One Trick Pony

For the last fifteen or so years I've been living with a bunch of dead guys at a motel in West Texas. Like the characters in my stories, I'd really like to move on, see the world, go places. But I'm just like them. Anchored by love, worn down by circumstances and fascinated by how much there really is underneath it all. So I keep writing their stories and tell myself that someday, when I've got this all out of my system, I'll write deep, meaningful literature about... something else. In the meantime, this is a place for the short attention spanned. I'm making a commitment to keep it small here. Flash fiction and scenes from the life inspired by, The Bella Vista Motel.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, July 23, 2010

They Left Her In An Alley

Ruby sat up straight, leaning forward slightly in her seat on the bus, trying not to sweat. The heat of the coming day had let itself be known right away and she did not want to ruin her dress with perspiration stains. Nice dresses didn’t come from nowhere, she had to save up long and treat them like royalty. She’d paid dearly for the turquoise-colored sundress that until then had never seen the sun.

She would take it off and put it in Lux to soak as soon as she got home. Then she would take a bath. Her nerves were shot, but a long cool bath would set her straight. What had that poor, dead girl in the alley been planning on doing when she got home? Maybe soak her feet? Waitressing was hard on the feet…

She felt shaky and stripped of the top layer of her skin as the bus lumbered along. You know you’re a ghoul when an hour or so of morning sunlight makes you feel like you’ve had a day at the beach, she thought. She tried to remember the last time she’d been out at this time of the morning and came up blank. The bus was so goddamn slow with all the cars on the road. Daytime had far too many people in it. She sighed. It was going to take her twice as long to get home.

The bus pulled up to a stop and the exchange of bodies took place. She couldn’t help noticing that a different sort of crowd rode uptown later in the morning. Not the domestics and laborers she was accustomed to seeing. So many young, or recently young people, scrubbed and stiff. All of them were white, the back of the bus was empty. Where were they all headed? Office desks uptown, surely. But what did they do all day?

She glanced over at a very young man with smooth shiny cheeks and oiled brown hair so neatly combed you could see the tracks left by the comb’s teeth. He felt her eyes, looked up at her and stared briefly, then turned away quickly and she watched his ears go red.

She tried to picture him working; the desk, the papers… the what? She couldn’t finish the image. Instead her mind automatically started to assess his sexual tastes. What was his button? Panties, she guessed. He was so young; she bet he still peeked at his sisters… He was straining his peripheral vision to see her while he pretended to stare just off center.

She could see his pulse beating in the side of his neck. She stared at the spot. The girl in the alley, her throat was cut there, right there…

His skin bulged with each beat until a lump the size of a marble strained, then split open. Blood gushed out over his shoulder. He lost his battle with himself and glanced back at her, smiling shyly while his immaculate white collar turned scarlet and his shiny cheeks drained of color.

She grabbed hold of the seat ahead of her and put her head down, squeezed her eyes shut, and breathed slow and deep. Her heart was racing and her fingers quickly went numb. I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine, she breathed in and out, I’m fine…

After a moment she opened her eyes and forced herself to look at the boy. He had turned away and was looking out of the window, his smooth young neck unmarred. She stared down at her lap for a few minutes, smoothing and re-smoothing the fabric of her dress, letting the color soak into her eyes. Color always helped… turquoise and all the shades of sky and water. She could live without so much, but not color, that was a life or death need.

When she finally felt calm again, she glanced around at the women, like a flock of sparrows scattered throughout the bus, and was struck by their dull tones, plain unadorned features, not a one of them making the most of her looks. A woman a couple of rows back had nice bone structure and the kind of eyes that probably would have opened up and sparkled with the tiniest touch of make up, or even a bit of color in a scarf. What was she wearing? Mushroom beige? Could you even consider that a color?

She, too, caught Ruby looking at her, but instead of embarrassment, the woman gave her a glare of disapproval and a deliberate turn of the head.

She was used to that look – that "how dare you call so much attention to yourself" look. It had nothing to do with morality. Ruby didn’t look like a straight-up whore on or off the streets. Or at least she didn’t think she did. She tried not to; that’s why she bought nice dresses and good quality accessories. She wore make up, but didn’t showgirl it. She showed off her figure, but didn’t flash too much bare skin. No, it was something else.

It seemed to her that it was her color that other women resented, the red hair, the bright white skin, the blue eyes. People couldn’t help but look at her. They could look away, but she left afterimages in their eyes. Ruby drew attention. She always had. She was so used to being looked at that she had to try to imagine what it would be like not to be noticed. Like not really being out in the world? Like being a ghost, she thought. Like being untouchable. Safely out of reach.

Was that it? Were they trying to be like those little brown sparrows that hop around under bushes, darting out now and then to peck up a crumb? Don’t see me, nothing here for you. Don’t hurt me, I’m small and quiet, I’m not trying to draw any attention. Protect me; I’m good and pure. She saw a cat in her mind spring out of nowhere and swipe at a sparrow before it could fly away. With one quick motion the bird was in the cat’s mouth, little bird bones crunching, feathered wings lost of flight in pitiless jaw, shiny eyes, cheep, cheep…

She burst into tears. People stared; uncomfortable glances passed between a few, but all quickly ignored her as she struggled to stop crying. She pawed desperately through her purse for a hankie, her head bent down and to the side, the tears dropping straight out of her eyes onto the floor. If you’d have shed a tear… the detective had said. She found the hankie and covered her face, trying to hide behind twelve square inches of linen. I’d have offered comfort to you, if you had shed a tear…


  1. I really enjoyed this. So much emotion under the surface and right out in the open. Excellent descriptions throughout, as well.

  2. What a powerful piece, which the imagery weaved right in. You have such a gift Pamila.

  3. Amazing as always. I almost wonder if you could streamline the description a bit, especially in the beginning, to get to the conflict faster. But you really build a coherent world well.

  4. The power of the story NOT told in this is awesome, how you communicated so much in the undertow of flashback and recall. Incredible work here, Pamila. Another great piece.

  5. It's great to have people who would comfort you for a single tear. It's terrible not to notice them, even if that means going happy.

  6. Pamila, very few people in the blogosphere take me to a different time and place. And you do it every week with such gritty elegance.


  8. Thanks for your comments, it means a lot that I have friends who read and come back weekly. I really do appreciate it, especially since so many of you are talented writers whose work I also enjoy. Sorry for being quiet all day, I'm under the weather.

  9. amazing story. You drew me in and wouldn't let go. I am going to be thinking about this all day.


  10. My favorite weekly stop Pamila, awesome as always! $$$

  11. "Daytime had far too many people in it." heh, how true, great line.

    Loved the bit with guy's vein exploding.
    Luscious piece this, from the emotion to the imagery

  12. Beautifully descriptive, Pamila. Your stories always draw me in and hold me captive. Great job, as always.

  13. Luscious and gorgeous, this, a real treat. "Daytime had far too many people in it" is such a true and stellar line.

    You have a gift, Ms. Pamila, a gift.

  14. Nice one, Pamila. You get inside this girl's head so easily. This is something that i'm working on ... it's hard for me to get into a character's head and then put it into words. You do it flawlessly. Well done.

  15. Pamila, if I didn't know better, I'd swear you WERE Ruby! This story is so colorful and captivating. I enjoyed every line of it, but I particularly enjoyed the paragraph involving the poor little sparrows.

  16. This weaved and darted and suddenly, was in my face, then retreated again... your story was like a dance with the reader.

    Beautiful imagery, insightful descriptions and Ruby is a very intriguing woman.

  17. Wow, Ruby is a really interesting character. You let me see the world through her eyes, without me even noticing what you were doing.

    There are roiling emotions here, not quite held in check. I am hoping this is a piece of a much larger work - because there are so many questions...

    Excellent, excellent piece.

  18. I have to confess that I love this character. Ruby "appeared" fully formed into an existing storyline of the first novel, turned everything upside down and became an important element in future stories. I'm glad you guys like her too, even in this little slice, where she's not at her best.

  19. Hey Pamila,
    I'm not familiar with this gal, the story must have taken a different twist. Such suspense you have here. I esp like the analogy of the sparrows and cat. Dark scene, dark characters and what a hell of way to fade out...

    Excellent (as always). Loved your interview too. Keep it up, girl!

  20. Just saw the comment you left on WildCard. Thanks so much for reading and the compliments! Means alot coming from you. <3

  21. so much evocative, rich writing here. My favourite being "The bus pulled up to a stop and the exchange of bodies took place". Wonderful

    marc nash

  22. This is the first piece of yours I think I've read, and must apologise for not finding your work sooner. This story is beautiful, your descriptions and attention to detail are fantatsic. Lovely imagery throughout.

  23. As always, I love your work...I can see all of this happening in my mind's eye as I read it. Very powerful descriptions.

    Ruby red hair and turquoise are such a lovely combination!

  24. Colorful and captivating from beginning to end...I think what really makes this work so well is the strength of what isn't said. Great imagery and such a really strong visual feel. Loved this!

  25. May I just echo what Ant said? I'm late due to traveling last week, but I just had to get over to read your flash. I look forward to it each week. You are such a fabulous word-weaver Pamila. Fabulous!

    P.S. It's early morning here now and I listened to birds chirp as I read this. It was almost as if I were your MC.

  26. Please just one person on the bus reach out to her and offer some comfort. Wow, that was tremendous can't believe its taken me this long to met you and Ruby.


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