About Red Tales

Here's an evolving electronic collection of short prose pieces, with a poem contributed occasionally. Brevity guides. Although sometimes a piece will run to 900 words, most pieces are much shorter. Here one may find erotica, flash fiction, brief observations, and modest improvisations. Another rule is that each piece must have something to do with"red"; at least the word has to appear in each piece functionally. . . . All pieces are numbered and titled, so there's a de facto table of contents running down the rail below, under "Labels" (scroll down a bit). Browse for titles that look interesting, if you like. Thank you for stopping by. Look for some red today, tonight.

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

105. Loading Words

Along the rust-brown flammable river stand warehouses filled with words. Most are sold to journalists and governments. I run the fork-lift.

It's a job. I'm not interested in warehoused words, crate upon crate, except as something to move for pay. I live with chronic grief for loss of words I used to love. They loved me. Apple, chevalier, pelican, chrome, banister, quince, brushings, and black--a few.

I don't know what happened. This is a way of saying I know what happened--and happens. We get worn known. The magic of words gets stolen--by whom or what who really knows? We agree to do too much for too little. We ask almost nothing of language, which becomes a plain gray tool. We stagger home in dark and wonder if the river will catch fire.

Monday, January 25, 2010

104. Red Machine

(photo by Sheri Weinsheimer, used by permission)
Hey, may I borrow your red machine? I heard it works, and I know it's clean. I got a job for that red machine.

When I show up at the venue in question, the site of toil, the job of work, I'll say, "Here I am--I'm ready to go," and your red machine will positively glow; it will let them know that business is what I'm intending to mean.

Thank you kindly for the loan and the use of your red machine, perhaps the best job-enhancer I have so far seen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

103. Beside Yourself

By firelight get yourself right. Leave ambitious illusions on a ledge out there in darkness. Stare.

The perfectly explicable insanity of flame--red, yellow, white, blue--cures you of your rational disease and passionate preferences, leaves you next to nothing and beside yourself where you belong.

By firelight, warm your face and hands. Face and hands. Think of the faces and hands belonging to those coming before you, arriving after.

Forget what you know about stars. Ignore the moon. Crouch. Watch fire.

Monday, January 11, 2010

102. Experimental Aircraft

Once there was a woman who wished she didn't know so many things for sure. She'd learned not to try to convince people of what she knew, for they believed they knew things for sure, too. Arguing fatigued her. Besides, eventualities would demonstrate what was true better than she could: this she knew, too.

For instance, her husband took up the hobby of flying small experimental aircraft. When he'd told her of this new pursuit, she'd said, "I love you, and consider the word 'experimental,' please. When a cook experiments with a spice and fails, the result is merely an unappealing dish. When an experiment in aviation fails, gravity wrecks." Her husband had scoffed. He was jolly.

Later, when he showed her a red aircraft of startling design, she knew the plane would fail--before takeoff, she hoped. The experimental aircraft simply looked too much like art and not enough like engineering to be competent in the sky.

News of the fatal crash shocked her though she wasn't surprised. She grieved deeply. There's knowing, and then there's experiencing. Several weeks later, an attorney informed her that although her husband had intended to purchase more life insurance, he hadn't gotten around to doing so. There was some insurance, some money, but not a lot, the lawyer said. Her husband hadn't secured her economic future.

"I know," the woman said. "It's the way he was, and it's the way things are." She didn't mention how she knew that, as the plane approached the water, her husband had said "I'm sorry" to her, as if she were in the cockpit.

The little red plane didn't have a little black box, so there was no recording of her husband's last words. This absence pleased the woman, for she'd always preferred the knowing over the proof, wisdom over argument, and information over events, which could be brutal.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

101. Blueberries

She stored that peculiar summer in a closet. Breezes and creeks and crickets: she fit it all in that pantry.

Something smoky lingered lowly in flavor. She liked it and held back sugar.

She reminded her winter guests that red accounted for purple in dusk's sky.

The tongues of that December's dinner-party were darkened by blueberry preserves, as were the skies of that peculiar summer as they settled in the closet, which held her canning.

Monday, January 4, 2010

100. He Likes His Kitchens Dry

An avalanche roared down importantly the other day, all boulders, snow, and noise--a terrible noise. "Stop right there," I said, and it did. I told it all about the woman I love. The avalanche cried pebbles of joy.

The other night I threaded darkness through a needle and stitched the moon onto the sky. A gratuitous gesture, perhaps; anyway, to assembled onlookers, I mentioned I was among those counted as being in love, hence the fancy needle-work.

The river considered ignoring its red-clay channel to flood this fine town. No, no, no you don't, wet friend, I said. I'm cooking for the woman I love, and I like my kitchens dry, so stay within your banks, and thanks.

Friday, January 1, 2010

99. She's Been Thinking

"I've been thinking," said the woman.

"That statement begs for a witty retort," said her friend, also a woman. "But I can't think of one."

"How would you describe me?" the woman said. "--I mean, if you were writing a story in which an illusion of me appeared?"

"Black hair, shoulder length--straight but not morose. The hair, I mean."

"Can hair be morose?"

"Yes, but don't interrupt. Pale but healthy complexion--white, if you will. Figure--not willowy, but not oak or sequoia sempervirens, either. Taller than the average woman but only just. Blue eyes. A tendency to brood, unlike her hair, which is not morose, as noted. Clothed."


"Would you like to be naked in the story?"

"It depends on who else is there. You know me. I am shy. I'll say no. That's a good description. People can fill in the rest?

"You mean, like red lipstick and ears?"

"I'm not wearing red lipstick. Any lipstick."

Walking, they had reached a cafe, which smelled of course of coffee, and of cardamom, people, and snow. Outside, there was no mistaking Winter.

"People will fill in as they wish. Maybe lipstick, maybe not. Definitely ears. I've been thinking, too."

"About what?"

"About thinking. About all the past and current thinking humans and hominids, all of them, have done, are doing. The volume of thoughts--it seems unimaginable."

"Then don't try to imagine it, the volume."

"But it inspires wonder, the imagining."


"And so, my dearest friend, I think I will imagine. If I can."