#FlashbackFriday- Short Story- "Dead Man’s Float"

When I was in middle school I kinda got obsessed with horror movies. I started writing little stories of my friends dying in the worst ways and they were all about it. Every day on the morning bus ride to school one of them would always be begging me to have them killed off in a story and they were so excited to read it. Maybe this was weird? Maybe not? It was fun anyway. 🙂 Here is one for your enjoyment? (Or something?) 


“Dead Man’s Float”
by: Jennifer Patino
Jenn and her friends, Lacey, Brandy, John and Victor were all at Lacey’s parents’ beach house for the weekend. All of their parents had given them permission to go alone as long as they called every day at noon and six pm. Fair deal. They were all down on the beach swimming and watching the sun go down. Jenn and Brandy sat drinking iced tea while Lacey, John and Victor played “Marco Polo”. Brandy soon joined them in the water. Jenn was really having a good time with her friends. It was nice to get away from home. 
“Oh my god!” she heard a shout. 
She quickly glanced toward the water. She saw Brandy and Victor shouting while Lacey’s eyes were wide with horror. 
John was lying face down, dead! Jenn ran over screaming and crying.
“Help him! Oh my gosh!” She rolled John over on his back. “What do I do?” she screamed. 
Jenn looked up to see them all laughing. With a confused expression on her face she saw John’s eyes open. He started laughing too. 
“Gotcha!” he cried. 
“It was just a joke, Jenn!” said Brandy. 
They all giggled hysterically. Jenn’s face turned red with anger. She walked away, hostile, their laughter echoed in her ears. 
*
The next morning, Jenn got up before everyone else. She had locked herself in her room all night and hadn’t talked to anyone. Now she decided to take an early morning swim. She dressed into her bathing suit and grabbed a towel. Then she headed down the beach. 
The water was warm despite the cool morning. It was very refreshing.
Suddenly, she fetl two strong hands push her down into the water. She felt a huge gulp of sea invade her lungs. She struggled and got her head above the surface. She swallowed some air and then was pushed under again. This time it was for a long time. Too long. Jenn’s whole life flashed before her eyes. Then everything went black. 
*
Later that morning, the rest of the gang woke up and decided to take a dip before breakfast.
“Think we should ask Jenn if she wants to come?” asked Lacey. 
“No,” said Victor. “She’s probably still mad at us.”
Down at the beach, they set up a blanket and umbrella. Brandy stared at the waves. 
Suddenly, she gasped. 
“What?” asked John. 
All Brandy could do was point to the water. 
Washed up on the sand was Jenn’s dead body. Her face was pale and bloated. Not too far away from her was a bottle. A bottle with a note in it. 
The note said, “The joke’s on you!
Well, it looks like I killed myself off in this one. This was probably the beginning of it all if my memory serves me correctly today. Everyone suddenly wanted to die a horrible death and I did my best to comply. Oh, man, don’t you all just miss middle school? 😀 

Poetry- "Intramural"

Photo Courtesy of deviantart.com Artist: Yeharoy

“Intramural”
by: Jennifer Ann Margaret Patino

I don’t know what to do with this
planate rhetoric,
courteous conversation,
farewells of foreboding
and you

I will never know what to do with you

Plastered on transgressions
melded with
complacency and
minuscule
(freckle sized even)
moments of compassion

It was attraction,
retraction, minimal action
and satisfaction that drew you to me

It was my crying in sleep
that made you murderous

What became of us?

I flew across rooms,
became accustomed to floors
and slammed doors
I screamed
I begged
I fled

You won
Because you’re in me

My light doused,
I live to forget

Flash Fiction- "Purple Haze"

Purple Haze
by: Jennifer Patino

Cameron sat on her front porch smoking.

It was nearly 6 am.

She dialed Bonnie’s number and found herself unable to say anything after the sound of the beep.

She downed the last of her drink and figured it would be a good time to probably pass out right now since her head was feeling pretty shitty.

She didn’t even make it to her bed…..

* * *

The sound of the phone awoke her.

She grumbled at the thought of being face down in the doorway between her bedroom and her living room.

She walked the three steps to the phone and glanced at the clock as she answered it.

1:11 pm.

“Hello.”  she sounded like a dying frog.

“Hey girl.”  It was Bonnie.

“Hey.”

“What happened?”

“He called.”

There was a slight pause before Bonnie exclaimed, “Fuck him!  Seriously.  And why aren’t you at work?”

“I called off.”

“Hung over?”

“Maybe.”  Cameron really didn’t think it was any of her business.  She drank just as much as anyone else and especially when things got rough.  Bonnie couldn’t be hypocritical about this one.

“Well, have you at least eaten?”  she asked.

“Yeah.”  Cameron lied.

She was on what she referred to as the “model diet.”

Water and cigarettes.

“Cammie, I’m coming over tonight.”

“That’s fine.”  She said.

“Well, ok.  Take it easy and don’t think about that dick.  You’re better off.”

She nodded but then realized that was stupid because she was on the phone and Bonnie couldn’t see her.

She could though.  She could see her matted reflection in the bathroom mirror.

“I will.  See you tonight.”  Cameron hung up the phone.

She showered for the sake of being able to cry in there.  It felt good to her when her tears mixed with the water.

She put on an oversized sweater over a striped tank top and a pair of her jean capris.  She didn’t even bother shaving.  Who really gave a fuck anyway?

She lit a cigarette and realized it would be pointless to hang around here.  A trip to the store was needed anyway.  She was low on TP.

Among her many addictions, Cameron loved shopping.  Most of it was pointless stuff and it was never too much at one time.  It was something to do.  It was something that she felt she owed to herself.  It was the feeling of something brand new.

She drove through the dirty city to the nearest cheap general store.

Some drug dealer was outside and smiled at her.  She smiled back but couldn’t figure out why she was so appealing, especially to guys like that.

Maybe her skinny figure implied that she might have wanted something from him, who knew?

Her signature short “punk” hair hardly implied that she’d be interested in a guy who had a grill and a pimped out Escalade.

Her black mascara and eyeliner to match didn’t either.

She wandered through the aisles aimlessly getting the essentials.

Toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, and some more makeup.

She had just discovered it when Carl left her.

He liked that she was “naturally beautiful.”

She only wore it for special occasions back then.

Now it was another story.

Pile it on like a clown hoping that it will make someone smile.

Maybe even her.

She liked makeup.

She liked being someone else.

The girl who checked her out gave her dirty looks but Cameron remained friendly.  She figured it was because the guy outside was still looking at her.

Smoking his Black and Mild, watching her through the store window.

Cameron didn’t care and ignored him as he said “Hey, baby.  What’s up?” as she walked to her car.

* * *

Cameron stood in front of the mirror experimenting with her new buys.

She liked the shimmery brown and green eyeshadows she bought.

She liked the new mascara.  You could never have enough and it was all waterproof now.

She batted her eyelashes at herself and pretended she was Greta Garbo.

A song came to her then.

“I feel like Garbo in this late night grande hotel….”

But this was hardly a fancy hotel.

It was a shack practically and it was empty.

She couldn’t even smell him anymore.

Why the fuck did he have to call?

She replayed the message on her machine over and over again.

“Cameron.  It’s me.  Call me back.  Let’s talk.”  He left his number and then the beep signaled the next messages she had receieved that night.

They always come back, that’s what she told all her friends when they got dumped.  Most of the time it was true.

Carl had left her without even saying goodbye practically.

Said relationships were too much about sacrifice and that he couldn’t handle them anymore.

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

That was nearly 9 months ago.  She hadn’t even talked to him since that night.  She begged him to let her prove him wrong.  She didn’t feel she was sacrificing anything and felt horrible that he felt that way.

What the hell was he missing out on?

She never stood in his way and always encouraged him to follow his dreams.

“I care about you deeply.  You made me who I am today.”  He said.

“Then why do you sound like some bitter cynic who got screwed over?”  she asked him.

“I’m not.  I just know that right now I can’t do it.  I’m sorry.”

That was it.

That was his goodbye.

Carl hated when people said “I can’t.”

Then there he was in all of his hypocritical glory.

Cameron snapped out of her daze to realize that the doorbell was ringing.

It couldn’t be Bonnie this early unless she had gotten off early.

She opened the door to see Carl standing there.

Time seemed to stand still.

“Hi.”  he said.

“What?”  Cameron didn’t know why she was so bitter.  She just was.

“You never called me back.”  he said.

“I know.”

“Listen, can I just get some of my stuff.  I left a few books and things I’ve been missing.”

“It’s me your missing, Carl.  Admit it.”

He sighed.  “I’m not going to say either way.”

She opened the door slightly, letting him in.

He went straight to their bedroom.

No, it was hers now and she really didn’t even want him in it.

“Everything’s different.”  He commented.

“No shit.”  she said as she lit a cigarette.

“You wear makeup now?” He asked staring at her.

She just stared back.

“It looks….really nice…”  he said.  He meant it too.  There was no sarcasm there.

He looked around as if confused.  He didn’t even know what he was doing there really and she could tell.

“It’s under the bed.”  she broke his train of thought.

“What is?”

“The box.  Everything of you.  It’s under the bed.”

She walked out into the living room and poured herself a nice Sailor Jerry rum on the rocks.  She didn’t even add Ginger Ale anymore.

She could hear him shuffling through the box.  He didn’t say anything but the energy of whatever he was thinking was booming loudly in her ears.

After a few minutes he came out carrying it.

“I guess I’ll just take the whole thing.”

“Leave me Whitman.”  she said.  “That’s all I ask.”

He  nodded and set it on the table.  The book was right on top as she had expected.  It was the one memory he couldn’t have, reading it under the covers aloud to each other at night.  She was claiming that one as hers.

He walked over to her and she tensed up.

“Can I hug you?”  he asked her.

“What for?”  she turned to him, tears in her eyes now.

“Because you look like you need it.”

“Not from you.”  she said bitingly.  He practically flinched.

He hugged her anyway and she hugged back never wanting to let him go.  But she didn’t show it.  She was too damn proud.

“I want to keep in touch.”  He said.  “Whenever you’re ready.”

She nodded and lit another cigarette.

“Until then, take it easy, Cammie.  And remember that I love you.”

* * *

Bonnie was giggling over some story about her boss.

The weed was definitely settling in.  She giggled a lot when she was high.

Cameron set her drink down and took a hit off of the joint that Bonnie passed to her.

She was glad for it, really.  She didn’t want to wake up with another headache and no matter how much Cameron drank, weed would always ease any effects of it.

“You wear too much goddman makeup, girl!”  Bonnie laughed.

“Shut up.  I like it.”

Cameron never told Bonnie that Carl had been there.

She didn’t even want to believe it actually happened.

Just a bad dream.

The whole thing was.

Maybe she’d wake up and Carl would be next to her.

“Let’s go sit on the porch.”  Bonnie suggested.  “It’s a nice night.”

She agreed.

That porch was her best friend besides Bonnie and the booze these days.

The sky seemed to be a mauve color.  It was really tripping her out.

As they smoked cigarettes, Cameron noticed the smoke rising against it.

“Purple haze.”  She said out loud.

“What?”  Bonnie giggled.

“Maybe this is what Hendrix was talking about.”  Cameron pointed at the sky.

“Maybe.”  Bonnie said but she breathed it all in just as Cameron did.

Although it was difficult at times, breathing was all that Cameron could do.

Because the truth of the matter was that you could be breathing without actually having to be alive…..

Short Story- "On a Whim"

“On a Whim”
by: Jennifer Patino 

“Never let laundry be an excuse for not living your life!”  I heard from my bathroom.

“What?”  I said turning from my computer screen.

“Never let laundry be an excuse for not living your life!”  The voice repeated.

“What the hell does that have to do with anything?”

The door to my bathroom burst open and out stormed Eddie Fredericks with a Kurt Vonnegut paperback in his hand.  Eddie Freddy.  That’s what they called him.  It started as a way to tease him in grade school and the name just stuck.

He only read Vonnegut when he was in the bathroom.  He only read anything when he was in the bathroom.

“I’ve got a new philosophy, man.”  He said flopping down on my unmade twin bed that was probably about as comfortable as a cot in some army camp.

“I don’t really have time to hear it, Eddie.”

“Forget that!  You’ve got all the time in the world.  Don’t be a slave to anything, man.  Especially not to laundry.  Next time you tell me you can’t do something because you have to do laundry, I’ll give you some clean clothes to wear!”

I rolled my eyes and went back to my screen.  I was one thesis away from graduating college and this low life idiot was trying to tell me how to live?  I didn’t think so.

“Seriously.  I’ve been thinking a lot about stuff, man.  Life’s too short.  I’ve decided I want to go out on a whim.”

“A limb?”  I corrected him.

“No.  I know what I’m talking about.  A whim.  Do things on a whim.  Go out on a whim.  Cool, huh?”

“Yeah, if you’re completely out of your mind.”  I laughed.

“Whatever, man.  You’ll see.”

The very next day, Eddie started practicing his new “philosophy.”  I was starting to think that it just involved him doing crazy things for attention.  He sold his car and bought a bike.  He quit his job at the local burger place and decided to just do contract jobs wherever he could find them.

Eddie had flunked out of college two years ago and his mother was perfectly happy with having him live in her basement because he kept up with the lawn and maintenance around the house.  At least it was quiet where he lived.  My tiny bottom floor studio apartment was starting to take its toll on me.  Every time the guy above me dropped his shampoo in the shower, I heard it.  It sounded like he dropped an extremely heavy barbell and he did it a lot.

I ran into Eddie at the coffee shop.  He was standing out front with a cardboard sign that said, “Will Dance For Dollars”.

“Eddie.”  I just stared at him.

“What, man?  I’ve always wanted to do this.  I’ve made three bucks so far and it’s only been an hour!”

“When are you going to stop?  What’s the point of all of this?”  He was starting to drive me as crazy as he already was.

“I told you.  I’ve decided to just do what I want to do.  No holds barred.”  He grinned.  “You should try it too, Daniel.  It’ll change your life.”

“Sure it will.”

I left him to go order my latte and almost spit it out when I saw him doing the running man for three giggling middle school girls through the glass.

Eddie took up the didgeridoo.  He started playing it at the local nursing home on Sundays.  I couldn’t believe that they were actually eating it up as entertainment.  I figured the entire home was probably deaf.  I had just graduated and was starting an internship at a bigwig newspaper downtown.  I gave myself six months and I would be able to afford a nice condo.  Eddie showed up at my graduation party wearing nothing but paint.  Two more years went by and I was still kissing my idiot of an editor’s behind trying to get somewhere.  I was twenty-six.  I had a condo.  I had a great girlfriend.  But I hated my life.  I felt like I didn’t know what the heck I was doing and my best friend was a guy who I had to bail out of jail two weeks ago for streaking across a golf course in broad daylight.

“You know you owe me your life.”  I told him as I drove him back to his mom’s house.

He was still laughing hysterically.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  He said.

I wanted to punch him.

Four months later, Eddie was killed riding his bike.  Some idiot ran a red light and in an instant Eddie was gone.  He was dressed in a clown’s wig and bright red nose to match.  I covered the story, which was the most heartbreaking thing I ever had to do in my life.  Eddie’s mother asked me to say a few words at his funeral and I spent nearly two whole days trying to come up with something.  As much as the guy made me want to admit him to the psych ward on a daily basis, I still loved him.  He was my best friend and I didn’t know which words could possibly justify who he really was.

I asked Mrs. Fredericks if she didn’t mind me poking around the basement for a bit.  She happily agreed.

“That’s a good way to say goodbye.”  She said with tears in her eyes.

I lay down on Eddie’s bed and stared at the ceiling.  He had a poster of a scantily clad Christina Aguilera staring down at him every night.  That depressed me.  As far as I knew, Eddie had never dated a girl in his life.  I thought about the fact that he may have died never being in love with a woman and then realized that I was probably insane for even thinking things like that when my best friend was dead.

I poked around his desk and in a few drawers but didn’t find much that was of interest.  Finally, I opened up a box under his bed.  I found a spiral notebook that had “On a Whim” written on the cover of it.  Eddie had taken the time to write down all of the principles of his “philosophy” and even gave detailed journal entries of the things he planned to do and what he had already done.  I laughed.  I cried.  I missed that crazy guy.  The last entry he wrote was dated the day he died.

“I’m going to bike over to Dan’s place dressed as a clown today.  His girlfriend will probably flip out.  At least she laughs at me though.  Dan doesn’t really do that anymore.  I think my next adventure is getting him to at least go out on a whim, just once.  Maybe I’ll get him REALLY drunk first.  Well, gotta go!  Clown Bike’s waiting!”

I broke down into a huge heaping mess on Eddie’s floor.  Why couldn’t I see what he was trying to show me all along?  It didn’t really matter that Eddie had a series of dead end jobs.  It didn’t matter that the whole town thought he was out of his mind.  Eddie was happy and as much as I tried to pretend that I was, I wasn’t.  I had fear holding me back from just up and leaving my job and taking on freelancing.  I had been advised to many times and I couldn’t listen to it.  Stability ruled my life and I realized that I didn’t want it to anymore.  I grabbed the journal and drove home.

That night, I composed a eulogy in honor of my best friend using quotes from Eddie’s journal as a guideline.  I now understood what Eddie was doing with his life and what he meant by going out on a whim.  And although it was hard, I actually laughed a little bit at the fact that he did indeed, go out on a whim with his death.

After the funeral, the next day, I called up my boss and told him I quit.

“What do you mean, you quit?”  He was furious.

“I quit.”

“And, why, may I ask?”

“Call it a whim.”  I responded.

“A whim???  What do you mean a WHIM?!?!?”  I could imagine his face getting redder than it had ever been all of the other times he yelled at me.

“Yeah.”  I said.  “A whim.”

Then I hung up feeling better than I ever had in my entire life.

Poetry- "Dragon Lady"

Dragon Lady
by: Jennifer Patino

The scent hits you first
crushed velvet rose petals with a hint
of vanilla
a delicate balance of
sinister
and sweet

The eyes stop you
dead in your tracks
piercing and blinking
almost darting
yet straightforward
all at the same time

They are near violet
for their blue is too
deep to even be
colored oceanic

Then comes the first step
towards you
towards who
or right to the corner
to hide in the darkness alone

Then you can feel her
dizzying and draining
and all you can see
and all you can feel
are twisted black dragons
and fire

And smoke clears as she
shyly comes through the door

‘The People v. OJ Simpson’ Dropped an ‘F-Bomb’ and I Lost My Shit

I’m loving Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story. I’m in love with everything Ryan Murphy has done and is currently doing. He can do whatever he wants really and I won’t be upset. Tonight, the show dropped the F Word. (Spoiler Alert: Marcia Clark calls Johnny Cochran a ‘mother fucker’ as the very last line of the episode.) It was perfect.

I was sitting there jealous over the fact that Marcia (Sarah Paulson) is sitting in a fuzzy pink bathrobe in the morning, drinking coffee, having a smoke and doing her thing and longing for a backyard for myself again (I’m currently limited to a small porch area with a view of another apartment unit but that’s neither here nor there) when my husband said, “Did you hear what she said?” I hadn’t.

We were watching on DVR so rewind was an available option and there it was. “Mother fucker” said on cable TV, uncensored. No bleeps, black screens, no ‘no-audio’. Just Mother Fucker. No big deal right? But it is. We’re not used to this here in America. I, for one, am beyond glad.

Censorship has always bothered me. I’ll clear a few things up here too that I feel need to be said:

* First off, I’m a Christian. That doesn’t mean I don’t use “bad words”. Last time I checked I’m only not allowed to direct negative words toward others in an unloving manner and I’m not allowed to use the Lord’s name in vain. If your religion is your argument for censorship I’m going to have to strongly disagree with you.

* I don’t have children. And if I did, I wouldn’t let them watch The People v OJ Simpson unless they were mature teenagers who could handle it. Hell, even mature younger children might be able to handle it. It depends on the kid and you. Don’t blame bad words for your kid being an asshole. Thanks.

* I have Epilepsy. Why does this matter? Because those damn censor beeps trigger seizures for me. Doctors don’t know why and I don’t know why but it’s the truth and it sucks. I have to rely on warnings from friends and family if they’ve seen something before I do to give me a heads up. Or I sit there with my hand on the mute button (when I can remember to do this) to hopefully catch one before it gets me so to speak. It sucks. I’m tired of it. Swear words are just words. We all know what they’re saying.

I’m a “selective swearer”. There are certain people I’m more comfortable cursing around. I try not to do it around “my elders” unless they’re ok with it. I watch my mouth around children. (I worked with them for 8 years, I learned to be mindful of everything that came out of my mouth and I’m glad for it.) I try not to have “the ef word” come out in every other word I say. For awhile I was keeping it out of social media (I can’t really tell you why because I have no good reason) but lately I’m more lax. As I said before, they’re words. And I’ve read many a good article about how cuss words are great for pain relief and are also a sign of highly intelligent people.

Did tonight open the door to eliminating censorship on TV? (I mean, at least let us not care about cable!) Did anyone even notice? Was anyone harmed by it? There are way too many shows on right now that could really use a well placed “Mother fucker” to juice up their scripts. It’s not a sign of the world swirling down a giant toilet bowl or anything. It’s a good step toward everyone realizing that there are much bigger battles to be won. TV is a way for most to get away from the dramas of daily life. Let us have our “shits” and giggles. Mother fuckers.

“The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story” airs on FX Tuesday nights at 10 pm EST