11,041 vagabonds plus:
a man outstanding in his field
Starry Night by Alex Ruiz
There were those who said he was so lost he'd forgotten the color of the sun. But in his unbearable world, color was still his passion, and like his friend Rico, a street musician playing by ear, he could paint by ear with his eyes shut. In a blooming pasture, small flickering candlelight and a crescent white moon not only illuminated his blank canvas and brush, but the sun-yellow flowers. "I'll make the sun come out at night", he laughed out loud.
He looked up and scanned the horizon above the distant sharp outline of the church steeple. He began! - impatient brush strokes in true-to-agonizing-life, peace at last as he heard someone calling his name far away. He touched the back of his hand to wet cheek not even aware he had been crying. Over the top of his flimsy easel he saw all the homes darkened in the village.
'Aye. She were the H.M.S. Stainforth. A fine vessel. Presentable with two 70mm guns, hidden and called upon in mere moments. Confiscated Fiat-Revelli machine guns firing smooth and cool. Cooled by water, did you know'? He was silent. 'A crew of sixteen. Twelve gone'. He swallowed hard and looked away.
photo credit: R.A.D. Stainforth
'The sky was leaden, single-engine Fokkers darting, and corkscrewing down. So close you could see burnt oil on their goggles. You could see their clenched teeth. They seemed easy pickings at first, yet they stung us badly. When we fired the 70s, the vessel rocked. The captain had the glasses glued to his eyes. He was shouting orders but no one heard. My ears were ringing and I could feel the heartbeat in my head. I seen two of my panicked comrades just abandon aft like a ceremonial march off a gangplank. I called to Robert to take over the machine gun. The look in his eyes - ghostly, unblinking - I'll never forget it. A strike from above put a hole in his chest'.
He slammed his fist on the stained mahogany table. A small wave of my ale spilled over the rim of the mug. 'He was my friend'.
Two gray-haired men entered and went to the bar. They looked around the establishment with wonder as though it was their first time, the bartender knowing better. Greasy clothes staining the red vinyl seats.
'She was damaged badly, taking water like she was thirsty. Flooded up to the turrets. I scurried up to the bridge. The captain had both hands frozen on the helm. The sun came out just then and lit up the wheel house. I was calm then, glad to have my final place in the sun on the water. Then I heard her sigh as the hull split open, endless bullets forming new rivet holes.
"Captain", I called, "we're going over".
"We're going over", he repeated over and over in a weak, distant voice, looking at me, face pale with a creased forehead.'
The bouncer had the two gray-haired men by the collar and shoved them out into their very own place in the sun.
'What happened then,' I asked.
'We went over'.
'Get a load of that'. He pushed his hat up, the inside dark brim drenched in three year sweat.
'What'? his wife replied, tired of saying what.
'There'. He slowed the car, rolling off onto the gravel. 'Miss Bizarre spinning rope'.
'She's looking for fresh underground streams'.
'Hell, you're thinking of a wishbone twig'.
'Oh. Yeah. Forget it'. She raised her green-lens, white-framed sunglasses and blinked.
'Well, maybe that's a new tack searching for oil,' she offered. She watched him wiping his hat. 'She certainly has got you bothered'.
He smiled. 'Clearly she wears the pants in her house. And I bet she needs a drink out in the blazing sun. Invite her over.'
He rolled the car closer in low gear, no tracks in the hard earth.
She motioned her over. The roping continued, oblivious to her audience of two.
'Hey!' She choked, as she was dry too. 'Hey!' Better this time, and the lassoing lady stopped.
The woman moseyed over, rope in hand, bending down to the open car window, peering over the top of her shades. The man had never witnessed violet eyes as those, and muttered "damn" under his breath.
'What the hell'? she hissed in a vulgar, smokey voice. She smelled of a pleasing peppery perfume.
'You thirsty'?, they offered in duet.
'You got it, give it, I'll take it, George'. She tipped the bottom of the dark bottle towards the noonday sun.
'Who's George? Is your car broken down'?
She ignored them. Wiping her mouth with her arm, she took a step back, seemingly inspecting their dusty automobile.
'What a dump'. She took another long drink.
Elizabeth Taylor, Set of Giant
by Frank Worth.
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