Blues: A Short Story by Ernest G. Valencia
Voyage of the Mind: Today, we’re honored to present you with a guest post — a short story titled “Blues” by Ernest G. Valencia, who you can find on Twitter @ernestgvalenci1. Once you read “Blues,” you must visit his Twitter page and read the story pinned to his profile.
It is our honor and privilege to feature Ernest’s work here — he has a true and rare talent for short story writing, as you’ll soon see from “Blues.”
Two horned toads made languid love under an overhang carved by the stream. Behind, writhing in increments, a reticulated orange and black Gila monster stalked his lunch.
“Mom, Dad, come quick.” Low scratchy words tried to scream up Rodrigo’s throat. Windmilling, short arms hurried them. “Be careful, there’s tiny baby dinosaurs and their angry moms might bite us.”
“Where, my love?” Emi followed the telescoping finger.
“There. The baby triceratops are doing hip-hop on each other and the little mega-gator’s got his mouth open and wants to sing or something.”
Flipping through her trail guide, Emi researched. “Ew.” Identifying, she jumped from page to live action and back.
Unfazed by the three giants nor impending doom, the happy revelers continued in pursuit of propagation.
“Like you never.” Ben’s elbow nudged with an outside voice. Needing to address the semi-poisonous reptile, he distracted. “How do you know it’s a mega and not a regular alligator?” One trekking pole nudged and lifted, encouraging. The second poked holes in the sand, a stronger message, forcing a retreat downstream.
“Duh, Dad, regular ones don’t have orange racing stripes. Hey, where’d he go?” Excited indications returned empty.
“His mom said be home at twelve for lunch and guess what?”
“I wanted to ask him questions and play.”
“We don’t want his mom to get angry, remember? Besides, those guys have stinky poop breath and bite hard with gooey-gooey poison inside. So never play with them, okay?”
“Okay, Dad. Hey, Mom?” Forming the letter L, one hand grabbed for the sky, its twin for the flowing waters.
“Is this the real blue?”
“Indeed, is there any other kind?”
Giggles taught the lesson. “Yes, silly mother goose. Doctor H said I could see real blue today.”
“There’s blue in your hospital room, your favorite pajamas, cups, all over. I don’t understand?”
“Mommmm. Peoples make those other things, so are these real blues?”
“Yes, my love.” Real blue pooled in her eyes, lips wriggled mouthing “thank you” to Ben.
“Can I touch them?”
“Yes, but real blues are slippery and difficult to hold, so don’t get mad if you open your hand and find nothing but skin. Okay?”
“Okay. Hey, the triceratopter’s stopped dancing and now they’re yelling. You guys want to know a secret, I’m not s’posed to tell?” Punching holes in the gurgling flow, new diversions vied for young attentions.
Slow motion movies of the renowned doctor in wild house beat driven undulations with a never-ending conga line of various staff, interns, and associates played on repeat and Ben’s eyes ballooned to match his wife’s.
“Does Doctor H do the dinosaur dance in your room? And who does she dance with?” Ben hated to, but had to ask.
“Sometimes she sings and dances in the room, but nothing like the dinosaurs. Standing up kind of dancing. But…” Secret-bearing giggles machine gunned. “She gets all tomato head and screams and yells at the peppermint ladies. They all come to my room to break something, drink smelly coffees, and read my dinosaur books. She tells them to quit breaking in my room and get to work, stuff like that. And her face and nose and ears get so red, I can’t believe it.”
Spray painting the overhanging boulder with latte, fear of the boiling liquid retracted her supporting hand. “Oh, thank goodness.” Squishing the cup, she fought gravity and balance, righting herself and emptying the liquid heaven.
“You made cave man hands on the rock, Mom, see?” Excitement lightninged focus to the rock. “Can I try?”
“The coffee’s gone, maybe next time.”
“That’s okay, can I touch the screaming Dinos?”
“I thought you wanted real blue first?” Buying time, turbo page turns found the horned toad information.
“It’s good that you’ve asked.” Ben took over. “Some Dinos, like the orange mega-gator baby, don’t like people to pet them. Let’s call the orange one Gila monster, okay. Well, Gilas bite hard, don’t let go, and they have nasty dangerous poison spit. So, if they bite, it hurts and will make you super-duper sick. That’s why I scooted him away. These triceratops don’t bite, so you can get close. Respect them, and please remember, to them, you’re the giant monster who might want to squish or eat them, okay?”
“Okay, but I don’t like Gila, can we call that guy Marvin?” Hands and knees crawling, he approached less intimidating. Offering his friendliest smile, he stopped within arm’s reach. Inch worming curiosity stretched, pulled back and extended closer. Small dimples traced the path of growing confidence.
Unsure of the barred teeth in the large mouth uttering strange sounds, the horned toads retreated with synchronized caution. Engorging his crown, one smiled back with warning hisses.
Discovering its courage, a tentative index broke from his fist, and Rodrigo gave the spikey creature a hesitant fast rub. “Wow.”
“Very brave, big guy, you’ve made my heart proud.” Ben’s encouragement warmed. “But just the one touch, okay, he’s a wild creature, not used to giant-sized humans and we don’t want to frighten them, right? How do you feel?”
“Scardest I ever was, Dad.”
“Me too, and Mom. But you rocked it.”
Newfound soldier bravado marched in circles, traversing five paces to stream side in twenty seconds. Repeated plunges dove in, extracting, examining, and discarding pebbles until one glinted brighter.
“Is this a diamond? I want to bring Doctor H a diamond. She fixed my broked up parts, you know.”
“We know, and I’m certain she’ll never receive a finger diamond. What about poor old Mom, huh?”
“Oh, you get the bigliest, like that one.” Up and down enthusiasm wished for a fifty-pound boulder mid stream. “Get it, Dad.” Plunging his gift deep in a pocket, surprise exploded in his eyes, skyrocketing lips in happiness. “Oh my gosh, I forgot about this French fry from lunch.” Wiggle waggle undulations teased in tube man air dancer gyrations until weight took its toll and three quarters of the starchy stick fell. Rattle snake striking, he retrieved the earthbound snack, shoveling and chomping it down before Mom denied permission.
Fear and horror took the express up Emi’s esophagus, rounding her mouth to a perfect O. Pulses squeezed an elbow. Circles massaged her back.
“Easy, hon, remember the good doc said he needs to go barefoot, lick a rock and eat dirt, well, scratch numbers one and three off the list.”
“Cool.” Dust clouds rose, tracing the trail of excitement, further communications garbled by the tongue extending toward a monster rock.
“Hey.” Gut busters chunked out, cutting Emi’s warning short, her elbow knee jerking back. “Remind me to give Doctor H my special thanks.” Sarcasm floated over a shoulder.
“Off the list.” Mischievousness twinkled. “Can I touch the real blue now? Maybe you could make me cannon ball splash in the river?”
“Learn to swim and maybe next time, because we forgot floats. How about we Dino stomp and you can touch the sky and water?”
Dino depth charges displaced volumes to the stream’s center. Butterfly grasps clutched and snapped, but the air proved impossible to grasp. Duck dives brought up slippery liquid that failed to hold its color.
“Mom’s right, you can see them, but sure can’t catch them. Slippery real blues. Is that why people make so many pretend ones?”
“Yup. You ready?”
“Yeah, I need to pee. Can we Dino pee in the river or on rocks and trees?”
“No.” Emi stood her ground. “Dinos don’t want to drink from the stream and taste French fry pee. Besides, the wet wipes are back at the car. Can you hold it?”
“I guess so. Hey, Mom, are you angry and going to scream at us?”
“No, son, I’m very happy right now. This has been the best of days. Why?”
“Well, Dad’s picking up all of our stuff, his phone’s playing a funny song about hotels, motels, and Holiday Inns, and he’s doing his funky robot dance.”
“Why would that make me angry?”
“I don’t know, but your head’s getting all tomatoey…”
Voyage of the Mind: A big thank you to Ernest G. Valencia for his beautiful story. We hope you’ve enjoyed “Blues” as much as we have. Again, it is our honor and privilege to feature his work here. We highly recommend that you check out the story pinned to his Twitter profile, especially if you enjoyed this one.
If you write stories (or poetry or articles or just about anything, or if you create art) and would like something featured on Voyage of the Mind, hop over to the contact page and get in touch. Don’t be shy — we don’t bite.
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