The den was small. The walls were wooden as well as the
floor. A ceiling fan softly kissed the
air above. A chestnut credenza rested
against one wall, decorated with photos of the mayor with other politicians,
but the pictures in front were that of his family. A wooden mirror hung over the credenza, and
in the mirror, you could see the reflection of a small, wooden bar across from
it, set up with crystal glasses and bottles filled with the good stuff. Nearby was a large, wooden desk, and a black
chair almost the size of a throne that stood proudly behind it.
Perry Phillips fixed himself a drink. Scotch on the rocks. He moved over to the mirror and smoothed back
the sides of his gray hair. He glanced
down at the pictures of his wife and two daughters. He took a large gulp of his drink as he
stared at their faces. Then, he moved
over to his desk, sitting down in his throne, and looking at the local newspaper
sprawled open before him. “Art Teacher
Massacred at Home” met his gaze, and he polished off his drink.
Suddenly, there was a knock on his
door. He grabbed up the newspaper,
crunching into a ball, and throwing at a nearby wastebasket. He missed.
Just as it landed on the floor, the man came in, and he leaned down,
scooped up what was once the newspaper, and then he dropped into the
wastebasket. He wiped his hands together
and turned toward the mayor.
“If you’re waiting for me to wave the
white flag, consider it waved. Colonel,” he said.
“Mayor,” the man before him replied.
“Would you like a drink,” and the mayor
gestured toward the bar.
“You don’t by any chance have Jack
Daniels. Do you?”
I have scotch, whiskey, or rum.
What’s your poison?”
“I’ll have what you’re having,” and the
colonel turned toward the pictures nearby.
I need another drink,” and the mayor rose from his chair and approached
“You have a beautiful family,” the colonel
said, and the mayor froze at that.
“Especially Allison,” and he stared at a picture of her with two of her
“Beth and Kimberley,” and the mayor handed
him the drink. “They’re popular girls.”
“Thank you, and apparently, the name, Beth
is very popular in this town too.”
“Well, Colonel, that is because Elizabeth
Taylor had filmed a scene here for one of her movies. Don’t ask me which one. I wasn’t living here at the time. It’ll actually be close to fifteen years
since my family and I came here.”
“And where were you before here,” the
colonel asked as he sat in a smaller, leather chair near the desk.
“The Bronx,” the mayor replied as he was
now once again parked in his throne.
“Cigar? They’re Alec Bradley
“No thanks. If you don’t mind, I would appreciate you not
smoking one of them in front of me.”
“I see,” and the mayor took the cigar out
of his mouth. “I’ll leave it for later,”
but he failed to hide his disappointment at not enjoying it right now. “Guess it’s not a victory for me anyway. I am assuming that you here, Colonel because
of the boy that was found dead at the school today.”
“That’s one reason,” the colonel said
before finishing his drink.
America today is in disarray. Nothing on the news but scandal, fraud,
hatred, death. There are so many lives
lost today, and most of them are due to senseless violence. And it’ll never stop. We want it to stop, but instead, we try to
survive today, the next day and the day after that. All that changed when they arrived.
It was just another day, and I was driving
to work. Usually, on this long, twisted
mountain road, you get some asshole dodging into the opposite traffic lane,
playing Russian Roulette. Today, nobody
dared. Usually, people would flash their
brights, honk their horns, slam their hand upon their steering wheel before
doing something stupid. Today, nobody
did. Instead, we all drove quietly and
peacefully to work, reminding me of the Twilight Zone because in the world that
we live in, nobody drives quietly or peacefully. We’re always trying to survive the lunatics
and speedsters, who would risk our lives just to be one car ahead.
I arrive at a little office parked in
Rockland County. We’re known as the
Investigations. My job is simple. Prepare the investigations for court. Maintain them, updating them with attachments
sent by email. The rest is all
secretarial. Dictation. Faxing.
Photocopying. Never a dull
moment, and I liked that. It was on the
other end of the spectrum from Retail, where there would be days that would
just drag, and I hated those days. But
since they arrived, the investigations have dwindled down into almost nothing,
and now, the days were dragging.
“Is she in,” I asked the young woman that
shared the office with me, and she nodded in response. “Joy,” I said.
I was not talking about my
supervisor. She had been struggling to
remain afloat with so many investigations coming in day after day. It was horrible what people did to each
other, and we couldn’t keep up. She
couldn’t keep up. Now, it was like
permanent vacation. She was either out
golfing or swimming or just sunning herself, but I wasn’t talking about
her. I was talking about the bitch under
her that thought that she not only ran this office, but she ran all of us.
That woman was not happy with their
arrival. She didn’t want to go
home. She had nothing to go back to. She wanted to be here and dominate, but they
took that control from her. And she
hated it, but she hated me even more.
The feeling’s mutual, and now I dread coming in here because it’s only a
matter of time before she digs those claws of hers into me. But I can’t step out of line. I’m not afraid of her or my supervisor. I’m not afraid of this job because it has
become obsolete, even though we like to think different. I’m afraid of them. If I step out of line, if I even curse… Can you believe that? Cursing has been wiped out because it even
offends them, but what bull… I don’t
even want to think that word because they say that they can read minds, if that’s
even true. I just want that woman to
leave me alone, and here she comes. She
wants them to show up at my door, but if they do, I will make sure that they
come for her next.
“Are we still doing archives,” I asked.
“We are,” she responded. “Make sure the Orange Group is done by the
end of the day,” and with that said, she waltzed out of the room.
“She’s happy,” my coworker commented. “That’s never a good sign.”
It’s not,” I replied as I sat down at my desk and woke my computer
up. “Is it Friday yet?”
Tuesday,” my coworker said.
The Orange Group is saved in the shared
folder. There were numerous folders and
then sub-folders. It was an all-day
project, and in the beginning, nothing seemed amiss. Nothing until the last folder. The last folder was empty, and that one held
the most important documentation.
“Don’t panic,” I said to myself as I tried
to restore the folder. “Access denied? What the hell? I have access,” and I tried again. Again, nothing. “Fucking bitch,” I exclaimed. “What did she do?”
“Careful,” my coworker warned me. “They’re listening.”
“I don’t care. I need those investigations. They’re the red ones. You know?
The high priority ones? The ones
that we do have to save, in case the world goes bonkers again.”
She stepped into the office and took a loud bite of her apple. “It’s almost the end of the day,” she nearly
sang. “Are you finished yet?”
“The last folder is empty,” my coworker
said. “She’s fixing the problem.”
“I see,” and she continued to eat her
apple. “Well, find it because we need
that documentation. Otherwise…”
“Otherwise what,” I asked.
“Do you really need to be here,” and with
that said, she walked out of the room.
“Fuck you,” I yelled after her.
“Hey,” and I looked at my coworker. “I have a family. I don’t need them showing up at my door, so
just knock it off.”
“I’m not the one that did anything wrong,”
I exclaimed. “They should go after her
and not me.”
“When,” I screamed at her. “You know what? I’m going home,” and I shut down my
computer. “I had enough. I had enough of her false smiles and kind
Thank You’s when she is full of shit.
She has been waiting to stick that last knife into me, and here it
is. So, that’s it. I’m done.
I don’t even know why I bothered coming in today, and I probably won’t
be here tomorrow.”
“You need the money, don’t you?”
“That is the only thing keeping me from
returning to Retail.” I was now standing
by the office door. I was shaking, but I
didn’t know what to do. Those files… That documentation was gone, and she didn’t care
because it was not her head on the chopping block. It was mine.
Maybe, tomorrow, I could salvage my job, but not today. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and I left the
For the rest of the day, I hung out at my
apartment. I played on the computer. I watched some television. Anything that remotely came close to violence
or had harsh language or even sex scenes was removed from all media outlets. I wanted to see some violence, but even on my
computer, I was denied. Were they really
watching me? I was tempted to test that
theory, but is she worth it?
It was getting dark outside. Maybe, I’ll just make dinner and then call it
a night. I was tired and aggravated and
upset. Maybe, they’ll go after her. They should go after her, but just then,
there was a knock at my door. I didn’t
order food, so it wasn’t the delivery man.
Maybe a neighbor, but now people were even afraid to open their
doors. Maybe, it was a kid selling
candy, but they don’t even do that anymore.
I finally opened my door after a few more knocks, and there he was in a
black suit, wearing a black hat and holding a black briefcase.
“May I come in,” he asked, but he entered
the apartment before I could answer him.
“We are aware of a possible volatile situation at your office.” He made himself comfortable on my couch. “We need to address that,” and he folded his
hands over his briefcase.
“We,” I asked. “There’s nobody here, but you and me. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m tired. And I’m calling it an early night.” I remained standing, refusing to sit beside
him. “Could we do this another time?”
“The time is now,” he stated, and he
looked at me with pale, blue eyes. “Like
I said. We are aware of your situation.”
“Then, why aren’t you talking to her?”
“We are,” he responded. “She will be dealt with. Don’t you worry about that?” His stare was unnerving, and he never
blinked. “But we are concerned about
“Don’t be,” I responded as I crossed my
arms over my chest. “I’m not the
problem.” I rubbed my arm. The temperature in the room had definitely
dropped, and none of the windows were open.
“If you take care of her, then there is no problem.”
“Correct,” and I relaxed at that. “But,” and that made me cringe. “You are craving violence.”
“I am not violent,” I said.
“But you have watched violence since you
were a kid. Correct,” and I slowly
nodded at that. “And you like violence.”
“In fiction. I guess.”
“Life imitates art, and your kind is prone
to violence. That is why your country
has falling into the state that it has.”
“It’s not just our country. It’s Mexico.”
“We are there too.”
“It’s in the East.”
“We don’t go East, and the East will wipe
itself out. We are trying to save you.”
“By controlling us?” I didn’t mean to yell at him, but I did. “We are human beings not animals that you can
“But since we tamed you, hasn’t this
world, this country been better, safer?
Now, about your violent streak.”
“I don’t have one,” but I looked away when
I said that. “I am not the problem.”
“You didn’t cause the situation,” he said.
“Then, why are you here?”
“Because even with her removed, there is
still a problem.”
“Your need for violence.”
“I am not violent!”
You’re going to kill me just because of that bitch?”
“Who said anything about killing you,” and
he turned the briefcase around toward him.
He dialed in a three-digit combination.
“We are going to fix you,” and he popped the briefcase open.
The next day, the drive to work was quiet
again. I arrived at my office and didn’t
see her car. I parked and then walked
inside. I noted the look of surprise on
my coworker’s face but gave her a reassuring smile, and she relaxed at
that. I guess she was worried about me,
and then I stepped out into the hallway, noticing that her door was closed.
“Our boss is kayaking today,” my coworker
said. “The other one’s not coming in,”
and she let those words hang in the air.
“You okay? You seem different.”
I’m just going to go to the bathroom and then finish my work from
“What work? She deleted it.”
“Don’t worry. Everything’s okay,” and I left the office.
The bathroom was small. The window was left partly open. Sunlight came in along with a gentle
breeze. I turned the sink on and washed
my face. Then, I reached for a paper
towel to dry my skin. I stood before the
mirror, and finally I looked at my reflection.
A skeletal face with hollowed out eyes returned my gaze.
Doll House (Short Story): 2007
Essence (Short Story): 2010
When The Dust Settles (Short Story): 2011 Gadfly Online: 2011: Passenger; No Leaders Among Men
2012: We Are The Villains Of This Story; Letters Cast Away; Leaving Nowhere Behind; After Dark: My Favorite TV Shows; My First Taste of Road Rage; Bleeding Through Reality (Let The Fiction In); Rampage; Going Haywire
2013: Living According to Tolstoy; Welcome Back to Tango of the Road Rage Drivers; When I Tried To Become A 9-1-1 Operator; Alarm Set; King of the Lonely Hill; Never in Stone; Saving Gifted Men and a Touch of Paranormal; (Alien) Baby Got Back; Glass Eyes; One Way Ticket; Friendship Rises Over The Dead Zone; Hail to the Three Kings, Baby; The Death of the State Employee; Heroes in Dark; Beyond The Spielberg Dream (My Love of Science-Fiction); A Brief Glimpse Over The Edge; Ghost in the Sands of White (For Walter White); Bye, Bye Mr. Burn Notice Spy; Simple Thoughts; Feeling Yourself Explode (My Take on Being Mad as Hell); Never Meant to Love
2014: Burning Down The Doll House; Over The Porch; Concrete Dreams; Front Page; Cruising Along Fate's Darkness; Where I Hit Record; The Trouble with Past Lives; NeedlePoint; Rhythm of Life; Checkmate; The NY State of Mind Does Not Brake For Enlightenment; You Killed Me Before; Guns Talk (A Parody of 'Little Talks' by Of Monsters and Men); Bleu Room with a Red Vase: Catching A Star At Jones Beach; Dialing The 4400 (A Parody of Adele's song, Set Fire To The Rain); 'Slip and Fall': A Review of Nick Santora's 2007 Thriller; Movies That Speak Volumes; Faded Shades of Rainbow; Remembering The Final Cut: Dedicated to Robin Williams; Don't Forget To Tip Your Cows; Lies (Parody of Sia's song, Chandelier); I Am A Clone; Here We Go Again (Another Tango Driver); Gold Beyond Blue; If Sam Axe Died; Unions; Fragments of Broken Youth; Extra, Extra; D.T.A.; Footprints in Sand; Alien Dream; Along The Rails; Cellar Dawn; Seeing Through The Facade; Blonde Android Shutdown
2015: Flirting with Revolution; Wanting to be a Cool Kid; The Silent War We Wage; Taking On The Universe; 24 Won't Come Back No More (Parody); Death Made a Pie; Spirits Among Us; Underground; Book Review: The Branches of Time; Gone Without a Trace; The Parachute Kids; The World is not Black and White; The Quiet Room; War Of My World; Remains of Peace; Carry On Winchester Sons (Parody of Kansas's 'Carry On Wayward Son'; Hanging Out in the Drive Thru (Parody of Train's Drive By Song); Book Review: Fifteen Digits; A Bitter Mockery; Blazing Eagle; Comic Book Heroes Gone Wild (Parody of Skid Row's "Youth Gone Wild"); Broken (Parody of Rihanna's "Diamonds"); The Waiting Room; What If Heaven Were Really Real?; The Tin Man's Heart; Missing Horror Movies of Days Long Ago; Iron Thorns; Gone But Not Forgotten Mouse Tales Press:
Shining Through The Echo (For Robin Williams); Are We Real; Behind The Door; Here; Stone Slate; Dream Always; The Hole Within Us; In Shadow; Memorial; Scarred; Today; What Is Family; Cruelty
Poetry Featured in the 2015 Soul Fountain Anthology of Poetry
Farmland; Kayaker; Blue Surface; Silent Post; Who's Ready For Church; Fog Rolling In; Manhattan (4 Photographs); Country Fair (4 Photographs); Long Beach, NY (4 Photographs); City Drive (4 Photographs); Country Fair 2 (4 Photographs); Abandoned (4 Photographs) Song Lyrics:
Remember; Shut; On White Wings I Fly; Comic Book Heroes Gone Wild; Supernatural Love; I Am A Clone; I'm Not Coming Home For Christmas; Wings of Gray; Paint My Heart Red Music Review: Spaceship and "Shake Time Loose";When I Listen To Music Book Review: Lizardian TV Review: Just Talking About Science-Fiction Blog Talk Radio Interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cagmedia/2016/01/30/an-artist-speaks-season-5-episode-1-with-guest-artist-melissa-mendelson