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Friday, August 19, 2016

Story #500: GOODBYE/HELLO

It's just the two of us in the room. I look at the small body, more like a loose sack stretched over bones, and recognize nothing. When I was little, I imagined he was a Paul Bunyan, because there was no one to contradict me or tell me otherwise.

I am told that those arms, now like pipe cleaners, held me on the day I was born, and that his face was covered with tears as he did so. I am told the sunken face was once so charming, that he sang old time crooner love tunes outside my mother's window for an entire weekend in-between being shooed away by her parents and even the police a couple of times.

I am told he wanted to say goodbye to me, and that it would be good for me, too. Closure. I'm told he can understand what's going on, but his glassy eyes stare through me with about as much recognition as I have for him.

I am looking at a dying man stretched out on the bed he will literally die in, and I'm told he's my father. But I have no knowledge of this fact, none that I can feel in a visceral sense.


Goodbye,” I say to him at last, though as far as I know, I'd never really said hello.

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On a personal note, I want to thank everyone who has followed this project.  500 is a good number, and this story seems to fulfill a sense of goodbye I've been looking for in this project.  I am going to feel very empty without this now, but promise I shall try to fill the void with something new, and hopefully exciting.  From the bottom of my heart, this blog is the proudest achievement of my writing career, and I am so grateful for the support and encouragement.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Story #499: LITTLE DEATHS


Her body a salt lick for my tongue as I trace her skin from belly upwards until I settle into her neck. It is hour eighteen of a weekend in bed, and neither one of us is tired, but perhaps a little sore. I want to keep touching her, keep feeling her skin until we somehow physically fuse together, devour one another through our pores until we create a new entity.

I take my face out of her neck and look into her eyes. Her lips are parted in a special smile, and her eyes burn like a battle of ice and fire, but there is joy there with the desire, and love. And, oh, the love. Her hair sweaty, I brush it aside and touch her forehead, and then her cheek, and then the back of her scalp that is not settled into the bed.


I don't want to speak because I might shatter this moment, this look. I lower my lips to hers and she meets me halfway. I close my eyes, and in this moment, don't care if they ever open again.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Story #498: YOUNG ELDERS

They're just boys, no matter if they're wearing their white dress shirts, black pants, ties, shoes, and name tags that proclaim them as elders. So I talk to them like they're young, and don't understand why people have to be rude to them.

Still, I never ask them into the house. Can't do it. Not that I don't want them inside, but because I'm afraid the moment we really sit down to talk, to really talk, I mean, that I wouldn't be able to keep myself from being rude. A part of my brain would take over and try to poke little pin holes into their faith, and I've got no right to do that. Their faith belongs to them, and while I have no intention of sharing it, and wouldn't convert in a million years, I can't cast any shade of doubt on these youngins who are just starting to see the world for the first time.

There's plenty of humanity for them to witness. I don't have to represent that part of it.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Story #497: SURVIVAL

He cut a piece out of my gut, threw it on the old pan that was resting above his campfire, listened to it sizzle a few minutes, then took a bite. He flipped the piece of my gut over, let it cook a few seconds more, and then took another bite.

He grabbed me when I was out in the woods for walk. He still hadn't said a word to me. My hands were tied behind me, and then tied to tree. I could smell my flesh cooking, which, in one direction, made me sick to my stomach. In another, more primal way, I was enjoying the smell of this raw meat cooking, even if it was me. I was proud I could make my own mouth water.

The strange old man in the black hat flipped my cooking flesh over one last time for a few more seconds then took another bite.

How do I taste?,” I asked him.

He didn't look up from the pan as he took another bite.


Like survival,” he said, and continued to eat me.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Story #496: Fingernail,

I was walking down the hallway after the end of class, and the hallway monitor Mr. Grindle stopped me.

Hold out your hands.”

What?”

I told you to hold your hands out.”

I held my hands out. He looked at them, squinting, his bottom lip sticking out. Finally, he grunted and stepped back.

Too much dirt under the left hand fourth finger. Makes you look common. Go into the john and clean it out.”

Are you serious?”

Two things can happen. You can go clean out the fourth fingernail on your left finger, or you can be sent home for the day. The choice is yours.”


So I cleaned out my fingernail, and went to class. No one seemed to notice anyway.       

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Story #495: TENNIS MATCH

Mike and I were out for our weekly tennis match. We'd been doing this for the last six weeks, through the spring and most of the summer. I met Mike in third grade, and for whatever reason, we became best friends who now, even twenty-five years later, had never given each other up.

There was a ten minute wait for a court, so mark and I sat off to the side on a bench, chatting. There was no point to warm up. We rarely even kept score. I noticed that Mike kept starting at the grass between his feet, as if in deep concentration.

What's going on, man?” I asked, and he looked up, a little startled.

Sorry, buddy. Just thinkin'.”

About what?”

He looked me in the face, then turned away. “I sometimes wonder if we should always be honest with each other. If maybe sometimes, as best friends, it might be better if I didn't tell you everything.”

For the preceding three weeks, we hadn't talked about anything deeper than the color of a new suit, and the ongoing ridiculous presidential election. These words hit me as though dropped from a random plane up above, not belonging to Mike, but someone flying away.

Whoa,” I said. “Okay.”

Okay what?”

Well, I don't know. I would like to believe that we could tell each other everything. Seriously, I would like to believe that. But then, I don't know what you have to say.”

He nodded. “Fair enough.” He squeezed a tennis ball in his hand. “Do you want to try?”

I wasn't sure. “Okay,” I said.

He looked at me. “I'm in love with Cara.”

Cara? My wife, Cara?”

Yes.”
It was a shock, but an understandable one. We'd always had similar taste in women. I forced myself to breathe, to react until I knew the most important fact of all.

Have you acted on this feeling?,” I said, looking him in the eye.

No,” he said, staring straight back, and I knew he was being honest. “I wouldn't do that. I thought maybe this should just be a burden I kept to myself.”

I can see why you might have wanted to do that.”


Our court opened up. I don't know if it was just the day, or if luck was smiling on me, but I beat him handily in all three sets.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Story #494: JOKE BOOK


The joke book was well-worn in Jacob's possession. Every day, he told his father a new joke and they would laugh and laugh. His father especially laughed at:

Two muffins were put in an oven. The first said. “How are you, pal?” The second one screamed, “Oh My God! A talking muffin!” Jacob often would sneak that joke into the group, just to hear his father's deep laugh.

But on this particular night, his father had rims of red around his eyelids, and didn't seem to be listening to the joke.  He cut him off early with:  “Not tonight. Get dressed for bed after you clear your dinner dishes please.”

And so no joke was told that night. Nor the next night, either. In fact, the boy, who thought he might one day become a comedian so he could make his dad laugh all the time, decided that he didn't want to ever tell a joke again. He switched his interest to music.

His dad really loved his music.


For now.