American skin


I’ve decided to slowly introduce some of my other writing onto this blog. This is a short story I wrote while my internet was down. It’s a little dark, but the idea has been kicking around my head for quite a while and I thought I’d best get it out of there.

Feel free to critique.




Incident in Hoboken

The alarm never gets to wake me anymore. Every morning, for as long as I can remember, I wake up at five twenty-five and I’m ready to slap the button the moment the radio busts out at five thirty. This morning, this very special morning, is no different.

It’s special, by the way,  because this is my last day on Earth.

Unexpectedly, I find I have a genuine appetite for breakfast. In fact, I’m much hungrier than normal. I generally find the meds steal my desire for food most mornings, but not today, no sir.

Wanderin’ out to the kitchen, I cook up a mess of eggs and some nice crispy bacon. No need to worry about my damned cholesterol now. The eggs ain’t as good as Margie used to do ‘em, but they make a pretty passable last meal.

Before I get dressed I clip my nails – fingers and toes – and take a proper shower. They’re gonna know what type of man did this thing. I was a goddam marine, not some ratty bum loser.

Feeling a bit woozy from the hot shower, I put on clean, pressed chinos and my best casual shirt. I woulda liked to do this in my dress blues, but they ain’t fit me in years. Bein’ old blows.

I polished my shoes to a regulation shine before turnin’ in last night and I bend to pull ‘em on with the usual symphony of grunts and other odd noises that accompany such acts these days. Yeah, bein’ old really effin’ blows. I guess I’ve got that covered, though.

Shoes finally on feet; I go down to the basement. It’s sitting right where I left it yesterday, propped up on my work bench; my suicide vest. Took me weeks to make it, buying all the components at as many different locations as I could manage. Nearly blew my damned fool self to hell a couple of times; third time’s the charm, eh.

The explosives were the tricky part. You can’t just buy that shit no more. You gotta make it yourself. Luckily, if you know what yer doin’, you can make just about any compound from the right mix of domestic chemicals most people have right in their homes. Did I mention I was a demolition marine?

Just as I’m getting ready to put it on, the cough starts up again. I hack up the usual nasty shit into my hanky; effin’ cancer, effin’ god damned Fallujah.

When the fit subsides I slip the vest on over my shirt and insert the detonation cord. Then I put on my heavy coat, feeding the det-cord down the sleeve so the trigger rests snug in my palm. This is why I hadda wait for the cold weather. It’d be hard to hide the bulk of the vest under anything but a heavy winter coat.

I look at myself in the full-length mirror. Looks like I gained twenty pounds, but that’s it. No one will expect the sick old fart I see starin’ back at me to be packin’ enough explosives to take out a medium sized diner.

People are so damned apathetic these days, they need to be shown what it’s like; what it means to be a victim. I served three tours back in the war, got all messed up by the DU we used in Fallujah. No one cares, all they give a crap about is their effin’ phones and their goddam apps. Well, I got an app for ‘em.

I got a killer app.

That makes me laugh…which makes me cough; more freakin’ blood. I better get goin’ while I’ve still got it in me.

Feeling a wee twinge of regret, I lock my front door for the last time and walk away without looking back. Me and Mar had some good years in that old house; then we had some really effin’ bad ones.

Every freak I pass in the street has got their goddam nose glued to their goddam phone. What do they find so fascinatin’? I guess I’ll be giving ‘em somethin’ real big to watch on their effin’ smart-ass phones soon enough.

I enter Franklin Street and there’s the diner. My palms get real damp for the first time and my heart rate jumps. I go over the sequence in my head. Find a booth, wait ‘till the place is full, stand up and yell “for the old, sick and forgotten; justice!” Press the button; boom.

That’ll give the movement the martyr it needs and I’ll be back with my Margie where I belong. And no more effin’ cancer neither.

I go in. The place is already gettin’ packed, but I find a space in a booth across from a pretty girl in glasses. She smiles and nods when I ask if she minds if I share with her, gesturing with her hand that I should sit.

Despite myself, doubt starts creeping in at the edges of my resolve. She’s very young and pretty; I try not to dwell on what I’m about to do to her and her fellow patrons.

I squeeze myself into the booth and the waitress comes straight over. She’s heavy set, forty maybe, with a lot of tables to cover, but she’s cheerful as I order a coffee I have no intention of drinking.

My mouth is dry and I can feel my hands are shaking a little. People have been comin’ in this whole time. The place is very popular on the weekend, that’s why I chose it.

A family comes through the door; pretty mom and two young, very cute, kids. Dad is probably parkin’ the car. He better hurry up or he could lose everything today. I feel sick to my stomach. The anger that got me this far is dissipatin’ fast.

Everywhere I look, there are people who just seem so ordinary, so…innocent. I gaze across the table at the pretty girl in glasses. She catches my eye and smiles a little distractedly. Does she deserve this?

Then an image comes into my head, the smug little shit at the VA who told me I no longer qualified for the cancer drugs.

“It has been determined by our researchers that the use of depleted uranium on the battlefield poses no risk to the user. Therefore, your cancer is unconnected to your tour in Fallujah.”


That look in his eyes as he closed the cover on my file; may as well have been closin’ the lid on my coffin.

Suddenly my rage is back. I look around and I don’t see families; innocent kids. I see fat, lazy members of an entitled, throwaway society that forgets all about you once you’re no longer any use to it.

My anger boils over and I brace my feet against the floor. I’m just about to push myself up and yell my thing when the pretty girl across from me springs to her feet and pulls open her coat.

She’s wearing a vest just like mine.

Her face is waxen and I see her take a shaky breath, then she hollers “forced sterilization for breeders!”

A blinding fla……



1,160 words


Image and words are my own.








8 thoughts on “American skin

  1. a difficult endeavor to capture the mindset of someone who had mentally shifted into a place where they could actually go as far he did (as opposed to just obsessively thinking about it) – but you pulled it off. that desire to give a people a wake-up call in an age when no one is paying attention…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Out ‘effing’ standing! Really loved it. And most definitely want to see more of your stories.
    There’s a ‘challenge’ coming up in May (I did it last year) called A Story A Day in 30 Days. Just in case you’re looking for a challenge 🙂

    Also want to tell you that I just discovered that either Gmail, or WordPress, or both, have been playing dirty pool with those I follow. I thought you’d been busy and were not getting time to write. Come to find out, you’ve written tons worth, and I missed it! But I’m back. I’ll be reading all I missed, though it will take a while.

    Liked by 1 person

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