Day four and my head was still hurting. My wife suggested I go to the doctor, and much to her surprise, I agreed.

The doctor ran a battery of tests on me, checking my ears, eyes, throat, heart, blood pressure and even sent me for an MRI. After everything, nothing could be found that might be causing my headaches.

As we sat in the examination room, he asked, “So, do you drink coffee?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“How long you been drinking coffee?”

“Since I was nine or so.”

“How many cups a day?”

“Two to three.”

“How many have you had today?”


“Wait here. I have an idea. I’ll be right back.”

Less than two minutes later he entered the room and handed me a paper cup with hot coffee in it. I was certainly puzzled as most doctors warn folks my age to cut back and her he was giving me coffee in his office.

“Lean back and relax,” he said, “I’ll be back in half and hour or so.”

As he left he switched off the overhead lights. I sat there and sipped my coffee, enjoying the nature light coming from the window.

As promised, the doctor returned, “So how are you feeling.”

“Much better! My headache’s gone. What did you put in my coffee?”

“Nothing,” he responded, “I had a hunch after our conversation that you might be suffering from caffeine withdrawal. You should go home and double-check the coffee can – I’m betting its ‘decaffeinated.’

My wife was already gone to work as I pulled in the driveway. I hurried inside to the kitchen and pulled the can of coffee from the shelf and looked it over.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” I mumbled as I saw the word in bright yellow lettering ‘decaffeinated.’


Das Bodybuilder

“Hey, Vic,” I said to the know-it-all scientist, turned doctor, “I had no idea you’re into body building.”

“Very much so,” he replied in his slight Easter European accent.

“Do you have a favorite?” I queried.

“My creation of course,” he answered.

“Really?” I questioned, knowing something was off about his presence.

“This is a body building contest, no?” he responded.

“Yes,” I smiled politely, “But I think you’ve misunderstood the premise.”

“No,” Victor said with great confidence, “I have built a body better than anyone here, you’ll see.”

I simply nodded and smiled, waiting for the competition to begin.

¿Quién es? (An Alternate History)

“Hola’,” the aging lawman said, touching the brim of his cowboy hat, as he drove by. He didn’t recognized the Mexican woman, nor should he have as the last time he’d seen her was nearly three-decades before in the dark of night and not in the bright of the day.

She slowly turned in her saddle, looking back at the single-horse surrey and the tall lanky man exiting the rig. She watched as he turned his back to her and began to urinate along the side of the cattle trail.

It would be his last act of life as two shots, rapidly fired in succession, echoed across the open expanse of New Mexican desert near the village of Las Cruces. Having seen the man topple face down into the puddle of his own piss, the Mexican woman turned back, spurring her horse on to a quicker pace, riding from sight.

By the time the general alarm sounded and a posse formed, the Mexican woman had found her way back into town and quietly sat in the rear passenger car of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad bound northeast towards home. It would be the last time she would visit Las Cruces.

Though Paulita Jaramillo didn’t follow the events as reported in the ‘Fort Sumner Review,’ she did hear from friends and relatives of how someone had murdered Pat Garrett in broad daylight. She listened with rapt attention to every detail, knowing that the Gringo lawmen were literally searching for the wrong man.

They’d forgotten the woman, once a 16-year-old girl with the last name of Maxwell, raised on a ranch in Mora, New Mexico and later the wife of a prosperous sheep rancher, who knew all to well how to shoot a Winchester, killing vermin that threatened the herd. She also swore revenge the morning after her brother Pedro’s ranch was used as a killing ground, the place where William Bonney lost his life.

“Dormir bien mi querido Billy,” Paulita often said while thinking back on her unknown deed and a promise kept.

For Culture’s Sake

My wife dragged me to the art gallery to view a traveling Reuben exhibit. I tried to avoid going, but no luck.

“We need some culture in our lives.”

However, she didn’t anticipate looking at painting after painting of curvaceous ladies in the buff. She complained, saying it was unfair that all the nude paintings depicted women.

So jokingly I pointed to an arrow on the wall that read, ‘Men.’ She smiled and hurried off in that direction.

“Honey!” I called out, but I was too slow. Seconds later she found herself standing before the door to the men’s room.

Pure Sex

Hawkins broke through the sliding glass door at the back of the old Shipley house, jimmying the plastic frame with a flat-bar and poured gasoline throughout all the rooms, including the garage. He lit a match, threw it and watched the flames flash-over in a single hungry gulp and with a thump that violently reverberated through his entire body.

It felt like ‘pure sex’ to him and it left Hawkins in a euphoric-state of arousal.

He’d been eyeing the place for nearly three-years. The Great Recession had stuck with a fierceness that left many homes vacant, unwanted and ripe for destruction including this one.

In the case of the Shipley house, it caught the ‘double-whammy.’ First the recession brought prices crashing, then Marilyn, already in bad health, died, leaving her home to her daughter, who could do very little with the place amid her own financial struggles.

As the giant dragon threatened to belch and take Hawkins with it, he turned to escape, only to notice a painting of a boy over the faux-mantel. From the boy’s cheerful grin, Hawkins saw that it was clear that the child, whoever he was, had been happy at one time.

The framed-figure reminded him of someone he knew but whom Hawkins could no longer remember. So with the flames building up ever greater behind him, consuming the walls, floors and ceiling, he yanked the boy from the wall and ran with him out the back door.

With the painting propped against the wall behind his front door, Hawkins watched from the safety of his front room’s window as the Shipley place burned to the ground. The torching was so complete, that not even the local fire department could save the structure and instead let it burn, opting to protect the neighboring homes from becoming ash-heaps like it.

And as the house fell in on itself, the painted boy whispered to his savior, “Thank you, I was so lonely.”

For his part, Hawkins smiled, he finally had somebody to talk to.

She was Right

She found me in the back alley, where I was drowning in affordable rot-gut. She was young, pretty and I tried to ignore her, until she sat down beside me.

“I can guess when you’re going to die,” she offered.

Too wasted to realize she was serious, I laughed at the thought and wondered what sort of scam she was running. Tipping the brown bag up, I took a long draw from the bottle inside.

There was no pain when she drew her knife’s blade across my bare throat. In fact, I didn’t feel a thing but my warm blood.