A Bit of Fiction

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By Marty Finley


Home was a curbside shack or a park bench in Honolulu for Maggie. The scenic cul de sacs of California were revolving mirrors in her wayfaring eye — optical illusions on the dashboard of an El Dorado in warp speed. She loved afternoon cinema and canned yams, both components of a too-far-gone life, loaded with essentials she never cared enough for to pack. Shrouded in the miseries of a trombone player, she prowled the night life of San Jose, looking for something to keep her yearning, if only for a heartbeat of time. Decades of caked-on intensity sat on her lap as she played patty cake with his daughter of three. A loathing inside of her burning, pointed at the man in the two-toned suit — his brass accoutrement aimed with passion at customers, yet thrown with fury at her. She wanted to take the bus to Memphis and see the ghouls of Beale Street, yet she knew they were fossils made of dust. The neon lights of the sunset strip were a reminder — an eternal postcard for her lonely subconscious. The musky pool hall was an entrapment designed to thrust her into the spotlight, yet it was so glaring that her eyes leaked tears. She debated the Socratic Method with a small German boy named Leopold, looking to venture beyond the rote trappings of a nightclub. Home was the soda fountain on 85th street or the sandy beaches of Cozumel for Maggie. The winding stairways of an embellished ballroom, lined with embroidered gowns of resplendent beauty, appealed to her, a lowly merchant trapped in a marina in Tampa. The lulling tide kept the whales at bay, but the barnacles leapt for her, chaining her into place. Her footing was stifled in the sand, each leg lazily dragging after the other until she felt like she had dozens of appendages. Starved imagination lay broken at the lip of the sea as she sang shanty songs her father taught her in Baltimore. Home was a table brimming with breakfast treats and a pacifier drowned in saliva. Nineteen-forty-six was a mint year, packaged and handled with care, improving with age and experience, cultivated like a fine wine. The year she was birthed into existence. The bus’s roar sounded to her like a gentle hum, bleating forward promises of a shimmering paradise of gold. The next stop would be the right one; the next destination more consoling. The bus’ steady rocking shook loose memories beautiful and new horizons tempting. Each mile taken by Maggie upheld a declaration to deny obscurity’s clutches and embrace recklessness. Lurching forward, the ramshackle transportation died in the rainy streets of Memphis as the sound of jazz horns catapulted into the night sky.  Life would blossom, and then stagnate, in the den of blues musicians — longing returned to Maggie’s mind. A bus pulled up to the curb where Maggie stood. The starless night was as cloudy as her mind. Life lay just around the corner. Home is anywhere but here. Marty Finley is a reporter at The News-Enterprise and dabbles in satirical writing and fiction. He is currently working on his first novel.