The Quickie by Carl Robinette

In the dark of night, florescent lights turned the quickie shop into a bright beacon. A lonely glow, isolated in the dark expanse of dessert down where an old county road crossed the California state highway. Karen stood, facing out of the big front windows across the western distance, staring at thousands of red blinking lights that topped every turbine at a windfarm back in the hills, like red stars blanketing the horizon. The new-hire, Kenny, was counting off cigarettes cartons behind the counter and marking numbers into a printed spreadsheet on a clipboard.

“I don’t get why we have to inventory the cigarettes. Not like anybody can get to ’em back here,” Kenny said.

“Something to do.”

“Makes no sense.”

High Fever by Carl Robinette

The sun hung way up in a yellow sky, glaring off the skeletal remains of metal playground equipment where the last cracked flakes of paint, once vibrant green, blue, red, now sun bleached to staunch pastels, left more bare steel than paint. The A-frame of an old swing set stood empty where the chains and leather-strap seats had been pilfered years earlier, and the woman and the man beyond the missing swings, sat side-by-side on a concrete bench. Her skin had taken to the color of oatmeal and glistened with hot sickly sweat. Her black hair came down in ragged, damp tendrils around her small shoulders. The man, pressing the back of a hand to her head, spoke in a hush.

“Oye, are you still there? Hey. Can you hear me?”