‘Refuge’ by Samuel Stevens

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“Now,” the older man in the passenger seat of the pickup truck said, “this is all out of my hands. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t put you in this position.” He held his hands up, visible only from the glow of the instrument panel.

“You’re awful quiet back there Jayden,” the driver said. He took the curves of the winding mountain road without slowing down. The chassis of the truck bounced and rattled.

“Now,” the older man said, “I don’t want you to go home to your pretty little wife and tell her we threatened you. Joe and I, well, we didn’t want it come to this.” He spoke as if he was comforting someone.

“Your wife has a real nice ass,” Joe said, cutting the wheel to get around a curve. Jayden lurched over in the back seat and the older man glanced back at him and then looked ahead. He did not brace himself when Joe made a turn.

“Now don’t be rude and vulgar to Jayden here.” The older man shook his head. “It’s a damn shame it had to be this way,” he said. He paused and sniffed. “What is that?” He unrolled his window and took a handkerchief from his pocket.

“He’s gone and pissed himself.” Joe wheeled around another curve, straining the truck.

“Don’t tip!” Jayden screamed, seeing the black gorge on the other side. He did not know it was only a twenty foot drop on a gentle curve. They would not die even if Joe lost control.

“Jayden I know you want to help people, and that’s the Christian thing to do. Oh you aren’t a Christian I forgot. Well, what you want to do aint going to help anyone,” the older man said. “According to Big Jim of course. You just can’t bring in any kind of folks you want here. Big Jim says that’s not going to work.”

Continue reading “‘Refuge’ by Samuel Stevens”

‘The Blue Dress’ by Samuel Stevens

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The couple sat in his room. He leaned on the wall. He had movie posters taped to the walls. Hiking gear and military surplus littered the floor. She sat with her legs crossed on his desk chair. She held her head with her left hand. The diamond engagement ring glinted in the light. Her eyes were deep and brown and her dark hair framed her soft face. The only hardness was around her eyes.

“We already have an appointment for the fitting.”

“You can’t wear white.” He crossed his arms. He looked at his icon of the Virgin Mary on the wall. She sat under it.

“My mom and dad are paying for this, and you knew—”

“Well I knew, but you can’t wear white.”

“What will the other people think? What about your family?” She looked down at the floor. “This is my special day. Please,”

He shrugged.

“What will your parents think?”

“I don’t care.”

“Don’t say that. I feel my job is to help you be the best person you can be…oh please don’t look at me that way.”

He grunted.

“We already have an appointment.” Her eyes watered.

“Don’t do that now.”

“Just let me wear white, it’s my day, please, I love you and I want you to love me back the same way.”

“I do but I can’t let you wear white.” He picked up one of the rifles on the wall and shouldered it.

“Can you not do that now?” she said quietly. “We need to talk about this.”

“What’s there to talk about? You can’t wear a white dress.”

She wiped her eyes.

“What’s the matter?” he said. He replaced the weapon. He stepped over a backpack on the floor and put a hand on her shoulder. She covered her face with her hands.

“I’m doing my best.” She got up. His hand fell away. “I don’t know if I can do this. I need to go to my mom’s house.”

“No,” he said. “Don’t do that, come on.”

“I need to go see my mom.” She left his apartment.

He went back into his room and laid down on the bed. The icon of the Virgin stared at him. He could not make eye contact with it.