FREE FICTION: “Natalie” by Bruce McAllister

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“Natalie”
by
Bruce McAllister

I’m not going to give my name. You can figure it out from the forty years of articles.  Some of them say three other people, but there were four of us with her on The Rebel, the fifty-eight-foot Bristol yacht moored that night near Catalina Island’s Avalon Harbor, just off the California Coast.Continue Reading

FREE FICTION: “Even When You Try” by Bruce McAllister

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Even When You Try
by
Bruce McAllister

She insisted from the first time we met — which was after work, at a diner on Melrose, looking at each other down the counter and speaking at last — that she was the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe, and in the end I did believe her. At first, I didn’t know what she meant. I hadn’t looked at her eyes enough. I hadn’t yet discovered the mole she kept covered with make-
up. She was an exhibitionist, sure, and beautiful, and could do things to you with her voice the way MM could (or so they say), but I didn’t really know what it meant for someone to live every day like that, being someone else, someone who’d died, who’d killed herself. I didn’t know she’d beg me to take her to plays and at intermission look for erudite men who (like Arthur
Miller, the first husband) might be playwrights. She’d say, “Let’s go talk to that guy — the one with the wool jacket.” Because she was so pretty, the guy would’ve already noticed her and didn’t mind our approaching him, didn’t mind talking to us, or to her. I didn’t know it would mean that even when we were just walking down Santa Monica Boulevard she’d be looking for guys with faces like that baseball player, Joe DiMaggio. It was sad how desperate she was, as if looking for her first love, or only love, or a father she’d lost.  She’d wear dresses the wind could move easily, and she’d stand over grates in the street (LA does have a few) waiting for her dress to be blown up by the wind and paparazzi to appear suddenly and take pictures, but it never happened. She just stood there waiting. She hung pictures of Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy — both of them — in our bedroom on Helena Court, and looked at them sometimes; but when she did, it made her cry, though she wasn’t sure why, she said.  She hadn’t known Bobby all that well, she said.  When she was unhappy, the sex was great, as if she could forget herself just a little, but I also know she wanted, in the middle of it, to call me by a name other than mine. She never did.  She didn’t want to be that cruel even if the entire thing — being a famous person instead of just a girl from the old housing tracts of Torrance — was a living hell for her, even if I didn’t matter really who I was because I wasn’t any of the guys she actually wanted and needed, any of the guys who could have kept her from killing herself and didn’t. I just wasn’t, so when the time came, I helped her with it. It was the least I could do.

Bruce McAllister is an award-winning West-Coast-based writing coach, writer in a wide range of genres, consultant in the fields of publishing and Hollywood, workshop leader and an “agent finder” for both new and established writers. As a writing coach, he specializes in all kinds of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and screenplays.

FREE FICTION: “Love Story” by Bruce McAllister

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Love Story
by
Bruce McAllister

When I was forty, I had a girlfriend who was a lot younger. She had red hair, like me, and the difference was enough that some people thought she was my daughter. It didn’t bother me then, but it does now, with all the time I have to think about it in this house, trying to hear what she might say.  What was it like for her, our being together? Did she feel as important in our relationship as she was to me, or less, because I was older? Was she unhappier than she seemed but didn’t want to tell to me? Did it remind her of other relationships she’d had? Maria didn’t have much money, but she was scrappy, and for about a year she bartered with a guy for what she needed — car repairs, appliances, a TV. At one point, she agreed (I told her I’d help — I wanted her to know how much she meant to me) to clean the inside walls of a house off “E” Street, that really tough part of town. Iron bars on windows, cracked stucco, dead lawns, dogs with scarred faces, all of that. There were reddish streaks on one of the walls in the house. We scrubbed and scrubbed, but they wouldn’t go away. A neighbor, a big woman, dropped by twice and stared at us, especially Maria. We heard later that a young red-haired woman who looked like Maria — no husband, a young daughter, miserable in life — had been screwing the husbands in the neighborhood and finally been killed by two of the wives and in this very house. With knives. It was her blood on the walls, we were told, and no one could get it out. “If you can find someone who looks like her and make them do it,” an old woman on the block had said, “it just might work.” The wives wouldn’t let us leave until Maria tried, so she did, and I helped. But even though we scrubbed so hard the drywall finally came off in our hands, we couldn’t do it, and when we couldn’t, when the blood was still there on the walls, the wives killed us, too, with the same knives and with that old woman’s blessings. “You’ve both got hair just like hers,” we could hear her saying as they cut. 

Bruce McAllister is an award-winning West-Coast-based writing coach, writer in a wide range of genres, consultant in the fields of publishing and Hollywood, workshop leader and an “agent finder” for both new and established writers. As a writing coach, he specializes in all kinds of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and screenplays.

“My Girl” by Bruce McAllister

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My Girl
by
Bruce McAllister

I suppose I love her. I know she loves me. We’re quite a pair at night, walking the alleys of the old parts of the city, the junkyards, the tougher residential areas, where the dogs are bigger and meaner—which is what she likes.

She likes me to watch.Continue Reading

CD eBook Spotlight: The Girl Who Loved Animals by Bruce McAllister

Cemetery Dance is famous for its long-running magazine and its impressive span of collectable print editions, but we’ve also been quietly building an extensive list of eBooks. We’ve started this column to draw attention to eBooks that some of you might have missed.

This installment is devoted to Bruce McAllister’s story collection, The Girl Who Loved Animals. Continue Reading