Art by Ron Bucalo
by Doug Allyn
Screw the railrode pigs!
Ricardo Ramos, a.k.a. Ricky Rattle-can, took a step back to admire his handiwork. Freakin’ magnifico! The tag line he’d sprayed on the tanker car in neon green italics screamed its rage in streetwise style. Slick shading, phat calligraphy. Okay, okay, maybe the railroad misspell was a little bit over the top—
“Freeze, you little bastard! Right there! Drop that paint can!”
Ricky whirled to face the two security cops who were shouting at him, and coolly gauged the distance between them. They were at least a hundred yards down the tracks and one of ’em was fat as a hog. They might as well be in freakin’ Australia. No way they could run down the Rickster.
Taking his sweet time, Ricky recapped his rattle can, slid it into his shoulder bag, and took a deep breath—then he flipped the two bulls the finger and took off like a shot.
Sprinting down the line of tank cars, he counted them silently as he ran—two—three—four—
At the fifth car he ducked between, flattening himself in the shadows, but still counting, giving the yard guards ten seconds to cross over—then he poked his head out again—
Damn it! They hadn’t fallen for it! Only the fat cop had crossed the tracks. The younger one was still coming on hard, and he’d gained a good thirty yards.
“Stop where you are, you little prick!”
Whoa! The pig was not only big, he was fast, and seriously ticked off now. No more games. Ricky had to drop the hammer and outrun this cracker bastard.
Breaking into the open, he made a beeline straight towards a tear in the chain-link fencing that surrounded the rail yard. If he could get off D & E property, the yard bulls couldn’t touch him. Their jurisdiction ended at the fence.
Ducking out through the torn linkage, Ricky high-stepped through the tangled undergrowth, following a nearly invisible path he could run blindfolded. Once he hit the street, he slowed to a saunter, knowing he was home free. No traffic this late. He trotted across the side street, then ducked behind a Jag sedan to check his back trail. The Jag was the only sweet ride in the Motel 6 parking lot. Looked almost new, perfect for a quick tag—
But when he glanced around—? What the hell? The rat-bastard cop was still coming, cursing as he bulled his way through the underbrush. He looked meaner than most security hacks, and clearly didn’t give a damn that he was off railroad property now.
He was steamed, and looking to kick some ass. Ricky needed to ditch him quick.
Sprinting across the motel parking lot, Ricky charged up the back stairway to the second-floor balcony. He knew the layout well. This close to the tracks, the management usually left a room or two unlocked so junkies looking to crash wouldn’t kick in the doors. One open door was all he needed—but he couldn’t find one! Every knob he tried—locked, locked, goddammit! READ MORE
Art by Laurie Harden
by Marjorie Eccles
Anna van Doorn sits in the shadows on a high-backed chair in the Flemish house, watching him as he stands back, palette and brush in hand, absorbed, lost to everything except his work: her elderly husband, the painter, fifty years old in this year of Our Lord 1640. Anna is little more than a third of his age, and has been married to him for eight months.
She is not idle as she watches. Her busy fingers shell peas into the thick yellow pottery bowl that rests in the deep hammock of the blue skirts dipping across her lap. At this mid stage of her pregnancy she is already beginning to find difficulty in sitting with her knees together. The peas rattle into the bowl in the still, heavy silence; dust motes dance in the shaft of sunlight from the corner window. Soft and buttery, the light reflected from the canal that runs alongside the house falls onto the painting on the easel, on golden skin, rosy nipples, and the soft curves of belly and thigh. From the couch where she reclines, the Titian-haired model, Mia, looks over a bare, smooth shoulder, her face half turned, intending to convey innocence.
Anna has recently learned that Mia, no longer all that young, was the artist’s mistress for years, and maybe still is, who knows? Had she been respectable, she would not have been posing, naked, for the painter, but in any case it is not something Anna can take a stand against. In the circumstances, her mother tells her, such accommodations must be accepted. Her husband is a man of large appetites, big and handsome, a bold, roistering man. But he is kind to Anna, and especially forbearing to her in the present circumstances. This morning, for instance, when she slipped into the studio with her bowl and her basket of fresh-picked peas over her arm, he had allowed her to stay and watch, though not without a wary glance first towards his model. Yet when has he ever given a fig for conventions—even to spare this young wife of his, just now the most treasured of all his possessions?
Cornelius van Doorn is a worldly man, and what he owns means a great deal to him; he has to have evidence all around him of everything he has achieved, which is not inconsiderable. In his youth he lived a scarecrow, hand-to-mouth existence, until he began painting wealthy burghers, and sometimes their wives and children, which not only made him money but also revealed to him his life’s purpose. Conveying the inner being behind the human face excited and absorbed him more than anything he had previously done. Now, between painting bread-and-butter landscapes for various wealthy clients, and biblical and classical themes for public buildings and churches, he paints his portraits with passion, insight, and truth; if his subjects do not always like the finished result, he can afford to ignore it—though they rarely complain. He has become fashionable in this prosperous city of Bruges, and indeed across most of the Low Countries. To be painted by Cornelius is regarded as an honour.
His spreading fame, and his acceptance by both the bourgeoisie and the nobility, is what has enabled him to buy this commodious, well-built house from a wealthy merchant who ruined himself by speculation in tulips. READ MORE