Paranormal Tinglies

The clock on my phone reads 1:40am, and I finally give up on trying to sleep and crawl out of bed. I slip into the walk-in closet and get dressed by the glow from my phone before heading downstairs for coffee and breakfast. My mood can not in the slightest bit be categorized as pleasant. While I wait for the coffee to brew, I notice that I’ve gotten a message from Rivi waiting on my phone, only five minutes old. Why are you awake at this hour? I text her. My phone immediately vibrates in my hand: Rivi is calling.…

Continue reading

No Take Backs

Rivi is crumpling junk mail newspaper fliers into balls and packing them around the drinking glasses in the box on the counter. “I still find it impossible to believe you guys are moving,” she says. “We’ve been talking about it for years,” I tell her. “You should have been listening, obviously.” “I find it more impossible to believe that you aren’t asking me to come with you.” “The only reason I’m not asking is because I know you’re going to come along anyway.” “Obviously,” she says. “It would be rude of me not to.” I am working on my own…

Continue reading

So Irritating

We are hiding in the blanket fort that Rivi has built in her living room, a semi-permanent and elaborate construction, stretching from chair to chair and bookshelf to bookshelf, nestled in the corner near the door to her bedroom. Christmas lights dangle from binder clips at the top of the fort, and a small Bluetooth speaker rests on the top of a tiny table at the back of the area, softly playing a shuffled playlist of Rivi’s favorite songs. The winter chill is thick in the air, and we are bundled in a collection of Rivi’s blankets, staying warm as…

Continue reading

Twenty Year Storm

The rain is pouring outside, Biblical and a little unsettling. It pounds against the window of Viola’s attic, and the window rattles in its frame against the wind that whips down from the atmospheric river currently pummeling the west coast. “Well,” Viola says. “Guess we aren’t going out on the roof today.” I raise my mug of coffee and take a sip. “I know I’m not. You’re more than welcome to if that’s what floats your boat.” “I’d need a boat if I went out there,” she says. “Goddamn weather.” Viola has an old blue love seat flush against the…

Continue reading

Funereal Hillbillies

We are in the California Central Valley, about a half an hour north of Sacramento, and we are tired of driving. It’s farmland here mostly, trees and low plants that I can’t identify without vegetables or fruit growing on them, and fenced off grazing land with cattle wandering about. It’s all stuff I remember from my youth, but this particular scenery is new to Hunter, so I have been tour guiding our way along the back roads at her while we’ve been traveling. “I learned how to change a flat right over there,” I say, pointing to the side of…

Continue reading

A Dead Man’s Gum

“So,” Viola says. “You know those carnival rides with the swings? The ones that spin and spin and raise up, and you’re going forty miles an hour in a stomach-churning circle that’s supposed to be fun, but really just make you want to vomit on everyone that’s standing down on the ground in line to ride the thing next?” “Oh sure,” I say. “I know what you’re talking about.” “So that’s the thing my Uncle Harry died on.” “Well, shit,” I say. She nods. “Shit indeed. Chains broke on it when he was up in the air. Seatbelt stayed buckled…

Continue reading

Alain Delon and la Dépression Française

It’s snowing as Rivi and I walk along the path beside the creek. She has been staying with us for a week, and has spent most of the time in the guest room with the door shut. Hibernating, she calls it. Hiding, I tell her. Either way, I’m glad that she’s out today, if not exactly in public, at least out with me. We don’t speak as we walk, and the only sounds are the trickling of the water in the creek as it splashes over the rocks and our shoes on the gravel path. There is a silence that…

Continue reading

Salt Lake Matador

A matador with a red cape facing off against an angry bull

My phone buzzes in my pocket. I pull it out and see that it’s a FaceTime call coming through: Rivi. I swipe to accept it. “Rivi,” I say. “Sebastian.” The image is dark except for a sliver of blue, enough to dimly illuminate the right side of Rivi’s face, and a bit of a wall behind her. “Where are you?” I ask. “Salt Lake,” she says. “Somewhere around there, I guess. Murder motel on the wrong side of the tracks. Actually, all of it’s on the wrong side of the tracks here.” “What are you doing in Salt Lake? And…

Continue reading