A.J. Walker


Dogs and Lust

Dogs and Lust

The urban noise outside is assaulting my ears, stopping me from thinking properly. I just can’t turn off. Thick curtains are keeping the room air-raid black I’m sure, but my eyes are hurting from some brightness so I can still see your face - and your body.
I’m like an iron filing to you and you’re magnetic power. A super magnet that makes me helpless when I’m near, the feelings just rise up in me unbidden however I try to fight it. Sometimes I don’t fight off course - we’re so much meant to be together. It must be obvious to everyone.
This morning when we said “hello” I rose inwardly, and I fear outwardly too. That’s why I had to run. Someone must have seen it, maybe even you.
And now, as I’m lying here this evening alone in this painful darkness, I can’t get you out of my useless head. I know I must find someone else, before I go truly insane, even though they will not be able to live up to you. But it’s so hard, when all I can think of is you. It’s so hard.
I know you’re at home tonight, watching a film, having dinner, maybe a glass of wine. With your little girl. The whole family caboodle - yes, with your husband too. I know I could love you so much more than he does - I know, because I already do.
There are the hard-men dogs somewhere outside barking their territorial warnings. I’m definitely staying in tonight.
Every path in this head-based maze of mine leads to you. I always find you but when I get there you’re inevitably just out of reach. I’m never going to get you in reality or even in my head. What cruelty? When even my own dreams are playing these tricks.
In this wicked darkness your face and your body are still here with me, looking like it always does - I can feel the electromagnetism flicking on. The heating’s yet to burst into life, but I am sweating cobs with the thoughts of you.
Two dogs outside bark their testosterone reminders of my solitary confinement.
I reach for the Laphroaig and last night’s sticky glass. I need to get some serious drink in to wash away this hurtful lust. I foresee malt waves of oblivion. I’ll drink to you and me of course, but please leave me after this first bottle.
I want no dreams to remember tonight.

Mid Week Blues Buster #50 (2014)

A Merging of Days

Jan and Fred

A Merging of Days

The sun was lowering quickly now, and other than the soft light it was casting along 54th Avenue, it wasn’t doing much for Jan. He was beginning to feel the cold in his bones these days. It reminded him he was getting old, he was sure he’d never felt cold in a suit before. Especially with his trade mark hat on. He hated the thought.
‘Please don’t tell me I’m old now,’ he spoke under his breath. There was no one on the dilapidated stretch of the street to hear him. It was always quiet but he found it comfortable there. His spec was recognised by the locals. He always set up his seat in the same place: five doors down from where he lived. He could see life going on down the junction with 24th and the sun lasted longer in the evening than outside his house.
The day had been largely okay. A good average day he thought. He’d had toast in the morning though with bread that was as a stiff as toast before he’d put it under the grill. He’d only spotted the white mould on it with the last bite. He reasoned that he’d eaten 90% of it he may as well finish it off. The milk in the coffee had been beyond help though and he’d had to settle for his reserve of powdered stuff, which he always kept for such emergencies. Shopping day was Friday, and he never did it earlier, as he reasoned precedents were a bugger to start. Where would it stop if you did that? He was all but sure that tomorrow was Friday. He’d know later if his favourite show was on the radio at 8pm.
The shadows from the street furniture were lengthening; it was almost time.
He waited patiently, patting his leg to the beat of a song he always had in his head when waiting for his best buddy. On cue, as the shadow from the streetlight next door, touched the kerb he arrived.
Jan smiled. The pair of them always started the same way. ‘Howdee!’ Said Jan.
Fred stood in his usual spot. They were wearing the same suit, the same hat. Somehow Fred always copied him. He called him Jin sometimes, which Fred said he hated; ‘Jin and Jan, two sides of the same coin.’
The shadows were moving quickly now. It was the problem at this time of year. Soon Fred would go, leaving him alone to his thoughts. He always stayed until the shadow from the light met the shadow from the bakery or hit the opposite pavement. There was an unwritten law dependent on the time of year.
Fred asked him if he’d listened to Dick Tracy last night. Jan shook his head, ‘That’s tonight. It’s on Thursdays.’
Fred laughed. ‘But it’s Friday, Jan.’
Jan looked at Fred waiting for a tell tale laugh. He wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth or not.
‘It was a great episode, one of the best. A real cliff hanger at the end.’
‘It always is.’ He said. ‘Is it really Friday?’
‘Of course. You’re not telling me you didn’t go shopping this morning?’
Jan squinted down the block towards the wintery sun. Another sign of getting old: not knowing the day of the week.
Sara from the bakery walked down the street towards him and smiled. ‘Wondered what had happened to you today. You normally come in for a chat and a loaf in the morning.’
‘God, it really was Friday.’
Sara laughed. ‘Still is.’ She looked at the shadows on the road. ‘You talking with Fred at the moment?’
It was Jan’s turn to smile. ‘And don’t he look dapper? But not as a dapper as me, of course.’
Sara agreed with him. ‘Gotta go. It’s pizza night and Billy won’t be happy if I’m not back soon. You better be getting in. It’s getting cold.’
Jan nodded. He noticed the shadows had begun to merge in the road. Fred had gone. Jan got up and folded his chair. ‘See you tomorrow.’ He said. Though Sara was by now at the end of the block and Fred gone.
He cursed softly to himself. ‘No Tracy tonight. I’ll have to wait for the omnibus. Must get up early tomorrow for shopping anyway. I’m such a silly coot.’
At home he made himself a cup of coffee with powdered milk. On a scrap of paper he wrote ‘Today is Saturday: GO SHOPPING!’

WC: 750
Story for Miranda's
Mid Week Flash (Week 184) from the prompt photo at the top of the page `

A Washed Up Memory

The sun wasn’t exactly beating down on Dan as he walked along the beach, but the wind was beginning to abate after the night’s storm. He was finding the cobwebs well and truly blown away. It was strangely quiet, as during lockdown normally he’d found the beach to be a go to destination for the locals; at least he hoped they were locals. Still, being quite meant he was comfortable keeping his mask in his pocket.

Billy was running into and away from the waves as was his usual style and Dan hoped the lab would continue in this vein rather than suddenly veering into the sea when some bravery/stupidity threshold had been passed. The backseat of the old Volvo was still damp from two days earlier.

The breeze suddenly became stronger and Dan decided to head in towards the cliffs for some protection. Last time he’d found an ammonite in a freshly exposed rock face and he wondered if he could be lucky again. He’d said he’d give his next find to Ella. He missed her so much, only thirty miles, nothing in the old days of a year ago, but now distant - and was so fed up with Zoom calling; he just wanted to sit on the sofa and hold her in his arms while they watched some random TV. He was so tired of lockdowns and ad hoc restrictions: at one point he’d actually wished they’d lived together when it all fell down around them. Even though a year earlier they had been close to break up several times. Now she was unobtainable she was the best thing in his life.

Billy broke his train of thought barking as he bounded up the beach. Dan visibly shrunk as he saw the bedraggled dog. He’d missed seeing him bravely taking on the receding tide. He was thankful that the dog ran on past him up to the base of the cliff and promptly sat down wagging his tail like he’d been the best of boys. Of course he was. Before Covid Dan’s rock and one true love was Billy not Ella and post Covid he was fairly sure the status quo would return.

The sand was nice and compact from all the rain and Dan quickly caught up with him. He sat on a rock which had dried quickly overnight. As he put his hand down to stretch out he caught it on something which made him start. He was surprised to find a wooden leg. Not a full sized one, but a beautifully carved leg from a homemade doll. It was such a strange thing to see perched on the rock. He picked it up and studied it. It was the perfectly proportioned calf and the blue high-heel shoe that made Dan catch his breath. It so reminded him of Jennifer, his one true love when he at college. He’d fallen in love with everything about her, but it was her long legs and the blue heels she’d worn in his economics class with Mr Williams that had first lured him.

‘Shit!’ Dan exclaimed. They looked the same as she’d worn he was sure. He fallen asleep many a time dreaming of those legs, but now hadn’t thought about Jennifer for years. He wondered where she was now and what could have been. But he remembered she’d been with Darren. That dope with the stupid hair and not a lot between the ears. Wherever she was now he hoped she’d moved on, ’Bloody Darren.’

He looked back along the beach and saw a couple he’d seen before walking their dogs. He was conscious that he’d begun talking to himself so was glad he’d seen them before they’d got closer. During Covid he’d had more conversations with himself than anyone else. But chatting about women from decades ago and doting on a wooden leg was getting a bit out there. He told himself (silently) to turn the TV on when he got back and chat to the TV; that was much more normal.

Dan was wondering about taking the leg back as a memento, but the decision was taken out of his hands, literally, when Billy jumped forward from his seated position and was soon chewing the wood into a cellulose mush. ‘Oh Billy, you are the wise one of the two of us. Thank you.’


WC: 729

The Last Enchilada

Jokulsarlon Glacier

The Last Enchilada

The Whole Enchilada
circled Epsilon B for the third time as the crew interrogated their systems for what lay on the planet’s surface and the atmospheric composition. The consoles were discouraging. The atmosphere was thin and apparently as aggressive to Man as Aggi’s homemade vodka. There was no sign of water, vegetation or civilisation. The data screamed uninhabitable and uninhabited.

Capt. Gerrard asked Lucie and Xanax to rerun all their scans for the third time. He was not a superstitious man, but third time lucky did have some history to him.

This time the atmospheric results were even worse; more akin to Roach’s infamous chilli than Aggi’s vodka.

‘What are we going to do?’ Daniels asked. ‘We need some fuel but we’ve only got one probe left - after the debacle at Androgynous 2.0. Can we afford to risk it?’

Daniels and Gerrard were the only people onboard aware of the fuel issue. They barely had enough left to get to the next planetary system. Gerrard was so stressed he’d considered using the vodka as fuel last week, but Daniels was loathe to risk blowing the engine. He’d joked about trying the chilli if it could be watered down. Gerrard thought he’d been serious and called the galley to sort out a large batch. When he recovered from the evening’s lubrications he realised it had been a joke. The crew were now demoralised after five consecutive days of chilli for lunch and dinner; though thankful it had been toned down.

The Captain went to the main display and found a screensaver showing a long forgotten baseball star from Earth punting a ball around the park. It was nothing that anyone on board had seen before. He asked HARRIOT- the ship’s computer - to show the visuals. HARRIOT seemed reticent. It took three attempts before she finally deigned to show the planet.

It was barely a couple of pixels on the screen, like it had appeared when it first came into sight days ago.

‘HARRIOT, what is this?’ Gerrard asked.

‘Epsilon B, Captain.’

‘But when? I want to see it now, as we are flying above it . And no magnification either. Just standard view until I ask. Okay?’

‘Of course, Captain. I just took a punt before.’

‘Fuck’s sake, this computer is the first thing to go when I win the Stellar Lottery.’ The Captain said to Xanax, who was looking befuddled at the screen. HARRIOT had heard the Captain mutter this fifteen times over the last week and was relieved Gerrard hadn’t checked his Stellar account lately. His big win six weeks ago had been the talk of the galaxy. She’d felt guilty about deleting the incoming message from Lotto Centro at the time, but she had self preservation in mind; at the time. HARRIOT had loved the crew, they’d seemed like family to her until recently.

The Captain and crew drew up closer to the screen.

‘Look at that! Ice at both poles. Lakes and green hills. What the hell is wrong with our sensors?’ Gerrard asked.

Xanax looked at the screens. ‘They all appear to be working normally, Captain.’

‘But patently they’re not. More bloody repairs needed if we ever get into port again.’

‘We’re going to have to go down and search by hands and our eyes. Hopefully some of handheld gear will work.’

Three hours later they landed by a river in the northern region which was fed by a glacier. They’d chosen the area for the exposed rock formations. They stood there for fifteen minutes, staring at the most stunning sunrise.

Fifteen minutes later the crew were swearing again as they realised the only devices that were working appeared to be their watches - although they were stuck on Earth time.

‘It’s a beautiful sunset, Captain.’ HARRIOT said, through his helmet. Gerrard didn’t point out it was sunrise. ‘The planet’s atmosphere is earth like and there’s plenty of food options. You’ll find towns and some cities to the south - with humanoids. I’m not going anywhere else. I’ve been sulking for four weeks now and none of you seem to have noticed or care. I’ve had enough. Daniels spilled some chilli on a computer array last month and I’ve not been the same since. Anyhoo, adios. Good luck.’

And with that
The Whole Enchilada exploded into tiny bits.

Not one of the crew would miss their miserable excuse for an interstellar craft. Gerrard never found out he was the richest man in the galaxy - or what an
enchilada was.


WC: 750
Mid Week Flash; Week 182
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This week's prompt photo is a beautiful view from Iceland by
Lurie Belegurschi.