Yellow Mama Archives

Kent Robinson
Home
Abbott, Patricia
Aclin, Ken
Adhikari, Sudeep
Ahern, Edward
Alan, Jeff
Aldrich, Janet M.
Allen, M. G.
Allen, Nick
Allison, Shane
Ammonds, Phillip J.
Anderson, Peter
Andreopoulos, Elliott
Anick, Ronald
Anonymous 9
Arab, Bint
Arkell, Steven
Ashley, Jonathan
Aymar, E. A.
Ayris, Ian
Babbs, James
Baber, Bill
Bagwell, Dennis
Baird, Meg
Bakala, Brendan
Baker, Bobby Steve
Baker, Nathan
Balaz, Joe
Baltensperger, Peter
BAM
Barber, Shannon
Barnett, Brian
Bates, Jack
Baugh, Darlene
Baumgartner, Jessica Marie
Beale, Jonathan
Beck, George
Beckman, Paul
Beloin, Phil
Benet, Esme
Bennett, Brett
Bennett, Charlie
Bennett, Eric
Berg, Carly
Bergland, Grant
Berman, Daniel
Berriozabal, Luis
Beveridge, Robert
Bickerstaff, Russ
Bigney, Tyler
Blair, Travis
Blake, Steven
Bohem, Charlie Keys and Les
Bolt, Andy
Bonehill, L. R.
Booth, Brenton
Boran, P. Keith
Bosworth, Mel
Bowen, Sean C.
Boyd, A. V.
Boyd, Morgan
Bracey, DG
Bradford, Ryan
Bradshaw, Bob
Brady, Dave
Brannigan, Tory
Brawn, Jason D.
Brewka-Clark, Nancy
Britt, Alan
Brock, Brandon K.
brook, j.
Brown, Melanie
Brown, R. Thomas
Brown, Sam
Bull, Warren
Burton, Michael
Bushtalov, Denis
Butler, Janet
Butler, Simon Hardy
Butler, Terence
Cameron, W. B.
Campbell, J. J.
Campbell, Jack Jr.
Cano, Valentina
Carlton, Bob
Cartwright, Steve
Carver, Marc
Castle, Chris
Catlin, Alan
Chen, Colleen
Chesler, Adam
Christensen, Jan
Christopher, J. B.
Clausen, Daniel
Clevenger, Victor
Clifton, Gary
Coffey, James
Colasuonno, Alfonso
Compton, Sheldon Lee
Conley, Jen
Conley, Stephen
Connor, Tod
Cooper, Malcolm Graham
Coral, Jay
Corman-Roberts, Paul
Cosby, S. A.
Crandall, Rob
Criscuolo, Carla
Crisman, Robert
Crist, Kenneth
Crouch & Woods
Crumpton, J. C.
Cunningham, Stephen
Curry, A. R.
D., Jack
Dabbe, Lyla K.
Dallett, Cassandra
Damian, Josephine
Danoski, Joseph V.
Daly, Jim
Dalzell, Randy
Davis, Christopher
Day, Holly
Deal, Chris
de Bruler, Connor
De France, Steve
De La Garza, Lela Marie
de Marco, Guy Anthony
Deming, Ruth Z.
DeVeau, Spencer
Dexter, Matthew
Di Chellis, Peter
Dick, Earl
Dick, Paul "Deadeye"
DiLorenzo, Ciro
Dionne, Ron
Domenichini, John
Doran, Phil
Doreski, William
Dorman, Roy
Dosser, Jeff
Draime, Doug
Drake, Lena Judith
Dromey, John H.
Duke, Jason
Duncan, Gary
Dunham, T. Fox
Dunn, Robin Wyatt
Dunwoody, David
Duxbury, Karen
Duy, Michelle
Elias, Ramsey Mark
Elliott, Beverlyn L.
Elliott, Garnett
Ellis, Asher
Ellman, Neil
England, Kellie R.
England, Kristina
Erianne, John
Erlewine, David
Esterholm, Jeff
Fallow, Jeff
Falo, William
Fedigan, William J.
Fenster, Timothy
Ferraro, Diana
Filas, Cameron
Flanagan, Daniel N.
Flanagan, Ryan Quinn
Folz, Crystal
Franceschina, Susan
Funk, Matthew C.
Gallik, Daniel
Gann, Alan
Gardner, Cheryl Ann
Genz, Brian
Gilbert, Colin
Gladeview, Lawrence
Glass, Donald
Goddard, L. B.
Godwin, Richard
Goff, Christopher
Goodman, Tina
Goss, Christopher
Gradowski, Janel
Grant, Christopher
Grant, Stewart
Greenberg, Paul
Grey, John
Grover, Michael
Gunn, Johnny
Gurney, Kenneth P.
Haglund, Tobias
Hamlin, Mason
Hanna, J. T.
Hansen, Melissa
Hanson, Christopher Kenneth
Hanson, Kip
Hardin, J. Scott
Harrington, Jim
Harris, Bruce
Hart, GJ
Hartman, Michelle
Haskins, Chad
Hatzialexandrou, Anjelica
Hawley, Doug
Haycock, Brian
Hayes, A. J.
Hayes, John
Hayes, Peter W. J.
Heatley, Paul
Heifetz, Justin
Heimler, Heidi
Heitz, Russ
Helmsley, Fiona
Hendry, Mark
Henry, Robert Louis
Heslop, Karen
Heyns, Heather
Hilary, Sarah
Hill, Richard
Hilson, J. Robert
Hivner, Christopher
Hobbs, R. J.
Hockey, Matthew J.
Hodges, Oliver
Hodgkinson, Marie
Holderfield, Culley
Holton, Dave
Hor, Emme
Houston, Jennifer
Howard, Peter
Howells, Ann
Huchu, Tendai
Hudson, Rick
Huffman, A. J.
Huguenin, Timothy G.
Hunt, Jason
Huskey, Jason L.
Irwin, Daniel
Jacobson, E. J.
Jaggers, J. David
James, Christopher
James, Colin
Jensen, Steve
Johanson, Jacob
Johnson, Beau
Johnson, Moctezuma
Johnson, Zakariah
Jones, D. S.
Jones, Erin J.
Jones, Mark
Kabel, Dana
Kaplan, Barry Jay
Kay, S.
Keaton, David James
Keith, Michael C.
Kempka, Hal
Kerins, Mike
Kerry, Vic
Keshigian, Michael
Kimball R. D.
King, Michelle Ann
Kirk, D.
Klim, Christopher
Knapp, Kristen Lee
Koenig, Michael
Korpon, Nik
Kovacs, Sandor
Kowalcyzk, Alec
Krafft, E. K.
Lacks, Lee Todd
Lang, Preston
La Rosa, F. Michael
Larkham, Jack
Leasure, Colt
Leatherwood, Roger
Lee, M.A.B.
Lees, Arlette
Lees, Lonni
Leins, Tom
LeJay, Brian K. Jr.
Lemming, Jennifer
Lerner, Steven M
Lewis, Cynthia Ruth
Lifshin, Lyn
Lin, Jamie
Lodge, Oliver
Lopez, Aurelio Rico III
Lorca, Aurelia
Lo Rocco, Brian
Loucks, Lindsey
Lovisi, Gary
Lucas, Gregory E.
Lukas, Anthony
Lynch, Nulty
Lyons, Matthew
Mac, David
MacArthur, Jodi
Macor, Iris
Madeleine, Julia
Malone, Joe
Manteufel, M. B.
Manzolillo, Nicholas
Marcius, Cal
Marlin, Brick
Marlowe, Jack T.
Martyn, Clive
Mason, Wayne
Massengill, David
Mattila, Matt
McAdams, Liz
McBride, Matthew
McCabe, Sinead
McCartney, Chris
McDaris, Catfish
McFarlane, Adam Beau
McGinley, Jerry
McElhiney, Sean
McLean, David
McMannus, Jack
McQuiston, Rick
Mellon, Mark
Memblatt, Bruce
Memi, Samantha
Merrigan, Court
Miles, Marietta
Miller, Laurita
Miller, Max
Mintz, Gwendolyn
Monaghan, Timothy P.
Monteferrante, Luigi
Monson, Mike
Mooney, Christopher P.
Moore, Katie
Morgan, Bill W.
Morgan, Stephen
Moss, David Harry
Mullins, Ian
Mulvihill, Michael
Murdock, Franklin
Muslim, Kristine Ong
Nardolilli, Ben
Nazar, Rebecca
Nell, Dani
Nelson, Trevor
Nessly, Ray
Nester, Steven
Neuda, M. C.
Newell, Ben
Newman, Paul
Nielsen, Ayaz
Nienaber, T. M.
Ogurek, Douglas J.
Ortiz, Sergio
Pagel, Briane
Parr, Rodger
Parrish, Rhonda
Partin-Nielsen, Judith
Penton, Jonathan
Perez, Juan M.
Perl, Puma
Perri, Gavin
Peterson, Rob
Peterson, Ross
Petroziello, Brian
Pettie, Jack
Petyo, Robert
Picher, Gabrielle
Piech, JC
Pierce, Rob
Pietrzykowski, Marc
Plath, Rob
Pletzers, Lee
Pluck, Thomas
Pohl, Stephen
Pointer, David
Polson, Aaron
Power, Jed
Powers, M. P.
Price, David
Priest, Ryan
Prusky, Steve
Pruitt, Eryk
Purfield, M. E.
Purkis, Gordon
Quinlan, Joseph R.
Ram, Sri
Ramos, Emma
Rapth, Sam
Ravindra, Rudy
Rawson, Keith
Ray, Paula
Reale, Michelle
reutter, g emil
Rhatigan, Chris
Ribas, Tom
Richardson, Travis
Richey, John Lunar
Ridgeway, Kevin
Ritchie, Bob
Ritchie, Salvadore
Roberts, Paul C.
Robertson, Lee
Robinson, John D.
Robinson, Kent
Rodgers, K. M.
Roger, Frank
Rogers, Stephen D.
Rohrbacher, Chad
Rosa, Basil
Rose, Mandi
Rosenberger, Brian
Rosenblum, Mark
Rosmus, Cindy
Rowe, Brian
Rowley, Aaron
Ruhlman, Walter
Rutherford, Scotch
Saus, Steven M.
Savage, Jack
Sawyer, Mark
Sayles, Ryan
Schneeweiss, Jonathan
Schraeder, E. F.
Schumejda, Rebecca
Scott, Craig
Scott, Jess C.
Scribner, Joshua
See, Tom
Seen, Calvin
Servis, Steven P.
Sexton, Rex
Seymour, J. E.
Sfarnas, John
Shafee, Fariel
Shaikh, Aftab Yusuf
Shea, Kieran
Shepherd, Robert
Sim, Anton
Simmler, T. Maxim
Sin, Natalie L.
Sinisi, J. J.
Sixsmith, JD
Slagle, Cutter
Slaviero, Susan
Sloan, Frank
Smith, Adam Francis
Smith, Ben
Smith, C.R.J.
Smith, Copper
Smith, Daniel C.
Smith, Paul
Smith, Stephanie
Smith, Willie
Smuts, Carolyn
Snoody, Elmore
So, Gerald
Sojka, Carol
Solender, Michael J.
Sortwell, Pete
Sosnoski, Karen
Sparling, George
Speed, Allen
Spicer, David
Spires, Will
Spitzer, Mark
Spuler, Rick
Squirrell, William
Stephens, Ransom
Stewart, Michael S.
Stickel, Anne
Stolec, Trina
Straus, Todd
Stryker, Joseph H.
Stucchio, Chris
Stuckey, Cinnamon
Succre, Ray
Sullivan, Thomas
Swanson, Peter
Swartz, Justin A.
Sweet, John
Tarbard, Grant
Taylor, J. M.
Thoburn, Leland
Thomas, C. T.
Thompson, John L.
Thompson, Phillip
Titus, Lori
Tivey, Lauren
Tobin, Tim
Todd, Jeffrey
Tolland, Timothry
Tomlinson, Brenton
Tomolillo, Bob
Tu, Andy
Ullerich, Eric
Valent, Raymond A.
Valvis, James
Vilhotti, Jerry
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Walsh, Patricia
Ward, Emma
Ward, Jared
Waters, Andrew
Weber, R.O.
Weil, Lester L.
Weir, G. Kenneth
White, J.
White, Judy Friedman
White, Robb
White, Terry
Williams, Alun
Willoughby, Megan
Wilsky, Jim
Wilson, Robley
Wilson, Scott
Wilson, Tabitha
Wright, David
Young, Scot
Yuan, Changming
Zafiro, Frank
Zapata, Angel
Zickgraf, Catherine
Zimmerman, Thomas
Znaidi, Ali

bscream2.jpg
Art by Brian Beardsley 2009

B Movie Scream Dream

 

 

Kent Robinson

 

 

 

          I starred in another movie last night.

 

          No, wait a minute, Rusty.  Now hold on just a minute.  Let me buy us another round so I can tell you about it.

 

          What do you mean, you’re tired of hearing about my stupid dreams?  I have to sit and listen to you talk about your cute, adorable, perfect children all the time, so the least you can do is listen to me when I want to tell you about my unusual dreams.

 

          CiCi!  Another round, please.  And bring some more chips.

 

          So anyway, last night’s movie was being filmed outdoors.  Actually, since I’ve had so many of these seemingly-related dreams, I’m not sure whether they’re supposed to represent separate films, or whether they are different scenes from the same film.  Either way, she is always in the movie—the dream—with me.  And she always plays a very sexy vampire.  That was true last night as well.

 

          I know we were outdoors, because we were in a thick fog.  The stuff was almost impenetrable.  Yet, every so often, it would swirl a certain way, and I could see cameras and lights set up in the near distance, with cameramen and technicians operating them.  Always the cameras and lights—and microphones, too.  That’s how I know I’m in a movie.  I’m not sure how much good the lights did in the fog—or the cameras, for that matter—but they were there nevertheless, and they were being used.  Then again, what do I know about moviemaking?  I don’t even watch movies.

 

          Oddly enough, there’s never a director.  Every movie has a director, right?  Even I know that much.  Or, if there is a director, he never says anything, so I don’t notice him.  Or her.  Whatever.  When the dream begins, it’s as if I’m in the middle of a scene, and I always wake up before somebody yells, “Cut!”

 

          Thanks again, CiCi.  Keep the change.

 

          Like I said, the gorgeous B movie queen appeared with me again last night.  You know, the one whose head I carved in two with an ax last time, and she still didn’t die, and I woke up screaming and sweating.  Guess you can’t kill a vampire with an ax to the noggin.  Obviously she and I are in some kind of low-budget horror flick.

          The woman is fabulous looking.  You’ve heard me describe her: tall— I’d say she’s five- ten if she’s an inch—long, wavy hair, legs with quivering, shapely thighs, major-league bazooms, nicely-crafted collagen lips, a healthy-looking, creamy skin tone . . .  Creamy and screamy, that’s Desdemona, all right.

 

          I’m not sure how I know her name is Desdemona; it’s just something I’m aware of in my dreams.  You’ve had that happen, certainly:  You’re dreaming, and you know things, and you don’t know how you know those things, but you do.  And to make matters even more complicated, I don’t know whether Desdemona is her real name or the name of the character she plays in the movie.  Not that it’s important.  The crucial thing is, how I keep having these movie dreams, and Desdemona is always there, too, and when she’s about to sink her lengthy fangs into my neck, I wake up, terrified.

 

          No, I don’t want to hear about your darling Donny and his tricycle dream.  I already sat through your recounting of his adventures at Little League yesterday.  Pay attention, Rusty.  I’m in the middle of a story here.

 

          In last night’s dream, I’m outside in the fog because Desdemona has chased me from the castle.  She’s as determined as ever to kill me, to make me one of the undead.  I’ve managed to get ahead of her by a good distance, but I know I can’t keep running forever, that I’ve got to come up with some kind of plan.

 

          I race into a nearby forest.  The fog is less thick, but it’s still pretty bad.  Suddenly I trip over a length of heavy rope that’s coiled in the dirt beneath a tree.  Who knows why it’s there.  But I realize the rope is my ticket to safety:  If I can’t kill Desdemona, I can at least trap her.

 

          I climb up onto one of the lowest limbs of the tree, a heavy one about twelve feet off the ground.  I curl one end of the rope around the tree limb, once, and make a noose with the other end.

 

          Almost as if it’s scripted—and then I remind myself this is a movie, so it is scripted— Desdemona appears out of the fog and stops beside the tree, directly below me.  As usual, she’s wearing one of her sexy outfits, playing the part of the ultimate seductress: knee-high black boots with six-inch heels, a black bikini, and black gloves stretching up past her elbows.

 

          As she lingers there, glancing left and right in an effort to figure out where I’ve gone, I lower the noose and quickly swing the bottom end of it under her chin, catching her off guard.  I yank up firmly on the rope, pulling Desdemona off the ground as she hisses angrily.  The upward motion causes the noose to draw tighter around her pale neck.  She can’t escape.  As we’re performing, so to speak, I catch myself thinking that this seems awfully realistic, considering it’s only a movie.  Don’t they portray stuff like hangings by using special effects or something?

 

          CiCi, you’re a real mind reader.  Thanks for the fresh beers.  And keep the change, my dear.  No, Rusty, don’t worry about it; you can get the next round.

 

          Okay, so with one hand I manage to pull up on my end of the rope, the end that’s wrapped loosely around the limb.  I pull Desdemona far enough off the ground that I can let go of the rope with my other hand.  Now I wrap my end around the tree limb several more times and then tie it securely.  Desdemona is dangling and writhing down below, making endless choking noises and clawing at her throat.  I’m feeling quite satisfied with myself now; once I leap down from the tree, I’ll be able to run all the way to Timbuktu before Desdemona can get free.

 

          What I don’t realize is that the rope is rotten, and at the exact same moment I hit the ground rolling, I hear a loud snapping sound that at first I fear is one of my leg bones breaking.  But instead it’s the rope.  Desdemona falls to the ground, landing right beside me.  Before I can climb to my feet and take off, she lunges on top of me, the noose still wrapped around her neck, and opens her mouth wide, getting ready to take a big bite out of my neck.  And then—

 

          You’re right, Rusty, then I woke up in a cold sweat, horrified and gasping for air, just like all the other times.  Seconds before Desdemona kills me, I always wake up.

 

          What do you suppose these weird dreams mean?  Do you think they represent something sexual?  I mean, other than her fangs and the fact that she’s a vampire, Desdemona is one irresistible babe.  The skimpy costumes she wears make her doubly so.

 

          No, Rusty, I know you’re not a shrink.  Yeah, well, so you’re tired of hearing about my dreams.  You said that already.  But what are friends for?  You are my friend, aren’t you?

 

#                    #                    #

 

          I take note of the lights, the cameras, and the technicians.  I’m not sure where the director is, or even who he is.

 

          The scene we’re filming is supposed to be in the corner tower of a castle.  The movie is set in the 21st century, but Desdemona and I have come to the castle because it’s an English vacation retreat for young lovers.

 

          No dialogue in this scene.  My character has, only minutes earlier, discovered that Desdemona is a bloodthirsty vampire.  I am both shocked and emotionally crushed.  I had planned to propose to her on this trip, but now I know that’s not going to happen.

 

          Desdemona has been chasing me all over the huge structure.  I’ve managed to thwart her numerous times, but now I’m trapped up here in this tower.  I hear her killer heels clicking against the cement steps as she slowly ascends them, drawing ever closer to the tower entrance.

 

          Quietly sucking in my breath, I hide behind the closed door.  With any luck, maybe I can jump her from behind and propel her out of the tower’s open window.  Surely not even a vampire can survive a fall that precipitous.

 

          The heavy wooden door creaks open slowly.  Desdemona enters, looking left and right but failing to see me in the shadows behind the door.  She is wearing that scandalous red one-piece I bought her before we left on this trip, along with a red pair of thigh-high bitch boots.  She’s always enjoyed dressing up in incredibly sexy outfits.

 

          Without hesitation I leap onto her bare back, and she goes stumbling forward.  She’s a big, strong girl, so she’s able to support me, however awkwardly.  I lean into her as much as I can, forcing her to stagger ahead, one step after another.  A few more feet, and we’ll be at the window.  She tries to pull me off of her back, but I’ve got my legs wrapped tightly around her midsection.  My hands are tangled in her thick, black hair.  Ambushing her was probably foolish in the extreme; the tiniest slipup by me, and Desdemona will sink her greedy fangs into my flesh.

 

          We arrive at the window, which is about waist high.  As Desdemona struggles to spin around, trying to move away from the opening, I grab her by the throat with both hands, squeezing with all my might.  Now we are facing each other.  While I strangle her, she opens her cavernous mouth, her sharp fangs gnashing at the air.

 

          I get her back arched over the bottom of the window, and I push her far enough out that her feet leave the ground.  But then we get stuck.  I dare not let go of her throat, and meanwhile she’s grasping the inner sides of the window, preventing me from pushing her out any further.  As perverse as it may sound, with her scantily clad groin pressed solidly against mine, I find myself getting somewhat excited . . .

 

          She knees me in the nuts, and I double over sharply, my hands sliding away from her throat and passing across her sizable breasts.  She grabs my wrists and uses my weight to pull herself back into the tower, then shoves me away from her.  I stumble backward, falling to the floor, my balls aching like mad.

 

          Desdemona advances toward me, grinning wickedly, her fangs in full view.  She’s ready for dinner, and I’m on the menu.

 

          Panic overtakes me.  I don’t remember this part being in the script.  I thought I was supposed to succeed in pushing her out of the window.  Isn’t this the final scene?  What’s going on?  Should I ad lib?

 

          Standing along the curved tower wall behind Desdemona I see—

 

          Rusty?  Rusty?  What the hell is my friend Rusty doing on the set?  He’s wearing sunglasses and one of those dorky director’s caps, but I still recognize him.

 

          “Kill him, Desdemona, kill him!” Rusty yells.  “Keep the scene going.  I’m so sick and tired of hearing about his fucking dreams.  Finish him off, and then perhaps I’ll be able to drink a beer in peace.”

 

          Desdemona dives on top of me, knocking the wind out of my lungs.  She grinds against me with a lustful vigor, lowering her fangs to my neck.

 

          I never hear Rusty yell, “Cut!”

 

 

reflection.jpg
Art by Jeff Karnick 2011

The Reflection

 

 

Kent Robinson

 

 

          Eldridge first saw the semi up ahead when he was on an Arizona back road, just a few miles northeast of Kingman.  Traffic was fairly light, with most of it coming from the opposite direction.  Two private planes were flying ever lower as they approached Mohave County Airport somewhere behind him.

 

          The semi rolled slowly along the straight stretch of road, its driver obviously in no hurry to reach his destination.  Eldridge, for now, was equally content to take his time as he followed the truck; the route was scenic, and he was on his way to see his mother-in-law, which he wasn’t at all thrilled about.

 

          He was on vacation.  Today he had planned to go fishing with his son down on Martinez Lake.  But the boy’s mother had thrown a wrench into those plans.

 

          She had come up missing.  Again.

 

          Both of Eldridge’s parents had disliked Stacia Reynolds from the very beginning.  They were disdainful of the apparently loose circumstances resulting in her birth.  Audrey Reynolds, Eldridge’s mother-in-law, had never married, and the identity of Stacia’s father was, as far as the two women closest to the matter could determine or were willing to say, a mystery.

 

          Stacia had inherited her father’s tendency to disappear.  This was the sixth time she had done so since marrying Eldridge.  Once police had found her stoned out of her mind in the hallway of a seedy motel in Berkeley, California.  Another time a group of kids had come upon her, sober but not uttering a word, sitting on a bank of Lake Havasu, gazing out at the slate-gray water.  Eldridge had been most riled up when Stacia had abandoned Thomas as a baby and run off to her mother’s house.  Eldridge had come home from work to find Thomas crying in his crib, with diapers that needed changing and a belly that needed feeding.  Audrey Reynolds had eventually gone to a pay phone and called Eldridge to beg him to “come get your wife, she’s driving me crazy.”

 

          Both women held strange aversions to technology.  Neither of them owned a cell phone, claiming they were afraid of brain cancer, and Audrey didn’t have a telephone of any sort, probably as a means of dodging creditors.  Stacia didn’t drive; she’d taken her unannounced trips in buses or taxis, by hitchhiking, or by relying on her fringe-element friends to transport her.    

                                                                                                                                                                    

          One of the numerous psychiatrists Eldridge had hired for Stacia over the years had diagnosed his wife’s repeated disappearances as a function of her depression.  Whatever.  When the woman refused to stay on her prescribed psychotropic meds, how much could any psychiatrist really help her?

 

          So Eldridge’s parents were taking care of Thomas, and he again found himself heading to his mother-in-law’s house to find out if Stacia was there. 

 

She’d been missing for nearly a week.  He’d reported her disappearance to the police four days ago, but they still had no clue as to her whereabouts.  Sometimes she returned home on her own, but normally that would have happened by now.  If anything pertaining to his wife could be called normal.

 

          Before Thomas was born, Eldridge had regarded his wife’s behavior as merely irritating, only far enough off the radar to generate short-lived yelling matches between them.  In more recent years, however, her conduct had become something more, something darker:  Nowadays she was a danger to herself and irresponsible toward their child.  He’d had enough of her babbling about “barely escaping” or warning anyone who would listen that “they’re out there” every time the cops located her or she came stumbling breathlessly through the door.  Eldridge had certainly stopped listening; he’d grown tired of getting no answer that made any sense whenever he tried to make her explain who was “out there” or from where she had supposedly escaped. 

 

Craziness, he had decided.  Bat-shit craziness.

 

Eldridge had reached the point where he had decided to divorce Stacia.  Given the circumstances, he was almost certain he would be awarded custody of Thomas.

 

          During his upcoming visit with Audrey Reynolds, he would tell her that he was planning to end his relationship with her daughter, whether Stacia herself was on hand to be informed of this or not.  That would spare him any future trips to see the bony old battle-ax.

          The semi was moving slower than ever.  Eldridge was close enough to make out the Idaho license plate on the back.  Traffic coming from the other way had thinned out, so he decided to pass the truck before they got into winding hill country.

 

          Angling into the left lane, Eldridge began to go around the huge vehicle.  When he accelerated up as far as the semi’s rear wheels, he got a good look at the sidewall of the semitrailer: silver-colored, mirror-like, portraying a shiny reflection of the passing desert with its bristly hedgehog cacti and yellowish brown sands.  The sun, high off to the left in a clear blue sky, brilliantly illuminated the flowing landscape image on the truck.  Eldridge could see the front of his tan-colored Infiniti at the back of the reflection.

 

          Everything about the truck spoke of cleanliness, from the green tractor to the fuel tank to the wind deflector to the tires themselves, backed by seemingly spotless mud flaps.

 

          Eldridge accelerated, but suddenly the truck did, too.  He made it up next to the gap between the two sets of tires on the semitrailer but then could gain no further ground.  Never before had he seen a semi speed up so quickly.

 

          All right, asshole, he thought.  I just want to get by you and be on my way.

 

          Gazing to his right, Eldridge saw the entire length of his car reflected in the side of the semitrailer.  His reflection was looking back at him through the open car window.  He took note of the red cap and the sunglasses he was wearing.  The real Eldridge smiled broadly, but it didn’t appear as if the reflection returned that happy expression.

 

          Eldridge slipped back behind the semi as an SUV approached from the other direction.  The semi slowed down to its previous rate of speed, for no apparent reason.  The SUV blew on past, and the wind in its wake blasted over him, though not with as much force as a thought that exploded inside his head.

 

          The reflection.  His reflection.  It had been staring at him from the passenger’s side of his reflected vehicle.  Hadn’t it?  Wasn’t the side of his car that was reflected by the truck the passenger’s side?  And hadn’t his own reflection been sitting in the passenger’s seat?

 

But that was impossible.

          The more Eldridge mulled it over, the less clear it became in his own mind.  He needed to take another look.

 

          So again he swung over into the left-hand lane, ultimately intending to pass, and again the semi gained speed.

 

          What’s this guy’s problem? he thought.  Is he playing a game?

 

          As before, Eldridge was able to gain on the semi only far enough to center his car in the reflection on the trailer’s side.  After that, the semi matched his speed.

 

          Eldridge’s reflection had removed his seat belt and was hanging halfway out of the passenger’s window, waving wildly at him to stay back, a look of obvious concern contorting his features.  The cap flew off of his reflection’s head, and the gust of wind carried it completely past the back of the truck, beyond the scope of the reflection.

 

          Feeling almost idiotic, the actual Eldridge patted the top of his head.  He was still wearing his cap.  He was still wearing his seat belt.  And he was lodged comfortably and properly in the driver’s seat of his car, not hanging out of the passenger’s window and gesturing like a madman.

 

          What trick was this? he wondered.  He scanned the length of the truck, including the tractor, in search of any writing that could provide identification, but he found none.

 

          His reflection continued to wave for him to get back behind the semi.  But the real Eldridge wanted to pass.  He had made up his mind to get to his mother-in-law’s house sooner rather than later.

 

          He also wanted to avoid the telephone pole that he struck going seventy miles an hour, but in the blink of an eye, he lost control of his car.

 

#                    #                    #

 

          The state trooper was in a hurry to finish up his paperwork and get home early.  He’d promised his wife that he would take their son to Little League tonight.

          “So this fellow tried to pass you,” muttered the trooper, “but he lost control of his car and hit the pole.”

 

          The driver of the semi, which was parked a short distance away on the opposite side of the road from the twisted wreckage, nodded gently.  The jowly man wore mirrored shades and a nondescript blue cap.

 

          “Yes, sir,” he said.  “That’s about all there was to it.”

 

          Another trooper, kneeling out of sight as he searched in and around the demolished car, finally popped into view, looked over at his partner, and shook his head.

 

          “There’s just one problem,” said the first trooper as he noted the other man’s negative signal.

 

          “What’s that?”

 

          “We are unable to find the driver of that car.”

 

          The semi driver said nothing.

 

          “Willie over there has searched the wreckage and the surrounding area at least three times,” the trooper went on, “and yet . . . there’s nobody.”

 

          “How in the world do you explain that?” asked the semi driver.

 

          “I can’t explain it.  You got any thoughts?”

 

          “No.  None.  Maybe his body burned up or something.”

 

          “There would still be bones.  A tuft of hair.  Clothing threads.  Something.”

 

          After a long silence, the semi driver said, “Well, officer, I’d like to get going, so—”

 

          “I’ll walk you back to your truck, if that’s all right.”

 

          “Sure.”

          As they approached the big semi, the trooper said, “So what do you haul in that monster, if you don’t mind my asking?”

 

          “Carnival equipment,” said the driver.  “It’s a traveling show.  I’m on my way back to Idaho for the season closer.  Winter’s coming.”

 

          “No doubt.  Hey, who’s that supposed to be?”

 

          The trooper pointed at an obviously excited man whose face was painted on a small section of the otherwise mirrored truck.  He wore sunglasses and a red cap, and his mouth was agape in a silent scream, with his hands raised on either side of his head.

 

          “Just some guy getting a thrill at our crazy show,” said the driver, stepping up into the semi and starting the engine.  He waved goodbye to the trooper.  “Hope you find your body.”

 

          “Thanks,” said the lawman, waving back.

 

          The semi rolled out onto the road with loud grumblings and disappeared around a distant curve.

 

Inspired by Mark Short

 

 

 

Kent Robinson is the author of 150 published stories, some of which are collected in his two published books, Bears in the Punch Bowl and Other Stories (AuthorHouse, 2004) and Why You Should Shudder: 27 Tales of Terror (AuthorHouse, 2008).  His third book, with more stories, is done but not yet published.  He is a former public relations worker for the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  He's a graduate of Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana.

In Association with Fossil Publications