Bounce (A Truer Story)

bike33by Liam Scheff
published at The Truth Barrier

I’m almost human today, having reverted from whatever maudlin and darkly creative state the world usually extrudes me, into a more wide-open pose. Perhaps it was my intersection with a woman accelerating blindly into another intersection yesterday. I’ll restrain myself from a parsed, tight-lipped explanation that might make you think I was hit by a car and bounced off of its hood and tossed onto the road — that would be too dramatic. It is what happened. But, I was able to stand immediately, and my job became to soothe and calm the woman, who seemed all at once in deep tremorous shock.

People don’t see cyclists, I refuse to pass in front of a car paused at an intersection, as they crane their necks right into traffic; they never see me until they hit the accelerator. This one, though, was 12 to 15 feet away, and I felt sure she’d s…

And then she was accelerating and I was sure she would hit me, it was inextricable, and then I was on top of a hood, and the bike, I noticed was too, and then there was the pavement. And I thank the Holy Lord and Lords and Goddess and Spirits and Angels that no car zoomed quite near me, and that she responded to my yell of “Stop!” But, really, more, “stop.” Continue reading

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The Bridge – Part 1 and 2

by Liam Scheff
15 of 15×15

Menai Bridge

“Some of the others fall and they’re putting out their arms and legs, and trying to catch something, but there’s only air and rain. One of them actually dives – he pulls his head together and like… like an Olympic diver or something. He puts his hands in a prayer, and then juts them up over his head, and then he points down and they’re an ice-breaker or a hatchet and he dives right down and disappears into the water.” Continue reading

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by Liam Scheff
15 of 15×15


“It was always too late,” she says, fully articulate, loosened by alcohol, bordering between convivial and hostile, and back to jovial. She’s holding court, and we are no longer her peers, but her subjects.

“The human species is a kind of animal. And if we’re going to understand the rest of the story, we’re going to have to understand something about this animal that we are.” She says it flatly. It’s not up for debate, and we’re cowed, over-awed, listening.

I do marvel at her in these moods.

She keens her focus on Emily, seeking out the protest in her eyes. Emily is a darling girl, and imagines that the world is a kind of darling place. Rachel seeks to puncture that illusion. She reaches in, gently but firmly:

“We don’t like to think of ourselves this way, we avoid self-analysis on a grand scale.” She holds Emily’s eyes. “We’re ‘unique’ and ‘special’ and ‘one of a kind.'” She lets us hear the words, and wrestle for a moment with our identification with them. “We are, of course, as unique as farmed rabbits as far as time and the Earth are concerned.” She takes a sip of the purple wine.

“Rabbits, or…or rats. Or pigs. Or, if we are more varied, then in our variety there are still patterns – small ears, sharp, hard teeth…” she trails off. “Should I tell you what kind of animal we are?”
Continue reading

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Company Man

by Liam Scheff
13 of 15×15


The company moves me around. They liked how I got team activities going in Philadelphia and Kentucky. They wanted to try it in Durbanville. It wasn’t complicated. It’s the kind of stuff they make fun of on “The Office.” Team-building exercises: one-day camping, zip lines, trust falls. But I added the stuff people actually want to do: disco afternoons, after-hours bar, and gambling night – all at the office.

Office hookups went up, but so did a feeling of “I gotta get to work to hear what the fuck is going on!” It was a hard pitch to management. They had to throw out 10 years of legal on inter-office romance. Everybody had to sign a waiver that said, “Fucking is our business, not the company’s, and if we run into a problem, remember: Kiss and make up, or shake and be colleagues.”

“You’re all grown-ups,” is how I start the lecture. “But you come to this place and suddenly you’re back in school, making cupcakes for each other’s birthdays, picking out clothes so you don’t get made fun of. Stopping yourself from swearing because you think it’ll offend somebody.”

Suddenly I’ve got their interest. I give them some reason: “And that’s all well and good when you’re hosting a client….but how many of you host clients?” Maybe two out of 15 hands go up. “Riight,” I say. And it pays to be on generally good behavior at those times. (Or does it?)” I give them a wink and a nod. “Because we all know that the thing the males clients like to do is?” Continue reading

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by Liam Scheff
12 of 15×15


Sandy orders eggs, which I’ll never understand. I like her, but I just can’t understand ordering eggs at a restaurant. That sulfur smell, the rubbery weird cooked jello flesh nature of it, with just salt and pepper, like you’re still a child, eating what your grandmother puts in a bowl in front of you. No choice, but maybe she’ll let you have a cupcake if you eat these smelly ovaries.

“Smelly ovaries,” I say to myself, hoping Rich hears me. He does but doesn’t know what I mean. He barely mumbles a “wha?” and I ignore him. Sandy shoots me something that could be a very mildly amused, ‘but not going to bother’ look. Or she just looked up when I did. Not worth unspooling, I think. Have your eggs, Sandy. Apologize to the chickens in the next world.

“I’ll have…” I trail off. Rich jumps in. “Can I have some coconut milk?” The waitress responds by blinking and pulling back a fraction of an inch, signaling a lack of understanding. “For my coffee?” he says. “Do you have, you know, coconut milk?”

She blinks again. Continue reading

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The Farm

by Liam Scheff
11 of 15×15


“And what’ll we do for water?” Jolie stands frozen in place, her eyes shocked open, tears forming on a thin sheen of burning dry heat that she feels all over her eyes, that she started complaining about 18 months ago, that everyone told her to ignore, that the allergy doctor said was tomatoes, then corn, then wheat.

It hadn’t always been this way. Once they were a couple, she wasn’t as fat. She was almost appealing, from certain angles, in certain dresses. And Dale loved her, her natural roundness, and she loved him for loving her, and for being hard-working and good, and not drinking too much. It hadn’t always been this way. It had been… what was the word? Natural. Yes, but, something else. Uncomplicated.

Well, never entirely, not with her father and his mother, and the beer and whiskey they pulled down between them. They had to be separated at parties, seated apart at the wedding. The father of the bride, the mother of the groom, getting on all too well, bonding over booze, and a penchant for self-destructiveness that had infected most of their children. But not Jolie, and not Dale. They had taken the shocks and risen above the morass; they had done so through humility and determination, and a willingness to try, and try again.

And then the Company came to visit. There had always been companies. There were Dow and Monsanto down the road in the Twin Cities, but they’d left this little tract of family farms alone. This hundred acres of huddled cul-de-sac of family farms – Dale, Jolie, her brother and his, growing squash and pumpkin and corn and tomatoes, and two kinds of wheat – all heirloom plants, handed down through generations, surviving the dust-bowl, never buying into chemical progress. Continue reading

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by Liam Scheff
10 of 15×15


We all came out after Entourage, in like…2006, 2007. We all grew up watching Swingers on cable. We’d seen the movie 1,000 times. We knew all the lines. We’d become those guys in our home towns – obnoxious to the point of violence, if you took us seriously. But why take us seriously? We just wanted to be actors and hang around all day, fucking good-looking girls who wanted to be fucked and did not want boyfriends.

We thought, if those loser hacks could do it, so could we – we’re about as funny, same bunch of assholes in that movie, and some of them…well, two of them, two and a half maybe, got rich a long time ago, and the rest are probably doing theater in Santa Monica or Hollywood, or maybe Silver Lake. Like, getting commercials once in awhile, or a voice-over job.

That’s the – well, it’s not the gold mine – but it pays the bills. I guess it’s copper. But copper is worth gold, too – or silver. It’s worth something anyway, by the way the freaks rip it out of the houses in the Valley that are too hot to live in without central AC.

The Valley has become a regular shop and drive for the gangster set. The city sure gets a lot of mileage out of recycling its bones. You can’t stay there in summer. The only people left out there are very boujie, very swank millionaires who can run private generators to keep the A/C on. In winter it’s nice, and everybody goes, but not in summer. Only the die-hards and indijs stay. Continue reading

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