ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   t. joseph dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Donna Kuhn
   Christopher Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Matt McGee
April 2016
   

 

Not All Who Wander

    Cathi didn’t need a clock. She could tell time based on what was going on outside the wide front window of Ukiah Tool & Equipment. When Bob Farrell honked the horn of his white F-150 in passing every day, she knew it was 11:43am. She’d grab her purse and head to lunch. In the afternoon, the lumber trucks that had passed in a steady stream all day would slow to a trickle, usually right around 4:28pm. Noticing the absence of their rumbling tires and knowing the sawmill closed at five, Cathi would begin wrapping up the days business.
    But, today at 3:58pm, Cathi was twiddling a pencil like a helicopter blade, making small scrape marks in the ledger she kept for Bob Smith. She once hadn’t thought it possible to find a plain old Bob Smith. Then she learned that Ukiah is full of them. They own the right size pants and rarely pull them up. They leave their work shirts untucked and wear baseball caps bearing the name of the local tool shop, where they’ve been spending cash long enough to have earned a freebie.
    It was 4:01pm now, and the man who’d been pacing in front of the T&E for over an hour was no a local. Mid-thirties, he wore a ringed t-shirt, cargo pants, fashionable sneakers. He’d been chattering into a cell phone quite some time.
    Cathi had made two calls to her girlfriend Sharon. Now, she grabbed the phone again.
    “Hello?”
    “He’s still out there.”
    “He is?”
    “Yep.”
    “ What’s he doing?”
    Cathi glanced out the window.
    “Yapping into his phone. Then he goes over to that tree, you know the one by the used car lot?”
    “Yeah. Then..?”
    “Then he just sits. Sits and types into his phone.”
    “What a weirdo.”
    “Every once in a while he goes back to his car. Then he goes back to the tree or starts talking on the phone again.”
    “How long’s he been out there?”
    Cathi checked the sun’s position. “About an hour and a half.”
    “An hour and a ihalf/i??”
    “Yep.”
    “Maybe he’s stalking you.”
    “Don’t be an idiot. Besides, if he was stalking me he’d have to get through Dale first.”
    “And Roy.”
    “Shut up!”
    “He’d have to wait in line.”
    “Sharon, shut up! That is nobody’s business.”
    “Maybe his car broke down.”
    “Tow truck would’ve showed by now.”
    “Well, I don’t know.”
    Cathi watched him. “One thing’s for sure, he isn’t from around here.”
    “Why?”
    Cathi explained his outfit.
    “You’re right,” Sharon said. “He’s from another planet.”
    “Planet Hollywood.”
    The man suddenly hung up his phone, turned and made his way toward the store.
    “Oh my God he’s coming!”
    Cathi slammed the phone down then tried to look natural. The man opened the door with an authoritative swing, the way a man might use gym-toned arms to take hold of a woman. Cathi pointed her pencil at the ledger to imitate work.
    “Hi!” He was still in the doorway, knob in hand.
    “Hello.” Cathi swung her chair to the right and pretended to be typing at her keyboard.
    “What town am I in?”
    That stopped her.
    “What town?”
    Yeah.”
    “Ukiah,” she said. “California.”
    “Okay.” He swung the door closed again.
    Cathi took a moment then snatched at the phone. He swung the door back open.
    “Sorry.”
    “That’s OK.”
    “Is there a diner around? Something that’s not, you know, Denny’s or full of fried stuff?”
    Cathi set the receiver down then looked toward the ceiling where all good answers hang. “Well, there’s the Pickens Café,” she pointed south, “three miles that way. And if you go back to Goodleyville,” she pointed north, “there’s a whole bunch of stuff but it’s mostly Jack in the Box and McDonalds. And there’s the Club Capella.”
    “The what?”
    “Club Capella. It’s down the road about four miles. Kinda pricey but nice. Steaks and chicken, that kinda thing.”
    “Perfect.” He pointed north. “Four miles?”
    “Down and to your right.”
    “On the right. Got it.” He began to close the door.
    “Yeah, I know what you mean about the whole fried thing,” she added. He reopened the door. “Not for me, either.”
    “Yeah,” he nodded and smiled. “Two days on the road. Just can’t take another drive-thru.” He gave a little wave. “Thanks.”
    “You’re welcome.”
    He closed the door, and it stayed closed a moment. Then it opened again.
    “Did you wanna come with?”
    Cathi twiddled her ring-heavy finger.
    “Ah,” he said. “Just checking.”
    “Always worth asking. Take care now.”
    “You too.”
    He closed the door. She watched as he crossed the lot to a silver import and drove away. Cathi speed-dialed Sharon.
    “So?”
    “He asked me to dinner.”
    “I told you he was stalking you!”
    “He wasn’t stalking me. And he’s not a weirdo.”
    “What is he then?”
    Cathi thought a moment.
    “Lost.”
    She would try to refocus on the ledger, but whenever her mind wandered, and it did wander often, her eyes would shoot back to the window and the empty space where his car had been. She thought of her husband, and of her date tomorrow night with Roy at the Best Western.
    She flipped over her watch. 4:52pm.
    She grabbed her sweater and purse and ran to the door.



    The silver import stood out front Club Capella. Cathi strode coolly toward the hostess station.
    “How many?”
    The hostess was young and beautiful. They always were. Club Capella had a long history of attracting upwardly mobile talent.
    “I’m meeting someone, thanks.”
    “Maybe the gentleman in the corner?”
    Across the room she saw the phone pacer.
    “Yes. Thank you.”
    The window beside his table had a full view of State Street, most of the details of which, she thought, were lost on visitors. Cathi strode across the room with all the sex and swagger she’d learned after high school.
    “So I see you found a new window to loiter in front of.”
    He stood and offered her a seat. She waved him off, but when he insisted, she sat. Cathi smoothed her skirt and he slid a dark wood chairs in behind her. Decades ago she’d wiped them down with a bar rag and spray bottle.
    “So,” he opened. “You know the place.”
    “Intimately.”
    “I guess the ring wasn’t heavy enough to keep you away.”
    “Girl’s gotta eat. I didn’t want you to think Ukiah’s an unfriendly town.”
    He nodded then picked up a menu. She did the same and looked out the window. A lumber rig rolled north, bed stakes folded up.
    “What brings you to town?”
    “Highway. Ukiah just happened to come along when I got hungry and tired of arguing.”
    “Arguing with who? Whom. Whatever.”
    “Girlfriend. My ex.”
    “Chased you outta town?”
    “Kinda.” He opened his mouth, then offered his hand. “I’m Ed. Edward if you prefer.”
    “Ed... Cathi. With a C. And an I.” She looked into his eyes. “You were going to say.”
    “I was about to say. Right, the girlfriend. Nasty.”
    “What set her off?”
    He sighed. “I gave flowers to a friend. Single mother without much joy in life. When the girlfriend found out she started a rumor that the single mother and I were hooking up.”
    “Jealousy can run pretty thick in our blood.”
&n bsp;   “For her it’s like a poison she can’t bleed out. Dad’s an alkie, Mom’s a gold digger. She got the worst of both worlds. Drinks herself stupid and trolls the local bars looking for a golden ticket.”
    “Sounds like a catch.”
    “Yeah, like typhoid.”
    Cathi realized she was with a man in possession of a reasonable IQ, who’d likely studied around the world. It made her feel small, undernourished. Her spirit craved something. It made her nervous and foggy to think of what it was.
    “So, you two. Done? Called off?”
    “Off and running. Hundreds of miles away.”
    “So you’re running.”
    “How long have you lived here, Cathi with an I?”
    “Fifteen years. Worked in the same place almost the whole time.”
    “Ah, stability. The bedrock of mediocrity. But, a good quality in a lady.” Ed looked around. “Speaking of which, some shotgun toting husband isn’t going to suddenly pop through the door..”
    “No.”
    “No gossiping little mouths around us?” He looked specifically at the waitresses buzzing about the room.
    “I’m not really… in their class anymore.”
    “Well, I’m not trying to come on to someone’s hot wife but… you’re definitely at the head of their class.”
    “Yeah, like an old school marm. But thank you. In this town, it’s easy to fall from grace.”
    “I can’t imagine it’s a terribly long fall.”
    She paused. “Not sure what that means.”
    “Sorry. I don’t mean to be insulting. I’ve only been here a couple hours but I think I’ve seen the nouveau-riche. Ten year old Mercedes, wearing marked-down, five-year old designer clothes.”
    “OK, so maybe our social ladder doesn’t climb so high. It’s what we have.”
    “So if it’s not what you want, why don’t you run away.”
    Cathi looked into those eyes. “I can’t decide if you’re a prick, or…”
    “Or…”
    “Or if I should tolerate you just long enough to buy me a steak.”
    Ed caught a waitresses eye. A young thing bounced over, ponytail a-wagging. She watched Cathi browse the menu. When she bounced away Cathi watched Edward’s eyes; they didn’t watch the girls ass motor away. Instead, he turned and looked out the window. It was getting dark.
    “See anything interesting?”
    “You tell me.” His gray eyes cut the darkness. “You watch this road every day, don’t you.”
    Cathi sighed. “The most unusual thing I’ve seen out that window in a long time…”
    Edward waited.
    “Is…?”
    “You know.”
    “Some guy on a cell phone.”
    “Pretty much.”
    “I’m flattered. Kinda sad but, flattering.”
    Her shrug made him smile.
    “What do you want, Cathi? Besides a steak from a prick.”
    “I’m sorry I said that. You’re not a prick. Some more intelligent talk would be nice.”
    “Easy. Not getting enough?”
    Cathi shrugged again. “It’s easy for a girl to get laid in a tool store. Find a man who can fuck her mind right, that takes some doing.”
    “What about the men in the background?”
    Cathi leaned back, smile cracking slightly. “Men?”
    “Unsatisfactory husband opens a biiig door.”
    “You’re pretty smart for an out-of-towner.”
    “Ukiah has a corner on the smarts market?”
    “We do. We even have a club. And I’m the president.”
    When the waitress glided up with two of Capella’s finest steaks, Edward & Cathi leaned back and let them be delivered. They spread napkins over their laps then posed forks and toothed knives at their dinner. This time, though Cathi was too busy to notice, Ed watched the young thing bound away.
    “Not bad.”
    “Yeah the meat’s pretty good here, even if it’s a little tough at times.” She cut a square off her New York choice and lifted it to her mouth.
    “I was talking about the local talent,” he motioned with his fork.
    “Oh. Yeah. I guess so. If you like 18 year old community college students. How about you, Ed? Aside from psychotic bitches who start nasty rumors what’s your taste in women like?”
    “I let them come to me.”
    “Oh really,” she said to keep from laughing. “Chick magnet, huh?”
    He sipped his wine and dabbed the corner of his mouth. “No such thing. One guy I knew, but it was really the drugs that kept women close. Certain women. They either wanted to mooch or fix him.”
    “Neither sounds very attractive.”
    “Neither does the DEA knocking down your door at 9am.”
    She nodded, chewing. “That’ll make a guy go limp.”
    “I think the coke did that first.”
    The young waitress bounced past again.
    “So.”
    “So?” She cut her steak again.
    “So how many girls you know that have been discovered here?”
    “You mean, like, been made famous?”
    He nodded.
    “None. That’s not the kind of discovery you look for here.”
    “Hmm. What then.”
    “Speaking as a Capella alumni, Class of ’96, you come looking for someone in a ten year old Mercedes who’ll let you buy clothes off the five year old designer rack.”
    “Sorry.”
    “Don’t be. You were right on.”
    He waved his fork around the room. “So why did you leave?”
    “Bob Smith.”
    He crunched his brow at her.
    “Owns the tool place you were standing in front of. He came in one night with his wife. He’s like a local celebrity. His wife’s a hag. He offered me a job. I thought I had my eye on the right target. I’d come to work for him, woo him away by ‘working late’ and slip right into that house on the hill.”
    “What happened.”
    “Wouldn’t you know I got screwed? Turns out he loves his wife. Idiot. Second day on the job I crawled under his desk, pretending to be looking for something I’d dropped while taking dictation. I’ve always loved how naughty that sounds. ‘Dictation.’ Anyway, I’m down on my hands and knees under his desk and I ‘accidentally’ slid my hand up his thigh. Jesus he jumped like I’d dropped hot coffee in his lap.”
    “You didn’t get fired?”
    “I said ‘sorry, I lost my balance.’ By then I’d been away from Capella too long to get hired back. On Monday, when I realized I wasn’t going to be fired, I pulled my desk up in front of that window and settled in.”
    Edward hmm’ed. She cut into her dinner. She didn’t notice as he gently dropped his steak knife, then leaned under the table to retrieve it. Cathi felt a slow, warm palm slide up the inside of her thigh, saw the empty chair in front of her. His hand was slow, not unwelcome. She caught her breath, letting her eyes close a little.
    “Don’t,” she whispered.
    Edward reappeared. He waved at the young girl for a new knife.
    “Am I fired?”
    She took another bite of steak. “Just.. keep your advances above the neckline.”
    The waitress set a new knife at his wrist, smiled and turned away. “Not gonna lie. The holy land looks pretty nice down there.”
    “All the same I’ve got someone else to pray to it.”
    “Sorry, I lost my balance.”
    “You sure did.”
    They ate in silence. Finally, he said:
    “It’s not enough, you know.”
    “What?”
    Edward raised a hand and motioned for the check. Cathi watched the exchange, confused.
    “Not enough to fuck someone in the head and deny you want to fuck them somewhere else. It’s not natural.”
    “Maybe not for men.”
    “Oh, don’t give me that ‘men want one thing’ line. We’re not just here for steak. But it might just be possible that in your fourteen years beside that window, it’s become more important to stay in control and get your mental orgasm than to consider any other kind might come along with it.”
    The girl slid the check on their table. Cathi waited until she was out of earshot.
    “That’s really not fair. And… what? ‘Mental orgasm?’”
    “Yeah.” Edward glanced at the slip and slid four twenties from his wallet. Cathi felt a rush between her legs and her face grew flush. She watched him slide the bills onto the check tray for the girl.
    Ed pushed his chair out and stood. His car keys jingled. She’d stopped eating and crossed her arms.
    “Running away?”
    “Yep.” He reached out to shake her hand. There was a sincere strength and politeness. His arms really were tone.
    “It’s what I do best,” he said, then stepped away. He passed through a hallway, a small bar, and returned to the light traffic on State Street. He unlocked his car door. A voice called from the dark porch.
    “You’re an actor.”
    Ed froze.
    “What?”
    Cathi appeared on the porch. “It’s what actors do. Create a scene, break a heart and walk off into the sunset. And like all the other actors, you’re a chicken shit. Hiding behind a story. So things with the girlfriend got tough. Big fucking deal. Break up with the bitch. So I wouldn’t let you feel me up. Doesn’t mean I didn’t want you to, maybe later. And you’re gonna walk out on that? Can’t I just let myself enjoy a good mind-fuck, and can’t you just give it to me?”
    He moved away from the car. “What are you saying.”
    She stepped off the porch. “I’m saying get your ass back inside and give a lady what she deserves.”
    Edward rolled his eyes, smiled and started inside. “Suddenly she knows what she wants..”
    She followed, half-shouting, not caring who heard. “Yeah, I do. It’s a hazard of growing up. I don’t expect you to give me a house on the hill or a ten year old Mercedes but you can at least have the courtesy of finishing a lady off. I’ve had enough of men getting theirs and walking off..”
    “You think this is about me getting mine?”
    They approached the table. The young thing was picking up her money. A bus boy had already cleared his plate. Cathi’s was still in his hand.
    “Will you be rejoining us?” said the girl.
    “Yes. May I please have my dinner back,” Cathi said to the bus boy. He set her plate down and ran off for fresh utensils.
    “May I have a cup of decaf, please.” Edward settled back in. “Jesus you step away for a minute and they wipe you away like you never existed.”
    “Where were we.”
    “Yeah, where were we.”
    “You were going to diddle my mind.”
    Edward laughed. He started describing the trip and a book he wanted to write. “I figured it exists somewhere out here. On the road.”
    “Romantic illusion, the road,” she said. “Too many men lost on the road. I see them walking by my window all the time. Carrying their lives on their backs, hair bedraggled and clothes unwashed, still walking around looking for the ‘60’s.”
    “Kerouac’s curse.”
    “I think it’s just an excuse.”
    “For what?”
    “To run away from anything that might ‘control’ you. Rather than stay in one place and fight it out they take off ‘on the road.’ Oh, what a surprise when all those neuroses pop out of their bag in the next town.”
    “Hmm.”
    She watched him, looking down at the table, avoiding her. She leaned down so close to the tabletop her chin practically rested on it.
    “So, this book?”
    “What about it?”
    “Ever going to write it?”
    “Of course.”
    “Well, I’ll have to believe you. But you know, the best books I’ve read have been written by people who toiled over them in their spare time at home, after work, you know, between loads of laundry.”
    He seemed genuinely leveled. He pushed his coffee away.
    “You’re right.”
    She looked at him.
    “Can I go now?”
    “Where?”
    Ed looked out the window briefly. “I’m thinking home. If I leave now I can be home in about 7 hours.”
    They stood. She held out her hand and led him down the hall. Back in the relative privacy of the porch she kissed him, gently first, then deeper.
    “It’s not gonna be seven hours.. ‘cause.. you’ve got at least two hours of work, buddy.”
    He held her door then climbed in on the driver’s side.
    “Wait,” he said. “How do I know you’re not just using this as an escape and I’m helping you avoid whatever’s bothering you?”
    “Would you shut up and drive us to a hotel.”
    “Got it.”



    The Best Western sits atop a slope opposite the city’s hill section. In a third floor room, while Ed showered, Cathi burrowed into the sheets. She looked at the bedside phone, thinking of Sharon. She shook off the thought then strolled to the bay window; the tool store glowed in the overflow of spotlights from the saw mill. She closed the drapes, turned, slid back into bed and waited.
    She start flipping channels, landing on a CSI rerun. Detectives talked about motive, having enough evidence. Then they cut to an interrogation room, where a witness browsed a series of photos. The witness pressed her finger into a black & white mug shot. The detectives looked at each other. Then the camera showed the photo.
    It was Edward.
    Cathi shot up in bed. A few moments later, the bathroom light went off and Edward reappeared. She looked at him on the TV, then where he stood in a towel.
    “I was right.”
    “About what.”
    “You are an actor.”
    He saw the familiar episode. “My last big piece. Hey turn it up, I’m about to die.”
    Detectives in bullet proof vests drew guns and stormed Edward’s run-down house that looked suspiciously like Crenshaw. He foolishly rose from the couch, shotgun in hand, only to be promptly blown away by three merchants of justice. Cue the deep synth music, a close-up of trained law enforcement darting in half-speed through gun smoke. Detectives peered steadily. Justice: served. Witness in the doorway nods slowly. Yes, it’s him. Victim cries. Detective places a hand on her shoulder. Case closed. Music. Credits.
    Cathi watched the scrolling words, alert on her haunches. “There you are!”
    “There I am.” He switched off the TV. “You were right. Actors are good at creating scenes then disappearing into the wings. Tomorrow I’ll get in the car and go home.” He slid in bed beside her. “Start a novel.”
    Cathi kissed his clean-shaven lips. “What’s the first thing you’ll write?”


    In the morning she found the obligatory note. She would eventually dress and head home, but not until after room service delivered a breakfast of champions, the one she’d had after so many nights with Roy. And like a good sundial she positioned herself in the sunlight coming from the window, eating quietly, staring out at the hill section, watching Ukiah beginning to move below, traffic gliding along the highway. She imagined Edward in there somewhere, not lost anymore, no longer wandering, heading now to the next big scene.

copyright 2016 Matt McGee