a man goes on a journey…a stranger appears in town

I’m working on various short stories as well as two Ben Miles projects, the book BETTER THE DEVIL and the novella tentatively titled THE CAGE.

This is a little out-of-sequence bit from BETTER THE DEVIL I recently found particularly brilliant if I do say so myself, and figured I’d share it to whet people’s appetites a bit. Enjoy.

It was a fairly boring plot of land, a park only by virtue of a sign from the state and city, and some straggling trees among the grass and benches overlooking the highway and the airport runway on the other side. The neighborhood was a flat mess of nothing, motels and the bus depot and a flight school and a parking lot, with other businesses in the distance one way with apartment projects in the other, wholly unremarkable and more or less deserted.

He waited. He was, for once, early.

No one sat here really except for employees of the bus depot on the other side of the park, full of new and old buses constantly going in and out, to and from the nearby airport and back again onto their routes before eventually ending up back in the depot for the night or the day, depending on the shift they worked. Once in a while rent-a-car agency people would drift by for an outdoor lunch there to watch the planes. Even then, after early fall it fast became a ghost acre of dying grass and cold benches by a chain-link fence, the ground littered with cigarette butts and lunch wrappers, gum and soda tabs and candy bar wrappers.

But it was almost always quiet even when it was “busy,” like on the brilliantly-sunny day it was that day. At the far end of the park three Hispanic men in coveralls smoked and ate lunch, talking and laughing and arguing amongst themselves. Someone wandered through the grass adjusting an iPod before getting back onto the sidewalk, walking into the flight school’s side doorway.

Ben watched them from his bench in the far corner of the park, waiting. The planes from the runway not that far from his seat roared into the skies, screeching into the runway as well, the wind of the relatively open area around them chill in the fall air, whipping trash and leaves and grass periodically across his feet.

He was older, a balding African-American man with a moustache and close-cropped graying hair in a plain and but well-cut tan overcoat. He made no bones about walking across the grass right to Ben, sitting down next to him. He looked like a banker or a life coach or a college teacher, a level of elegance that was both clearly a mask but at the same time, entirely charming and disarming against someone who couldn’t tell otherwise. 

You can still get the previous Ben Miles book RUNNING THE TRAIN AND OTHER STORIES via Smashwords right here


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