Wanda Morrow-Clevenger is a Long Ridge Writers Group graduate. Thirty-four pieces of her work embracing the human condition appear in a variety of magazines.
The following stories appeared on the e-zine version of Gay Flash Fiction
by Wanda Morrow-Clevenger
(c) Wanda Morrow-Clevenger
Jamie’s red boots attracted more attention than his James Dean pout and ten tattoos combined – endangered genuine crocodile tanned by hippy chicks deep in the Mojave. A thousand bucks well spent.
Half a dozen barefoot mamas scraped hides baby-butt smooth – ostrich, gator, bison belly. You name it – first come, first serve. And when work ended scruffy others gathered and a fatty was rolled, and another, until the stars played connect-the-dots. When Mars started singing Dylan lyrics, people paired and slipped away into the shadowy flats. Egyptian cotton didn’t compare to animal love on a deer pelt in the desert.
Arriving from an exceedingly bumpy flight to noonday blare, they escorted Jamie in by jeep. The driver, a leather-skinned Keith Richards gent with brittle palomino ponytail and Armani suit, had pressed a harsh perusal, stopping just short of patting him down.
Jamie prattled to squelch his jitters, about life along the river’s edge, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, pausing every few minutes to swig on a large Dasani. “Plenty of history out here too, huh?” He turned to the stone statue behind the wheel. “So, the Feds have never raided the, uh, place we’re headed to?”
Two hours into wasteland, with three stops to water the yucca, Pony-boy hadn’t spoke a word and Jamie wondered if breaking bad was going to be worth the wear and tear.
On site, pig roasting smoke suspended between communal huts. A bare-chested spindly dude flashed Jamie a two-finger peace sign.
“So this is where the ’70s went,” Jamie said, turning slowly to take in the primal panorama.
“Namaste, nutbag,” the driver deadpanned before shifting gears and clearing out.
Jamie hung around for a month waiting on dyeing and engraving details; art can’t be rushed. And besides, the weed was prime and the company intriguing. His life wasn’t going anywhere he couldn’t find it later.
* * *
Near St. Louis Art Museum’s blue tiled wall, Jamie watched a familiar black Saab inch forward. He swung his head to the right to further effect a uniquely mellowed pout, hitched one knee up and braced a foot against the concrete pedestal of bronze King Louis IX of France. A tinted window lowered – lithe black cloth revealing a recherché masterpiece. The two men locked eyes, Jamie stood motionless – working it, working it righteous – before swaggering toward the museum curator’s car. His badass Mojave boots just finished paying for themselves.
MAN IN THE MOON
by Wanda Morrow-Clevenger
(c) Wanda Morrow-Clevenger
In late fall the campgrounds were abandoned to white-tail and raccoons and underage beer-bingers. The men crossed the tourist area, kicking through Bud empties and sacrificed Trojans. By four thirty, waning light needled through a thick stand of timber.
Eagle Nest perched high over the city, an ancient, immortal monument. Dusk swarmed as Max and Lonny reached the remote campsite, the one from two years earlier when their relationship pricked the senses like morning mountain air.
Boffing al fresco will fix everything, Max thought. Getting away from the city was what they needed. Lonny was pulling away: working late, reneging on dinner dates. Max spotted him one day at Starbucks getting cozy with a blond pretty-boy. Lonny denied it, of course.
Falling for Lonny was a fast and furious tumble down Jack and Jill’s hill. The man had it in spades: brooding emerald eyes, tight physique, aerial soul. Max melted the first time he caught Lonny’s reading uptown on open mike night; a little-boy voice reciting big-boy poetry. After, Max walked up to Lonny and offered to buy him a drink. They got loaded and woke the next morning in Lonny’s loft. The encounter became a standing date.
But things were headed further south – more arctic chill than sunshine state – with every passing day. Max couldn’t compete with the literary types Lonny hung with; they shared a foreign language. Max mudded and painted walls for a living, didn’t know a Triolet from a Pleiades, could only work trowel and paintbrush. Sidestepping excuses for not moving in with Max were proving less and less inspired. “I need solitude for my craft, man,” Lonny said, avoiding eye contact.
Thrilled that Lonny agreed to camping, Max bustled around his apartment packing wine and brie, dried oysters and fancy crackers. And the cashmere throw Lonny gave him on his last birthday to scrunch under – soft as the skin on the back of Lonny’s neck, blue as his tribal tattoo. Lonny taking charge in hunky cave-man style, then chilling out to the universe and waxing poetic sounded just about perfect. Max reminding Lonny of the night they met, the following hundred other nights, could change Lonny’s thinking on their living arrangement.
“Looks the same.” Max turned a slow circle, recalling details: owl hoots, rushing wind, holding each other, joking, kissing – slow turned urgent, pine needles pressing a haphazard trail across his bare back, soaring off the bluff, free-falling back to earth.
“We’d better find some kindling before it gets pitch black.” Lonny’s bed roll and backpack landed a dull thud on packed black dirt. Max snapped back to the present, dropped his gear. Cave-man Lonny taking charge right on cue made his heart leap.
An hour later they sat side by side against a fallen tree. Sallow flames danced to the hiss and crackle of dry wood; the glow of a thousand dead stars betrayed their demise; a full moon stood silent watch.
“We both know it’s been over awhile, right?” Lonny took a drag off a joint, handed it to Max. “Take another. Damn good shit. You’ll feel better.”
“Yeah, okay.” Max’s fingers closed around Lonny’s. A thread of smoke rose between them, then dissipated as the weed changed hands. “Know what I wish?”
“Wish I could walk on the moon.” Eyes glazed, Max pulled a deep inhale.
“Ha! You mean like Jacko?”
“Not moonwalk.” Max leaned into Lonny and both fell sideways, laughing. “Leave here, go up there.” He motioned skyward. “Live with the man in the moon.”
“That’s pretty far to go for love.” Lonny wrapped an arm around Max’s shoulders. “Too far, man.”
Max rested his head on Lonny’s chest. “I’m already there. Painting the craters the color of emerald eyes. ”