the claim of mystery

part I

laney tailed the car for 20 minutes before making a wrong turn and losing it. she pulled over swiftly, pulled out her flip, and dialed .. c’mon, she thought, we’re losing him .. but nothing. she flipped her phone shut and thought up some alternative routes that could get her there faster, but at this point, there was no telling if plans had been changed. she got out of the car and walked into a nearby cafe. the rain had started again and a warm cup of coffee seemed like the only next reasonable move. she grabbed the dailies and turned to the international film section. her last boyfriend had turned her on to it. at the thought, she crumbled up the section and left it there on the table, her half empty coffee mug sitting on top of it.

she walked out back to her car to find a lovely surprise .. a brand new boot and a tow truck already hitched up for the ride to county. she stood there at first not moving. “this ol’ here yours?” the tow truck driver asked her. “oh god.” “well, if you wanna pay it outright now, it’ll save ya a trip.” “how much?” she got out her wallet and handed the man a check. he took the boot, left her with the ticket, and was gone. 

then her phone rang in her pocket. “laney here. what is it?” pause .. “where? i’m right here, there are no signs of ..” laney checked her other pocket for the .. it was gone. “shit! right. i’m on it. gonna need some more eyes and ears down here.”

part II

laney sat across from her superior in his musty apartment on south 5th. “laney, this has gotten out of hand.” 

”i know.” 

”now, we’re gonna be dealing with press. not to mention the misfortunate bystander now being accused of the murder. right place, wrong time.”

it was still on again off again raining outside. a blurred scene from the 14th floor. 

”did you at least recover the amulet?” 

”well, i did. but it’s a fake.” 

his fist slammed down on the desk. 

“good god woman. any leads?”

“i have a few. just give me one more day.” 

the door closed, the elevator descended, and laney found herself standing in front of her car for the second time that day with a parking violation.  

she pulled the ticket out from behind her windshield wiper and went to crumble it up in anger when she noticed something written on it. “if you’re looking, you’ll find. follow the ticket trail to its end, and there, you’ll find the beast its attached to.”

didn’t make sense. this trail led her straight to county and the guys over there were only good at watching cartoons and chugging milk cartons. none of them had a spine enough for this kind of work, and surely not the belly for it. 

she reviewed the day. inconspicuous moments that pieced together something rather shitty. she was only farther away from finding the real amulet and connecting it to the murder on melbourne, and life had only thrown her other irrelevant disturbances, not to mention the misfortunate bystander from the morning. there was only one thing she could do now. she’d have to call him.

part III

”hi jim. great, yes.” sarcastically. “right. cool.” again. “jim, look, you know i wouldn’t be calling if i didn’t ..” he cut her off, sexual slights, his wry humor. she was now holding her flip a few inches away from her face. “meet me at the cafe on first and cherry. i’m hanging up now.”

part IV

first and cherry.

jim stood there all handsome looking, leaning against the brick wall and peering out from underneath his cap. laney walked past him, grabbed his jacket and pulled him into the alley without making eye contact.

she pulled out the note. "what do you know about this?" she slammed it into his chest.

"long time no see to you too." he looked at the note. "i recognize the writing. a visiting agent called in from the big guns. but there's no way he wrote this willingly."

laney sighed and started to think, pacing in front of him. 

"it doesn't make sense. we all know there's corruption but it's happening in the hands of the ones who call the shots and the rest of them are too small minded to notice anything outside of deviations from their snack routines. but the murder? that's almost too sloppy to be their work."

"do you still have the amulet?"

"how do you know about that?" she snapped.

"we at county know a little more than you'd like us to."

"we're no longer in possession of it. anyways, the one we did have was a fake, so it was all a ploy to get us looking in the wrong direction."

"right, well kid. looks like you got what you need from me unless.."

"shut it, jim. and we're not done yet. i need you to help me with some background checks. plus no one knows the streets like you do. one more time. for old time's sake."

he smiled wryly, nodded to her and winked. 

"your car or mine?"


to be continued ...

a talk with

James sat across from Dr. Marvin, quiet at first as he usually was, taking some time before the plunge into his inner world. He had talked to Dr. Marvin for a while now, though he couldn't quite shake the fear of being judged and the question of what to say and what to withhold. He was finding it challenging as of late, growing as a young adult, looking to the generations that came before him and yet knowing that most of it didn't apply anymore. As he sat there looking at Dr. Marvin, he wondered if the sayings were true. Is he just as fucked up as I am? Perhaps you had to be in order to help those who were. The mind is a tempestuous place at times. Perhaps it is the real black hole that we are looking for out in space. Except that we'll never find it because it's a place we go to get lost, and there's nothing to be found there.

Life is some strange balance of being honest and humble, while honoring what we think is the self. That line of identity and letting it go, looking to our past so as to see it differently, and always carting along that small child who's still somehow along for the ride, knocking. 

"Well, James, why don't you just talk for a bit so I can see where you're at."

James said, "Yeah sure." 

"Um ..." James stuttered.

He was always amazed, not surprised, by how incoherent some of it seemed to come out. That even though he planned on talking about certain things or touching on certain points, they were like plans gone awry, working of their own accord. He talked and talked as Dr. Marvin listened quietly. James was unsure if he felt better after following his own rampant train of thought or if somehow it still left him feeling sticky and unclear, as if intent and precision might help him arrive more slowly into the station.

It is often said that what we give thought to becomes of us, and yet what we ignore comes beating us over the head, so we can’t fully align to that which entices us and yet we cannot deny that which we entice. James did enjoy speaking to another, face to face. There was something grounding about it. He could feel his feet, see the body in front of him, watch as the room grew darker and then lighter again as if changing in his mind. Even here, where letting it all go was the game, James found himself aware of how he sat, composed himself, the feel of his back arching as a slight pang. He found himself perplexed by the complexity he used to circle around the simplicity that was his always problem. A contrast and comparison, the man in the mirror and the way he saw him. Could he really think it to be true? That a way of looking at would change the thing being looked at, as if he could just surrender all that paranoia of concern with others so easily. 

Sometimes it was hard to tell what was challenging but good for the spirit, what was hard and unnecessarily so, how much laziness was innate and how much drive was conditioned. He often wondered of such things, of himself, of the world. Of why he was carved so flawed, that an inside could be twisted and yet appear smooth on the surface. 

As if an intelligent tree, he stopped talking. He felt better, and was for a moment relieved, a transmitter along the network working in a web that wound not only him to Dr. Marvin but him to the entity of his mind itself, touching the leaves and the wind that blows them, as if in a blink called to question ~ is it even real?


wherein the steam of its still,

found forage, the anvil of its glint


life, alive as a rock, or a tree petrified into rock

the air and its waves,

sound traveled into


the old man sat sounding ~ "what will be of your esteemable acts"

- esteem,

able and esteeming 


in giving and getting, the tug of a life's shore and tide

.. the arms spread and waving, there, what brings alive as its esteem to rise


"what will be of your esteemable acts?"


sayd yes

what did you say yes 


the other side of yourself  



  inactive infinity



wait only for the well, digging deeper


"sterling, will you open that window a little more? it's so hot in here." sterling turned to his sister sitting on the other side of the room. she was engrossed in a magazine, cutting bits out and piling them on the table. he was immersed in a book, sitting by the window, wanting quiet, yet still, he opened the window a little more.

the wind blew, his hair against his eyes and the papers making a sound of flying. she grunted, “actually, can you close that?” 

there were the few things of string that tie together, the torn table, or rather what spins and always sees before you the ones that are born of blood or of a breast, the beating underneath it, and it’s wind of words.

sterling and sister, an unremarked friendship bidden by the hidden once love of two, the thrown together tide of romance now, where only windows open still blowing but never fully seen through screen, or the ones shattered that are easier pieces to pick, or toss. 

in the heat of a summer, sweating bodies found only under the cool places, digging with hands into the earth, a deep attempt, clawing and wild, the beasts that would go underground, finding water, to drink not of what pours from the mountain’s side.

sterling & silver, his platter of tarnished metal, uncared for but holding the set of beauty, a tea from a time ago, green lawns and manicures, but now the heat of a city summer, of writing and crafting the twine of skin that awakens early to alarms to “grind” grit of paychecks that in it, the felt sense of alive or what other must be feeling so too to feel it for self, sweating, the detox of a city summer. 

”sterling, order us some food. i can’t talk on the phone right now, sweat smearing screens.” sterling took the phone from her as it fell, dialing something without knowing what. a number to a name, sometimes overcome by something without control and the after thought of choice that said face implanted hand, the sigh of why. 

yet still, unremarked, the awareness of the bees that still, may sting, that still, a bee’s buzz, that still, a human, and may hear, that still, the choices of paths and bridges that pull together the large breasts of the earth and its caves deep dwelling, and all that pierces it, like an echo.  



copyright 2018 ⓒ / forrest gallagher