Sunday, March 22, 2015


Curt was one of those guys that just sort of fall into your life. We had enough in common that we could hang out and enough not in common that it wouldn't be a daily thing. But when we were both stood up or unattached on a Friday or Saturday night, somehow we would end up together, usually in my parent's den, watching TV and drinking my dad's cheap, and I do mean cheap, beer. He would get the generic beer from the store that came in a white can that said BEER on it, or, god forbid, those little 10 ounce bottles of Lucky or Schaefer. Curt and I would sit back there and drink that crap all night long, with an occasional stop out in the back yard to smoke a little pot.

We both drew, though Curt was more into the "high art of it all" and I was just trying to put together a comic book. We would watch bad TV, drink bad beer, talk about the ladies we were not fornicating with and draw stuff. We would fold an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper in half and then fold it again to make four 8 1/2 by 2 3/4 inch panels. One of us would start out and draw a character from their head to their shoulders, then mark on the next quarter page where the shoulders ended, then fold the paper over to the next blank panel and hand it off. The new artist would draw a character from the shoulders to their waist, mark the next panel and fold it over again. The first guy would then draw the waist to the knees and mark them and the other guy would draw the bottom of the legs and any foreground he wanted.

Then we would have an unveiling of our masterpiece. OK, we would usually go out and take a hit off the joint first, but we would eventually get back the unveiling. Sometimes it was real strange what we had drawn. It was a way to pass the time with no female companionship as it were. I kind of liked those times, even if I wasn't getting any. The only thing I didn't like was how cheap Curt was. OK, we were both drinking my dad's beer, but Curt would smoke my cigarettes.

"Hey man, can I bum a smoke?"

"Hey dude, you got an extra smoke?"

He stopped asking that one once I started replying, "No Curt, they only put 20 in this pack."

Strange good times from my youth that would have been a whole lot better if Curt was not such a scrounge.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Growing up I was always breaking things, so much so that I considered myself to be a real schlemiel and I was so unlucky I felt like an honest schlimazel. Of course, not being Jewish, I never used those words to describe me. No, I just felt I was the focal point of bad luck and the epitome of clumsiness and it embarrassed the hell out of me.

I remember my parents bought a glass-top table for the dining room and one day I was leaning on it and the glass shattered. I felt mortified and I remember going to my room and crying for what seemed like hours about it, my mother coming in every now and then to say it was not my fault, just an accident. But I knew. I was so embarrassed, it was my bad luck.

I remember later playing whiffle ball at a friend’s house where we had made a baseball diamond in his side yard, with wooden bases and how I hit a home run and in running the bases I cracked home plate in two when I stepped on it. They called me a cloddish, clumsy oaf. I was embarrassed, but I didn't cry in front of them, I waited till I went to bed that night for that. I was a schlemiel and a schlimazel, and it seemed like my childhood was a long list of embarrassing events strung together, a gauntlet of humiliation that I had to traverse to reach adulthood.

I remember the first time I met my fiancé's parents. It was at a high-end restaurant and they had gotten there first. They both stood as we approached the table and Tina said, "Daddy, this is Tony. Tony, my Father." He had one of those firm let's-just-see-what-the-hell-you-are-made-of handshakes that try to crack your fingers, but I was prepared for that and gave as good as I got. I think he was impressed.

Tina's mother was a rare, stunning beauty, almost regal in looks and demeanor. "Momma, this is Tony. Tony, my Mother." She had a presence about her. I almost felt I should take her hand and kiss it, but I didn't. Instead I bent slightly at the waist and shook her hand gently and as I did so, I broke wind.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


“I’m not sure why I’m here. I dint do nuthin’”

“Well sir, if that proves to be true, you have nothing to worry about.”

“When can I leave?”

“Once you prove that you, as you say, ‘dint do nuthin’’.”

 “Sure, it be your show. Wha’chu wanna know?”

“Mr. Hebert, you want to talk about the Simonson girl?”

“Not sure what there is to talk about, I dint do nuthin’ to that girl.”

“But you know her?”

“Sure man, dat girl been on the block since she was jus’ a little wee one. You know, all dem kids they play in da street and in da empty lots. They even got themselves a fort over on Elm in dat big oak tree in the field ova’ by Chacharee’s place.”

“So you do know the Simonson girl?”

“Sure, I know her. She dat little pretty one with the silky brown hair, goes down her back in a long ol’ pony tail. She a real cute one dat girl.”

“Mr. Hebert, how well do you know the Simonson girl?”

“Call me Boudreaux, we may not be friends but dat no reason to not ac’ friendly. Marie Simonson, her daddy may not be Cajun, but her mamma be a bayou girl through and through, and little Marie, she take after her mamma, don’chu know.”

“How so Mr…”



“She got the olive skin and the dark eyes, and she already takin’ afta’ her momma, you know what I mean?”

“How so…Boudreaux?”

“Dat little girl got the fire in her blood dat make a man take notice. She what, only 11 I guess, but she already got her some woman titties, you know? She run home from the bus stop every day an’ I see her bouncing down the street. I think her’s gonna be bigger than her mamma’s and dat is sayin’ a lot, you know?”

“When was the last time you saw Marie Simonson?”

“Cain’t really say.”


“Don’t rightly remember the exact day, the exact time.”

“Did you see her come home from school on Friday?”

“Ooh, yea sir, I do believe I did enjoy dat show on Friday. Bounce so nice they do, don’chu know? She was wearin’ her little shorty pants. They was so tight it was almost obscene, the way her little butt was showin’ out the bottom of her shorty pants. Little girls like dat, they shouldn’t be teasin’ dat way. They should be taught better at home than to prance around with their big woman-like titties and their cheeks showin’ out their shorty pants. The kids these days, they jus’ don’ know how to act anymore. I blame’s the parents.”


“She had to be taught some manners don’chu know? Cain’t be teasing a man like dat.”

“Of course not.”

“Man can only take so much teasin’, then it be time for action, you know?”

“Sure, I hear ya.”

“I’m getting’ tired. When can I leave?”

“Not for a while Boudreaux, not for a while.”

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


I should be feeling pain, I should, but I don't. I don't feel anything and I haven't in weeks, not since I came home early and found Joanie with my best friend and business partner, Carl. I lost my wife. I lost my job. I lost my meaning for living. They had had me completely fooled; I had no idea there was a problem in my marriage. Maybe...maybe that was part of the problem, that I didn't know something was wrong. How could I have been so sure about two people, the two people closest to me in all the world, and been so wrong?

 I can't eat, I can't sleep. I can't work, hell, I can barely function. Joanie filled my world with love and my partnership with Carl filled it with meaning and now both are gone, leaving me empty and hollow.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Less Tasting

Matt pushed the cart through the crowded store as his friend Chris led the way, “Over here dude, the beer aisle. I know what would be great for the party; let’s get some Miller Lite!”

“Chris, seriously, why would you want to get Miller Lite?”

“Dude, it’s less filling and it tastes great!” taking a bow as he did so, as if he had just quoted Shakespeare.

“Chris, calm down for a minute and think about what you just said.” Chris looked at Matt, a confused expression on his face.

“First of all, you said it was less filling, how do you figure that?”

“It’s got less calories.”

“So, it is still 12 ounces of liquid and 12 ounces of liquid, no matter how many calories it has, will still fill your stomach up with 12 ounces of liquid.”

“But the calories…”

“Don’t make it any less filling, just less caloric.”

“But…but…” Chris looked like someone had just told him there was no Santa Claus.

“And secondly, you said it tastes great, and we both know that’s bullshit. It tastes like watered-down Miller and when was the last time you drank Miller?”

“Well, uh, I…hum, that is, ah…”

“Exactly, if watered-down Miller tasted great, everyone would be drinking Miller and nobody drinks Miller. So, it isn’t less filling and it doesn’t taste great.”

“So you pick the fucking beer then!”

“I will,” and Matt picked up a case of Hanger 24 Orange Wheat and set it down in the cart. “Let’s go get some chips.”

Chris now lagged behind Matt and the cart, the wind seemingly gone from his sails, his face a cross between dejection and concentration. Something was bugging him. He suddenly ran forward and grabbed the cart, bringing it to a halt. “Hold on a second, you’re trying to make me look stupid; ounces aren’t always the same size.”

“Of course they are, Chris. What are you thinking?”

“No, no, no man, you aren’t fooling me. An ounce of gold is real small like, but an ounce of something like balsa wood or cotton is much bigger, and, and it’s the same with lite beer.”

“Yeash, Chris, an ounce of gold is a different ounce than an ounce of beer.”

“No it’s not man; now you’re the stupid one. An ounce is an ounce.”

“Chris, an ounce of beer is a fluid ounce, it is a measurement of volume, of size, as in ounces in a cup or a quart. An ounce of gold is a measurement of weight, like ounces in a pound. They are not the same thing buddy.”

“Don’t fucking ‘buddy’ me, you asshole! I’m gonna have my own party so fuck you!”

As Chris stormed off Matt just shook his head and started looking at chips. At least Ruffles did have ridges. 

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

One Cool Cat

He was the coolest dude in the room. The collar of his leather coat was up high, providing a backdrop for his face. The coat was open and the collection of gold chains around his next sparkled in the light of the club as they danced in the tufts of chest hair peaking out from his silk shirt. He wore a smug expression, accented by his five-o'clock shadow and dark piercing eyes.

He wore one gold earring, a subdued bit for him; he didn't want anything to take way from his hair. It was blonde and spiked and at first glance looked disheveled and unkempt, but on closer inspection, every spike was neatly configured and in synch with the spikes next to it for optimal effect. Under the colored lights of the club it looked like his head was a flaming mass as he strutted towards the bar. Every woman in the room had her eyes on him, wishing he was theirs, every man did too, wishing he would leave and now. He was one cool cat.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


The coaster was a monster, not in size but in the amount of physical damage inflicted on your body. The wooden skeleton, groaned and shook and twisted and bent as the cars made their way around the rusted and worn track. The first big turn approached and, as Billy watched the front cars rumble through the bank, he saw two pairs of sunglasses go flying off of screaming faces. His back was already feeling the effects of the pulsating track transferred through the coaster's wheels, chassis and seat and right into Billy's spine. Good lord, it is only the first turn. This was going to hurt.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


It was dark but Jason and the others stealthily made their way through the orchard of pecan trees. The moon had already set and the sun was hours from rising, Jason was tired, they all were, but they kept on moving. There was no time to rest, who knew when the massas would notice they were gone and when the hounds would be put on their trail.

 Jason heard a stirring behind him, back the way they had come. What was that? Horses! It was horses. He began to run, passing the other slaves in his group, pushing his legs and his lungs harder and harder, separating from the group. They were following him, but that would not do, As he ducked through a line of underbrush, he turned sharply to the left and headed for some trees in that direction and was down in a gully when the others broke through and headed on in the direction he had been running. He followed the gully till he hit the trees then blew through them. Up ahead he heard rushing water. Coming through some overgrowth he found himself in midair, the ground gone and only a rapid river below!

 This was good! The water would pull him down the river and any hounds would lose his scent. If only Jason knew how to swim! They didn't teach their niggers to swim for just this reason. Harder to escape. The water was rapid and pulled Jason along. He flailed, He sunk. He arose. He took in huge gulps of air and even bigger gulps of water. He hit rocks and rolled off them. Whenever his feet hit something solid he pushed forward, always forward.

 His body smashed into a massive boulder and the air was knocked from his lungs. He spun over the top of the rock and fell head first into the raging river. His head careened into the river bottom and he flipped his legs over his head and pushed off, gasping as he made the surface! He flailed about, trying to stay afloat but he was sinking again, the water seemed deeper here. He was pulled under and hit another rock. Pushing off he found the surface again. Then his feet hit something and he pushed forward once again and he was out of it. The rushing water was behind him as he made his way to the shore.

 He collapsed on the shore in some thick weeds unable to move any further. Suddenly, off in the distance he heard a number of gunshots and his energy returned. He got to his feet and headed north. North was West Virginia. North was freedom.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Eighty-Seven Miles

According to the crumpled paper in my hand, my life will change in eighty-seven miles. The blue line on the map clearly delineates my destination. I've been practicing what to say for days, months...hell, years; almost all my life really. I have always loved the feel of cool air blowing on my face, but the air conditioner is sending a chill across my shoulders and down my spine. Is it really the air, or the coming words that brings the feeling of unease? First impressions as they say...

Twenty-three years is a long time to wait; I have to get it just right. In my mind I practice some more.

"Ronald Stansky? My name is Melinda Connors. Samantha Connors is my mother and I'm your daughter. Nice to meet you." OH crap that sucks. Eighty-six miles to go; keep practicing. What's the worst that could happen?

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Von ran across the field, looking back over her shoulder, scanning the sky behind her. There was a swarm of black dots in the sky and they were getting closer and larger. Her breathing was strained and her heart was pounding loudly. Another glace behind and the dots were much bigger and sprouting wings. It was an unkindness of ravens and they were zeroing in on Von.

She turned back forward and gave it all she had, her trench coat flailing as she churned her legs. Another glance; they were almost on her. She felt her body buffeted as the ravens attacked. Claws dug into the fabric of her trench coat and, beaks pecking. They were all over her. she swatted at them to no avail. The claws were gouging into her skin. She unfastened the belt of her trench coat and tore it open dropping it along with the birds as she streaked away, in more ways than one. She forgot that under the trench coat she was naked.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 23, 2015


At some level everyone knows they are going to die. Some people it keeps awake at night and some it keeps in their house and hidden away from the rest of the world. Then there are those, usually young people, who all but deny this simple truth. The thought of our own mortality is more of an abstract concept for people. It's like a faraway country that you have never been to, but have heard a few people talk about; you know it is there, but you just don't have a solid, concrete, grasp of it.

 I think part of the reason for that is the uncertainty of it all. No, not that it will happen, but when it will happen. You read stories of people waking up, getting ready for work, having breakfast, kissing the wife or husband goodbye and then while driving to work a piece of pipe comes loose from a plumbing truck ahead of them on the freeway and before they even have a moment to register what is happening, a lead pipe has gone through their windshield and through their brain. A fraction of a second and a normal day is the last day on earth.

 I am jealous of those people. Their uncertainty regarding death never metamorphosed into something else, something darker and wetter. Something that slithers around you and crawls up your leg, nips at your neck and breathes hot and wet into your ear. Ah, to be one of the uncertain; how I wish.

 I know when I am going to die. I have already seen my last sight. My last smell is that of the urine flowing down my legs. My last taste is the bile coming up from my stomach, and my last sound, well next to last sound, is the Commander of the squad yelling, "Fire!"

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


After the love of my life died, my world just seemed to self-destruct. My friends tried to help me stay afloat, to keep a positive attitude, but they were of no help. They said all the wrong things without knowing it. How could they not? None of them had any idea that I had killed her.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The House

I’ve always hated my brother, but his insistence on demolishing Mom and Dad’s home has really upped the tension between us. Neither of us would move from our entrenched positions. Now that they are both gone, Kerry thinks we can maximize our profits by tearing down their house and putting up something more suited to the upscale neighborhood. My counter has always been that we all grew up in that house, Mom died in it and that was where we all lived when our sister, Lisa, went missing. The memories far outweighing any financial gain.

Now he has forged my signature on an agreement with a contractor and they are scheduled to demolish the house today. I had to get there first. But when I turned the corner onto Third Avenue, the flashing lights halfway up the block told me I was too late.

They had found her.

You have to understand, I never meant to hurt her. I loved Lisa. She was my baby sister, a pain in my ass, then a blossoming young woman. Don’t you dare judge me! I’m not interested in your shocked surprise or your outdated morals. I loved my sister, in every way a man can love a woman…and she loved me back. 

Things started to go south when Lisa became pregnant. I couldn’t understand how that could happen; we always used protection. I wanted her to abort the child but she wanted to keep it. She wanted us to move out of state and live as husband and wife, but hell, she was only sixteen.

Then one day she told me that she had retrieved my used condoms and had inseminated herself. She wanted my baby, she wanted us to be together and wanted to force the issue. I was furious and slapped her, just trying to show my displeasure, only, I hit her too hard and she fell and hit her head. It was an accident damn it!

I wrapped her in a plastic tarp, took her out to the desert and buried her, along with our love letters.  That seemed to be the end of it. She was a missing persons…still is. Life went on.

My brother has the same blue eyes as Lisa. It only made me hate him more.

A few years later we had that 100-year storm. The basement flooded and didn’t drain right. Water pooled in the corners and one of the walls partially collapsed. Kerry was gone by then and Dad’s stroke had left him immobilized. I offered to fix the basement; relay the floor and repair the wall. No one saw me when I made Lisa’s tomb in the wall or when I brought her remains back from the desert. I needed an insurance policy, so I fabricated new love letters.

I had wanted to be here when they found her and the letters and see the look on Kerry’s face as they put him in cuffs and hauled his sorry ass away.

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bad Timing

“Captain to the bridge.”

Kirk rolled off of Yeoman Rand and walked over to the intercom, the sweat dripping down his naked body. He punched the button, “On my way Mr. Spock.”

He glanced back at Janice Rand and chuckled, “My Science Officer has the worst timing in Star Fleet.”

Copyright 2015 Barry Keller. All rights reserved.