEEEEEEEEEEER FISHY, FISHY, FISHY!
It was an early Saturday morning. He thought it was just another day of fishing, then all of a sudden out of nowhere he realized it WAS just another day of fishing...the end.
Leona Pence: And Fishy knew right then the ruse had worked. The next time the gullible hulk stuck his pole in the water, he'd catch much more than he bargained for.
As the unsuspecting fisherman approached the water he heard in a low voice heeeeeeere human human human.
Sadly, the poor unsuspecting human thought the voice was part of the creepy music he'd been listening to. With a smirk on his face, he danced around his camp chair twice before sitting down and opening his tackle box. He didn't notice the huge school of Fishy swimming in a circular motion toward him. The fisherman thought he was graceful enough to dance, but he was just tripping over the uneven ground. He saw a movement in the water but paid no attention to it. As he baited his hook the motion was getting faster and bigger. He slowly backed away from the water.
He stepped back right into a small hole in the ground which caused him to lose his balance and fall hard on his fleshy butt. Immediately, the fishing line wound rapidly and tightly...
by Leona Pence
David Porter watched his wife and two sons as they played on the monkey bars at the park. He smiled in contentment as peals of laughter rang out. Two short weeks ago, he’d been in danger of losing his family.
His executive secretary had left on a well-deserved vacation while a trainee had stepped into her shoes. Michelle had been with the company for less than three months but showed promise in her work. David stood and prepared to leave for the day when Michelle tapped on his door.
“Sorry Mr. Porter, but I can’t find the Bremmer file for the eight am meeting.”
“Linda told me she left everything you’d need for the week on her desk.”
“I know, but I’ve looked everywhere for it. I don’t mind staying later to help you redo the file.”
David glanced at his watch and sighed. “Give me a minute to call my wife. It’s going to be a long evening.”
Two hours later they closed the new file and were ready to head out.
“Would you like to stop for a drink or dinner before you go home, Mr. Porter?”
“I can’t tonight, Michelle. My wife’s parents are visiting. But please, feel free to put a good meal on your expense account. I’ll see you at 8:00 sharp.”
David walked her to her car before returning to his private parking space and his...
by Enza Vynn-Cara
Samael and Malachi, two brothers working for different bosses, sit on the fence dangling their booted feet each on their side of the divide. One pair of boots is caked in white droppings; the other scrubbed clean. It’s like a dare. Trespassing? Not quite. They kick the air, slam the rubber heels against the wooden fence but don’t cross over. It’s dusk.
“Admit, brother," says Samael, the one with the well-scrubbed boots. "It doesn’t just look the part, works too. Keeps them tight and happy.”
“Happy?” Malachi leans over to wipe off the droppings. He too likes his boots clean but knows it’s an impossible task. With a tap of his boot, he gently shoos the young hens and looks over at his brother. “You think they’re happy?”
“What’s not to be happy about?” Samael slams his heels on the fence. "Think about it, brother,” he says. “They sleep, feed, roost— all in one place. No time wasted, just a stretch of their pretty necks to peck, and when they tire, they can plop and rest on a bed of heat-resistant hay. All they possibly need is inside these concentric circles spreading out into the field like the petals of a rose. Ecological Art Deco Enriched Cages Complex, EADECC, we call it. It’s a gem of architectural engineering and warm as hell.”
“Warm as hell? Oh Samael, coming from you, that’s no joke.”
“It sure isn’t.”
Samael’s chortle booms...
by Luann Lewis
An elderly woman shuffled up the sidewalk and took a seat on the bench across the way from me. I watched her slow steps and noticed her feet stuck in matted slippers and her swollen discolored ankles. Breathing a sigh of relief, I felt grateful for my mobility, for my youth and comfort. The woman carried with her a small boom box. She sat it on the bench by her side and, with much huffing and puffing, she settled herself. Big sweater sleeves flopping, she put one scrawny elbow on the arm of the bench then used her gnarled hands to pull headphones over her dull gray head.
I could hear snatches of the melody drifting from under the tattered pads on her ears… some beautiful piano… was that a symphony? I couldn’t quite tell.
As she listened, her face relaxed. She tilted her head back in the sun and her skin seemed to smooth. Her shoulders loosened and her back straightened as tight muscles relaxed and gained strength from the sound. Her lips parted and seemed to grow fuller as I watched. Blushing and bursting with color, this youth traveled up into her cheeks, her nose, her eyes and her forehead until it appeared that her complexion was that of a teenager, radiant and flawless. Formerly drab and white, her hair had somehow become flowing pale locks, thick and glowing in the sun.
Then her blue eyes opened wide and she...
by Brigitte Whiting
We sat around a campfire in the backyard that evening, our parents and us four kids, aged four to fifteen. Dan, the oldest at nineteen, was in the Army serving somewhere that Mother didn't want to tell us. "You don't need to worry," she said. "I'll worry enough for all of you."
This was our first fire of the year, July first, and already the summer was hot and dry. I sat cross-legged on the grass staring into the flames. We'd roasted the last of the marshmallows. Grasshoppers hummed in the background. The first star hung like a bright teardrop in the eastern sky.
Mother sat over to the side and I watched her pursing her lips, frowning, and pushing back in her lawn chair. Dad stood up, got another chunk of wood, and threw it on the fire, the embers flying up till they were swallowed in the deepening darkness.
From inside the house, the phone rang, shrill, a wailing almost. I stood up to run inside but Mother jumped up next to me, her chair thudding to the ground behind her, and she knocked me out of her way. Dad followed her indoors.
"Who's going to call us now? What do you think, Kathleen?" my twelve-year-old brother asked.
"I don't know," I said. My breath felt clogged in my throat. My little sister leaned against my knee, her breath in my face smelling of sweetness and marshmallows.
by Albert Orejuela
The global wealth distribution has been heavily off balance, the scales of capitalism have plunged so far into disproportion they will fall before they will be fair again. Jack and his widowed mother have economically crammed a century of mourning into an egregious year but failed to prudently pull a dollar of dividend out of a precocious penny; all the while all the affluence has impractically and practically belonged to one percent of the population.
Jack’s departed dad had all but literally bet the farm on the new government, voting for aristocratic candidates masquerading as bourgeois benefactors. Pulling the masks of democracy from their fraudulent faces the moment they took their offices: Popular promises of pursuits and patriotism were promptly repossessed by despotic regulations and obligations. Jack’s passed parent ultimately paid the price of that deception, and the family’s economic losses, by taking his own life rather than continuing his reprehensible reimbursement in stress, and he was not alone… suicide was rampant and not unexpected.
“Jack, I need you to go online and sell the last of our blue-chip stocks. Without your father’s trading and with the latest round of tariffs, our portfolio is no longer the cash cow we need it to be. Those dividends were our only income, and we’ll need money from the sale to continue to survive.” The widow’s voice shivered slightly as she tried to hide her apprehension and hoped her son had learned enough...
by Brigitte Whiting
Smelled: a gamey odor downstairs in the basement. Searched for its source but couldn’t find it.
Found: one dead mouse with reddish-brown legs and a white underbelly in the basement bathroom. A deer mouse. Picked it up with tongs, took it outdoors, and tossed it atop a four-foot pile of snow. It was gone by the following day.
Found: bits of foil wrappings and a chunk of nibbled chocolate on the floor of an upstairs closet.
Found: a dusting of chocolate powder when I moved a new plastic jug of Nestles Quik. Discovered a 1/8th by 1-inch hole nibbled near its bottom.
Found: a torn-open bag of Hershey's Kisses.
Placed: chocolate mix canister and kisses in a trash bag. Kept them upstairs so a mouse wouldn’t find the treats again before trash pickup in four days.
Could not find: the mousetraps.
Bio: Brigitte Whiting lives in Maine and often uses settings and experiences from her backyard in her writing. She earned Fiction Writing Certificates from Gotham Writers Workshop and UCLA-Ext and is working on her WVU-MFA Certificate. In addition to facilitating WVU classes, she meets weekly with two local writers' groups. Her poetry group has published a collection of their poems, Wit, Wisdom and Whimsy.
by McCord Chapman
A deep sigh came just as Jason was pulling off the highway onto Route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had suddenly fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no matter the location. His hometown had tainted similar places through memories of loneliness, frustration, and expected yet undeserved sympathy. Due to his small-town avoidance syndrome, Jason had missed housewarmings, weddings, and most family gatherings over the years. But this felt like a worthy sacrifice to maintain a comfortable distance from his childhood. Anxiety was an easy excuse to turn around, but he knew this time must be different. It was unavoidable.
The car’s backseat was filled with clothing & books to the point where most surrounding vehicles had been rendered invisible during the long drive north. Jason never noticed. He rarely checked his blind spots even on a good day. Water bottles were strewn across the floor in front of the passenger seat, along with a half-drunk, now spoiled fruit smoothie from earlier in the week. Burger King bags had joined this pile during his four-hour drive when Jason told himself there were no other options, but in reality, he simply couldn’t contain a craving for chicken fries.
The twenty-four-hour name-brand gas station swiftly came and went as Jason lit a cigarette for the final stretch, a Pavlovian response that kicked in once the Mobil was in his...
Trish pushed her hair to the side to show off her sparkling diamond earrings. “Alvin just got these for me. I didn’t even have to drop a hint.”
Heather leaned forward for a better look. “Oh Trish, they’re beautiful. And LuAnn, did I see you drive up in a new Lexus today?”
“Yes. It’s a belated birthday present. We had to send the first one back. Jeffrey surprised me, but it just wasn’t the color I wanted.”
Heather put on her biggest smile. “Well, cheers ladies. To all your new gifts.”
Trish beamed back. “Thanks, Heather. Now that John’s with the company, I’m sure you’ll be benefiting soon too.”
Heather sighed and shifted almost imperceptibly in her seat, then raised her glass of Prosecco. “Here’s hoping so.”
Heather allowed her friends to pay for her lunch again and then rounded the corner to her Kia. Slipping into the driver’s seat, she felt the sun-drenched pleather sticking to her thighs and closed her eyes to imagine the feel of cool leather cradling her skin. She drove home and pulled into the driveway just as her husband, John, returned home from work.
“Early day, hon?” Heather pecked him on the cheek and linked arms with him to walk up the front steps.
“Not really. I brought some work home. I was too distracted at the office.” John threw his suit jacket onto the sofa, kicked off his shoes, and headed for the kitchen. After grabbing a beer, he straightened up to find...
by Cedar White
Twenty minutes later most of the crowd filtered past the bottleneck, except us.
by Brigitte Whiting
I had plans for that summer and everything changed because of the marbles. But I’m way ahead of myself.
My brothers, Jeff and Mick, hung around Farmer Tom’s place, feeding chickens and riding on the tractor with him, watching while he milked his yellow cow, Bess. I’d been over there a time or two when Mama had shooed me out of the house to go fetch my
Farmer Tom died the last day of June and we were let out of school early, to mourn the loss of a great
Two days afterwards on Saturday, my whole family and
by Luann Lewis
I hate the sounds this house makes. I hate the way it smells. It’s a
Champagne and chocolates were our celebratory dinner when we closed and the next day the movers brought our furniture then box after box.
But the changing season brought more than just cold. Sam shivered and coughed at first.
by Albert Orejuela
You’re hearing a voice, but no one else hears a sound. It’s a deep distant whisper, soft, safe, and inviting: the words of which you can’t yet make out. The harder you listen, the softer it gets; softer and softer, deeper and deeper. The more you listen to it here, the further away it brings you. You want to stop listening, and you try, but you can’t.
You don’t want to leave, but you realize you are looking at the door. There is an emergency exit sign above the door, and when you look directly at
You read the sign again, for the first time, “Abe, the Teenage Hypnotist from Planet Garfunkel.” The clink of the door latch grabs your attention; as the long metal handle clangs against the door you realize you’re walking through it.
You should be outside, and you might be, but when you look around
Pink and purple at first, but it’s bright and you need to blink a few times. As it’s coming into focus, you can hear the voice getting clearer...
by TJ Marshall
Brody Carlisle halted his horse on the crest of a shrub-covered hill, slapped his Stetson twice sending dust floating skyward, and after placing it back on his head, coaxed a swallow from his canteen.
To the west, the sun slid behind a scattering of tall pillar-like plateaus. Their shadows snaked across the barren valley and across the town of Fontana like a giant disembodied hand with long, flattened fingers, claiming the settlement as its own.
Clicking his tongue, Brody guided his horse slowly down a narrow path toward the town. As he neared the first building – a squat shack with a bullet-riddled barber’s sign hanging from one squeaky hook – a dog, hidden somewhere behind the buildings, announced his arrival with a series of long low howls. The wide dirt road, splitting the town in two, remained vacant. The hairs standing on his arms told Brody he wasn’t alone; someone watched.
Making his way between a closed tannery and another building that displayed an assortment of hand tools and a bag of grain in its dirty window, Brody headed toward the far end of Fontana where the only stone building in town stood. Even in the fading light, the broad white letters that spelled “SHERIFF” were easy to read.
His horse huffed and slowed as they neared the building. Brody clicked his tongue again and urged him forward. Once in front of the sheriff’s office, Brody slid to the hard ground, tied...
by Luann Lewis
Food. Globes of mashed potatoes glistening with a thin layer of gravy, plump slices of pie gushing with ruby red cherries–food
Perhaps it started with the light in her mother’s eyes when dessert was served or the happiness in Mom’s voice when they went to a fancy restaurant. Eating was important. Food was
Maybe it began in the dark when those intruding hands pushed her covers down and her nightgown up. M&Ms shoved into her mouth, mingled with her tears; a sweet reward for bitter pain.
The bags of candy Abby got from the neighbor after he fondled her ten-year-old body seemed like a fair trade. How was she to know she was also accepting bags of shame? Still, the texture of the sugar granules rolling over her tongue, the spunky lime, the happy orange, the surprising lemon all helped to lighten the heaviness in her heart.
When she curled up on her bed,
by Brigitte Whiting
Stan stood on the sand, crumpled by how many people and birds running and sliding into it today. Now, it was getting dark, the last of the purple, streaky clouds turning black against a pale, gray sky.
Go or stay, just two choices.
He reached down for the wire handle of the lantern, then slid its switch to on, and set the lamp back on the sand. No one to hurry back home to. That’s what Marie said was the problem. How did she put it? “Dad, you’re drifting.”
A lone seagull flew overhead, screeching at him.
“Okay, okay,” he said. He buttoned up his red plaid jacket, pulled the edge of his cap tight over his ears, picked up the lantern.
His cell phone rang. He pulled it out and squinted to read the number before he answered it. “No, Marie.”
“That’s not what I meant. I mean I haven’t decided yet.”
“You promised you would by this evening.”
He turned back and looked toward the black ocean. “I will.”
She was just like her mom, pestering till she dragged a promise out of him. Hard as it had been sometimes, he’d never broken one. But abandoning Beth’s grave, no, it wasn’t quite that, Beth wouldn’t know the difference anyway. It was leaving home, routines. Making changes.
He followed the path along the...
by Cedar White
Amos stood on a thick, muscular knoll on the shoulder of a dark river. He shivered, soaking wet from his silver hair to his leather shoes, and stared, disoriented, at the pines across the river. They seemed to stand with their backs to him. Amos felt his heart racing and realized he was out of breath. He turned. Behind him lay a rumpled blanket and an overturned bag of sandwiches. He turned again, still lost, and watched the swift surface of the river reflecting an apathetic sky. Somewhere in the tall pines a crow called. Amos heard a voice. His phone lay in the grass below him, and there was someone on speakerphone. The screen said Nina, in red letters. Amos picked it up.
"Hello?" he said.
"Daddy? Did you call?"
He paused, "I don’t know."
"Are you alone? Where’s John?"
"Not sure," he said. "I mean… I don’t know. I’m… there’s a river. I’m alone… and," he looked at his hand. "There’s blood."
Earlier that day John Faraday, husband of Dr. Nina Faraday, lifted their four-year-old into his brand new, overbuilt car seat, sufficient to protect the boy from almost any accident. "Dylan, time to hop-in strap-in. We’re going to get Grandpa," he said. Dylan sat, compliant, his curious eyes studying his father as he strapped him in.
"Gram-paw?" Dylan's voice squeaked, the second syllable a higher pitch, eyes widening as he finished the word.
by Frank Richards
In July the monsoon rains returned and with them came the little green frogs. Price Aurigena had first seen them in the summer of 1969 when he’d arrived in Korea and now, a year later, they were once again everywhere. Frogs sprang from the ground like exploding popcorn kernels. They whizzed by his face from the sides of buildings. They dropped off the roof and twitched down the back of his shirt. At night, frogs were nestled in his cot when he pulled down the covers and frogs
Those clouds had other, almost supernatural powers. They affected communications, making the radio hiss and spit like an angry cat. He had difficulty getting through to the Provost Marshal's Office because of the interference, even though he might only be a few miles away.
When they had a...
by Frank Richards
I have studied martial arts all my life: Karate, Judo, Kenpo Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Hsing-I, but as I've gotten older, I pretty much stick to Tai Chi. I used to study Tai Chi at a park in Washington, D.C. called Glen Echo Park. It's an old park, not much used anymore. Most of the park has fallen into disrepair since the sixties. There's an old kid's carousel. I'm not sure if it still works. Shabby buildings, overgrown with tall grasses or volunteer trees sprouting up here and there, that's the character of the place.
I used to wear a T-shirt and shorts to Tai Chi. We practiced on Saturday mornings in a building that was also set up as a dance studio, you know, a place with wooden floors and big full-length mirrors in front. No one wanted to arrive late, because if you did, you wound up in the front of the class, and everyone's eyes were on you the whole hour we practiced.
One Saturday I was held up in traffic and realized I had to hurry so as not to arrive late. I parked and began to run toward the class building. I came around the corner of a building and two women ran up to me, one on each side. "How are you doing?" asked one, handing me a bottle of water. The other asked, "How do you feel?" as she ran along beside me. She handed me a sack...
by Glennis Hobbs
July 20, 1942
Escorted by her eldest brother Neil, Annabell walks across the front lawn to meet Bill. her groom. She is dressed in a long gown of pink net overlying pink point
Bill looks forward to living in their own home on St. Clare Avenue. He needs to make certain the chimney works properly. He fears a fire like the one that burnt his parents’ farmhouse. His mother grabbed the seven-month-old Bill and threw him in the manger while she ran for help.
Annabell looks up at her mother’s burnt chimney and sighs with relief. She remembers how, in the midst of wedding preparations a month ago, lightning struck the chimney while her wedding cake was baking. Annabell rushed the half-baked cake over to her next door neighbour’s house to finish it. Her younger brothers tease her about getting a warning from the Lord. She replies that she doesn’t care and insists she is getting married anyway. This becomes a family...
by Teresa Crowe
S is for Scintillation.
Their arms and elbows locked as they vied for control. Major released her grip and dredged her beet-colored nails across his muscled chest. Zane glanced at the four lines of ripped skin, blood dripped onto the rim of his pants. He lunged forward, grabbed a clutch of her hair and pulled her close. His sweaty face was too close. Wafts of garlic and marsh invaded her nostrils. Her stomach rolled and she had to swallow the bile as the edges of her vision waned.
“Bitch,” he seethed. “I don’t know many times we have to go through this. You know the game. You befriend them, and then you bring them to me. End of story.”
“Zane, these ones are too young. They’re scared. They don’t want the drugs or the booze. They cry day and night. What the hell am I supposed to do with them? They won’t trust me.”
He loosened his grip and flattened her hair back into place. His finger followed the trail of blood down to his navel. He brought the bloodied finger to her lips and applied the macabre lipstick.
“I don’t give a fuck how you do it. Knock them unconscious for all I care. When I say I need two, you bring me two. When I say I need one with no hair or breasts, you bring me one with no hair and no fucking breasts. If you can’t get your head around...
by Glennis Walker Hobbs
Black, ginger, and tortoiseshell felines zoom through the open screen door onto the deck. Black Nic pauses and surveys his domain from the top of the steps. Kittens race down the ramp and scamper into the backyard. Glory, the tortoiseshell, runs to the maple in the corner, claws her way up the trunk to the branches and taunts Farley, the ginger kitten. She races across to the poplar tree with Farley in hot pursuit. Nic trots down the stairs and peers around the corner of the shed to check on them. Grey shadow cat, Jonine, peers around the corner of the screen and carefully scuttles down the ramp. At the sudden roar of a lawn mower powering up, she scurries back to the safety of the humans and lurks under the wooden bench on the corner of the deck. As the mower moves closer, she frantically scratches at the screen and escapes inside the house.
I settle back on the bench, sip my morning coffee and scribble in my journal. I try to describe the chirps of birds and the sights of a summer forenoon. A zephyr gently caresses my cheek. Black Nic trots back from checking on the kittens, rubs on my legs and meows his morning report. His gentle purrt turns to a more nagging rowl. He runs down the stairs, returns and rowls again. I follow him, wander around the yard and he trots contentedly beside me.
by Joy Manné
Here am I, on this grey morning, here I am again, entering this day as I entered yesterday and the day before and unless I am spared by death will enter tomorrow and the day after, endlessly growing older with the anxiety that brings, the fear of coming apart in my body, backache, arthritic fingers, tight toes, inflexible mind, approaching the new day with this flabby belly falling in front of me, an old man among old men, a writer but what does that matter, a writer of what and who will read it today, and on my next today, and who read it on my last today, that is my most recent, and who will read it on my final today, that I do not know.
But I am here and I must write, it is expected of me by my tutor, by my colleagues, by my co-students, by myself, by my fame, by my fortune which needs to grow, needs to show that no matter what comes spewing from my pen, I am still the famous author I always was, grey hair and pot belly make no difference, mind is fine, but what is my mind, that grey goo they say feels like butter (melted or hard?) in my head that is responsible for my fame and fortune and my bank balance.
I. This I must come out with something, that is my fingers, arthritic as they are must grasp my pen, ...
by Brigitte Whiting
Mattie opened the front door. "I'll be back in a while, Henry," she said, then stepped onto the porch and clicked the door shut.
It opened behind her and Henry stuck out his head. "Wait, I can come with you."
She shook her head. "I need some time alone. Okay?"
He frowned. "Take your raincoat."
She turned her back to him and walked toward the seashore. If he'd asked her what was bothering her, she couldn't have answered him. It was nothing and it was everything, which made it all the harder to figure out how to solve it. The rocks glistened
Why was she so angry with him? Away from the shoreline, the ocean had smoothed itself into calm gray-blue, the late afternoon sun silvering the waves. No, she didn't want to leave him, she knew that much. But she wished he wasn't so solicitous. All it succeeded in doing was making her feel guiltier about her discontent. If they'd talk, if they'd argue like other couples, then they'd be on an equal footing, and maybe they could break through, that counseling jargon again, into some kind of...
by David Snyder
The eight-year-old 1958 Chevy was purring along through rural Kansas with ease. Don smiled with pride. When it hit 180,000 miles he planned to celebrate with a smoke and an ice-cold Mountain Dew from the cooler. It was a beautiful late April day with the sunny skies and temperatures in the seventies.
“How much longer, Don?”
“Dammit, Gladys,” said Don shaking his head, “it’s a seven-hour trip to Colorado Springs, and we’ve only been on the road for half an hour.”
“It’s not that far,” whined Gladys.
“It is that far,” he said doing his best imitation of Gladys’ bleat. “We just left Nekoma, we’re still on Route 96 and won’t even get to Route 70 for three more hours. We’ve got to go through damn near the entire state of Kansas. If you hadn’t insisted on going by Monument Rocks, we would have saved two hours. Asking me how much further every damn half hour will not get us to your mother’s house any faster.” he replied. He hated road trips with Gladys and the annual pilgrimage to her cranky mother’s.
“Stop your swearing, Don! Monument Rocks is on the way. You know the children, and I love it.”
“It’s not on the way, Hon. I have to turn on 23, then…… Forget it!” At least the kids are behaving, he reflected.
Don rolled the window down to relieve the stuffiness of the old car and to catch a refreshing breeze.
“Don, roll up the...