“Landscape at Sunrise,” oil on panel, by Maksymilian Gierymski, 1869.

by Bob Beach

The first dayshine spilled hurryish over Miz Pennypacker’s tarpaper roof and splashed the front yard like a stream of melty butter. It hotfooted a scrabble of alley cats and bamboozled the last lazy scraps of night under the saggy porch. Dandy lions blusterin through the crackles in the pavement lifted thirstish yellow faces as the sunsparkle shimmered and twinkled down the street. It frenzied and jabbered at my window, kindlin the wall with the bonfire of a jillion fire beetles and bedazzlin the room like Spanky’s Dance Hall on Saturday night. Tricklin down into my sweet dark dream of Shontee Brown.


I rolled over and stuffled my face into the cool side of the pillow, prayin it to easy me back down into the wet, wispy fancy I’d already half forgot. But this here particular mornin was serious mojo and not toleratin no backsliders.

Draggily, I lifted my face to taste the golden haze.

Somethin different. A kind of ticklish on the tongue wasn’t there yesterday. A whisper of honey in the ear. A promise on the slightish breeze of somethin mysterical. Not no normal mornin.

I sat up and swang my naked feet to the floor. The smooth, cool wood was drowsy on my soles. I kneaded my toes, feelin the last heaty prickles of the night sweats drain away into the vague and puzzley hollow between the worn flooryboards and the ceiling of ol man Simms’ sittin room under.

The mornlight rippled and stirred, burrowin deep into dark corners, pesterin out lost echoes and stalish poppycorn. The room like to turn quiverish. Tiny sparks danced cross my fingertipples and the hair sprouty up on my arms, like the steely machines made lectricity whirlin and blinkin inside the wall leakin a twinkle out the tiny sockets. Fillin up the mornin with … with what?

Rap tappity tap tap. I looked up. Big ol jay knockin at the glass, peepin me all sassy and chatterboxin like a street preacher sellin Jesus.


Dang. Din’t sound like no jay I ever heard.


I upped and shuffled to the window. Jay took off with a squawkish jeer and a huff of feathers, leavin me standin in my skivvies when a eyeful of ravish blossomed at the corner.

Shontee Brown, shimmyin up the street in her little black dress, flashin legs all gold and cinnamon, trailin a ribbon of scent like to magic the honeybees out of Jesus Moya’s roseybushes. Eyes of blue agave big and wet enough to drown the sea. Where she off to? Don’t start work til ten. She got the mornin fever, too? I held my breath til she flutter onto Mandrake Avenue headin uptown.

Day comin up pale yellow, sun chasin the last star-twinkles down the sky toward the pinkish stains of leftover last night. A hummin in the air, deep and growly, like Barry White purrin to hisself. Ol man Simms runnin the sweep? I could feel it in my toes. I flatted my hand to the wall and vibrations danced up my arm just under the skin, a curiosical feelin tween tickly and itchy.

“House singin.”

I turned. Doc sat on the top of my dresser, eyeblinkin me through half folded slits and scritchin his ear. “Doc, what you know bout singin houses? You jus a ol alleycat. And not a good heary one, at that.”

“I knows when a house sings, knows when it don’t.”

“You got the selectivest knowin I ever seed. Know when there’s tuna in the basket or a house singin, don’t know when there’s a party fulla mouses dancin a conga line cross the breakfas table.”

Doc went all blinky, shot a leg straight up in the air, finger-like, and start lickin his poopyshoot.

Dang. Din’t know bout singy houses. Come to think, I din’t recollec havin a talky cat, either. “Doc, when you start talkin?”

Doc kep lickin his poopyshoot.

I rubbled my eyes and tippy-footed into the kitchen but Mr. Coffee already awake, perkin and hummin like he can’t wait to buzz the mornin with caffeination.

Fridge gimme his bes 20 watt smile, pokin his empty chest out like Sunday buffet at the Ritz. Take this! Take that! Anythin you wants this fine mornin. Eggs bidet with a fresh baguette? Crumpet with hot butter and seasonal toe jam? Skinny little roll up French pancake stuff with head cheese and red herring? Most time fridge don’t have no sense of humor, but I got all gigglish and scrabbled out the last two eggs and a few dryish peels of bacon.

Silverwares tap-tappin on the table in time with Mr. Coffee, know somethin comin. Salt and pepper all lined up bright and shiny, inchin closer to the plate like they don’t want left out. Not no normal mornin.

Mr. Coffee burblin with happy, give me his bes brew. Almos like Starbuckle, goin down sweet as maple surple with a kick at the bottom, poppin my eyes and tappin my foot. Sizzlin fry pan breathin heavenish bacony currents, waterin my mouth and ticklin my hungry. Gone in two bites, never even make it to the table.

Not no normal mornin, oh my no.

A mornin full of … potentiality. Of planetations and moonshadows linin up jus so. Somethin providentious waitin jus round the corner. For sure a dressy-up kind of mornin.

I fumbled my closet for my Sunday pullyons. White wool. Itchy on the legs, but silky on the eyebaubles. I whuffled my bes sprucey shirt to flutter the dust. Sparkly red with a wide collar. Snazz. I strutted the cracked ol mirror a few times, look-seein from every side.

“Look like a pimp,” said Doc.

I glared him. “Doc, what you know bout pimps? You jus a four-leggy flea taxi.”

“You jus a skinny ass pimp shuckin and posin in a twinky red shirt.”

“Who you, Mr. Blackwell? How come you never sass me you pompy cataclysms til now?”

“Din’t feel chatty.”

“Din’t feel chatty. La dee dah.” I wheedled a mosly whitish shirt off its hangy and fiddled my dark stripey necktight.

“Sheesh, look like a undertaker,” said Doc. “Bout the little red one?”

I mashed out my little red bowey tie flat on the dresser to vanish the wrinkles and snuggled it on the shirt with the little clippy. Strutted the mirror. “Look like a churchy door-knocker. All’s I need a Bible.”

“Least not like no pimp.”

It growed on me a bit. Least not like no pimp.

I peeped the window. Sunsparkle sweepin the street, polishin Cotton Cole’s shinish red Rambler. Growy things shootin leaves and buds at the sky. Dandy lions still kissin the sun, even the grass stand straight and tall, like a army of toy soldiers waitin for hairycuts.

Postman whistlin his way down the walk, letters rustlin and shufflin in his bag, near jumpin in the box all by theyselves. They all feels it.

Maybe step out a bit. Maybe mosey up town, see who shakin. Yeah, for sure somethin gon happen today. Not no normal mornin.


In addition to literary fiction, Bob has written science fiction, young adult and children’s works, including three novels. His stories have appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, The Penmen Review, The Woven Tale Press, The Oddville Press and many other publications. Bob has a long history as an advertising copywriter and holds BSc and MFA degrees from BGSU. He currently resides in Toledo, Ohio.