Shawn Haley

The Line (2009)

The light faded. The circle of green-masked faces blurred and became indistinct. Finally, they and the light were gone, engulfed in a darkness so total it sucked everything into it. It sucked him in. Then it spit him out.

He found himself standing behind a rather foul smelling man whose bloated bulk blocked his view of the head of the line. He looked behind him. The line stretched as far as he could see into the distance. He looked down and into the eyes of a mousy little woman barely five feet in height. She stared at him without blinking. She sniffed and wrinkled her nose.

"You stink."

"It's not me." He responded hurriedly. "It's him." He hooked a thumb back over his shoulder toward the bloated figure.

"Hey. Watch who youse is pointin' at, man. I know I stink but I bin at the bottom of the river fer a while. Man, you got no idea what folks dump inta the river."

"Tough break," responded the woman. "How long before they found you?"

"I don't really know. A long time though. I was in pieces by the time I was discovered."


"Yeah, tell me 'bout it. I was floating around watchin' the rot set in. Them little fish kept nibblin' and nibblin'." The large man shuddered.

He had been politely bending to one side so the woman and the giant could talk. He seemed to be physically avoiding the words that passed him.

"Stop. I'm getting dizzy. If you want to talk, let us change places. I was never any good at dodgeball."

"No can do, Bub. I tried it a while ago. I stepped around the pipsqueak in front of me and got zapped for it. No cheatin' in this line.

Storm Clouds (2011)

The heavy black clouds marched from one horizon to the next as if intending to do battle. The thunder kept the cadence. They ignored, on purpose it seemed, his incense, his chanting, and him as they rushed to some other place where they would bleed, to some other blessed spot that would receive their moisture. Almost as an afterthought, or so it seemed to him, they released feathers of rain overhead that drifted towards him and his corn field. The droplets of rain raised tiny dust clouds as they struck the baked earth. Carlos laughed bitterly. It would take more than a few drops to slake the thirst of this land. It was a cruel joke. The gods were cruel.

He had watched the tiny shoots emerge from the ground only to be scorched by the sun and then teased by the few drops of water that seemed to bounce off the dirt as if afraid of it. His crop, lovingly planted with appropriate ceremony, was dead even before it had a chance to live - like Manuelito. He hadn't thought about Manuel in many months but now he saw his sparkling little toothless grin lighting up the room and then fade to nothingness as his spirit was taken from him. He had lived such a short time, long enough to learn to smile and to grab his father's fingers, nothing more. The curandero had said his soul had not had time to become attached to his body and it just escaped, ran off to its former home. Carlos was not sure. He had seen many innocent little ones die, brothers, sisters, cousins and now his own. Manuel, his first-born son, a brother to his two daughters, had seemed so alive, so vital but then dead. There had been no warning, no sickness, just death. Carlos had cursed the gods as they put his son in the ground under the pomegranate tree. Perhaps the gods were punishing him for that silent curse.

No. They didn't care about the lives or deaths of the humans. They had no interest in the pain of their subjects. They did what they wanted to do and took what they wanted to take. They had taken the soul of his son and, now, they had taken the souls of his crop. What next would they take. Carlos laughed again. This time he would play a joke on the gods as he had nothing for them to take. He looked to the west towards his home.

Copyright © 2011 Shawn Haley All right reserved.