Short Story Of the Day Bluetooth (flash fiction) by Bill Chance

“It gave me no hope to see him doing these simple things with the sluggishness of a somnambulist. It proved nothing more than that he could go like this forever, our silent accomplice, little more than a resuscitated corpse.”
― Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

Mojo Coffee, Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
(click to enlarge)

I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.

Here’s another one for today (#50) Half way there! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.

Thanks for reading.


Bluetooth

“Rufus!” Sandy was so loud in his Bluetooth headset that Rufus had to pull it out of his ear and hold it or he would be deafened. Sandy’s voice sounded tinny and distant like that, which suited Rufus just fine.

“Damn it Rufus! You need to get your ass down here and take care of that Sylvester dude. He’s in my apartment and he won’t leave.”

“And this is my problem? Why?”

“It’s your problem because you set the whole thing up. Now you get down here right now and help me throw the guy out or I’m gonna start making some calls. And you won’t like who I call or what I am going to say.”

“Ok, Ok, calm down. Now, you said that the Radio guy is in your apartment? Where exactly is he? What’s he doing?”

“He’s on my couch. Asleep. Has been since this afternoon. I can’t get him to budge.”

“Ok, Ok, Sandy. Don’t get your panties in a wad. I’ll be right down. Won’t be any big deal.”

Rufus stood up and walked out of the Starbucks. As the front door closed, he thought he could hear a smattering of applause filtering out through the narrowing crack of the glass door. “You all can go to Hell!” Rufus yelled back at the coffee shop as he walked quickly to his primer-colored Ford Taurus.

He headed directly for the car door. Rufus didn’t like to look at the long, winding rusty dent that buckled along the entire driver’s side. He knew there was a shorter, but deeper puncture wound on the passenger’s. The trunk was held down with a piece of wire, and there was even a dent on the bottom of the car where he had driven up over a parking barricade in a drunken stupor.

Reaching the door, he didn’t need a key, the lock had been drilled out months ago. The ignition cylinder spun freely without a key and with a turn and a few seconds of sputtering and coughing, the engine came to life, idling roughly.

The yellow “low gas” light stared him in the face, mirroring the “Check Engine” symbol on the other side of the dash. He did some mental calculations and decided he could make it to Sandy’s house, though he’d be on fumes once he arrived there.

Sandy needed his help and as he started out down the road, began to plan his angle. He needed a place to stay and he thought he remembered Sandy’s place as having a good, working, air conditioner. That Sylvester Radio guy was a skinny little runt and he’d have no problem rousting him out the door. If he did it in an assertive, manly way, then Sandy was sure to show some appreciation.

Maybe he could get a little more out of the deal than just a place to crash. Rufus started to imagine Sandy’s face full of gratitude, her eyelashes batting. The fantasy became more and more involved, more and more pleasant until he sprinted up the two flights of stairs to Sandy’s apartment and rapped confidently on the door.

Rufus’s fantasy left immediately when Sandy opened the front door. She stood there, her dirty blonde hair sticking out in all directions, her face smeared with mascara. She was wearing old torn cutoff blue jean shorts, a dirty T-shirt, and mismatched Crocs on her feet.

“It’s about time you got here,” Sandy said “he’s not moving at all.”

“Well, don’t worry. I’ll just pitch him out and then we’ll talk.”

Rufus strode to the couch where he saw Sylvester’s head sticking out from under a ratty quilt. He bent over and gave the quilt a yank. It came up quickly – flying into the air.

“Okay Radio! It is time to.. Oh geez! Damn it Sandy! The guy is naked.”

Rufus had to reach in the air to grab the quilt and push it down back over Sylvester Radio as quickly as he could. The image would not leave his mind even after he shook his head violently.

“You didn’t you tell me he was naked!”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“You forgot? I don’t even want to think…”

Rufus leaned over and grabbed Sylvester’s shoulder and started shaking as hard as he could. Rufus wanted to get him out as soon as possible.

“Oh Christ Sandy, he’s stiff as a board.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I think the guy is dead!” Rufus jumped back away from the couch in disgust. He stood in the middle of the living room shaking and staring at the quilt with the tuft of hair sticking out of one end.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes I’m sure. He’s rigid… rigor mortis… as dead as a doorknob. What did you do to him?”

Sandy said nothing. She simply stared at Rufus and he was horrified when he thought he saw a small grin flash across her face for a second.

“Where’s your phone? We need to call the cops.”

“Oh no,” Sandy said. “No cops. No cops! I’m on probation you know. This will send me back to the big house for sure. And I’m telling you I’m not going back there because you sent me some scrawny pervert with a weak heart.”

“Well then what are we going to do?”

The first step, Sandy told him, was to wedge the dead guy off the couch onto the floor while keeping him wrapped up in the blanket.

Rufus looked around for something to use, he did not want to touch the body. All he could find was a toilet plunger leaning against the end of the couch. He grabbed the wooden handle and used it to wrench the corpse off the couch. He took two corners and Sandy took two and after checking the front stairs they dragged the body out the door and down the two flights as quickly as they could. Luckily no curious bystanders showed up.

“Okay, where’s your car,” Sandy said.

“My car? I’m on fumes. We’ll have to use yours.”

Sandy shook her head in disgust and clumped around the corner. Rufus heard the whine of a small engine and a tiny Smart car appeared.

“What is that? Is that a toy? How are we going to fit in there with him?”

“You should have thought about that before you came here with no gas.”

“I know. I have an idea. I’ll wait here and you can drive with him in the passenger seat.”

“No way. I am not going to do this alone. You sit in the passenger seat and hold him on your lap.”

And that was how they drove. Radio’s head was covered with the blanket and stuck out the passenger window at an angle. They drove to a spot Sarah knew about where a rough gravel road crossed an old railroad spur and dipped down into a thick grove of scrubby trees.

“I don’t even want to know how you knew about this spot,” Rufus said.

“It is lucky that I do.”

They opened the door and slid the body on the quilt down to a steep thick weedy patch and pulled the blanket off while the body rolled away into the darkness.

“I don’t know,” Rufus said “it doesn’t seem right to leave him like that. Should we cover him?”

“That’s my quilt. I’m not going to leave it here for the police to find. Don’t worry. They’ll think he’s just some dead junkie. He’ll never be messed.”

As they were driving away Sarah asked Rufus to open the glove box. Inside was a wallet and keys. Rufus instinctively checked the wallet.

“There is no cash, no credit cards. I’ve already pulled them,” Sarah said. “I want you to check his driver’s license and give me the address.”

“What for?”

“We are going to his place. Those are his keys. I want to see what’s there, I want…”

“Come on Sarah, we are not burglars”

“You can’t burgle a dead man.”

The address was a small brick duplex not far from the University. They parked a block away and walked. As they approached the door with Sarah holding the keys a voice called out from the darkness of the next door entryway.

“Are you two friends of Sylvester’s?”

“Uhhh,” the same confused sound came out of both their throats as they started to slink away from the unexpected interruption.

A spindly old woman suddenly moved from the darkness into the blue light from an overhead street lamp.

“It’s good to see that Sylvester has some friends, some young friends.”

“Yes,” Sarah said, thinking quickly, “we are his friends, we’re here to check on him.”

“Good,” the old woman said, “Sylvesster needs someone to check on him, especially with his, well, you know, his condition and all.”

“Condition?” Both Sarah and Rufus spoke at the same time.

“Yes, don’t you know? That’s why I stayed up waiting for him. He has this nervous disorder. When he gets too excited. His whole nervous system – his brain and spine – his muscles – they freeze up stiff as a board. Catatonic. You would swear he was dead. Sometimes he won’t wake up for hours. Scares me to think that something bad might happen to him. You don’t think… Has something bad?”

Rufus and Sarah stared at each other.

“No, no,” Sarah said, “nothing bad, but, you know, we had better be going.”

“Yes yes,” Rufus replied, “we had better be going right now.”

What I learned this week, October 21, 2017

Pond at Fair Park

A pond in Fair Park. The red paths are part of a massive sculpture by Patricia Johanson – http://patriciajohanson.com/fairpark/ I have always loved those red paths running through the water, weeds, and turtles. A neglected jewel in the city.

Mapping Dallas: 7 neighborhoods for food and fun

Spirit of the Centennial, Woman’s Building, Fair Park, Dallas, Texas


I usually am fine with being poor, and I have a nice Bose bluetooth speaker that I am perfectly happy with. But, still, I wish I had a spare three grand to drop on this bad boy.


25 Best Film Directors of the 21st Century (So Far)

20 Worst Film Directors of the 21st Century (So Far)


KINGWOOD BIKE MOM RESPONDS TO ONLINE CRITICISM


‘Walking to the Sky,’ a Dallas treasure, prepares for return almost eight years after it vanished


Complete Streets Come to Life in Dallas

Bluetooth and Orange Chicken

It is the end of 1982, and I am 38 years old. One day, at noon, I notice that my bike is steering itself. Later, I am sitting on the bay, which is today occupied by the Memorial Garden, facing the Rio de la Plata. With me is Daniel Coifman, a psychotherapist friend who has spent a couple of seasons at the Esalen Institute of Big Sur, travelled several times to India and, to put it briefly, gone exploring the mysteries of consciousness. Our bicycles are leaning against each other.

I tell him that I can remember all the places that we have been: the Planetarium, the level crossing near the airport, the crossroads near the Fishermen’s Club. Also, the wind on my face, the water splashing the railings, the smell of food at the restaurants when he made a detour to avoid the two elderly people who were drinking maté… However, I do not remember the thoughts that I had. I was distracted. I didn’t know where I was. I only knew in that moment that “I am here”.

Daniel jumped up. “No, you were not distracted,” he says. “You were abstracted, but you were not absent. And believe it or not, it is exactly the opposite.”

—-The Bicycle Effect by Juan Carlos Kreimer

A couple of weeks ago, during the time I was doing nothing but work – including going in through the weekends – I took a couple hours off and met Candy at a big fund-raiser garage sale put on by a large, local church. We arrived at the very end (will have to make a note to go early next year – to get the good stuff) and, even though everything was picked-through, they still had a lot of interesting items.

I was looking at a big, old-fashioned overstuffed office chair when the announcement came out, “Only two hours to go, everything is half-off the marked price.” I bought the chair, and found a thin Bluetooth keyboard mounted in an IPad case for, well, almost nothing. I don’t own an IPad, but the keyboard popped out of the case. I pulled up my phone and confirmed that it worked with the keyboard. So I bought it.

I am always looking for an inexpensive, light, small keyboard device that I can carry with me, especially something I can carry on my bicycle. It has to be small and light… and inexpensive, so I don’t have to stress out about losing it, getting it stolen, or breaking it in a crash.

Over the years, I’ve used an Alphasmart Neo Keyboard, a cheap Android Tablet with a folding keyboard, and, most recently, a repurposed Toshiba Netbook running Lubuntu Linux.

My android tablet and portable keyboard, I stopped my bike ride on the Bridge Park over the Trinity River to get some writing done.

My Toshiba Netbook – rode my bike to a coffee shop.

The Netbook and the Tablet will still have their uses, but the Bluetooth keyboard is an extra lever of portable. I have to carry my phone anyway, so the keyboard only adds a few ounces. My big, old fingers don’t work very well hammering out a lot of text on a tiny phone screen. The keyboard makes it possible to write at least a few pages at a sitting.

The keyboard is perfect – light and small. It’s very well thought out. I am using it with the case removed from my phone so it can lean up on the slot that runs across the keyboard.

Bluetooth Keyboard and my phone.

I brought along a library book as well as my Kindle Paperwhite. The book is The Bicycle Effect – Cycling as Meditation by Juan Carlos Kreimer.

It’s a short book – less than two hundred pages – about the Zen aspects of riding a bicycle. I copied some money quotes from the book into my phone.

The book talks about destinationless riding – a Zen state of pedaling the streets without care for speed, time, distance, or direction. I am rarely able to pull that off – though I understand and crave the state. Today, I was able to leave home on my folder without care for a route or time.

My folding bike, Stock Xootr Swift – I only added the seat bag and bottle cage
(click to enlarge)

After a few miles I did notice that I was hungry so I detoured to a favorite Americanized Chinese place in an old Dairy Queen not far from where I found myself. So now I can read a little, type a little, and eat a little.

Before long I’ll be bored and ready to pedal again. Where am I going to go?

Who knows?

Sunday Snippet – Rufus Amalgam Loved his Bluetooth, Part 2

Time for another silly bit of throw-away fiction. A week ago I put up part one of Rufus Amalgam Loved his Bluetooth based on a character idea from Peggy’s Blog. If you haven’t read Part One, go read it here first. Here is Part 2.

“Rufus!” Sandy was so loud in his Bluetooth headset that Rufus had to pull it out of his ear and hold it out or he would be deafened. Sandy’s voice sounded tinny and distant like that, which suited Rufus just fine.

“Damn it Rufus! You need to get your ass down here and take care of that Sylvester dude. He’s in my apartment and he won’t leave.”

“And this is my problem, why?”

“It’s your problem because you set the whole thing up. Now you get down here right now and help me throw the guy out or I’m gonna start making some calls. And you won’t like who I call or what I am going to say.”

“Ok, Ok, calm down. Now, you said that the Radio guy is in your apartment? Where exactly is he? What’s he doing?”

“He’s on my couch. Asleep. Has been since this afternoon. I can’t get him to budge.”

“Ok, Ok, Sandy. Don’t get your panties in a wad. I’ll be right down. Won’t be any big deal.”

Rufus stood up and walked out of the Starbucks, glaring at the table of women that had been eyeing him all night. As the front door closed, he thought he could hear a smattering of applause filtering out through the narrowing crack of the glass door. “You all can go to Hell!” Rufus yelled back at the coffee shop as he walked quickly to his primer-colored Ford Taurus.

He headed directly for the car door, his eyes focused on the latch. Rufus didn’t like to look at the long, winding rusty dent that buckled along the entire driver’s side. He knew there was a shorter, but deeper puncture wound on the passenger’s. The trunk was held down with a piece of wire, and there was even a wide dent on the bottom of the car where he had driven up over a parking barricade in a drunken stupor.

Reaching the door, he didn’t need a key, the lock had been drilled out months ago. The ignition cylinder spun freely and with a turn and a few seconds of sputtering and coughing, the engine came to life, idling roughly.

The yellow “low gas” light stared him in the face, mirroring the “Check Engine” symbol on the other side of the dash. He did some mental calculations and decided he could make it to Sandy’s place, though he’d be on fumes once he arrived there.

He was glad that Sandy needed his help and as he started out down the road, began to plan his angle. He needed somewhere to stay and he thought he remembered Sandy’s place as having a good, working, air conditioner. That Sylvester Radio guy was a skinny little runt and he’d have no problem rousting him out the door. If he did it in an assertive, manly way, then Sandy was sure to show some appreciation.

Maybe he could get a little more out of the deal than just a place to crash. Rufus started to imagine Sandy’s face full of gratitude, her eyelashes batting. The fantasy became more and more involved, more and more pleasant, a nice warm spot in his mind and gut, until he sprinted up the two flights of stairs to Sandy’s apartment and rapped confidently on the door.

Rufus’s fantasy left immediately when Sandy opened the front door. She stood there, her dirty blonde hair sticking in all directions, her face smeared with mascara, and wearing old torn cutoff blue jean shorts, a dirty T-shirt, and mismatched Crocs on her feet.

“I am so glad you are here,” Sandy said “he’s not moving at all.”

“Well, don’t you worry your…  little head over this bum. I’ll just pitch him out and then we’ll talk.”

Rufus strode to the couch where he saw Sylvester’s head sticking out from under a ratty quilt. He bent over and gave the quilt a yank. It came up quickly – flying into the air.

“Okay Radio! It is time to.. Oh geez! Damn it Sandy! The guy is naked.”

Rufus had to reach in the air to grab the quilt and push it down back over Sylvester Radio as quickly as he could. The image of those skinny hairless limbs and sunken chest would not leave his mind even after he shook his head violently.

“Why didn’t you tell me he was naked!”

“Sorry, I forgot.”

“You forgot? I don’t even want to think about…”

He didn’t want to finish the sentence. It was best to get things going fast, so Rufus leaned over and grabbed Sylvester’s shoulder and started shaking as hard as he could. At the same time he started yelling to wake the dude up. Rufus wanted to get him out as soon as possible.

“Oh Christ Sandy, he’s stiff as a board.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I think the guy is dead!” Rufus jumped back in disgust as quickly as he could. He stood in the middle of the living room shaking and staring at the quilt with the tuft of wild dark hair sticking out of one end and a pair of grubby feet with overgrown, yellow toenails out the other.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes I’m sure. He’s as stiff as a board… as dead as a doorknob. What did you do to him?”

Sandy said nothing. She simply stared at Rufus and he was horrified when he thought he saw a small grin flash across her face for a second.

“Where’s your phone? We need to call the cops.”

“Oh no,” Sandy said. “No cops. No cops! I’m on probation you know. This will send me back to the big house for sure. And I’m telling you I’m not going back there because you sent me some scrawny pervert with a weak heart.”

“Well then what do you suppose we’re going to do?”

So Sandy told him what they were going to do. It bothered Rufus when she came up with a plan so quickly. He suddenly had the thought that Sandy might have known Radio’s condition before she even called him at the Starbucks. He even wondered when that quilt had been placed over the corpse. The first step, Sandy told him, was to wedge the dead guy off the couch onto the floor while keeping him wrapped up in the blanket.

Rufus looked around for something to use; he did not want to touch the body. All he could find was a toilet plunger leaning against the end of the couch. He didn’t even want to think why it was there. He grabbed the wooden handle and used it to wrench the corpse off the couch. Thankfully, it landed in the quilt, and the blanket settled draped all around it. He took two corners and Sandy took two and after checking the front stairs they dragged the body out the door and down the two flights as quickly as they could. Luckily no curious bystanders showed up.

“Okay, where’s your car,” Sandy said.

“My car? Tanks dry as a bone, coasted here on fumes. We’ll have to use yours.”

Sandy shook her head in disgust and clumped around the corner. Rufus heard the whine of a small engine and a tiny Smart car appeared.

“What is that? Is that a toy? How are we going to fit in there with him?”

“You should have thought about that before you came here with no gas.”

“I know. I have an idea. I’ll wait here and you can drive with him in the passenger seat.”

“No way! I am not going to do this alone. You sit in the passenger seat and hold him on your lap.”

And that was how they drove. Sylvester Radio’s head was covered with the blanket and sticking out the passenger window at an angle. His corpse was too stiff to sit down and Rufus held the body with his eyes scrunched shut. They drove to a spot Sarah knew about where a rough gravel road crossed an old railroad spur and dipped down into a thick grove of scrubby trees.

“I don’t even want to think about why you know about this spot,” Rufus said.

“It is lucky that I do.”

They opened the door and slid the body on the quilt down to a thick weedy patch and pulled the blanket while the body rolled away into the darkness.

“I don’t know,” Rufus said “it doesn’t seem right to leave him like that. Should we cover him?”

“That’s my quilt. I’m not going to leave it here for the police to find. God knows what kind of DNA is in there. Don’t worry. They’ll think he’s just some dead naked junkie. He’ll never be missed.”

As they were driving away Sarah asked Rufus to open the glove box. Inside was a wallet and keys. Rufus instinctively checked the wallet.

“There’s no cash, no credit cards. I’ve already pulled them,” Sarah said. “I want you to check his driver’s license and give me the address.”

“What for?”

“We’re going to his place. Those are his keys. I want to see what’s there, I want to look…”

“Come on Sarah, we are not burglars”

“You can’t be a burglar to a dead man.”

Rufus recognized the address, he had been there before. It was a small brick duplex not far from the University. They parked a half block away and walked along the darkened sidewalk. As they approached the door with Sarah holding the keys they jumped as a voice called out from the darkness of the next door entryway.

“Are you two friends of Sylvester’s?”

“Uhhh,” the same confused sound came out of both their throats as they started to slink away from the unexpected interruption.

A spindly old woman suddenly moved from the darkness into the blue light from an overhead street lamp.

“It’s good to see that Sylvester has some friends, some young friends.”

“Yes,” Sarah said, thinking quickly, “we are Sylvester’s friends, we’re here to check on him.”

“Good,” the old woman said, “Sylvester needs someone to check on him, especially with his, well, you know, his disease and all.”

“Disease?” Both Sarah and Rufus spoke at the same time.

“Yes, don’t you know? That’s why I stayed up waiting for him. He has this nervous disorder. When he gets too excited. His whole nervous system – his brain and spine – his muscles – they freeze up stiff as a board. Catatonic. You would swear he was dead. Sometimes he won’t wake up for hours. Scares me to death to think that something bad might happen to him. You don’t think… Has something bad…?”

Rufus and Sarah stared at each other.

“No, no,” Sarah said “nothing bad… but, you know, we had better be going.”

“Yes yes,” Rufus replied, “we had better be going right now.”