Short Story Friday–Birthday Edition

Trash Talk


Anne Marie Andrus


Gentle wisps of September breeze swirled through The Beach Haunt reminding Ajay of summer’s magic at the Jersey Shore. A single sharp gust warned him of the season to come. Flicking his eyes from the empty inbox on his smart phone to the televisions and back again, he zipped the collar of his sweatshirt up to his chin. Outside, his part-time cameraman wandered the abandoned boardwalk, puffing an electronic cigarette.

“What can I get the master of local turmoil tonight?” A lady with blue hair and an enormous dolphin tattoo slapped the bar in front of him. “Earth to Ajay!”

“Sorry, Gilda. I applied for a ton of newsroom jobs—they’re all playing possum. I’ll have ice water with a slice of lemon, please.”

“Freakin’ boring.” The bartender flashed a frown that rippled into a smile. “What’s really got you so distracted?”

Ajay stared at the screens surrounding the bar. Dressed in a navy pinstriped suit, the global affairs correspondent flashed her perfect teeth and plunging cleavage.

“You know her?” Gilda sopped mystery liquid off the bar and squeezed the rag over a rubber mat. “Oooo…you do. How well?”

“I went to journalism school with her, that’s all.” Ajay chuckled. “Pretty much.”

“She’s living the life, that’s for sure.”

“Chasing the dream.” Ajay pointed to the television and then to himself. “Eeeking out an existence.”

“Come on, you’ve turned YouTube tabloid commentary into a distinguished art form.” Gilda tapped her nails on a tequila bottle. She flashed the lace of her bra and leaned forward. “I’m sure your classmate had surgery. I’m just dying to know how much.”

“I’ll never tell. No swill.” Ajay pushed the cheap tequila away and winked. “Or l might…what else do you have?”

Gilda jingled her keyring and fumbled through a hidden cabinet until she found a green and gold bottle. She puffed dust off the cap, poured a shot for each of them and then filled a third.
Ajay waved the cloud of sand and ash away. “I’m not drinking all that again.”

“Just think about the parade of drunks you’re about to interview.”

“Sinking to new depths of stupidity every Sunday night, yet I still need to speak in coherent sentences.” Ajay grabbed the salt shaker and fished the lemon from his water. He licked the back of his hand before tapping out a healthy dash of salt.

“One for me, one for you, plus the emergency ration.” Gilda grabbed a fresh lemon. “Here we go. Lick, slam, suck.”

Ajay followed her instructions, gagged and groaned. Outside, a bus boy dumped three huge bags of garbage on the corner, turned around and flashed him a thumbs-up.

“My stage awaits.” Ajay closed his eyes and drained the back-up shot. “I’ll make those network execs sorry.”

“Enough of this crap.” Gilda snagged the television remote and hit mute. “Go out and smash it.”



And So We Begin Again…


March 17th

Light at the end of winter’s dreary tunnel and a special anniversary.

Fifteen years ago, Glory Days joined our family.

Each year, the echo of bagpipes sparks her survivor’s soul.

The things is…most people see a plain, old boat. Fiberglass, chrome, an inanimate machine. But I always heard a voice–even if she only whispered at first.

Before the whirlwind of summer begins, I like to reflect on our shared memories,

New York Harbor in August 2001–spectacular and scary.

Dodging the Staten Island Ferry, logs in the East River. Navigating Hell Gate, and a Point Judith storm that sent waves crashing over the bow.Late that next night, floating under the Verrazano Bridge watching a lightning storm, unaware the skyline behind us would change forever in less than a month.

Glory Days has proudly flown the stars and stripes for memorials, holidays, and fireworks in the years since. She’s been the centerpiece for extravagant parties and a fortress for retreat when the world is too much. Whether she towers like Queen Mary at the end of the dock or slips in and out of the marina like a stealth fighter, she’s home and peace.

Wind, raging surf, flood and fire were the tests during Hurricane Sandy. When dawn’s light raced across the ruined beach, the Lady was alive in the debris. Against all the odds, she held on.

The timid whisper has become a voice that rings like royal crystal. A driving melody from the past, pushing us full blast into the future.

Be not discouraged, as many will fail to believe,

Forever follow a spirit that sings,

Viciously cherish each beating heart,

Revel in your timeless soul,