…Picking up in Chapter 6 because I wanted to get to the [Irish] heart of the matter to pay homage to Joseph O’Bromely and all such kindred souls. HaPpY Saint Patrick’s Day Y’all. (Psst I think it’s a 99¢ St. Patty’s sale.)
“I have to go to ER.” Clara calmly announced after she returned the telephone to its holding place. “I will go with you.” Mary told her, tossing her bag to Levi, “Keep up with this until I get back.”
Levi and Maggie stared as the two quietly exited without further explanation.
“I have to go to ER.” Clara calmly announced after she returned the telephone to its holding place.
“What was that about?” Maggie asked shaking her head.
“Clara’s father.” He told her, concentrating on the mental picture.
“Oh my lord! Is Mary telling you this? What’s going on?”
“He’s not going to make it.” Levi said, shaking his head sorrowfully.
Mary’s left hand was locked tightly inside Clara’s; with her right hand she pressed the silver colored disk on the wall that allowed them entry to the emergency room. She could see Jim pacing beside the clear enclosure. The same place that it seemed only moments ago Mary MacDougal O’Bromley had breathed her last breath.
“Have you seen the outcome?” Mary asked just above a whisper and Clara nodded. “Then you are ready?” again, the woman nodded. Turning loose of Mary’s hand, Clara rushed to Jim with open arms.
“Are you alright sweetie?” she asked wrapping her slender arms around him.
“I’m fine. I’m fine.” He repeated as if trying to reassure himself.
“We knew this was coming but it doesn’t make it any easier does it?”
“No. No, it doesn’t” he answered smudging a stray tear from his whiskers. “How are you Mary?” he asked pulling her in for a hug.
The women looked like children hugged against the massive man.
“You walk between the yin and yang.” Mary said, smiling up at him.
“It beats the lonely road that brought me here.” He said with a weak grin.
Clara watched through the clear wall as Dr. Lawrence pushed medication into the veins of her dying father. Easing away from Jim she pressed her forehead to the plastic glass and waited for Joseph O’Bromley to look her way. When his faded green eyes finally met hers he smiled and winked and motioned her to come in. She in turn held up her index finger indicating in a moment and winked back at him.
“They know not to resuscitate him, right?” she asked without taking her eyes off of the first man she had ever loved.
“They know.” Her husband answered, “The doc said they would just push a few cardiac meds and see if that will patch him up.”
“Their pharmaceuticals won’t fix a broken heart.” Clara replied with a quiver, “He will be with Mama before long and I don’t want him seeing you grieve Jim. He needs to know you’ll be okay.”
“I know. I know.”
Clara didn’t have to look to know that his cheeks were wet, that his beard was spattered with droplets like an autumn field in the early morning dew. She could feel his mourning; see the sobbing child in the dim corner of his subconscious and the terrible sadness that had overshadowed them both since the passing of her mother. A shared sadness more about the state of the man now on his journey to reunite with that woman, the one he could never live without. In an odd way Clara felt at peace with the fact.
“We’ve done as much as his living will allows us to do but I’m afraid it won’t be enough Clara… again, I’m sorry.” Dr. Lawrence carefully announced.
“How much time do you guesstimate?” she asked still frozen to the sight of Mr. O’Bromley.
“One hour… maybe three hours tops. This one’s hard to call.”
Dr. Lawrence had an uncanny ability to estimate death down to the hour. He considered it a matter of scientific reckoning though Clara argued if it were science the art should be prevalent in most doctors, it was not.
“Will you ask Maggie to write me off the clock? I want to be with him until it’s over.”
“I sure will. I’ve been meaning to stop in there and visit with her anyway; this will give me an excuse.”
“You all can go in now.” Lisa told them after she had tidied the room and smoothed the thinning gray hair of her patient. “We’re not going to admit him so if there is anything you need just let me know.” The three smiled and nodded graciously before entering the room. Mary seated herself against the wall while Jim and Clara stood silently on either side of the bed.
“You two should have a seat. This might take a while.” The old man announced without opening his eyes.
“I’ll stand for just a bit if you don’t mind.” His daughter said, smoothing the wrinkles on his cold blue hands.
“What about you Jimbo?”
“I can’t sit with a lady standing Joseph.”
“You can if she insists.” Opening his eyes slightly where she could see them he added, “Clara Bell why don’t you insist he take a seat.”
“Please sit down honey, I insist.”
“Alright then.” Jim obliged.
“Who is that across the room?” Mr. O’Bromley asked squinting at Mary.
“It’s me – Mary, Linda’s mother. If you would like for me to wait outside I will understand.”
“Heavens no.” He gasped, “Come over here and give me a hug.” Mary quickly rose and hurried to the bedside. Leaning over she hugged him and asked, “How are you?” Immediately she regretted the inquiry. It was a stupid question, one asked out of polite habit. She knew how he was – he was dying.
“I’ll be better soon.” He smiled as he took her hand, “It didn’t take you long to lose that accent once you got to Texas did it?”
“Is that a wedding ring on your finger? Who’d you marry?”
“His name is Levi Turner.”
“That’s Maggie’s dad ain’t it?”
“Yes it is.” Mary blushed.
“Didn’t take y’all long to-” Mr. O’Bromley’s words were cut short by a fit of coughing that left his lips a deep shade of lavender.
“Let’s put some oxygen on.” Clara said bringing the mask toward his face only to be met with a weak hand clutching her wrist.
“No now, let’s don’t prolong it. I’ve got a date with destiny.”
“Ok Daddy. I just want you to be comfortable – as comfortable as possible.” She told him in a tone as bold as she could muster.
“It ain’t near as bad as it looks honey… or as bad as it sounds.” He wheezed and licked at his dry lips. “You could get me a shot of whiskey to wet my whistle though.”
“You don’t drink whiskey.” Clara grinned.
“I do on special occasions and this here is pretty darn special I’d say.” His attempt at joking lead to another bout of hissing coughs which gave his mouth a darker appearance.
“How about you quit trying to be funny. There’s no need to rush it by-”
“By what? Laughing myself to death. I can’t think of a better way to leave here.”
“You’re right pops. You always did love to joke. I guess you can’t help it.” Clara subtly turned her head and swept the wandering trickle from her jaw line.
Mary stood vigil holding the old Irishman’s hand and viewed the clear memories on his outer cortex. The picture playing out in color of him as a small lad holding to the tattered pocket of his father’s mud stained khakis.
On a cobbled Chicago street he had stopped to spit shine their shoes with a dingy handkerchief laden with holes before stepping onto the sidewalk. He removed his woolen flat-cap and spoke to what looked like a butcher in a stained white apron,
I see ye have a help wanted sign and I sir am looking for work. They’ll be nothing I can’t do and do well if ye give me but a chance, I’ll prove it to ye.’
She could see Joseph hang his head so his father would not see him ashamed and crying when the cruel man answered, ‘Gawl darn white trash! Why don’t you first learn to read? The man then slammed the door where the sign was clearly visible through the glass pane
NO IRISHMEN NEED APPLY!
Maybe in another hundred year’s wee Joseph.’
The memory had apparently pained Mr. O’Bromley most of his life, not for himself but for his father’s desperation… for the humiliation. Had it not been for the MacDougal’s they would have frozen or starved to death in the alleys.
I’d recommend you tone done yer accent Isaac and say yer a Scott. Drop the O in O’Bromley and maybe even try to pass yerself as a Brit- would certainly make life a bit kinder. That was Mr. MacDougal’s advice to Joseph’s father.
I’ll not do it. I cannot deny who I be no more than I could deny Christ himself. Tis by His mercies and good men like ye Marland MacDougal whom He put in me path – I’ll find favor. And me little Joseph will one day be a respectable citizen of these United States.
Mary continued watching, enthralled by the man’s mental history and squeezed his hand tighter at the sight of young Duffy.
The boys were instant buddies, playful and happy. She concentrated on every word, every gesture and movement of the adolescent MacDougal. She cheered him on as he slid onto the makeshift base in a game of ball played with a thick cedar limb and a heavy wad of masking tape. ‘Safe!’ a young girl yelled from the batter’s square and instantly the vision of Duffy was gone. Joseph’s full attention lighted on the smiling child with hazel colored eyes. The girl he knew he’d marry when they were old enough.
“Clara tells me you got the gift of seeing. And that you helped her.” Mr. O’Bromley forced the words out in short gasps.
“She helped me more than I helped her, I’m sure.” Mary smiled at Clara who was entranced in her own theatre of the man’s reminiscences.
‘Duffy would you make me a cup?’ the expectant Mary O’Bromley was asking, ‘and mince a sprig of mint to ease my troubled tummy.’ The burly barefooted man smiled sweetly and obliged. Moving gracefully for his size Clara noted as he tenderly handed his sister the warm chamomile tea with fragments of wild mint floating toward the edges of the shallow cup. ‘Little Clara likes the chamomile.’ He’d told her.
“I still like the chamomile.” She said aloud.
“Who you talkin’ to baby girl?” her father asked, “Do you see your mama comin’ for me?”
“Not yet.” Clara whispered and went back to watching what was left of Joseph’s recollections.
‘I wish you would settle down and make a family. I miss you so much when you’re out gallivanting all over the county.’ Mrs. O’Bromley was pleading with her brother, ‘There’ll be no heir to carry on the MacDougal name `less ye produce one.’
A bright eyed Joseph O’Bromley squatted across the room tapping the last miniature nail in to a freshly made cradle before testing its sturdiness. Don’t harp on the man Mary. Could be ain’t no woman would have him and you’re gonna make him feel bad about his self ‘cause he aren’t as handsome as me.
Duffy laughed, shook his head and took her hand in his, ‘You worry too much sweet sister. If it be me destiny I’ll have a troublesome wife of me own and a dozen mean boys to give fits to my ugly brother in law. But if not, so be it. Time will tell.’ Time was what the young Mary feared, knowing that Duffy’s was running out.
Mary Magdalene and Clara simultaneously heard his approach.
Joseph, are you ready old friend?
“I am.” Mr. O’Bromley wheezed, “Is my Mary with you?”
Clara squeezed her father’s hand and motioned for Jim. When he stood Mary reluctantly released her hold along with the sparkling image of the beacon and allowed Jim to stand in her place.
“Please know I love you and how grateful I am that you made me family.” Jim’s voice cracked when he spoke causing both women to sniffle unexpectedly. Joseph weakly pinched his son in laws hand and mouthed a few inaudible words.
“He says he’ll see you on the other side.” Clara told him.
It’s time to go now Joseph O’Bromley.
“Good-bye Daddy.” Clara whispered.
Mary watched from the end of the bed as the man’s body went limp. When his eyes glazed over she inconspicuously placed her hand on his foot to catch a glimpse of the departure. She could see the faint outlining of a door that appeared out of nowhere. “What’s it like?” She heard Joseph ask to which Duffy replied, “You’ll know in a moment.” And just before the flickers of shattered light faded… the transporter turned to Mary and smiled.
Lay your grammar obsessions aside, let your jaw relax, loosen your ears, take a long deep breath as you let your mind drift to the deep south and listen in to the privy conversation between Maggie and her dear Tallulah.
“Are you gonna sleep all day Mizrez Lafont? Best try to git up a bit.”
It was the sweet southern voice of Tallulah attempting to rouse the exhausted Maggie. She tapped the rail of a lump beneath the bedding and continued.
“Ima open these shades now missy, better make yo eyes ready cuz it’s a mighty fine mornin’.” Tallulah warned. Her bedraggled vernacular seemed to come from every direction at once.
Maggie pulled the Egyptian cotton over her face and murmured,
“Thank you Tallulah but for the umpteenth time would you please call me Maggie, okay?”
“Okay Miss Maggie.” The drapes flew back and light filled the room. Maggie lifted the cover from her face and squinted at the morning sun. Tallulah studied the woman’s face which was no more than a shade darker than the snowy sheets. She planted her hands on her hips and stared into the hollow eyes of her mistress.
“Mr. Ray is comin’ home today. He’s gonna be here in time for supper, you gonna tell him?”
“Yes Tallulah, I am going to tell him.”
“Is you feelin’ sick this mornin’? I can fetch you some dry toast and warm tea. That was always a help to me and to Mr. Ray’s mama too.”
“Yes please.” Maggie strained to sit up and suppressed a gag as she spoke. “That would be nice.”
When Maggie heard the door shut she scrambled to the restroom, turned the cold water on and splashed her face. The wave of nausea subsided and she raised her head to inspect the figure before her. She hardly recognized the drawn, insipid person in the mirror.
Maggie had been ill since the last night of her honeymoon when Ray carried her from the beach. She barely recalled the long flight home and blamed it on the rum but there was something wrong and she knew it.
The illness quashed her plans to redecorate the beautiful old plantation house. It had been in the Lafont family for close to two hundred years. There wasn’t much Maggie wanted to change about the historical mansion, just a few personal touches to make it her own, their own. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Lafont – Ray didn’t care one way or the other.
Mrs. Turner kept her word and came to visit at least once a week, usually staying for several days though Maggie hardly noticed with most of her days spent between the bed and the bathroom of the apartment sized boudoir.
Unable to keep much of anything on her stomach Maggie wasn’t surprised when she noticed her collar bones protruding like bowed timber at the base of her bony neck. Lifting her gown she could visualize the distinct outline of every rib then letting her eyes drop she observed the only thing that wasn’t recessed was her belly. Her abdomen looked like a basketball had been shoved beneath her flesh. “Ohhh god,” she moaned as her emaciated frame convulsed and heaved. Green bile splashed against the marble sink.
“Awe honey child!” Tallulah cried, rushing to Maggie’s side. “Let’s get you back to bed.”
“I’m sorry Tallulah,” Maggie swept a trembling hand across her mouth; “I’ve made another mess.”
“Don’t you worry ‘bout that none. That’s what I’m here for.”
Tallulah helped Maggie back to bed and softly washed her face then held the cup steady while Maggie sipped the chamomile tea.
Tallulah was a thick framed black woman who reminded Maggie very much of Aunt Jamima though she never said it out loud for fear of offending the angelic lady.
“You have gots to tell Mr. Ray Miss Maggie! You shoulda done told him a month ago. You done let this go too long, way too long.” She fretted, dabbing a damp cloth at Maggie’s face.
“There is nothing to tell Ray that he doesn’t already know. You know how he feels Tallulah – how we both feel about this. Now please…”
Without warning tea colored liquid spewed across the fine linens.
“He don’t know the doctor said you need to be shed of this or it’s gonna kill ya. It caint be he knows and let you lay up here wastin’ away.” The old nurse insisted, talking while she put a fresh damp cloth to Maggie’s neck and replaced the soiled sheet, “Mr. Ray is gone all the time, he don’t see what I see and when he calls you makes like ever little thang is fine.”
“Nature will take its course.” Maggie argued.
“That it will.” Tallulah agreed, “And maybe yo life in the doin’. Y’all can make another baby ma’am.” Tallulah paused to weigh her words and put her hands on Maggie’s gaunt ashen face, “They is somethin’ bad wrong with this one precious. I seen thangs like this here before. If ‘n it lives and you die…”
“I want to sleep now.” Maggie spoke abruptly to put an end to the conversation. Tallulah did not press the matter and Maggie sunk back beneath the cotton sheets.
You better take care of yourself and make sure this baby gets born healthy, do you hear me young lady?
The words of her mother ran through Maggie’s mind. It wasn’t as if Maggie had any control over it. If she did, if she could will her misery out of existence, the life sucking parasite would have been expelled weeks ago.
Maggie had just dozed off when the rumbling in her gut stirred her. It was not the usual churning she was familiar with and there was no nausea accompanying it. She lay still waiting for it. She placed her hand on her belly felt it again, a flutter followed by a tiny thump.
It’s kicking! Maggie stretched out on the bed and exposed her naked stomach. When the flutter started again she could see a slight rise in the protrusion on her withered frame.
“Hello in there.” She said quietly. It seemed to respond to her voice so she spoke again. “I’m gonna be your mother little man.” The communication went on for about ten minutes and when Maggie felt the thumps diminish she whispered, “You go back to sleep now, it’s going to be okay, your mama loves you.” A single tear of relief tickled the corner of her nose and she rang for Tallulah to bring her a full Sunday breakfast.
Tallulah entered a half-hour later with a smile and a tray loaded with soft scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, grits and juice.
“I never seen you look so good Miss Maggie.” She laughed as the starving mother-to-be inhaled the platter of food and kept it down. “May be you gonna be alright after all. You and the young-un, yes indeed, may hap.” Tallulah practically danced out of the room with the empty tray and soiled linens in tow.
The fact that she had consumed every morsel without regurgitating bolstered her confidence as well as her energy. Maggie stood beneath the shower-head, stroking and lathering her stomach as she sang nursery rhymes to her unborn child. After showering she realized her endurance was not yet up to par and returned to bed for the best sleep she had had in months.
Two hours later Maggie awoke feeling exuberant and summoned Tallulah.
“Would you like to take a walk with me Tallulah?” she inquired.
“Not looking like you look.” The lady laughed, “`S’pose I comb them rats outta yo hair first.” Tallulah guided Maggie to the balcony. “You sit right here while I get a brush and lay out somethun nice for you to wear. You done got so po ain’t likely nuthin’l fitcha but we’ll make do.” Tallulah chose a light yellow poly blend dress from the wardrobe, laid it on the settee and shoved a brush inside her apron pocket. Before stepping back out onto the terrace she made the bed and turned down the covers.
“Here we go Miss Maggie.” turning Maggie so her back was to her, “Lawd child yo head is nappy!”
Maggie didn’t bother remarking on the comment. She knew she looked a fright in her current condition.
“How long have you known the Lafont family?” Maggie asked, as Tallulah stood behind her on the sun drenched veranda brushing out a mat of blond tangles.
“All my life.” Tallulah answered, “My Mama was maid to Mr. Ray’s Mama.”
“Really?” Maggie asked in surprise.
“Sho nuff and her Mama was employed here fo her. See my peoples was once owned by the Lafont’s.” Tallulah stated matter of factly with what sounded like pride to Maggie.
“Why on earth would you stay after the abolition – I mean why would your family stay on? Didn’t they know they could leave? Did anyone ever say?” Maggie asked, thoroughly intrigued by the information.
“Yessum, my mother told me what was told her — that they was no cause to leave. Said the Lafont’s made sure they had money, land and educated um too. Said they always gave um Sunday off and Saturday if need be. Wuddint no beatin’ and rapin’ goin’ on here like in tha other parts I heard tell of. I b’lieve her too cause they paid all three of my sons through college – called it my bonus. I couldn’t a got that nowhere else.”
“No ma’am I don’t believe you could have. So you’re fond of the family?” Maggie asked.
“Love um like they’s my own. I got one son is a doctor thanks to Mr. Ray’s daddy.” Tallulah beamed with pride and added, “The other two boys is teachers. Good teachers too.”
“I bet they are. You must be so proud of them Tallulah– all three of them.”
“I am Miss Maggie, I really am.”
“So tell me about Ray when he was a little boy.” Maggie urged.
“What’s be you wanna know?” Tallulah asked admiring and grooming the now smooth golden tresses of hair.
The first memory that came to Tallulah’s mind of the young Lafont conjured cruel pictures. Images of the puppy Ray had found in an old grain silo. Tallulah could not bring herself to tell the ailing lady of how her husband had broken the legs of the tiny cur at every joint and tied its muzzle so it couldn’t cry out. She diligently searched her memories for something more pleasant. The imposition was cut short when Maggie abruptly slouched forward grabbing her waist.
“What’ a matter Miss Maggie?”
“I’m not sure.” Maggie replied, straining to speak through the enervating cramp, “Can we go in now?”
“Yessum. But you gots to tell ole Tallulah what’s wrong? Is you hurtin?”
Maggie nodded her head and tried to stand but found her legs would not support her.
“Let me help you.” She said, lifting Maggie to her feet.
“Oh lawdy lawd child, better let me carry you.” She swept Maggie up and carried her like a child back into the bedroom, laying her gently on the bed. “Ima get some towels – just you lay real still now.”
Maggie pulled her knees toward her chest, a natural maneuver to relieve the unrelenting spasm.
“Oh no.” She whimpered, “No, no, no little baby.” She cried when she noticed the bright red stain on her gown.
“Up here Mrs. Turner.” Tallulah yelled. Maggie lay motionless staring up at nothing as the nursemaid removed the bloody towels from between her legs. “Looks like that’s all of it ma’am.” Tallulah told her.
“Good lord have mercy! Look at all the blood. Tallulah were you able to stop it?” Mrs. Turner spoke frantically as she stood at the doorway and stared at the sharp contrast of crimson against the white bed sheets.
“Tha bleedin’ is slowed to nearly nuthin but she ain’t with child no mo ma’am.”
“Are you sure. Maybe we’d better call an ambulance and get her to the hospital.”
“For the girl may be, but look here.” Tallulah said, opening a towel for the grandmother to be, “Woulda been a boy by tha looks of it.”
“Dear god, that thing is hideous! Throw it away!” Mrs. Turner screamed as the salty rivers ran from her daughter’s silent face.
You know I mentioned going to Benton Arkansas last Friday.
It was a nice break. We shopped a little, ate too much, chattered like magpies and — well, I just had to see the old sanitarium/asylum aka “nervous hospital” where Karl spent most of his life.
Thank goodness my family is as adventurous and crazy as me.
There were no observable signs that forbade us from entering, so…
We considered going in a window but oddly enough we did not have to.
The doors seemed to beckon and willingly opened without the slightest resistance and ta-da, we were in.
Exploring the dilapidated history in search of answers and ghosts and what-ifs.
And possibly inheriting a demon or a deadly disease.
What does this story have to do with writing?
This: Every now and then you have to break the rules to spice things up.
Of course you need to know the rules before you break them and sometimes the rules are not obvious.
I do love to write some mystery but after finishing Cloud Wrangler, The Sharecropper’s Son and Greed I decided to take a break from writing for a bit and since it is getting too hot to grow much here more than weeds y’all know that means I’ve been taking more pictures.
I was telling a few friends (because, bless my heart, I only have a few) on my Facebook page about Pretty Kitty Puddin’ Jam wanting to be a star.
I took a few photos of her and they were accepted at Dreamstime and now she thinks she’s an icon!
I don’t mind her being a little prissy about it, I get it. I was cute once. I have a beautiful daughter and granddaughters. Heck all the women I know are beautiful and sometimes we get a little “full of ourselves” – it happens. BUT, it is not okay to be cheeky and mean. At least not to our own clan – our tribal members – our own sisters and that is what [not so] Pretty Kitty did. They usually play so well together. Usually.
So here’s what happened…
I thought it would be adorable to get a few pictures of Mia Bella (aka Mimi or Mimi-fifikins) and Miss Puddin Jam playing in a basket outdoors. After all, who wouldn’t smile at the image of a kitten and a Chihuahua playfully scuffling in a white wicker basket that just happened to be sitting in shade of jasmine ivy?
So I situated the basket, helped the two inside and told them, “just have fun.” As I turned back to take my position for the shoot I heard a belittling remark followed by a peculiar plluuhh. I whipped around and snapped.
Oh my goodness, I snapped alright – in more ways than one! I told Miss Pretty Kitty Puddin’ Jam that she was the ugliest cat I had ever seen in all my life. A knock-kneed, cock-eyed, dull-witted, poor excuse of a pet! I gave her the “pretty is as pretty does” lecture and told her she should be ashamed for spitefully hurting her sister.
The truth is she has all the makings of a star and maybe on some subconscious level I am jealous? Maybe I expect too much from a kitten? Maybe I need medicine? Oh lord, we can analyze it later but I told her I would never [ever] take her picture again unless she kissed Mimi and said she was sorry.
Like most stars her apology appeared reluctant and less than heartfelt but what can I say? This is my crazy life… obsessed at the moment with cats and conundrums.
This is the fourth consecutive year I have been honored to be a judge in the FAC annual teen scholastic/literary/poetry event. This year was even more exciting because I am still alive and it was the first reason I have had to shuck my pajamas since last year. Just kidding! But seriously, FAC added a short story contest. Yay!
A little aside: Forney Arts Council hosts the annual event but an invitation to participate is extended to several surrounding cities. Just FYI Forney is a booming little town about a stone’s throw east of Dallas Texas.
Just look at the beautiful poets and writers of our future.
Some of them receiving their first check for following their passion.
I am so proud of every single one of them. I know their parents and teachers are too; and the fabulous lady (Tiffany) with a passion for art that keeps this thing going.
Hold on, there is a point to this post —
What was it? ….
Oh yes, Help!
I need your help. It won’t cost you a dime and only a minute of your time.
What? Why? How? You ask?
Well, you see I am scheduled to give a talk/presentation next month on the art of the short story. Actually it is The Art of the Short Story & Micro/Flash Fiction.
The problem (other than the typical butterflies) is I know why I read and write short stories/flash fiction but I would love some input as to why others do.
Is it attention span? Time constraints? Challenge? Amusement? Something else?
If this thing works right I have inserted two polls, one for writers and another for readers. If not… the comments section is always open.
There are a few days left in April but this is my farewell to 2017’s National Poetry Month.
(Cue the mice in the attic!)
Thank you to everyone who participated and to everyone who endured the participants.
If you have read, written or shared a poem this month congratulations – you have truly expanded your mind as well as your horizons. Now [for me and the mice] it is back to the
surreal world. Speaking of mice (urrumm) this is one of my favorite scenes from August Wolf which happens to be zero dollars right now. Yep, $0.00 April 28th – April 30th.
Excerpt from Chapter 3
“What do you think he meant?” Dale asked, running his thumb over the mouth of a half-empty bottle. “What could they do to you that would be worse than killing you?”
“I can think of a few things.” Jason answered, as he slowly pushed away from the table. “Any number of things.” His eyes remained fixed on a dim corner of the kitchen while his hand quietly seized the shooter at his side.
“Like what?” His friend asked, following the bead of his gun.
“Oh, they could…” Jason slowly cocked the pellet rifle and braced it against his right shoulder. “They could lock me up and throw away the key.” He squeezed the trigger and the pellet landed with a dull ping, leaving a miniscule hole near the baseboard.
“But your record was wiped clean. The bogus charges are gone, the punk that caused the trouble is gone and heck Jason, I think the judge is a goner too.”
“That doesn’t matter. They have more punks and more judges – they always have more.”
Dale craned his neck in the direction of the shot. Between the barrel of Jason’s gun and the hole, lay a small brown mouse. The creature immediately rolled onto its side; its tiny chest rising and falling; its caviar eyes staring frantically at nothing while its front legs scratched hopelessly at the air. Jason propped his rifle against the chair, and walked toward the mouse.
“They could cripple me.” He said solemnly as he picked up the tiny crippled mammal. Jason stroked the mouse with the pad of his finger, studying the wound he had inflicted. “They could torment me.” He clasped his palms around the animal and pressed. “They could mess up my mind and lock me away in a nursing home… just like they did August Wolf.” Dale watched the color drain from Jason’s face, saw his eyes glaze over with tears as squeezed until the panting and twitching stopped. Jason snorted, cleared his throat and regained his composure. He gently laid the mouse inside the garbage can. “I can imagine a lot of things that are worse than being dead, old pal.”
Okay, that was just one mouse but you know there were more lurking in the shadows – or the attic. There’s always more…
I was wading in the surf on Matagorda beach one warm, sunny day exchanging dialogue with Clara.
I had known Clara for about ten years and I have to admit, conversing with her was like pulling teeth. I don’t want to say she was dull, but she was too quiet and a tad introverted. Don’t get me wrong, she is a lovely girl. She is smart and pretty and sweet and kind, but she was just too darn nice for the most part. Too calm, too reasonable, too… dull! There, I said it!
Anyway, as I was wading in the surf, dragging my feet (literally to scatter the sting rays) I was thinking how I might kill her. I know that must sound horrible, we had been comrades for so long, but she wearied me. Her unspoiled, hoity-toity, prim and proper, everything by the book personality made me want to send her sailing face down with the outgoing tide. I think she knew it (she has a sixth sense thing, you know) and I figured she wasn’t going to fight me. It wasn’t in her nature. I thought maybe she wanted to die?
I had mulled it over and finally come to terms with the decision when a perky little blonde came running down the beach waving and shouting,
“Hey y’all wait for me.”
Oh my lord, I thought, while trying to ignore the thin, tanned Mississippian’s approach. I quickly shoved Clara toward the incoming wave but her feet were planted too firmly — she didn’t budge, and to my surprise she pushed back!
“Do you know her?” I asked.
Clara shook her head slowly and replied, “No but you do. You met her on a trip to Biloxi once.”
I was speechless.
“Hey, I’m Maggie,” the lady smiled as she looked past me and held out her hand, “you must be Clara.”
I suppose it’s true that opposites attract. I watched Maggie come alive and in doing so she saved Clara.
*This is a story about a story. Clara and Maggie are safe and sound (for the most part) inside a fictional series.
Read about their meeting in Book 1
A twenty dollar bill stashed in your wallet, old friends on the Internet, the other sock and a favorite book. What do the aforementioned have in common you might ask? They are all things that were never really lost but simply overlooked for a span of time.
Isn’t it like finding a treasure when you’re reunited? The mingled relief and excitement of rediscovering something so precious you find yourself doing the Hercules hand-clap. Hercules! Hercules! Hercules! You’re doing it right now aren’t you? Me too! Because Joy! Rapture! Look what I have found. My old friend Webster’s Encyclopedia of Dictionaries. Not being able to do much for the last week (thank you influenza) I was rummaging through the library in search of couch entertainment and voila!
I seriously love this book. I should be ashamed of its broken binding and battered appearance but I’m not. It has been over handled and shared with children before they could even read. It was my firstborns Good Night Moon. It has been my friend, my coach and my counselor. If someone had a question the answer was only pages away. Well maybe not the answer to the missing sock but we all know that’s not really a mystery. They typically return after they tire of hanging out in alternate universes, sipping martinis with wayward thongs. Of course their mate has usually moved on but that’s another story for another time.