Buried Alive In The Blues, the apocalyptic fantasy I wrote for Philippa Ballantine’s Erotica A La Carte, is now available as a standalone ebook from all your favorite venues.
The end isn’t near, it’s here.
Irene, recently widowed, knows the Earth is drowning, and all she wants is one last night to dance. The best band in the world is playing just up the road in a blues club at the edge of what little land remains, and there she encounters a stranger, and a clue that might unlock the mystery of her husband’s death.
This is the way the world ends: not with a whimper, but with the blues.
This title is intended for adult audiences.
—Story Sample Below the Cut—
Buried Alive In The Blues
By J. Daniel Sawyer
The sky is still bleeding. It hasn’t stopped for months. I can hear it crying, and the way the Earth groans underneath, battered and bruised like a man who welshed on a bet. Well, like when my man Juno welshed, anyway. His mouth kept writing checks his ass couldn’t cash, got himself beaten raw at least once a month.
I kept my property in my name. He was worth it.
Tender as cooked asparagus, my Juno. We’d made it work for years. Every night they weren’t broken, his fingers wiggled up inside of me or ran over my skin light like a ghost’s tongue.
The night the rains started he’d been out with his buddy Paris, but he crawled back home his own self, his arm bent the wrong way and breathing like a dump truck sat on his chest. He wouldn’t tell me what happened. He didn’t want a hospital, didn’t want my help, just wanted to go to bed. I should have known better, should have made him see a doctor, but it was late, and we had plans. I wasn’t going to let ‘em go for no money, even if I had to go alone.
But out on the road the clouds opened and jammed everything up, and I couldn’t get through. I came home to find him drowning from the rib stuck in his lungs.
That’s when the breath gone and left him. It was my fault. Juno always had more balls than brains, and I shouldn’t have listened to him. I didn’t know who took him from me, or why. I didn’t want to know. All there was, the whole world, was just a big hole around where Juno used to be.
I stayed there by him for days, until the sky’s bleeding finally broke the Earth.
Five months on, the water was coming in over the floor and standing four inches high in the streets. I’d not gone out but for food and to see him done with, except once after I couldn’t stand it being inside anymore.
I got taken by the flood. Took me two hours to get my truck out. After that, I didn’t try to go out again. Weren’t nothing out there but the rain. No life anywhere. Just rain.
The world was ending. On the news they didn’t think it was ever gonna stop. Thing is, I didn’t want it to stop. I prayed it’d keep coming down until the whole planet slid itself straight into hell and buried us all. And I never wanted to go out ever again.
But that night, I had to go. They were in town. Best band in the world. The one I missed the night Juno left me. I hadn’t heard them in years. I could afford it because I didn’t need cash—they’d let me in free at the door. I knew that for sure. They hadn’t been through in forever. For all I knew, they might trip the light fandango and never make it back.
Earth was dying. Drowning in grief. Her insides spilled out from the hills across the freeway. I had to drive the old four wheeler around the mountains of mud. Over some of them, too. My home soil, those lovely hills—left to collapse everywhere. I could see the land sliding, big chunks slipping in fits. There wasn’t anybody on the road, just the ground falling apart, crumble by crumble, until there was nothing left at all.
Their music sounded like that. It sounded like me, ever since Juno.
The rhythm of the rain on the roof and the windshield pounded out in syncopation to the music in my head, the craggy wipers flopping back and forth like the kick drum. My radio didn’t work for beans, but I could hear them from all the times before. Nick and the old Chicago boys, playing like they used to when there was a Chicago to play in. Playing like they did when Muddy Waters was on the stage with them.
Muddy Waters. I swear it was his ghost had the climate by the balls, making sure that anytime they played the streets would be ankle deep in it. Muddy waters, streaming out from under the hills, come back from hell to make sure they all remembered what they’d learned at the crossroads.
I could hear them doing sound checks from the parking lot. The water turned my silk dress into a second skin, the little fibers grated across my nipples when I moved.
They had me on the list, like they’d promised. “Irene Adler,” right up top by the A’s. The bouncer made me wait a good couple minutes while he “looked over the list”—I guess they’d started writing guest names in sharpie on my chest.
The room inside was filled with blues and smoke and the men on stage strumming and humming with voices bleeding deep blue like the sky. Nick could break your heart as soon as look at you, and he fingered the guitar like it was the last he had of the girl he’d never finished losing.
I didn’t get to find a seat. Three steps onto the dance floor and I was lost. With the back-beat snapping and the guitar screaming and Nick’s voice weaving low through ‘em, it sounded like the throbbing Juno’s fingers gave me, and the way he pulsed in mine.
I danced off the months of rain until my dress got as dry as my throat. I’d been so long always being soaked and never being wet. My hips danced round with all the ghosts that filled the hall. Ella and Leadbelly and Etta and Billie. Time went liquid, their words washed over me, wave after wave, until the band broke at the end of the first set. It was perfect—as perfect as life could be with Juno gone.
At the bar between sets I found some nut-dark beer, poured it over my tongue, and looked around for the first time. Lots of old familiars. The dead weren’t the only ghosts here tonight.
“Give me a Jack and Coke, light on the Coke.” A gruff, raspy-sounding bear-man rapped on the bar. I couldn’t see his face without looking, and I didn’t want to look, but his hands looked like they’d been built up working on engines. Thick calluses, grease under his nails. Might’ve been a biker once. He set down next to me and stared straight ahead. “It’s a special night here, you know.” There wasn’t no mirror behind the bar, so he just studied the bottles on the rack. I didn’t say a thing, but I didn’t want to get up, neither. I was gonna dance myself to death when they come on the stage next, and no way I’d leave just to let him have the bar. It was my night. Maybe the last one I’d ever get. I wasn’t gonna waste it getting picked up by white trash.
End of Sample. End of sample. ©2009 J. Daniel Sawyer, All Rights Reserved