That one time when I went to the wrong funeral

Let’s just get the sad part out of the way first. Josh was one of my best friends in high school. He always had your back. He’d give you the shirt off his own. But he always had his demons. A series of half-hearted suicide attempts, a near-fatal drug overdose, a restraining order from his ex-girlfriend. I loved him like a brother, but I guess he wore us all down a little. It’s not easy, caring about someone so bent on self-destruction.

We’d been going in different directions for a while. He joined the army two weeks after 9/ll, and we lost touch. When I reconnected with him on facebook, years later, he was out of the service, married, and living in Utah. Continue reading

Short story-The Last Time

By Matt Kincade

I knocked on the old, warped door. It opened a crack, and James’ face appeared. His eyes were red. He looked pale and gaunt. He eyed me nervously.

“Hey, James.”

He looked around at the street behind me. “Hey man. Haven’t seen you around in a while.”

“Yeah, I’ve just been busy. How’ve you been?”

“Good.” He looked at me for another few seconds, then opened the door and stood aside so I could enter.

The curtains were drawn in the tiny living room. There was a new Pink Floyd poster on the wall. Black Sabbath played on the stereo. Against one wall lay a disassembled drum kit, a guitar in a soft-sided case, and a guitar amp.

Three total strangers sat on the stained, threadbare sectional couch; two men and a girl. They watched me suspiciously while I entered the room. Paranoia hung heavy in the tobacco-stained air.

Soda cans and beer bottles covered the coffee table, except for the space that had been cleared away for a piece of mirror. On the mirror was a pile of white powder, a razor blade, and a section of McDonald’s soda straw. White with the red and yellow stripes.

James sat down. He picked up the razor blade and resumed chopping the white powder, finer and finer. The others sat hunched over, watching him like a lonely man watches a stripper.

I sat down at the end of the couch. Nobody said a word.

Five people in the room, including me. James pushed the coke into five little lines on the mirror. He handed me the straw.

With a shrug I put the straw to my nose, bent down, and inhaled.

The world brightened and snapped into Kodachrome focus. My face went numb. That old, familiar bitterness ran down the back of my throat. Suddenly the shabby room felt like home. I felt like a million bucks.  “Shit,” I said.

James smiled for the first time. “Right?”

The strangers relaxed. The ritual was complete, the test passed. They smiled, laughed and leaned back on the couch. One by one they bowed their heads and did a line. James lit a cigarette.

I stayed for fifteen minutes or so, making small talk, catching up on old friends.

Finally, I stood up and said, “Hey man, I gotta go. I just wanted to drop by and say hi.”

“Cool, man.” James pulled out a small bag of white powder. “You want one for the road?”

“Nah, I’m good. Hey, while I’m here, why don’t I grab my guitar and my amp?”

James managed to look a little hurt. “It’s not taking up any space, if you want to come by and jam sometime.”

“Nah, I need it. This guy I work with plays base. He wants to jam.”

James nodded slightly. “Oh. Okay.”

I picked up my Strat in one hand, the guitar amp in the other.

“Let me get the door for you,” said James.

“Thanks, man.”

And then I walked out that door.

Microfiction-The Sandcastle

Timmy dragged his father’s big sledgehammer across the back yard to the sandbox.

In his dad’s scrap-pile, he found a two-foot length of rebar. He posted it in the sand.

The boy strained to lift the sledge. Tink tink tink, the rebar sank until six inches protruded.

He upended a bucket of sand over the steel then lifted the bucket away, leaving a smooth, tall tower. He added walls, moats, battlements.

Johnny rounded the corner and spied the sandcastle. His eyes lit up evilly. “Nice sandcastle, nerd,” he said, as he wound back for a mighty kick.

That one time when I almost died in a fiery explosion

I was a real hell-raiser as a kid. A really exciting Friday night for me was going over to my friend Pete’s house, then we’d get in his Mustang and drive from our shitty little town to a shitty medium-size town that had a Blockbuster Video. We’d pick out a few movies on VHS, load up on candy and soda, maybe get a pizza, then drive back to Pete’s house. Then we’d eat junk food and watch bad movies on Pete’s tiny TV, the TV and the VCR sitting on the floor in Pete’s room and us sitting on the floor in front of it. Good times. No, really. Those were some good times.

BlockbusterVideoLA
Something something 90s kids.

Sometimes I get nostalgic about Blockbuster and I regret their demise. But then I remember the time when they sent me to collections over a twelve dollar late fee, and I realize that the jerks probably had it coming.

But anyway, back to the part where I almost died. We’d just left Pete’s house, him driving his Mustang, (just to correct your mental picture here, this was The Worst Mustang Ever Created, an anemic mid-80s shoebox-on-wheels, white with red vinyl upholstery) pulling onto the freeway. He was trying to get his car up to speed, but the car (probably a minivan; Pete hated and still hates minivans) in front of us put on its brakes. “What the crap!” said Pete, and swerved into the fast lane to pass the offending vehicle.

But then the minivan swerved into the fast lane, nearly clipping Pete. “Asshole!” he yelled, and swerved back into the slow lane.

And there, in the middle of the lane, was a shiny red gas can. Obviously, in retrospect, what the minivan was swerving to avoid.

The helpful co-driver that I am, I pointed and screamed, “Gas can!”

It was too late to do anything. Wham! Crunch! The metal gas can disappeared under Pete’s car. It caught on the undercarriage, and we could hear it scraping against the pavement. Font of wisdom that I am, I screamed, “Stop stop stop!”

Jerrycan
LPT: Don’t run these over. It sucks.

Pete merged over to the center median and stopped the car. I got out and went to take a look. The metal gas can was hopelessly mangled, folded up under the car and wedged there. Friction from being dragged over asphalt at freeway speed had ground the corner off, and I saw a trail of gasoline following us down the median and across the freeway to where the collision had occurred.

And then came one of those moments that if I’d seen it in a movie, I would have called it too unrealistic. I don’t know if it was the exhaust from the car, a spark from a passing semi, or simply the puckish sense of humor of a bored god, but at that moment the trail of gasoline ignited. I watched in horror while this tongue of flame crept towards Pete’s Mustang and the gas can wedged underneath it.

“Go go go!” I screamed, always full of good advice.

Pete floored it. Which didn’t do much in his Mustang, but still. The car surged forward, the gas can still grinding on the pavement, the advancing trail of flaming gasoline just feet from his back bumper. Meanwhile, I danced around frantically, trying to stomp out the flames, or to rub away enough fuel to interrupt the makeshift fuse following Pete’s car down the shoulder of the highway. It didn’t work, and I kept running ahead a few more feet to get in front of the flames.

I wish I had a better ending for the story. Something involving heroics. An immense fireball. A fistfight. Paratroopers. A moment of truth where our protagonists rise above their problems and save the day. But no. The gas can ran out of gas, and the trail of gasoline ran dry. At that same moment, some good Samaritan pulled his car over and jumped out with a fire extinguisher. We, and the Mustang, were safe.

We pried the gas can out from under the car. It looked like a smashed beer can. We took a moment to compose ourselves, then we went to Blockbuster and rented Hell Comes to Frogtown and Big Trouble in Little China. We stopped at the Safeway and picked up a half pound of sour gummy worms and some potato chips. Then we went home and watched some movies.

Good times.

Short Story-Five Cats

The notification popped up on Karen’s facebook feed, alongside a little cartoon heart:

John Roberts is now in a relationship with Rebecca Owen.

Karen’s stomach gave an all-too-familiar lurch, twisting itself into a knot and leaving a hollow, aching pit. Suddenly the dish of sliced apples which she’d carefully peanut-buttered and arranged on a plate didn’t look appetizing. She sat numbly, one clammy hand on the mouse, the other flat on the table.

She let out a jagged breath. There it was. John had moved on. Why couldn’t she?

Karen stood up and stumbled away from the computer. That low ache, the bitter melange of hurt, regret and jealousy, churned in her belly. She wanted to curl up on the floor and cry.

No, god-damn it. No more crying. She went out to the porch.

Continue reading

Depressing reading for Valentines Day

newcoverLooking for a sweet, charming love story where everybody lives happily ever after?

Well look somewhere else. This little vampire novella is chock full of teenage existential angst and tragic, unnecessary death.

If you’re like me, you like to spend Valentine’s Day in your pajamas, eating takeout, rolling your eyes at all the sappy facebook posts and watching some movie where everybody dies at the end. Some of my personal favorites are Dead Man or The Mist.

So this year, why not give We Only Come Out At Night a try? It’s free for one more day, it’s a quick little read, and I guarantee it’s full of characters having a worse day than you and me.

Click here to download

 

Vampire Highway, introducing Alex Rains

Hey there!

A little while ago I mentioned I’m working on a big project, and I guess there’s no reason to be so secretive about it. I’m just putting the finishing touches on a novel called THE DEVIL’S MOUTH, an action-horror-thriller starring the rockabilly vampire hunter Alex Rains. Just for the heck of it, I wrote up this little short story, (if it’s even that, I suppose it’s more accurately a vignette) to introduce you fine folks to my main character. So enjoy, and if you like it, please let me know.

Without further ado:

Vampire Highway, introducing Alex Rains

By Matt Kincade

The kid noticed a spot of dried blood on his jacket, and a bit more under his fingernails. He scratched the dark red flakes off the black leather, then pulled a switchblade from his jacket pocket and cleaned under his nails with the point of the blade. At that same moment headlights appeared, two white points on the desert horizon. He closed the knife and put it back in his pocket.

The night sky was ink-black, stippled with a thousand bright stars, a full moon painting the low desert hills in gray hues.

The car came closer, headlights illuminating an advancing blur of blacktop. Now the kid could hear the engine: the loud, throaty roar of a V8 with a four-barrel carb and a performance exhaust. The glow of the headlights reached him and the mesquite bushes he stood next to, casting his face into sharp contrast, throwing long shadows from the gravel at his feet. In the light his bleach-blonde hair was short and spiked, and his baby-face had a half-dozen piercings. A smear of dirt crossed his cheek. He stood up straight, smiled disarmingly, and put out his thumb. Continue reading

Born of Fire

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Several years after my first post, I’ve dusted off my old blog. As I originally promised, I’m posting a short story. This is a little sci-fi fantasy piece that I’ve had laying around for awhile.

I stopped blogging for a while, but I never stopped writing, and I’ve got something big coming down the pipe. So stay tuned.

Enjoy!

-Matt

Born of Fire

By Matt Kincade

In the waning of the fourth moon of autumn, Prince Valen of the Western Lands, mounted upon his coal-black steed, arrived at the fortress of the Armorer’s Guild.

Valen was dressed in a red tunic bearing his family crest, over gleaming chain mail. His straight golden hair, which came down to his collar, was tucked behind his ears. A finely-wrought sword hung at his side.

The black walls of the fortress rose up even above the towering pines of the great forest.He craned his head back as he rode up to the edge of the wide, murky moat, spying the tiny figures that were visible, looking down at him, from the battlements. Before he could cry out to announce himself, the great drawbridge began to lower. Soon thereafter, the iron portcullis gate raised up. Valen spurred his horse and rode into the Armorer’s keep. Continue reading