Aaron Steinmetz

...be very still...the bird's angry...and I think he can see us.

Cocoa Tales: Episode Nineteen

Parked outside the Shasta County jail, The Sandman leaned against the steering wheel. "All right, Cocoa Tael," he said through his hand. "I helped you with your plan, time for you to help me with mine."

Hopping onto his shoulder, Cocoa leaned low and peered at the brown jail, the tallest building in town. "What’s the plan, Sandman?"

"You sneak in and find him for me. I can’t move around in there for very long without being spotted. You, however, are my little mole."

"I find you a way in..."

"...I get my man and then it’s payday. We can go get our damn money."

"The best kind of money to get."

Motioning toward the building, he said, "Need me to get you closer?"

"No, I’ll be fine," Cocoa replied. "Stay out of sight. I got this."

Hopping through the open window, she stayed low to the ground as she snaked her way across the street. The Sandman watched her as she disappeared into a ventilation shaft.

Waiting a moment to be sure no one saw her, The Sandman stepped out of the car, rolled up the window and shut the door. He checked it to make sure it was locked, turned from it, and inhaled sharply in alarm when he saw me suddenly standing in front of him.


"What are you doing here?"

Oh, nothing. Just wanted to see if you wanted to chat about anything.

"Look, out of the way, Storyteller. I got business in this jail."

Yeah, about that. The business is gonna have to wait.

I stepped in front of him and did a side-to-side dance trying to keep The Sandman from crossing the street. "Look, will you get out of my way?"

How are things with your wife?

"I don’t have a wife, you know that."

You don’t?

He shoved me to the side and stormed across the street. "Get your facts straight, Storyteller, it’s very distressing when we know more about our lives than you do."

Wait! I hurried to catch up with him.

The ventilation shaft is blocked from the street view so Cocoa had little to fear popping out. She dropped to the sidewalk below and said to The Sandman, "Good news...what’s he doing here?"

Yeah. Hi. Listen. I know I sent you guys here but there’s been a change in plans so just sit tight for the moment and–

"Good news, I found us a way in."

"What have you found?" The Sandman asked.

Unfortunately Cocoa was mistaken. There was no way inside. They were stuck outside the jail for the time being.

Cocoa was looking at me but speaking to the Sandman when she said, "It’s that door around the corner. It should get us inside."

"Perfect," the Sandman said as they rounded the corner and found the door.

Scrambling to keep up I quickly followed them to the door.

Tragically, however, the entrance didn’t work. Why, you ask?

Cocoa groaned and said, "What are you still doing here?"

I’ll...I’ll tell you why. Cocoa had no idea where Monty Gerald is being held.

"He’s in cell block ‘S’ right through this door. What’s your problem?"

"Yeah," the Sandman said, "we’re trying to break in here."

Um, but try as they might, even though they knew which block to look in, they wouldn’t make it into the jail. Not this one, this heavily guarded jail.

I was beginning to sweat.

Cocoa glared at me. "Look, we know what we’re doing, Storyteller, just wait here." She turned to the Sandman and continued: "This door should lead right in. Monty Gerald’s cell isn’t guarded."

"It’s good to be the king," the Sandman replied.

But-but, you can’t, it’s locked.

The Sandman opened the door. "Nah, it’s good. We’ll be fine."

But it’s, uh, booby trapped, yeah, it’s too dangerous. You can’t–

They both stepped inside.


Cocoa and The Sandman found themselves not inside a jail, but instead they stood in white, surrounded by a vast expanse of white. They turned in circles with confused looks on their faces staring at the nothingness they found themselves in, alone. Except for me. I was there too.

Cocoa turned to me. "Storyteller, what gives?"

Okay guys, I’ll level with you. I got nothing. I sent you to the jail because I thought it was a cool idea and I figured I’d have thought of something by now. But here it is, the eleventh hour, and I’ve got nothing. I’m blank. The whole storyline has come to a screeching halt. Sorry, but this is the risk you take with storytelling.

Looking around, the Sandman said, "So all this white is..."

...writer’s block, yes. This happens from time to time, it’s more or less unavoidable.

"Hm. Would have thought writer’s block would be black."

I can see that. But, no, writer’s block is white. Always white.

Cocoa rubbed her forehead, holding her breath. Her temper cooled, she finally said "And when will the writer’s block go away?"

Don’t really know. The writer’s psyche is an unpredictable and fickle muscle. We ask that you be patient during this crisis and await a positive conclusion.

"In that case," Cocoa said, "I’m gonna take a me-nap. Wake me up when the action starts."

The Sandman shrugged. "Got any hot tea?"

Sure, help yourself.