DB Cox is a blues musician/writer from South Carolina. His poems and short stories have been published extensively in the small press, in the US, and abroad. He has published five books of poetry:“Passing For Blue,” “Lowdown,” “Ordinary Sorrows,” “Nightwatch,” and “Empty Frames.” He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. Rank Stranger Press has just published his new collection of short stories called “Unaccustomed Mercy.”
Down in Canaan-town a sweat-stained street preacher dances along cracked concrete and prays over abandoned cotton mills, boarded store buildings, and one defunct movie house—stone-dead illusions that can never be raised from the ground. Hollow invocations ride on a feeble breeze—curling round & round down in Canaan-town.
Again, it is night. The table lamp flickers, and shadows dance crazily along the walls. There’s the sound again—a junk-sick headache thumping and ringing and generally raising hell inside my skull. Everything in the room is moving in and out of focus.
--- For Rod Serling and Charles Beaumont
Robert Bro Brown stands in front of the Club Indigo, “windy-city” cold blowing into his bloodshot eyes. How long since he’s closed his eyes—months, maybe even years. He looks up and down the boulevard—not a car in sight. Quiet, except for the sound of a dog howling in the distance. Mournful wailing. The baying of a hound tracking a scent.
A shiver tracks his spine. Bro reaches inside his overcoat pocket, pulls out a bottle, and downs the dregs. He wipes his lips with his sleeve and drops the empty into the gutter. The bottle does not break. It spins around on its side a couple of times and comes to a stop—bottleneck pointing in his direction. Mephisto Gin—Bottled in Chicago. Bro picks up his guitar and turns toward the club entrance.
T.J. Lake is forty-eight, and he’s burnt out—nothing left except a longing to be done.
T.J. is lying in bed staring up at a motionless ceiling fan. He has been stretched out here since early this morning trying to conjure a reason to move.
Things are screwed up—have been for a long while now. T.J. is now ready to own up to the crimes that have left him here—ready to admit how at each crossroads, he chose this way, toward this place.