James Buffalo & A Fit of Bad Dharma (2013), James Buffalo falls in love with his mind, memories of youth and innocence, the safety of his prescription drugs, and the illusion of a great woman. As these loves escape him, what ensues is a portrait of American madness, beauty, and suffering that can only be described as a fit of Bad Dharma.

Set in California, on the washed out shores of the Tired Coast, James Buffalo smiles when he has his pills. He plays the ponies at the racetrack and meets a shirtless man looking to break his “stuck luck.” At the Buffalo estate, a record plays as his brother pours the whiskey and the pretty women and politicians arrive all dressed to the nines. And in the East Hall, a glass falls where James Buffalo stands trying to love it all, thinking only of her.

Passage 1:

“I emerged beneath the soft street lamps
without a care in the universe. The air was cool and I could smell a fire
burning in the park. I imagined the park bums huddled together sharing stories.
Passing around a bottle, heads turned toward the sky in mad laughter. The sky
was truly beautiful, and I took time to notice it for myself. I am not big on
constellations. However, I was sure I could see them all. For all the things
going wrong in America, it sure did have a beautiful ceiling.”

Passage 2:

“Together, we were the heirs of the Buffalo
estate and a healthy purse to go along with it. Our father, Charles David
Buffalo, had been a wealthy businessman who had consequently made love to many
women. It was assumed that Charles Buffalo had a handful of illegitimate
children throughout his life. However, Eli and I had never encountered any of
them and we wanted to keep it that way. Charles Buffalo had made a fortune in
the stock market at the ripe age of twenty-five, investing in firearms. He was
a self-proclaimed genius with little scholarly background. He had always hair
was long and silver-blond. He wore trophy crocodile boots and a beat-up leather
cowboy hat with a matching pocket vest. He claimed to have killed the crocodile
for the boots and a thief for the hat and vest. Charles Buffalo was full of
shit.”

Passage 3:

“Without a second to waste, we exited through
the study, which spat us out on the west lawn where Marie Antoinette Billings
and Charles David Buffalo had wed many years before. The grass was taller,
having grown wild for months following the departure of the estate’s last
groundskeeper in September. Tall daisies sprouted through the sea of green. I picked
the best one and gave it to Lucia. It was hard to believe such a beautiful day
could exist in what had been such a cold December. The birds sang loudly and
there was no sound of the surf crashing below, which meant the beach would be
exposed. The three of us tore through the high grass toward the old wooden
staircase that would guide us down the bluffs. Pausing halfway in a patch of
wildflowers, I looked back toward the study and thought I could see Doris
reading in the tree house. The study’s large bay windows were cracked open and
the wind crept through, silently pushing her blonde hair as she read. When I
turned back for another glance, the tree house was empty and the tire swing
swayed solemnly in the breeze; for a brief second I felt very old.”

 
Passage 4:

The little clearing I had created allowed my eyes
to cool with the fresh air and my nose stopped running a bit. I pulled the pack
of cigarettes from my shirt pocket, along with the matches I had found in the
shed. King’s head rested down on my lap. I lit up and allowed myself to get
lost in the night’s sky, following the stars, scattered like sea glass. I saw
them for what they were–beautiful fragments washed across the
atmosphere.”

 

 TIRED COAST PUBLISHING (2013). All rights reserved.