14 May 2002

He had lost God. There was no doubt about that anymore. Where there had once been light it was now only empty, the emptiness that tasted bitter in the mornings and followed him around his nightmares like the tail of a kite. Lie still and know that I am God.

He walked up the abutment overlooking the railroad tracks. White clouds dotted the sky, hanging corpulent against the abyss of blue. His yellow aviators hung down on the crook of his nose, and everything had a dreamy, Technicolor hue, like he was the dusty hero in some bad 70’s drama. It would have been beautiful, but he had lost God. He paused at the crest of the bridge and looked down at the rusty rails, glinting.

He remembered leading his congregation, unleashing sermons filled with unequivocal fervor, but the earnestness in his voice was now long gone, along with God. How he would shine when the words rolled outward, when he felt himself not a man but a vessel, the instrument of the Father. In Jesus name we pray, Amen. But that had changed when he met Annie. And fell in love with her. And watched her die before his eyes, breathing her last with thick strands of mucus flying from her nose and throat, and God had left him. He had left him. He was gone.

Descending the bridge, scuffing his boots in the dust, through the apathetic dust, and looking at the looming KFC sign. The wind blew clear and cold, vitalizing yet somehow unfriendly all the same. He pushed his glasses up his nose and looked up at the sky, the sun almost directly overhead, unencumbered by the plump clouds, watching the clouds skate hurriedly before the razor’s edge of the wind, then put his head down and thrust his hands in his pockets. He stopped. He started again.

He stopped again when he had reached the KFC entrywalk and looked inside. The sun glinting off the tinted glass made it hard to see inside but he could see that it was nearly empty. Fast food, the swill that fills our country’s trough, he thought. He opened the door and stepped into the foyer and then opened the other door and went into the lobby. A haggard looking man in a NASCAR hat sat in the corner, gnawing disinterestedly at a mostly bare leg bone. An old lady mopped. The way she said “Front counter!” with undue intentness made him think that she was severely retarded. He gave her a nod and walked through the maze of rails to get to the register. He leaned back and looked at the menu. A detached teenage girl, the stomach under her red work shirt just beginning to swell, leaned on the register as she asked if she could take his order. He said just a minute and then he ordered four biscuits and a small Pepsi. She took his four dollars and offered him his 97 cents and his empty cup and said the biscuits would be just a moment. There was no eye contact. When he had filled his cup, waiting for the bubbles to creep to the rim of his cup and then subside, he put a plastic lid on it and stepped over to the waiting area. She gave him his biscuits. He sat down at a table looking out at the street, still wearing his glasses, and ate them. To his left the door opened. “Front counter!” the lady with the mop yelled again.

When he had finished he put his garbage on the tray and slid it into the garbage can. Thy will be done. He walked into the bathroom and locked the door. He took off his glasses. He ran some water over his hands and dabbed the crumbs away from the corners of his mouth then toweled his hands dry. He looked into the mirror, rubbing his haunted eyes with his fingertips for a moment and then put his glasses back on.

May 4, 2002


I sent out five of my short stories to magazines for publication over the last week. "Beginning of the Day" went to Stovepipe, "A Dog Named Pumpkin" to The Psychic Radio, and "Autonomy," my turgid half-novel, to Spitball. I think that "Beginning" has a good chance at getting published and I think that "A Dog Named Pumpkin" will eventually, but it's a bit of a weird fit with it's harsh language and homosexuality and blood...not sure that I should have sent it to The Christian Science Monitor too. :) But yeah, I'm taking steps towards getting published. The chances are that I'll have a pile of rapidly accumulating rejection slips, but there is a thrill in rejection. And I just sent "Three Stories" to Rosebud Magazine. I think that's my best story and I'll be watching closely how it does as it makes the rounds.

The story at the beginning is called "He Had Lost God." I feel that it has a good chance of being published as well. What do you think? It went to Rosebud too.


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