Short Story
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"On Edge"
Carole S. Mora

When the dwarf woman with the beach ball sized head gets on the bus at Western, I can’t take my eyes off her.  I don’t want to see her, don’t want to wonder where she’s coming from, where she’s going, but I can’t stop myself.  No matter how many times I see her, I can’t stop looking at her.  I’m feeling no pain right now that’s for sure.  A few beers after work always takes the edge off.  The edge.  This 11 pm edge, knifing through the windows, slicing what’s left of the day into shreds.  Freak show some nights, that’s what it is.  That freak Armando has been driving me crazy too.  Gotta get him off my back.  The machine shop has been humming lately, but it’s a mess.  I can get lost in the sound there, then beers after work, not so bad.  But, some mornings are bad.
Bet that guy over there has had a few too, beers and bad days. See him over there, the little old guy sitting in the front holding the sign that says “$50 and start the revolution”?  He keeps saying something but I can’t hear all of it.  He’s up there talking to everyone, talking to himself, about the revolution and paying his rent, and about how this damn bus is so crowded it must be against the law. This is the no spin zone, for sure.  So crowded at 11 p.m., who are all these people?  I’m hungry, haven’t eaten for hours, and still a few hours to go.  Felicia and the kids will be sleeping when I get home.  I’ll wake her up.  She hates that.  We both have to get up early, but I’m going to wake her up, need some.  She needs it too.  God knows we both need something.  Why is it the lady with the super-sized head doesn’t look as if she needs a thing?  She’s sitting there with her hands folded in her lap holding a small bag, and a little pot with a cactus in it.  The cactus has a red flower sticking out of it.  Weird.  She’s staring straight ahead.  I wonder if she’s ever had sex?  Probably not.  That’s sad. I’m gonna get some tonight that’s for sure, but no more kids, can’t afford them. That guy who wants $50 to start the revolution, who does he think he is?  Crazy, just a freak show. What revolution? I’ll slip him a $5 when I leave, can’t hurt.
And that lady over there, now she’s a looker, great ass.  That guy in the wheelchair just said if she wants to sit down, she could sit on his lap.  He’s grinning.  She’s trying to be polite, standing there in front of him, packed in like sardines. Poor guy, but looks like he makes up for it somehow. Yeah, he likes the movie that’s for sure.Geez, it’s hot in here.  Armando dropped one of the solder guns on my foot this morning, oh yeah, it’s starting to throb, gotta walk home from my stop in a while. Maybe Felicia fixed me something to eat.  She forgets some nights and I have to make something myself.  Make it myself.  Got to make it somehow, make enough to get the car out of impound.  Felicia was supposed to mail the registration.  I told her to, depend on her for things.  Things like that.  She said she must have lost it the day the Clayton’s dog bit one of the neighbor kids and everyone said it was her fault for not keeping him tied up that afternoon.  It was pool day.  Swimming lesson day, I remember.  It was hot.  The Clayton’s hired a swimming instructor to come to the house after school to teach the two Clayton kids to swim.  Felicia’s a good housekeeper, takes good care of their kids. Crystal, our eight year old had an ear infection that day, had been in pain and home from school for weeks.  I had to be at the shop and Felicia had to leave her at home alone. She’s gotta take care of the two Clayton kids, so ours can eat, so I can eat. We all gotta eat.  They’d just had lunch the day it happened.  Everyone took a break so there wouldn’t be any side stitches.  The kids from next door came by begging to swim.  It was hot last summer.  Felicia went in to get some lemonade and Apollo, the Clayton’s Great Dane lunged out onto the grass.  He had one of the Miller boys pinned down before anyone knew what happened.  Bit the youngest one right through his upper arm.  Must have been a mess.  Felicia said everyone was screaming all at once.  She couldn’t eat for days after, she felt so bad.  She piled all the kids into the Clayton’s SUV and went to emergency.  The neighbor kid whose arm was in shreds had tetanus shots and was sent home, bruised and bandaged. I could use a shot of something right now.  Damn it’s raining.  That dog was put to sleep and they let Felicia go.  She’s got another job now, but there’s more cleaning.  Damn, and I’d like to clean up the machine shop.  Armando’s brother had to go back to Oaxaca for the Winter to take care of their father, he’s dying.  Wonder how it is to die?  Like this - the junker of a car we have is in impound, it’s raining, the lady with the big head looks like she’s doing fine, her cactus is blooming, and the old guy up front is planning a revolution. I’ve got a paycheck to cash tomorrow and my old lady is keeping the bed warm. The vet in the wheelchair keeps saying he loves the view of the white ladies backside. She just holds still, there’s nowhere to sit.  I’ll give her my seat when I leave if she hasn’t gotten off by then.  Damn my foot hurts, Armando that son-of-a-bitch, it’s just gonna be a wet walk home, and its gonna hurt some.
Now available from
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Curtain Call:
A Metaphorical Memoir
Alan Ramon Clinton
About the author...
Alan Ramón Clinton currently lectures at Santa Clara University in California and is the author of a scholarly monograph, Mechanical Occult: Automatism, Modernism, and the Specter of Politics (Peter Lang: 2004) and a volume of poetry, Horatio Alger’s Keys (BlazeVox: 2008). This fall he will appear as guest editor for a volume of 2nd Ave Poetry entitled New Poetics of Magic.Click here to add text.
Carole Mora is an avid walker and meditator currently living in Santa Monica, CA.  She finds delight in the written word, theatre, the varied dimensions and applications of the visual. as well as melody, harmony, song and dance. She sometimes writes poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, is occasionally confused by the distinctions, but loves making home made soup on rainy days.