Thursday, February 5, 2009


Bad Chocolate

I was freaked about making it to the post office on time to meet the deadline, rushing to send a certified letter containing a check I’d written out earlier. There were just so many zeros! I was about to cough up more of my hard earned money at one time than I had ever coughed up in my entire life, to the notorious Internal Revenue Service, no less. The line was very long, and I knew that I would be stuck in that dreary government building for at least thirty minutes, maybe more. Why was the post office so fucking crowded? Because I was there. My luck had been running dry. Case in point—huge tax audit—and my soon to be paltry bank account balance. (The Beatle's Taxman played in my head!)

Just as I entered the door a text message came in. Walking and reading my phone, (no bubblegum to blame), I slammed right into the person at the back of the line. Hard.

Profuse apologies ensued. As soon as I got a good look at the girl that I had crashed into, (Dave Matthew's Crash Into Me played in my head!), her phenomenal beauty registered and sent my hottie meter ballistic. Imagine Gisele Bundchen. Imagine touching her.

She was amazingly understanding about my clumsy attack against her gorgeous personage, we shared a lively exchange about how consuming text messaging had become. A giant package was at her feet and she inched it across the floor with her ballerina-slipper-like shoe. I’m six-foot-two and she wasn’t that much shorter than me. I’m not used to looking chicks in the eye. My last girlfriend was super-short, five-foot-one to be exact. Of course I broke up with her. I always break up with my girlfriends, for one reason or another.

The tall girl smiled at me.

“That won’t be a cheap date,” I said, pointing at the package on the floor. (I know...I'm such a smooth talker.)

“It looks heavy,” she said, “but it’s just oversized and awkward.” She was looking at the box as if it held a nest of vipers.

I nodded.

“It’s a giant fluffy white bear with a red satin bow,” she volunteered.

“Oh, really?”

“My ex boyfriend gave it to me for Valentines last year. I don’t want it hanging around my apartment anymore, taking up way to much room, so I’m sending it back to him.”

From further down the line, an old lady turned around in the most conspicuously curious manner, so she might see who was talking. And that old lady looked that tall girl up and down, scrutinizing her the way women openly check each other out in public. Only the most piggish guy would ever muster the courage to be so in your face when ogling a pretty girl.

So there I stood, acting cool, doing my best not to resemble a piggish guy.

“He’s such a jerk!” The tall girl told me, she kicked the box. “I hate him.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, lamely. She had the smoothest skin I’d ever seen, other than the skin on the beauties I'd drooled over in various magazine layouts. An astute guy like myself is fully aware that those beauties are airbrushed up one side and down the other, of course. Her hair was the color of honey, and smelled like my favorite candy. Hot Tamales. How ironic. (Alanis Morissette's Ironic played in my head!)

“I’m not one bit sorry." Her bottom lip shot out in the most fetching manner. "He’s not worth thinking about.”

I almost said something so stupid, like: If he’s not worth thinking about, why did you go through all the trouble of wrapping up that humongous stuffed animal and carting it all the way to Uncle Sam’s mailroom, where you'll end up spending mucho dinero sending it back to him, at the very same time of year that he gave it to you? But I didn’t. I edited myself. I said, “Valentine’s Day, it’s a stressful holiday.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Her eyes were green and heavily lashed, her earlobes cried out, I’m delicious and I know it!

The man standing directly behind me joined the discussion with, “I hate Valentine’s Day. Last year my wife gave me a heart-shaped box full of bad chocolate. And I got her a Sea-Doo. She gets an awesome recreational toy, complete with trailer, that I’m making hefty monthly payments on by the way, and what do I get? Bad chocolate.”

The woman standing behind the man with the inconsiderate wife said, “Bad chocolate? Is there such a thing?”

The tall girl said, “Oh Gawd, you bet there is. Do you have any idea how long that stuff sits on the shelf? Ew.”

The woman behind the man shook her head vigorously and pressed her point further. “My husband never gives me anything. Not even a stinking card. He doesn’t believe in Valentines Day. I’d take a heart-shaped box of bad chocolate over the big fat zero I recieve anyday.”

The man looked at her and said, “Give me your address. I’m sure I’ll get another one this year, I’ll drop it off at your house.”

The woman shot the man a nasty look, took hold of her small daughter and briskly maneuvered the child between the two of them.

The man couldn't help but notice that the woman felt he'd crossed a line. He said, “Just kidding.”

“I hope I don’t get any bad chocolate,” the tall girl said.

The man swung his head around and smiled at her warmly. “Don’t worry,” he told the exotic creature, “no man in his right mind would give you bad chocolate.”

He made a valid point. If I had a chance with a girl like that I’d buy her frilly valentine cards, and diamonds and cars and whatever else she desired. I’d cheat the IRS and buy her a house, even plant her a garden. (Everclear's I Will Buy You A New Life played in my head!) I got so worked up just thinking about our future life together I almost asked her out. But, as the line inched along, I got to thinking about how empty my pockets would be when the IRS cashed that check, and what a lousy boyfriend I had made in the past, how every single one of my girlfriends had ended up hating me, how every single one of them were enemies. All hell usually broke out whenever I ran into any old girlfriend. So as we got closer and closer to the front of the line in the crowded post office that afternoon, my practical side took over. A tall beautiful girl like that would surely turn me down. Oh, she’d be polite about it, but I would get a no all the same.

Girls like her, they deserve someone special. Someone rich, someone cool. Not a dweeb like me.

Here's the lyrics to Everclear's 
I Will buy You A New Life

Here is the money that I owe you
Yeah, so you can pay the bills
I will give you more when I get paid again
I hate those people who love to tell you
Money is the root of all that kills
They have never been poor
They have never had the joy of a wellfare Christmas
Yeah, I know we will never look back, yeah
You say you wake up crying
Yes and you don't know why
You get up and you go lay down inside my baby's room
Yeah, I guess I'm doing ok
I moved in with the strangest guy
Can you believe he actually thinks that I am really alive
I will buy you a garden, where your flowers can bloom
I will buy you a new car, perfect shiny and new
I will buy you that big house, way up in the west hills
I will buy you a new life
Yes I will
Yes I know all about that other guy
The handsome man with athletic thighs
I know about all the time before
With that obsessive little rich boy
They might make you think you're happy
Yeah, maybe for a minute or two
They can't make you laugh
No they can't make you feel the way that I do
I will buy you a garden, where your flowers can bloom
I will buy you a new car, perfect shiny and new
I will buy you that big house, way up in the west hills
I will buy you a new life
Yeah I will buy you a new life
Yeah I know we can never look back, yeah
No, oh will you please let me stay the night
Will you please let me stay the night
No one will ever know
I will buy you a garden, where your flowers can bloom
I will buy you a new car, perfect shiny and new
I will buy you that big house, way up in the west hills
I will buy you a new life
Oh yeah
I will buy you a garden, where your flowers can bloom
I will buy you a new car, perfect shiny and new
I will buy you that big house, way up in the west hills
I will buy you a new life

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009



I don’t know how it happened because I was doing about a hundred things at once: baking banana bread, sending off a story in e-mail, twittering away on Twitter, reading a text message from my son—plus I was counting pages on my next book—a second installment of Boomer Tales. Anyway, I somehow pasted a recently finished story in place of one of my longest stories! I had been writing, polishing, and editing that story for two and a half months!

I had much more adept computer types try to locate the lost tale. But no! Poof—it’s gone. Now I have one of those handy devices, a thumb drive, (or whatever you want to call it), and I said, just the other day, I said, “Self, you better get your lazy butt upstairs, fetch that thumb drive and download these stories. Before something bad happens.” My Mac is a little long in the tooth. I worry. But I didn’t! I didn’t back up my work. What a moron. What an idiot. This was so avoidable.

That’s the thing with computers, one strike of a key and up, up and away. Hit send on that nasty e-mail and it’s off. No second chances here. The recipient could be reading your vile words before you even realize that what you wrote was in anger and you didn’t mean to send it. Really you didn’t. But you can’t take that regretful e-mail back. It’s a done deal. Whoops.

I did find the original version of the story on my thumb drive. My words many incarnations ago. The infant idea, an outline really. So I’m not empty handed. Still, it will never come out the same. Sort of like spaghetti sauce. Every single time I whip up a batch it’s a little different. A friend said that the universe might be trying to tell me something. Maybe the new version will be better. Why can’t the universe shut up and mind it’s own business?

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Mystery Micro Fiction

Who Is Ruth?

The house stood on a hill way out in the country. Laura grew up playing in the avocado groves. Her father didn’t like music. Father claimed that the sounds of nature filled his head. If that wasn’t music enough for a person, then they must be daft. So, Laura listened to the sounds in the groves, the birds and the bees, the wind in the trees overhead. At night, inside the house, the music came from outside the window, from the frogs down at the creek, the owl, and the coyote’s cry. 

Father home-schooled her. As far as Laura knew, most children were educated in this fashion. As far as Laura knew, all children were motherless. All children were friendless.


On her thirteenth birthday a woman arrives in a gleaming low-to-the-ground car, she pulls right up the driveway as if she belongs. Father sends Laura to her room. He thinks she can’t hear from up there, but she does. The woman’s name is Ruth and she plans to take Laura.

A still heart beats harder. Like rolling thunder. Laura eyes shut tight. Is this woman her mother? The other parent? The missing one? Oh heart, don’t hope. Stop. Stop it. You have no mother. He told you that.

Ruth raises her voice. Says he has no right. No right. He is a monster. She will call child services. He hasn’t heard the end of her. Ruth will not give up. Ruth is mad. She calls Father William. William, she pleads. Let me see her.

Laura listens. She listens and she listens and she listens. All she hears is the slamming door, the tires in the gravel, the car’s motor growing fainter and fainter.

For weeks she waits for Ruth. She listens for the car.
Father is William The Monster.
When she asks him, who is Ruth? Father says nobody. Ruth is nobody.

That night the frogs grow louder. They are multiplying. A thunderous deafening presence. Laura waits. She is good at this.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.