Category Archives: Al McDermid

Blind Date Haibun by Al McDermid

You didn’t scream and carry on. No, you where much too angry for that sort of display. Your words instead came out as pure liquid nitrogen, moving slowly, as if trudging through sludge. Still, despite this glacial speed, I duck just in time to avoid the brunt of the F, though its serif does tear a gash in my cheek as it passes, distracting me enough that I catch the full force of the U as it slams into me.

Catching my breath, I ask,

“Was it something I said?”

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Dinner by Al McDermid

I didn’t notice it sitting there, in the middle of the table, when I first walked into the kitchen. I should have, but I didn’t. I poured my coffee as usual and stood in front of the sink drinking it, looking out at the not entirely unremarkable red brick wall of the neighboring building. Flecks of peeling white paint suggested traces of an ad that no one had cared about for fifty years. It obviously predated the construction of my building by a very long time. Were I inclined, I could have reached out and touched it. Instead, I thought about today’s trial, and the almost certainly guilty scumbag I’d be defending, and how, were he a successful criminal, he could have afforded his own attorney.

I finished the coffee, set the mug in the sink, turned to leave, and there it was; fat, pink, and severed. Its eyelids were closed and I wondered if the butcher had done that as some perverse gesture of respect. I didn’t know why he would have but I’m glad he had, though I couldn’t fathom why it was there, this head minus its hog; the roasting pan should have tipped me off.

I glanced at my watch, picked up my case, and left for work. Thinking about dinner would have wait.

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End of the Line by Al McDermid

Every weekday, a sea of humanity, over 2 million strong, surges through the turnstiles at Shinjuku Eki, the busiest metro station in the world. And every weekday morning, not only do I join this morass; I must also swim against the current, entering the station as most are leaving. Thankfully, this is the worst of it. It takes me nearly two hours to reach the school where I teach, but since it’s a cross-commute, I always get a seat, at least in the morning.

Then one morning endured that crush for the last time, though at the time, I didn’t know it.

It was unseasonable warm that spring day, so the vent windows along the roof were open. My school was rather rural and despite the onslaught of suburbia, a few fields still line the tracks. As the train neared my stop, a wave of nostalgia flooded over me, triggered by the scent of freshly plowed earth. When the train pulled to a stop, I found that I could not move, that I was inexplicably glued to my seat.

When the train arrived at the terminus, I had no choice but to exit, so I walked to the connecting station, figure out which train would take me farther into the country, and boarded.

I’ll decide what to do next when I reach the end of the line.

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The Source by Al McDermid

I put the shell to my ear and I listen, listen to the sound, the sound of my blood, my blood rushing, rushing through my hand.

From my hand, the sound flows, and I listen, caught in the tide, the tide of sound, the sound that takes me, takes me ever closer, ever closer to the source, deeper into the shell, deeper into my blood, deeper into the source.

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Green Flash by Al McDermid

I stood on the beach, staring out at the flat sea, thinking this was how Magellan first saw it. The movement of the water lapping at my feet was almost imperceptible.

A band of gray clouds hung over the sea, but the horizon was a straight line. As the sun broke through the clouds, angelic shafts of light cast a blinding slick upon the sea. The clouds then thickened, pushing the perfect red yoke of a sun toward the now burning sea.

“Hey,” I heard Josie yell from behind me, “c’mon, or you’ll miss it.” I turned to see her heading up the beach, to the iron stairs bolted to the nearly sheer cliff.

“Miss what?” I yelled back, but she didn’t respond, so I ran to catch up. I reached the top to find her sitting in the grass at the edge of the cliff. I sat next to her and asked again, “What am I missing?”

“Shhh,” she said, smiling, “watch.”

So I watched. The clouds and the sea had turned lavender, separated by a strip of yellow ochre. The ragged clouds higher up were bright splotches of bittersweet lavender and pink—higher still, the slightest sliver of a moon.

Then, as the last light of the drowning sun ranged the spectrum and ducked beyond the waves I saw it, the green flash.

We didn’t speak, and then, as the night and stars enveloped us, I finally took her hand.

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Panel 3.7 by Al McDermid

52|250 thanks our flash contributor Al McDermid, for the use of his collage “Panel 3.7″ as this week’s art.

This is not solely my art, but is a collaborative collage created in conjunction with 6 other artists (I was #7 on this piece). The others all do amazing work, which you can see at:
http://jkd-kat.deviantart.com/
http://droopingsanityfences.deviantart.com/
http://weirdalbatross.deviantart.com/
http://golland.deviantart.com/
http://mistressjane.deviantart.com/
http://boojamon.deviantart.com/

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Life, the Universe, and Henry Miller by Al McDermid

At one point I had gotten it my head to move to Los Angeles and so picked up a copy of the LA Weekly, a magazine I had never before read. The cover story of this particular issue was about Henry Miller, in which Miller is quoted as saying, “If the floodgates of the psyche should open and destroy our society, what harm could there be in that?” I then knew I needed to read Miller, and wanted to do so at the moment, but I didn’t have any of his books. I could have gone to the bookstore, but that seemed, at that moment, like too much trouble. Besides, I had plans to meet some friends and was running late. I forget about Miller and head down the hill. Literature matters, but life matters more. Living it matters most of all. I later learned that Henry would have probably agreed.

There were two ways up the hill where I lived at the time, a straight steep shot, or a very long switch back. I seldom took the switch back, but that night I couldn’t face the climb. In front of one house along the way, stacked on top of the waiting garbage can, was a bundle of books, among them a ninety-five cent Black Cat edition of Tropic of Cancer.

It’s a simple process. I decide that I need to read Henry Miller and the universe provides Henry Miller.

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