(A continuation from Issue 16, Chapter 1 can be found there.)

Chapter 2 of Thickly Settled

trashcan prophecies

       I stood on the curb. Then I sat on the curb. Finally, I settled with sitting on my suitcase that lay on the curb. All around me Boston buzzed. I’d never been. I was waiting at Logan International in arrivals. Cape Cod is an hour and half away from Boston, and Astrid had asked her family if someone could pick me up. No one was available. I thought a bus was in my future. I had fantasized something very different for my triumphant arrival into Massachusetts. The vision had involved a brighter day and most her family holding up signs at the bottom of an escalator. A unified cheer bursting into the air, visibly, when I came into view at baggage claim. We would wait and laugh together as I pulled my luggage off the conveyor belt.
       That didn’t happen.
       But at least, eventually, Astrid had coaxed her niece into picking me up. I know she coaxed her because I was eavesdropping on the phone call when a bribe was required. The transaction ended with a creepy giggle from Astrid.
       I still didn’t know what that was about.
       Astrid called me as I waited for the niece.
       “How’s it going honey?”
       “I don’t know.”
       She laughed. She had this great laugh that reminded me of city parks.
       “What do you mean?”
       “No one seems to be here. If they are, I don’t know.”
       “Shit, I meant to give you a picture of my niece.”
       “You did?”
       Her niece was a hippy. She’d just recently returned from living under bridges with a prophet. They ate from trashcans and tattooed things like “rust fund” onto their fingers. She was reformed now. She understood that abject poverty was a church she didn’t want to belong to. The only thing more limiting than the constraints of a capitalistic society bent on turning you into a number was complete destitution. Free and cold.
       “I’ll call her. Wait. Shit, she doesn’t have a cell phone.”
       A paneled minivan pulled up beside me. A pop of black smoke blasted out the tail pipe.
       “I think she’s here.”
       “That’s her! Give her a smooch for me!”
       “What do you think?”
       “Oh. Ok.”
       I pick up my suitcases. Astrid sounds very cheerful.
       “I love you babe. Remember, they already love you!”
       “They do?”
       And then,
       “Gotta go. Just got a text from my boss. They need me in early.”
       I pocket my cell phone with the creeping thought she didn’t have to work at all. That this was a test.

This is the second chapter of my novel in progress, Thickly Settled.

Jason Neese lives in the direct center of Hollywood where he’s diametrically opposed to being honest about how he got there. He runs killpoet with Cat. He writes novels and scripts. He works in tv. He is left handed. Left handers die 2.3 years earlier than right handed people. He found that on the internet.