Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I thought I was done writing these things...

I've fallen down the well of a much larger story cycle. I thought I was done writing the damn things, too. I was certain I was done with them months ago.
Then, I start writing them again in January. I can't seem to think of a short story outside of this mode. I can't even wrap my head around an idea that doesn't involve the women and monsters of Greek mythology.
Here's part of one that tumbled out of my head when I was supposed to doing tedious formatting of all the things for graduate school.
If you're a publisher of things, and you want to see more, drop me a line. I've got a whole collection of these things growing day by bay by day, and I thought I was done.
No, not done. 


Jealous woman, they say she bathed her husband’s shirt in the poisoned blood of a centaur. Maybe she poisoned him on purpose. Maybe she didn’t know it was poison. Maybe she didn’t care what it was, as long as it hurt the man that hurt her so much.

By our new house, at the edge of the city, there’s a park with a long, paved trail that cuts into the forest like a concrete river. From off the side of it there’s a strange concrete marker along a river. It’s narrow as a pipe, but square. It isn’t shaped like a tombstone, exactly. Written top to bottom, in plain block letters, is TESCOROW. I don’t know what it means, or what it’s for. My husband, Alcaeous, says it’s something to do with oil or gas companies, marking their lines for future workmen. He’s an oil man, and knows about these things. He says its nothing.
I don’t know, though. I’ve seen the plates he puts on roads and access ports. There’s nothing familiar about the TESCOROW marker. That it is by the side of the road, near a river, along the paved trail makes me wonder how workmen would ever reach this place, before the trail was laid down through the scrub grass and trees. I’ve seen bobcats on this trail, and coiled copperheads the size of bike tires. The snakes love the heat on the concrete. They crawl up from the river to rest upon the artificial stones. I’ve seen dogs off leashes running ahead, gregarious and wild. This isn’t a place of the oil and gas men. This is a place the animals hold down against the press of the city, and maybe the green trail will keep the developers from cutting down the all trees along the river.
That no one knew the meaning of the marker in the woods along the river, I loved. Let there be mystery in the world. Let there be shadows in the trees, and shambling mounds of fallen leaves that might be shamble men.
Of all the mysteries of the world, the one I like the least was where my husband went when he flew around the world to tour his pipelines and wells. He called me from hotel lobbies, never hotel rooms. He called me from airports. He rarely called me when he was alone in a room, lonely in the dark. He says he just read reports, watched TV, or slept. If he got really bored he’d go to the gym, or the bar to watch sports. He never mentioned the possibility of a woman in his room. Alcaeous was the son of oil barons, shipping magnates, and the topless fashion models that clung to the deck of their ships. Of course he was cheating on me. Why wouldn’t he be cheating on me? I had a house in the suburbs big enough to fit three or four large houses inside of it. I could take a car in to the city whenever I liked to shop at expensive stores. I could drink fine wine alone on the large balcony overlooking the woods at sunset while my husband traveled the world, touring his pipelines and refineries. This is the way things worked. Marriage was a contract, like a business arrangement. And, at least when he was home, he was only with me.
When he was home.
     I saw children on the trail, with paper sailboats leaning out over the water, placing their vessels into the gentle current, and then running along the sides to watch them go. The winner was the one whose ship went that farthest. I raced behind them a while, jogging to keep up with their boats. I wanted to see whose ship would sail the farthest. A fallen tree caught one of them in its branches. The boy whose ship that was, for a moment, thought of crawling out along the log, and releasing his boat. He came to his senses when the log shifted. It was a seamonster in the shape of a log. I saw it, and he did, too. Its branches where the heads of a small hydra. It opened one of its eyes and looked back at the boy, and at me.
     The boy screamed and ran away to his friend, and the other ship.
     I didn’t run. I stopped and stared. It had an ancient eye, and some of its branches were tentacles. It was camouflaged as a fallen tree, but it was something older than a tree.
     “Hello,” I said.
     It blinked at me.
     “Are you Tescorow?”
     It looked away from me, closed its single eye, and pulled all its branches together into a single trunk, like an alligator’s tail. It slipped under the water. The black moss along its back made it look like a chunk of river stones.

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