Arthur Davis

‘The Day Before Tomorrow’ by guest author Arthur Davis

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Guest Author Arthur Davis

I closed my eyes and tried to shut out the safety instructions coming over the public address system from the eager flight attendant’s squeaky little voice. I didn’t want to hear which exit was closest to me, or how I was supposed to proceed in the event we needed to initiate emergency procedures.

What was the point of it all? If you fell from the sky in a thousand-ton metal coffin, the likelihood of needing either a life preserver or knowing which exit from which to deplane seemed moot. However, that didn’t stop her from completing her droning litany and ending with a nauseatingly perky “Thank you.”

After a few more minutes, we leveled off at thirty-eight thousand feet and the red seatbelt warning sign light went off. It was now safe to move about the plane. Thundering along at six hundred miles per hour, with two massive engines strapped to a long metal cigar in which two hundred people were milling about, was hardly a description of a safe, carefree environment. And yet, here we were, tethered souls on our way to Tampa; most already anticipating what they were going to do after landing, who they were going to meet or avoid at the airport, how they were going to get their baggage before everybody else and what was involved in the next logical step of their lives. A hundred years ago, this would have been unthinkable. (more…)

‘Hounds of Zegna’ by Guest Author Arthur Davis

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Guest Author Arthur Davis

Of course, I knew they were coming, though I refused to believe I was the only one who possessed such knowledge. Had I made an adequate effort instead of my typical halfhearted attempt, the earth might have been spared. Maybe it was simply too late by the time I accepted what was happening.

Anyway, here we are under the thumb of Dremlins, ungainly creatures who look like giant golden retrievers standing erect on their hind legs. Except for the absence of a tail and a considerably shortened snout, the resemblance was uncanny. Their long, glistening reddish coat and small toy-like animal heads gave them an air of innocence, of childlike vulnerability.

And that’s how they first presented themselves. As space travelers who had gotten lost, had “taken the wrong turn at Mars,” as a west coast reporter smugly described their arrival eight months ago. First, came the small patrol ship, supposedly off course, filled with a dozen scrawny, fragile adolescent creatures, then, as we were seduced by our collective need to believe the best instead of being cautious about the worst, larger transports filled with yapping, affectionate Dremlins arrived in mass. But a lot can happen in eight months, like the end of civilization, as we know it. (more…)

‘Ronnald’ by Guest Author Arthur Davis

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Guest Author Arthur Davis

Ronnald was a busboy.  He was neither imposing nor content.  He was delighted, as was his bent, to roam the city when he wasn’t cleaning tables, and take hold of any vehicle that passed his way and lift it, passengers and all, high over his head for whatever length of time pleased him.

Walter Lincoln, who was not impressed by his last name, as it was his tendency to change it every few days, was plainly quite docile and, though he stood on the same street corner every day hawking newspapers, he never sold one. But that didn’t dampen his aspirations, or his confidence that one day he would make it big.

Ronnald spent most nights bussing tables at local nightclubs. It didn’t matter how many patrons had been eating or drinking or the extent of the mess they left. He was a master of movement and hand speed, of depth perception and dexterity.  He was also a born juggler, if only of dishes, cups and glasses.  Ronnald was naturally gifted at what he did, and when you’ve been so blessed and you embrace the measure of your potential, there is nothing you can’t accomplish.

Ronnald could clear thirty or forty tables in the same time another busboy would take to clear a half dozen.  When he was in one of his really productive moods, he could work the night shift clearing and cleaning all the tables at two clubs, as long as they were close by one another.  He never thought to ask for more money for his labor.  He collected the same check whether his station included a dozen tables or many times that number.  (more…)

“Friends for Life” by Guest Author Arthur Davis

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Guest Author Arthur Davis

You had to be there. Lorraine Cassidy was. At five foot-two and a hundred and six pounds, the brown-eyed Cincinnati nurse with a penchant for Bakelite bracelets watched Hector Ramarez gun down his brother in the alleyway that lead to the courtyard separating their buildings.

She wasn’t the only one who heard the muffled pistol shot, just the only one who responded by vomiting up her dinner. It was not that she was more sensitive or curious than most. She had already passed her quota of violence at precisely three-nineteen in the afternoon when a woman was carried into the emergency room screaming and cursing and, oblivious to the handle of a nine-inch hunting knife protruding from her right side. This was a neighborhood where screams and arguments and threats built up after dusk and reached a crescendo by midnight, and were unrelenting on weekends. There was no point in clocking the hellish environment where the Ramarez brothers tried to eke out a living off of stolen cars and sometimes a little grander enterprise.

Lorraine Cassidy witnessed more than a murder that night. She would be witness to the end of her own life. Of course, she could not know that at the time. The horror of working in the emergency room at Oakdale Hospital for three years and in a trauma ward in her previous job had inured her to the most horrific possibilities life could conjure. After a point, as one of her friends said after joining the trauma team, “you just stop thinking and feeling and set your brain on automatic. You switch off when you get there and switch back on when you leave.'” (more…)

‘The Belly of The Beast’ by Guest Author Arthur Davis

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Guest Author Arthur Davis

I’d walked past Scully’s Bookstore every day on my way to work since moving to the South Side of Chicago a year ago.  My job was adequate, nothing special, just as I perceived myself to be.  I was adequate.   It was adequate.  My life was adequate.       Nothing much happened to me as I imagined to everybody else.  However, at twenty-six, I had little proof of the existence of such adventures and shadowy, threatening intricacies.  And, with few friends to count and lacking the social grace to evolve beyond the fiber of my Catholic upbringing, I kept my fantasies and disappointment to myself.

            I usually glanced in at Scully’s then raced across the street to catch the Q32 bus which would snake its way along the outskirts of the famous Chicago Loop and spew me out a block away from the firm of Murphy & MacArtle, one of the less notable accounting firms the city had to offer the business community.  Anticipating a flood of new clients from the surrounding commercial growth after the end of the Second World War, I was one of three junior accountants who had been hired to give credibility to a staff that was twice the size it was only a year ago.  It was easy, straightforward work.  I was good, or rather adequate in my own eyes and, as far as I could tell, acceptable to the two partners, both of whom were over twice my green, unassuming years.

            So, why I turned to reflect that brisk December morning upon the still darkened bookstore in spite of the fact that my bus was approaching the stop and, if I paused I would have to wait another twenty minutes for another, I do not know.  However, I did and in that moment in the frigid winter of 1949, I altered my course forever. (more…)

‘Fat Men And Flying Saucers’ by Guest Author Arthur Davis

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Guest Author Arthur Davis

Claude Longly sat hovering over his second cup of coffee of the evening in one hand and the second cigarette of his third pack of the day between the thick, stained brown fingers of the other.  He had long ago rationed himself to three cups in the evening and it was only eight o’clock.  There were four or five hours of life left to go in the day and he had no idea how he was going to make it through with these self-imposed restrictions as he unfolded the summer 1967 edition of Briggs’ Western European Bride’s Registry.

He patted down the dog-eared magazine as though it were a piece of precious art.  A tingle sparked in his fifty-four year-old cobweb crisscrossed crotch.  The international guide to what some might refer to as a catalogue for the social deviant was Claude’s, all two hundred sixty-eight pounds of him, link to the fantasy fabric of his very private world.

Jimmy-Dean Stiles sang on in that distinct, homespun twang over the portable radio sitting on the kitchen table.  Stiles had been a sensation when he first appeared on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry back in 1963.  Bouts with drugs and alcohol plagued him until his death at the age of 26, after which his two albums had become prized collectibles.  Claude listened for a second to the end of his favorite tune.  It was about a range-hand who was contemplating his last lost love, the one he might someday have and the possibility of losing that woman too because of his cowboy ways.  Claude understood human flaws were as natural as dirty fingernails and trail dust.  And in his world, you couldn’t avoid either. (more…)