I’m getting closer and closer to new comic time over here at Dang Old Man, and while I don’t want to drop a trailer just yet, I want you to know it’s coming and is soon for the world.

In the meantime, here’s something I’ve been sitting on for some time: it’s a proper fiction that I’m not in, a short story all its own.

Bo Tyrell was already late for work at the Cinnabon when he ran over the pigeon.

His skinny calves burned as his duct-taped Adidas pumped the BMX pedals up the boardwalk back towards his old hood. He couldn’t believe the changes that happened while he was on the inside: the grimiest part of Tanga Beach was now made-over new as “The Promemade”: upscale condos, seaside bistros with models moonlighting as hostesses, surveillance cameras everywhere, cops on every corner. Watching. Watching him.

Even now, after time served and slate cleaned. But it’s never ever “clean” in the States. You learn that once you try and apply for work, once you register to vote. There’s no going back to the clean slate, not in the democracy where you pay your taxes.

He swerved around the asphalt, nearly-bare tires slipping into a groove in the asphalt baked open by the sun like an overdone cookie. It rattled his handlebars in his hands, his elbows, his teeth. Moving through The Promenade, he was a ghost. Invisible, ignored.

Tanga Beach Drive was the street he once lived on, could no longer afford to. His apartment the place he finally got clean after two decades of sweaty needy fog. He smiled passing his old corner where the package store used to be, remembering that night in the parking lot. The buzz of the streetlight above them, the full snap of Teddy’s shinbone as he brought down the steel pipe on it, full force, all anger.

As that shinbone broke, so did Teddy’s hold over Dana. It was a magic spell that worked on all three of them. Her half-makeup tears running down her cheeks: black tears of relief and release. She stopped screaming for him to stand down once it hit her that she was finally free.

He carried her upstairs, up to his crib, like a trophy and she finally was his for a little while. What was it, nine months? Eleven? The building was bulldozed the day after his eviction, since Bo was the last of his landlord’s tenants to leave.

But Dana had bulldozed him months before: the real estate developers took a lucrative opportunity to re-zone T-Beach into gated communities and mixed-use properties. Dana followed her own lucrative opportunity into some silver fox’s BMW sedan and he never saw her again.

Now The Promenade was closed to cars to maximize foot-traffic.

He rode past a NO BIKES sign underneath a NO SKATEBOARDS sign underneath a ZERO TOLERANCE FOR DRUGS sign. They wanted it perfect out here now: don’t scare the straights, don’t let the property values dip. His T-Beach was gone — the mess of beer cands, cigarette butts, discarded needles and bloody condoms — all that got pushed another few blocks west, out of sight of the eyes that only want to see the soft-focus fantasy.

The Cinnabon was eight blocks past the end of The Promenade: where the expensive bistros bled back into the lower-middle class chains with food you didn’t have to ask what’s in it. A nice walk on foot, but by bike it was a speed-run through America’s major strip-center clothing brands and fast-food restaurants.

And at the ass end of that, The Cinnabon.

His phone dinged and it was Randy again, calling to see if he’d be coming into work at all today. This time he answered it: “Randy. I’m on my way, I’m passing The Cheesecake Factory right now.”

“That’s good Bo, cause Mike already tol’ me I got to fire you if you’re not clocked in by nine-thirty on the dot. He was like pissed, for real Bo.”

“All good. I’m just down the block.”

“Also um, I was hoping you and me could talk abou—”

But he knew what was coming and hung up on Randy. Newly-religious, ignorant, uptight Randy. If not for her big pillowy ass — so big it was impossible to pass behind her in the tight Cinnabon kitchen without lightly goosing it — last night probably never would’ve happened.

Randy’d declared herself a born-again virgin before taking the Assistant Manager job, but Bo remembered when she was sprinkling coke into honey blunts along with the rest of the Tanga Drive fuckups, out of her mind and always open for business. Whether she was really against premarital sex now or just using it to bounce off no-prospect fuckups like him, she still moaned and shook like The Rapture was taking her home last night, after she tripped over the pallet-jack in the delivery truck and planted those king-size pillows right in his lap. It happened so fast that even after they both stood up, before she saw he was already hard, the air hung with a burning after-tremor of We Both Know What Happens Next And Can’t Do Nothing About It.

Bo grinned about it now, sniffed his fingers. He didn’t wash up yet so he could reminisce and enjoy a bit long. It’d been a long stretch he’d had any loving kindness from a woman, even if they both knew it wouldn’t ever mean a thing. His mouth filled with bitterness and he spit on the sidewalk when a pigeon landed in front of him.

There were usually clouds of them on The Promenade, cooing under café tables to catch falling baguette crumbs, but they always took off as he wheeled closer.

This dipshit landed directly in front of him, bobbed its dummy head a few times, then looked up at Bo’s incoming front tire with time enough for two red-eyed blinks. He tried to weave left around it but the dipshit did the same and it went right under the tire.

He felt the front tire bounce, felt the bird-bones crunch through the BMX’s frame. The rear tire a much lower bounce. Looking back behind him, what was once a bird was now a broken tangle of still-lit nerve-fire wrapped in feathers.

The diners outside Johnny Rockets dropped their burgers on either side of him, gasped in several languages, mommies covered their kids’ eyes. Bo stepped off the bike and let it coast away on its own past him and fall into the sand on the side of the boardwalk. He walked back to the bird.

It was alive but in shock, cooing like a happy kitten, like nothing happened. A little blonde girl screamed and hid her face in her mother’s pushed-up cleavage.

A man in a polo shirt covered his smartphone with his palm and barked: “For God’s sake, put the fucking thing out of its misery!”

Bo glared at him and stepped over the bird, sinking to a squat over the twist of feathers and bone. The bird’s neck and head were untouched, bobbing back and forth above its ruined body, trying to understand.

The sounds of the Promenade dropped away until there was just the low roar of rolling waves and the rustle of palm trees cradling the pigeon’s confused, frantic blinking. Bo leaned over it, blocking out the sun… blanketing the bird in his cooling shadow where it would die.

It locked its red-irised eyes with his as it shook, gold-rimmed pupils dilated all the way. Without breaking their gaze, the pigeon slowly dipped its neck forward until the tip of its beak tapped the sidewalk and a tiny red bubble inflating from its nostrils to the size of a blueberry before popping into a tiny mist. Its mouth opened, a half-dollar pool of blood spreading out around its head. Bo leaned into closer, stared deeper into the black of the pigeon’s pupil and fell in.

He felt wind on the backs of his legs as the sidewalk dropped away, the sun swallowed, all heat snuffed out. Wrapped in a blanket of cold black, Bo was there with the bird, became the bird, became a golden ribbon that was once a bird as it escaped is jangling ruined body to fumble and soar through a burning rollercoaster of nerves and sparks and stars toward a faraway point of purple fire and music, a soft womb-like hum made of memories of eggs and wings and sun and—

Trees. A hand clapped on Bo’s shoulder, his neck jerked back to face it, dark knuckle hairs tickling his bottom lip. The bloop-squawk of a police’s radio: “Sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to clear the thoroughfare. Maintenance is on its way to clean up this mess.”

Bo stood up, sweating. His phone buzzed again in his pocket. He took it out, looked at the time — 9:38am — and then Randy’s text: DONT BOTHER COMING IN, MIKE SAYS UR FIRED.

Retrieving his bike, he wheeled it back around past the mangled pigeon, his eyes searching from a distance for that spark inside the pigeon’s black pupil he’d ridden away from this place with. It was a now a dull, empty thing as Maintenance swooped in and swept the bird up into a yellow plastic dustpan.


Talk soon,