Writers in Residence: Warmed and Bound
August will be a bit of a departure from our latest "Writer in Residence" series, and instead present writers, a collection of them in fact! The Velvet, an online literary community, released its first print collection last month to a rousing success - the book sold so rapidly that it temporarily broke Barnes & Noble's website (which is a very dark story on its own...). This month, we'll roll out two stories per week from some of the writers featured in the book, concluding the month with Mlaz Corbier's latest Dispatch from Thunder Road as he tracks down the wily and elusive Pela Via, hard-working editor of the Warmed and Bound collection. Some of these stories are stand alone works, some are previously published in print, but appearing online for the first time, and others are tangential to the stories you'll see in the book. Enjoy the ride!
Warmed and Bound is available from Amazon.com and many other fine online retailers (and a few not-so-fine ones).
I’m waiting for Suzannah to get home smelling like four different kinds of cock. This shitty ground-floor apartment in a shittier part of town is a jail. Self-imposed. The hideous scar spiderwebbing across my forearm makes it a life sentence. A constant reminder that I’ll never get out alive, that she owns me.
It is like drowning—except where there should be water—there is my grief. I live in the shadows, always on a delay, a dull echo filling my head with murky tar. Everything is hollow around me—the apartment flickering shades of gray, boxes and spaces that make no sense to me. The harsh lighting of the diner is a magnifying glass bearing down on me, burning me to a crisp as the dishes and metal play a symphony for the dead. As a waitress I can wait for nothing, constantly itchy and unsettled. The word home has lost all of its meaning.
Sepp and Arlo Clancy raised rabbits and chickens but the chickens always died. One night Arlo pulled up, big wheels rumbling over the cattleguard. He hopped out, tiny beads of sweat poking through his fresh shirt where the seat belt held him, and thumbed the black plastic button on the porch door. Hit him immediately: chicken sizzling and popping in a grease Jacuzzi.
The air, thousands of blades rushing over the evershifting earth. I walk nameless and faceless through a featureless land beneath an unremarkable sky for I don't know how long or why. All white, the sky and ground connect past my sight and I walk in a bubble blaring with light. No edges, no lines, just billions of grains drifting past my shuffling feet. Every minute lasts the year and every mile takes me nowhere.
When you pop your knuckles you can't wear rings, or at least that's what he told every girl that ended up in a place she thought shit like that need be discussed. A name lay across the meatiest part of his hand, between the thumb and forefinger, and rippled green-black as his hands contorted. Ten pop-gun blasts in rapid succession and there was nothing else to be done with them, so he tucked his hands between his knees and wished the light wasn't so goddamned orange.
He had this magic trick, my granddad. Said he learned it from a truckstop wizard somewhere near El Paso. This was back before the cartels made them highways impassable to any guerro, before they stretched out like elder tree roots throughout the border states. My granddad, Willie, he'd come up to one of the grandkids, us, with a cigarette perched on his grin.
I noticed it first at the second meeting. His hands were smaller, and when he held the metal high-dive model complete with board and splash, it appeared much bigger than it did in my hand. He asked, “How much water will it hold?” I advised him against adding water to avoid rusting of the metal, at which point he became very animated. “It must hold water! What’s the point of having a high-dive feature with no water?!”” I told him I could treat it with special paints. “And after you do, how much water will it hold?” he asked. A thimble full, I replied. “Good. Good.”