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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

110. Planting Radishes

The first time I planted radish seeds, I was seven years old. Soon I learned phrases like "you have to keep them watered," "the radishes are up," and "you have to thin them." I learned that when you plant seeds you also plant a probability that you will receive advice and instruction.

I disliked thinning radishes--killing several plants so another could fulfill ambitions; yanking out a plant that a seed had toiled to become, seeing it wilt instantly. No good at all.

After they'd grown a while, I pulled some, and what a great red globular surprise! I pulled, and there was a fat red things with a white tail and a green extravagance.

I washed a radish, rinsed off soil. The radish then gleamed. Light from a star we called the sun landed on it.

I bit into the radish, and its hot sweetness wasn't too much for me. My seven-year-old-taste-buds liked it fine, that taste, although I still don't know what a taste-bud is.

The meat of the radish was white, almost translucent like ice or a spiritual notion which the red cover of the radish had hidden. How do I know spiritual notions can be translucent like ice? Because I've planted radishes and eaten them. That is why.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

109. Keep on Keeping On

A cat probed an empty red-labeled can of food with its nose, the can sliding on a wooden floor, on which exotic shapes of sunlight lay, and from the radio, voices discussed contemporary Cambodian music and Pol Pot's hell, which was not hell but real.

We sipped warm liquid from cups, read news of war and folly--a failed attempt to clean a poisoned bay, a skater's choice not to perform a certain jump.

We spoke of our exhaustion. We get up and work. We get up and work.

Sunlight on the floor migrated. We spoke of laundry. Elements of the day accumulated to make another day. We knew enough not to speak of the incoherence of accumulation. Thinking thoughts and performing tasks, we continued. We kept on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

108. Alpine Ride

Gus was my horse that day--"a known eater," said the wrangler, a cowgirl from Portola.

Horses and us--we picked our way through heavy timber, sunlight shafting through to illumine ferns nourished by springs.

From a clearing, we saw mountains higher than the mountain we here on. Horse-tails swished. Sweet odor of horse manure sometimes wafted. Then there: the painfully blue lake, exquisite and real.

Gus liked to sop and nip red heads of Indian paintbrush wildflowers; chew; snort. I let him eat, wasn't supposed to.

It was summer, we were riding a loop, and Gus had a sense of how pointless it all was. Alpine breezes pushed off the lake. I nudged Gus forward, past wildflowers down the the rocky, dusty, dry trail.

Monday, February 15, 2010

107. Red Cabins In Sweden

Summer cabins in Sweden are painted a singular red influenced by a mineral, copper.

When summer arrives, and the sun returns from its exile to Tierra del Fuego, one may be inclined to think one has earned this light, which collaborates with receptors in eyes and brain to send a signal: red cabin.

Red cabin beside a blue lake in Sweden. Yellow flowers beside a path. Shadows shifting in birch woods. Silver fish in the blue lake. Yellow birds on white/black birch branches. Custom and respite reside, implied, in the red-painted wood of a cabin.

The yellow clean hair of a woman, her children laughing, her husband sleeping in a chair outside.

The rest of the world isn't here, the woman thinks, nor is my job, nor are the bulk of my worries, nor the foul fatigue of Winter. Just far enough away, the sun isn't here, but its light and warmth are. This is the red cabin, she thinks. This is where it is and when it is, summer. This is Sweden, which isn't somewhere else, and I am resting.

Monday, February 1, 2010

106. Diesel

I've always liked the smell of diesel oil, even though I shouldn't--because it stinks, and because I don't know what "diesel" means.

The other day I was standing on a sidewalk in Tacoma, Washington, United States, when a large bus waddled by, giving of its diesel odor. There must have been something else significant in the air because the smell made me think of standing in Stockholm, and normally I don't associate diesel with Stockholm. Anyway I experienced nostalgia for snow, a certain quality of light, and a certain configuration of cold in Sweden. Indeed I named the experience "nostalgia" almost immediately even though I knew nostalgia has such a bad reputation that it's almost a sin.

Then a talker accosted me. He was the type of person who talks constantly to no one in a city, pretends to direct traffic, and otherwise carries on. He carried on to me.

"If you don't stop following me," he said, "you're going to get killed." I knew he was begging the question, but I also knew pointing out the fallacy would not be effective.

Unrhetorically terrified, I said, "Understood," and noticed the red woolen scarf around his neck. My heart-rate had accelerated, I noticed. I walked away. He came after me. "I know you're every move!" he yelled. He'd turned me into a coward. Apparent insanity, combined by such apparent aggression, has that effect on me and others. I went into a shop.

I told the proprietor, "That person is following me."

"Oh?" she said, and her face looked worried, as if I were the type of person who thinks people are following him.

"I don't know what to do," I said. She looked through the window carefully at him, his red scarf, his talking mouth, and sized up the situation.

"Go on down to the bus-stop and get on a bus," she said. "He won't have any money for the bus. Or he'll be afraid of the bus."

"Good idea," I said. Feeling obligated to her, I decided to buy something, so I purchased a small round tin container of a waxy, aromatic substance. I didn't know what one was supposed to do with the substance. Apply it to lips or automobiles? Apply it to a coiffure? It smelled like coconut. I wished she carried a kind that smells like diesel.

Followed closely by the man, I walked to the bus stop and waited while he upbraided me further. He appeared to be unarmed and chiefly a rhetorical assailant, so gradually I grew tolerant of him. Eventually a bus waddled up and stopped. I got on, paid my money, and sat down. The man's eyes followed me to my seat, and the last image I saw of him featured his yelling at the bus and me. I rode around for a while, thinking of Stockholm, and then I got off, leaving the tin of of wax on the seat.