In this painting by Phil Curtis two women who are not interns at A Word with You Press compete for his attention. Sam and Lora, not doubt.
Our First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage contest continues with an entry from the infinity of cyberspace lodged within the skull of Michael Stang.
If he says he dreams of you, you might want to take precautions! But writing off into the sunset might be a worthwhile endeavor. You decide before it’s too late.
I knew Phil Curtis, by the way, when I lived in what was once the arid wasteland of Scottsdale, Arizona… I was twelve. He was seventy. Put this picture in the post as a curtisy to him.
by Michael Stang
The world according to Curtis was spinning madly out of control. Unfortunately, limited experience in these matters had left him without much defense. Sam was just around the corner, just over the next bend, on the other side of that door. Curtis could reach for her but never quite touch her skin of a thousand graces. He was falling now through the comfortable digs, on to the cold black nothingness of space. Through the abyss, he could make out the bridge of light and hear Sam’s laughter tinkle on the wind. If he could just…get there. A door appeared in the middle of a field—dream like. Curtis ran with all his might and watched as his jelly hand reached for the knob. The door dissolved into a table, on it was Sam tied up naked. Lora was standing over her with a sword held high above her head, ready to cut Sam in two. Both women looked at him with different expectations.
Always the same dream.
Curtis lugged what he thought of himself, out of bed. The ball and chain good time Charley, last night, left him before dawn with the same old calling card.
Three alley cats, with their tails out of sync, sat on top of the picket fence at the base of Curtis’s skull, screeching at the top of their broken lungs at the show of nerves that fizzled and sparked, raw and jerked until silent and dead. Without the burden of thought, yeah right, as if the man was able to think in the first place, Curtis spent an unusual time in the bathroom, discovering just how big of a loser he was.
Last night was a Doozie; he chanced cogitation before taking a last swipe with his comb through an abundant imaginary head of hair. A mirror spotted the breath of a frown as Curtis fell back to the edge of his bed. He suddenly needed to straighten this mess out, though how he came to that conclusion he was hard pressed to solve. A Doosie all right. He smoothed over sheets that where sleep-wrinkled made from the toss and turn of a six-foot-six, sleeping body. The ribs of the sheet were raised helter skelter—corduroys gone wild. The man was amazed at what he thought of as sleep involved such brutal art.
A pair of blood-red oxfords sticking out from the ball of yarn made from dark slacks twisted around a white linen shirt, stared back at him from the corner of the room. He discovered the tie thrown to the floor still tied in a knot and thought of Sam. Oh dear god…Sam.
The flashback came on hard and strong, pounding his head out of shape. He was with Sam somewhere. Her laughter played light over the abyss, a bridge to her soul, her perfect positive soul, radiating “and they rode off into the sunset together,” their future—a promise. Well, not quite, or not quite yet, there still was this issue slithering, the weakness, the yolk of Curtis Good Knight.
Slow, as if testing the frozen pond for thickness of the ice in late May, Curtis stood and pulsated out of the bedroom towards the kitchen. The idea of food threatened and he thought he was going to lose it over the bare wood floors. But the very thought of smelling breakfast meant that someone was in the house, other than himself.
“Sam? Sam is that you?” Curtis entered from the hall and stopped in his tracks.
“Hi, sunshine,” Lora said. “Hungry?”
“Lora.” Everything gone bad in the world, including surprise, displeasure, and guilt spun in the woman’s name. “What are you doing here?”
“Why, honey, don’t tell me you don’t remember. I slept here last night, with you, you naughty boy.”
If opposites can be described, Sam on one end, auburn lush hair, chiseled beauty—not an ounce to waste. On the other, Lora, spiked dura-blonde sticking straight out from her oval shaped head, smart tagged shorts just south of her butt, black patterned hose, railroad boots. Lora’s perfume reminded Curtis of smoking grass in college; Sam never wore perfume and always smelled the best of any day.
Curtis tore through his memory banks. A god-awful feeling in his gut grew to measures unfit for survival, but until the last day on earth, he would never give in to Lora, never mind sleeping with her. Still, a light sheen of sweat trapped his face as if he was staring too close to a naked light bulb; moment’s indecision.
“Oh, come now, doll,” Lora said as she purposely over-fried the bacon, “your secret is safe with me, besides, once Sam is out of the picture…there’s no need to worry.”
She’s making this up. She’s insane.
The grease sent his stomach through the rinse cycle. “Look, whatever is going on here is over, your little trick-de-tit, an amusing display of nothing, can pack it and leave…now!”
“No, my little darling, I can see I have upset you. Come, we will talk about the fate of your little lamb on a full stomach. Her demise will be swift you have my word—tonight.
In a whoosh, Curtis faded back to the dream. If there was a thing he knew for certain, Sam was his salvation, he would die for her freedom.
“Lora, put it down. You can save yourself; I swear it’s not too late.”
“Have you come to show me your manhood, loser? Lora’s hazel eyes turned black and drippy. “Let’s see how brave you are after I bisect your lover.”
The sword came down but never reached its mark. Instead, Curtis lost his right arm while delivering a deathblow with his left. Sam rose from the altar and sought Curtis’s face in her hands.
“I will heal you, my knight. Never fear, our sunset awaits.”
Her lilting laugh echoed through the mountains, as she bore her man away.