beauty, fiction, love, women

An Echo Of Laughter


Miller had a kerchief to his noise, stood in the doorway to the study, hiding his morbid fascination with the amount of blood a human body can produce. Without an attachment, the humours of the body held academic interest and the dry language of medicine, much like justice removed sentiment from the equation. His work as an officer of the law was an amusing diversion from wasting his family’s money.

Such emotions were for the grieving. Foster Honeycutt had been a legend to the people of Texas, and the circumstances of his death were as redolent with theatre as the magazines, which bolstered his legend.

The culprit had the decency to remain on the scene. A withered Native who had served the family for twenty years with an impeccable record of service. He had not spoken since walking into the parlour, hands dripping with blood and the bone handled blade tucked into the waistband of his uniform.

Shock and good breeding had them call Miller rather than string him from a tree in the yard. Foster sagged in his chair, his face and throat reduced to wet, red ruin whilst his shirt hung from him in bloodied rags where the servant had sliced him to pieces.

The soles of his feet and scalp were a wet pile in the corner of the study.

The servant had repeated a single phrase instead of a motive or answering questions. Most murders were whiskey, women or wealth and it was intriguing to have an honest to goodness mystery on his hands.

He went through to the parlour and looked at the old man. His blunt, cheap haircut and the sour apple decay in his features. His eyes were soft and dark, swallowing the light in the parlour.

‘Her name was Laughs At Cattle. I am Never Runs From Battle, both of the Comanche people. I kept my promise’

He smiled with a child’s joy, disturbing when framed by the rigours of old age and hard work.


He polished the silverware and looked out the window onto the amber sunset. His head still rang from the volume of the dream and the vows he made. What haunted him was how good it had all felt, a wild childhood and the woman who watched over them as their mothers worked and fathers hunted.


When Foster retold his anecdotes about his youth, he alluded to his actions with a wink and a sly smile. In his cups, the tales grew bolder and darker and when he told his friends about the Indian squaw, how she had fought against them, and even struck him, pointing to a silvered scar on his cheek for emphasis, he had excused himself with a cramping stomach and a mouth full of bitter, thick saliva.


She had come to him in the night. Her sockets were full of golden light and her feet were soft as a child’s belly. Her hair smelled of honey and mesquite, and her breath, warm upon his wizened cheek.


He shed tears as he slept, hands clenched into hot, tight fists and crying for the years wasted in servitude.

Dressing in the darkness, he forgot his aches and his grief and it was as a young brave he slipped through the hall down to Foster’s study. His knife was a comfort, and he sipped from the cool, dark waters of his revenge.


Roper took off his hat and exhaled, running his hard, browned fingers through the damp grey hair on his head. He looked over the faces of the children over his spectacles, which had permanent right of residence on the peeling bridge of his nose.

They stood to attention behind their wooden desks. The boys had their hair in oiled plaits but Roper made a note to get scissors working on the infraction straight away. He would make them useful, loyal citizens of the country to come.

He held the gaze of one boy, soft down on his cheeks and eyes, which watered at every slight, real or implied. He looked down at his register and saw his name was one of those boastful titles, which made him aghast at the noble savages before him.

He would be a Peter or a John. Such warring names spoke to the arrogance of a prairie nigger, and Roper took pride in producing servants capable of obedience and attention to detail.

‘What you will be when you leave here is a matter of deep concern.’

He paced the front of the classroom, setting his hat on the desk in front of him.

‘The age of the savage is over. Civilisation has won out and you, my children will know a place in such an age. I will teach you.’

His eyes met with the boy. Despite the timid whisper of his personality, Roper saw a will within him tough as rawhide. The savages taught their children to hunt and fight from infancy. He had lost Ms Western to a girl who had leapt upon her, sinking her teeth into the young teacher’s cheek and scratching her forehead when she tried to take a hide dolly from her.

‘You must leave your pasts and any promises behind you. They are whispers of a dead age; children and you must close your ears to them.’

The boy stared back, a line in his forehead grooved deep into the tan skin like a knife wound formed before he took a deep breath and turned away from Roper’s gaze.

Roper did not see the boy’s fists beneath the desk, remembering the press of lips against them and the promise he had made.

Laughs At Cattle listened to the children rolling in the dirt, their shrill voices bright with primitive excitement. She leaned forward and cocked her head, told Hungry Vulture to stop taunting his brother or he would lose another tooth.

She loved the children. When she stared in their direction, her empty sockets did not scare them. She kept her feet wrapped in strips of hide but had to wash the blood and pus from them each day.

Laughs At Cattle felt pity like spit on her cheek with as much disgust.

Never Runs From Battle was a timid child given a brave name to inspire courage and he took Laugh’s hand, asked her what was wrong.

‘I’m remembering another time, Never Runs From Battle.’ she said

Her voice was soft, tarred by a rusted growl from the damage done to her throat.

‘When someone made you sad?’ he said.

Laughs shook her head. Sadness was a useful weight to bear, a flavour of pain, which she could swallow down, and function. This was a different sensation.

Never gripped her hand and took in a deep breath.

‘When I am a brave, no one will make you sad, Laughs At Cattle.’

She took his fragile hand in both of hers and kissed his hand. He giggled and flinched which took the sting from her memories.

‘I will hold you to that.’

She told him about the Texans and the horrible pleasure they took in her torture. Blinded her, slit her throat and the soles of her feet after taking her until she bled onto the dirt. She cared for the children instead of anything useful.

The truth of his words waited.


beauty, love, lust, poetry, sex, women


Gilded by sunlight
Coffee, brewed to potent darkness
Hangs in the air like hotel polish
My hand at your cheek
Warm and rough
Like a dog’s enquiry
Offering the delight
Of my attention
The low, soft lilt
Of the words I wrote for you
Making your winged soul
Tickled with attention
How I come from my world
A breath apart
To yours
Taking pleasure in the differences
Invitation extended
Without recrimination
An embrace taut as leather
Crisp understanding
And a wave of forceful
Desire to wash over you
Go about your day, darling,
Saturated in my love,
A moment taken from my own
Empire’s grace
Offered to you
A drop of rain, pure and sweet
Hitting the surface of your heart’s ocean
One drop
One drop
One drop
beauty, love, poetry, women

A gossamer weight

Your gossamer wings

Shimmer against the kitchen tiles

Busy, busy, busy

Taking delight in the simplest things

For all my words

In odes to passion

Surrender, the sweet, dark polarity

Of my beast to your beauty

It is the rippling of light upon water

Which draws my eye to you

How tender, how wounded you are

And how you rise above the dark gravity

Of your anxieties

The slick pull of a guilt which reaches into everything

I love as a conscious act, weighing the depth of

Your soul’s deeds

Never find you wanting

Even when such wounds and pulls

Wound and pull at me

My armour bears the scars

With pride

beauty, fiction, love, women

Raisin Debtor


Siobhan. With hair the colour and curl of  black carrot peelings dumped atop a soft, round face and emerald eyes. A smattering of freckles across her nose and a body made from scoops of flesh which tumbled and spill with each step she took.

Phil offered her the job.

I watched from my station, how he leaned over like a mantis to stare down her top. Phil had been cautious, but he still thought from between his legs. Siobhan had seized on it without making it obvious, wearing a cardigan and a good shirt underneath, suggesting her shape without drawing attention to it.

She was covering her bases, which drew my admiration. Then my attention.

When she left, she smiled and introduced herself.



Phil punched the air when she left and I wanted to join him.

My eyes itched from the Demerol but the sight of her, the eye contact raged through me, cutting through the junk that clung to my cells, scraped off by the right dose of the right drug. We all needed chemicals to function, but I needed more than most. I had access to a lot of drugs, being a doctor but had fucked things up.

The shaking hands were the drugs, I told myself.

Her first shift was uneventful on the surface. She played down her experience, asking questions to make other people feel special without being irritated.

Between us, we stoked an invisible fire, fed it with glances and surreptitious contact, touching at the hip or the back of the hand. I nursed an erection which could hammer nails, and when Phil came in, I fought a surge of primal jealousy.

A cigarette break framed our first kiss. Her suggestions became plans and beneath her fingers, I burned bright like the cigarettes smouldering to ash.

We laid in my bed, sheets pooled at our feet, wreathed with the perfume of frenetic, messy sex. She asked me about Phil, which raked nails down the lining of my stomach. It made me want to reach for a pill.

‘What have you heard?’ I said.

She gave a smile that chilled me.

‘Some stuff. Like Phil’s got things going on.’ she said.

Her coyness aimed for cute but it made me itch. I should have gone to her place but then she stroked down my thigh and I smoothed out..

He was the biggest drug dealer in Whitehall. The restaurant laundered money, gave him a name and address to give the IRS. Working for him had made it obvious. The restaurant was sacred ground and I risked getting fired for the pills. I made sure I functioned, cutting my dosage for my shifts to stay in his good graces.

‘I have an address.’ she said.

I raised an eyebrow and shook my head.

‘No, Siobhan, I can’t talk about this with you.’ I said.

She grazed my thigh with her nails.

‘We’re just talking, hun.’ she said.

A tremor came from deep within my gut. It was cousin to the need for pills, but it dressed better, whispering for a chance to wreak havoc with my life again.

The addiction to an easy way out.

This was my world, pinned to the flaws of others. Her magnetism pulling out a deeper set of flaws from within me.


Siobhan had it down to a rip and run. Anything smarter would have a lot of known unknowns, and she alluded to scams which were messier and less profitable. We would have to run afterwards but I told her we could run on what we took for a long time.

She smiled and asked how I knew what she was thinking.

I told her and she frowned.

‘What’s a raisin debtor?’ she said.

I frowned and asked her if she was serious.

She giggled and rolled her eyes.

‘There’s Cajun in my people. Plus it impresses people if you know a language.’ she said.

I chuckled and shook my head.

‘Not around here.’ I said.


The stash house was like a lesion next to an abscess, home to a large, chaotic family, mother, father substitute, a sister and her kids. I thought they were a family but Phil drew in flotsam and jetsam, made them useful to him.

It didn’t matter, she said.

They had kids. If you controlled them, you controlled everything.

I blanched, but she petted me, reassuring me it would not come to anything bad.

A drive to an outlet mall got us smart clothes. Three hours in a Denny’s parking lot got us a pair of guns, a 9mm with two magazines and a.38. I handed Kris a roll of notes and he counted them whilst licking his lips before winking at Siobhan and driving away. We went out and practiced with them, ended up so turned on we fucked over the hood of my car in shunting, clumsy thrusts, her wrists in my hands as she lifted her head and shouted my name.

We drove through Whitehall. Phil was away, dealing with a distributor in Canton and Lee, his second in command was drunk on the pussy of an eighteen-year-old stripper called Candice. There would never be a good time to do this, but there was time.

We knocked and when the woman answered the door, her face turned bovine with boredom and simple carbohydrates, Siobhan pushed the gun against her forehead and shouted in French, forcing her backwards as my heart leapt into my throat.

My eyes met with the little boy on the couch, his thin, pale legs smeared with something I hoped was chocolate and his eyes shining with an expectation which ran a knife down my cheek. His oversized t-shirt hung from his shoulders and I saw a livid bruise on his neck.

Siobhan pointed the gun at the boy and asked where the shit was.

The woman juddered, flat breasts swinging underneath her olive vest, raising arms scarred with jagged tattoos and keloid scars.

‘Don’t hurt my boy.’ she said.

Siobhan kept her face still and pulled the hammer back on the revolver.

‘Then get the shit.’ she said.

I swallowed, wished I had taken something before we started out.

‘Hey, you don’t have to do that.’ I said.

She raised her eyebrows and pouted.

‘Shut up and stick to the plan.’ she said.

The sound of the shotgun filled the room, a rolling front of noise as the front of Siobhan’s shirt exploded into stained rags. She collapsed against the door, banging her head against the doorknob before her head fell forward. Every breath tasted of gunpowder and blood.

The known unknowns had fucked everything.

Ten years old and holding a shotgun, butt against the wall and angled upwards, her eyes cold and hard like marbles in the sockets. She wore a neon green bikini, tattooed with bruises across her chest and stomach, and the woman stood beside her, lips pulled back over her teeth as she cackled and ruffled the girl’s hair, sticking up in blunt tufts from her scalp..

‘Good girl.’

I turned and ran. The little boy on the couch, smiled, proud of his family as he gave a small, fragile wave.

Someone was screaming as I bolted to the car. I think it was me.

I got behind the wheel, tried not to vomit all over myself in panic, remembered cracking jokes whilst I touched the distended liver of a congressional candidate and threw some dirt on my fear. There was less than half a tank of gas, but Phil was away and Lee would be slow.

Siobhan had burned bright in her ambition and part of me wondered when, not if, she would have fucked me, but with each mile out of Whitehall, the wound in my heart grew massive like the world.

It was a pain there was no pill for.

beauty, love, poetry, women


If the water on the windowsill could be your molecules they would give me a paper to smell a pen to place safely away near my utensils think of me when it rains how the droplets become you and me falling from the sky like bullets on a battlefield like trees in the rainforest sometimes […]

via If — Christina Strigas

beauty, love, lust, poetry, sex, women



Melting like ice cream

Pooling amber cream

In the plastic bowl

Of an afternoon

We escape for brief periods

Making a love

Equal parts tender and furious

My tenderness at loving war

With your fury

I know your need for me

To be a man to you

A column, a wild bear

Roaring lust into the blue

Teasing and rewarding

Your lips curved into gentle

Smiles then lustful howls

I need your surrender

And beneath the sway of flowers

Take what I want

Buck and dance beneath me

Nothing in my gaze

Warrants judgement

Guilt is a small cloud

But my light

My darkness

Overwhelms it all

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beauty, love, lust, poetry, sex, women

all now is play

Lost in my eyes

Found by my touch

Defined by my strength

Aloft on the gentle wonder

Of my attention

I listen close

Act according to my purpose

Sourced in quiet primal play

Do I still pool in the hollow places

Within you?

My instincts offer affirmation

But the silence, sometimes

Is too thick to make sense of

Yet still, my cave

Echoes with the gentle call

To adventure

Take my rough hands

Put them where you will

All now is play

All now is love