If you enjoyed my short story, YOUNG BROWN MAN AND THE LAUNDROMAT WEREWOLF from The Kelsey Review, you might like the following stories and music that inspired it:

  1. Haruki Murakami’s THE STRANGE LIBRARY is a short novelette about a boy who goes to a library, gets captured, and has to escape. A rat man, a shadowy girl, and a psychotic librarian are all involved. You can buy it here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-strange-library-haruki-murakami/1120262519 or borrow it at your library.

Here’s one of Murakami’s short stories from The New Yorker that you can read for free right now: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/09/05/town-of-cats

  1. E Decker’s FOREVER NOW:

http://www.firesidefiction.com/issue32/chapter/forever-now/

A short story available at Fireside Fiction. It’s about a child who gets lost at a mall. When she asks for help, the first person she meets asks if her parents exploded.

  1. Neil Gaiman’s HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES:

http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories/How_To_Talk_To_Girls_At_Parties/How_To_Talk_To_Girls_At_Parties_(Text)

It’s about two guys who head to a party to meet girls, but nothing is as it seems.

 

Here are some songs that inspired it:

  1. Childish Gambino: 3005
  2. Jhene Aiko and Childish Gambino: Bed Peace
  3. Drake and Jhene Aiko: From Time

 

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A Man in His Bed Alone

It was the fear of being alone that scared Winston the most. Not dying on his deathbed or being killed by circumstance. The thought of living for nothing scared him. He woke up promptly in the morning, ran his two mile around the city and prepared for work. He arrived ten minutes prior to the office and spent the next ten hours at the computer. He would eat at his desk and while others would watch the draft prospects for the next season’s NFL teams, Winston would stare at his afternoon spreadsheets. He would leave work at six, an hour after everyone had already left, and drive home to his studio to stare at the wall or the glow of his Lenovo laptop.

But it was at night when he thought about the empty side of his mattress. The meals shared alone. The moments, watching the dial of the clock move right by him. It was only then that he realized that his fear was his own undoing, and his sadness a burden that he could never escape. There was no one to blame for the silence except himself.

At Least He Came

“What are you doing?” Regina said over the music.

“I’m watching the purses,” I shouted, “this place makes me feel uncomfortable.”

“Are you scared of being in a gay bar?”

“No I don’t like clubs that much. The noise, it’s killing me.”

She grabbed my arm and mouthed I’m sorry.

“Come on,” she said pulling me. “Let’s get back with Ri!”

I tried to point to her purse again but at this point it didn’t matter. She pulled me in close to her and brought her hands against my back, before yanking them away.

“Why are you sweating so much?” she asked.

I didn’t realize I had. I touched the back of my shirt and felt the sweat drip from my clavicle to my lower back. If my back felt like a torrent, my forehead must’ve been worse. I muttered some apology but she was already shaking her head, dancing to the music and swaying along. I tried to say something else but already she wasn’t listening. She was somewhere else in a trance with the music. At one corner of the club, Ri grinded with a tan boy with chiseled abs and jelled blonde hair. His friends made a semi-circle around them, cheering him as he took his t-shirt off and twirled it around in the air.

I looked away and swayed with Regina, keeping up with her movement and the heavy beat. My eyes darted back and forth between Regina, her purse on the table, the DJ, and the flashing lights. I wondered how long I could keep this up. The liquor had flown out of my head a long time ago and the darkness engulfed me, like pebbles streaming down my head. I closed my eyes to turn away from her. When I opened them, I spotted the Soldier in the crowd dressed head to toe in full battle rattle. He was late but at least he showed up, as he always had for times like this.  Nights like this. Same guy for five years straight. ACH with the PASGT attachment, body armor, combat uniform pants, and standard issue boots. He stood there with his rifle on both hands, rifle pointing down, flush against his chest. He looked at me and I looked at him. His face was ashy, caked with dirt and spots of blood that stuck out from his normally pale, pink, skin. Part of his sunglasses was broken to the right side and I could make out his blue iris. He lifted his head at me and I nodded back.

Regina grabbed my arm and dug part of her nails into my skin.

“What do you want to drink?”

Vulnerable

Regina laid across from Nathan on her queen bed, facing him. He slept with his eyes closed, ignoring the music in the background. The Internet tapped low on her laptop, a few feet away.

I can’t help but feel like I’m wasting, precious time in my life.

She rested her head on the pillow and brought her hand against the side of his small ear lobe. She caressed the front and back with the tip of her nails, tracing the soft edges of his skin. His body was warm, all the men in her life seemed to be good for, and his breathing was slow. She wondered how she could sleep with him tonight, knowing full well that she fidgeted in the night and sometimes gasped over a silly dream or a thought from her past. She wondered if she should tell him this, give him a warning, or a last chance for him to back away now before it was too late.

“You make me happy,” he said with his eyes closed.

When she tried to let the words slip from her mouth, nothing came. She let out a small, “Ah.”

His breath smelled faintly of whiskey but she didn’t mind. Hers must’ve smelled like rum. It was the statement that gave her pause. Happy? He might as well have said Love or Liked or Marry and she would’ve still be just as taken aback. She had only known him, REALLY known him, for two weeks. What did he know about happiness?

It was the whiskey, she determined. She smiled, hoping he could see it, but in the morning she would let the statement go and hope he’d never say it again.

But look I need you to know (it can only get better from here)

It’s under control, I got it. (I got it babe)

And as it unfolds, I got you, I promise

 “Do you feel vulnerable when you’re in bed with me?” She asked.

He opened his eyes and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.

“Yes,” he said.