Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Woman Who was Abducted by Tommy TuTone.




When I asked her what her name was she cocked her head to one side and lifted her right eyebrow as if she was fascinated I would even bother to ask. She looked at me, like someone who had gotten to a restaurant just before they closed, and what was left on the buffet table was picked over and rejected by hours’ worth of patrons. She wasn’t half wrong because it was very late on a Saturday night and how it got that late so fast was a product of a pool tournament and a lot of free beer. I wasn’t the best pool player in the bar but I was the best drunk pool player left in the bar, and the one hundred dollar prize rested firmly in my back pocket. But it was very late and I had been drinking far too much.

“My name is Angel,” she told me, “why do you ask?” Angel learned back against the bar and looked at me as if she couldn’t believe I was approaching her at all. She was a little older than I was and unlike many women, the grey streaks in her formerly dark hair didn’t bother her. I had seen her around a few times, jogging, or walking with friends, but I couldn’t remember seeing her in this bar before.
“You look good in dark blue,” I said, “and when you’re out running you always wear dark blue, like you are tonight.”
“I’ll be damned,” Angel smiled at me, “something different.”

So Angel asked me if I wanted to go for a walk and I was all for it. We walked the circumference of the local college twice, made fun of a drunk who had fallen into a creek and muddied himself and the water trying to get out, and I realized that she was walking with me in public, one, or make sure I wasn’t a serial killer, and two, to see if I could actually walk. Angel kept laughing at my attempts to get to know her better and deflected personal questions by saying, “Not yet, not yet, you’re doing fine, don’t rush it.” And so I finally just went with the flow. I liked how the long walk didn’t tire her at all and it wasn’t hurting me.

“Do you want a chance to show me what you can do with your hands, Mike?” Angel asked suddenly. And of course I was all for that. She grabbed my hand and we walked towards a local cemetery. We were just a couple of blocks from where I lived so it seemed promising. We were holding hands and she led me through the dark to a place she apparently knew very well.

Okay, first off, I have no fear or even a belief in the supernatural. The dead are dead. They don’t come back to haunt other people. Vampire, werewolves, ghosts, and restless spirits don’t faze me, not even the ones I live with. So Angel, and I thought the name suddenly appropriate, takes me to this vault.
“Here are the rules,” she whispered to me, “you cannot touch any part of my body but my hands and you cannot speak. But if you can tell me what you want I’ll give it to you.”  Then she kissed me. She pushed me away and took my right hand and placed it on the side of the vault. There was writing there, raised writing, and she slowly placed my hand on the beginning of the incising. It was nearly impossible to figure out what it said but with Angel standing beside me, holding my hand, guiding my fingers, I realized she was forming a word by having me touch the letters. She had memorized the writing, of course, and I finally got it.
“Water” I said and she shushed me, but also rewarded me with a kiss.
I very slowly found her name, all five letters of it, cheating by using capitals, and realized that in the dark the sense of touch was heightened.
“Angel” I whispered and she kissed me again.

Angel turned inside of my arms facing the tomb as I was, and I took her fingers and very slowly found enough letter to form my name. She giggled and whispered, “About time” and allowed me to kiss her, hard.
“Okay, go.” Angel whispered and I felt for letters or words. Her hands guided me, a little, but not so much that I could tell what was there, only a general sense. Finally, I figured how why here, and why this stone, and grabbed her hand and led her fingers to the letters. Four in one, two in the other and she turned around and kissed me as I lifted her feet off the ground.

There was an open area with very nice grass and there was a canopy of tree overhead. The alcohol, the moment, the coolness of the night, and the fact that somehow, she and I had spoken to one another through words neither of us could see, had electrified us. We were definitely going to have to go to my place now if for no other reason that access to both a washing machine and a shower.

“So water was the first word that Helen Keller learned.” I said and Angel’s head turned quickly.
“Damn, I am impressed.” She said. The woman looked like an angel now. The shower sent clouds of steam up and around her. Her eyes were dark blue even if her hair had begun to fade. “How did you know that?”
“I read a lot.”  I replied. “I love her story.
“That’s what made me want to study speech,” Angel replied. “So how did you know I would respond to ‘Love Me?”
“You set me up.” I said and I grabbed her. “’Love’ was already there and the next two letter were ‘Me’.”
“Guilty, but you still had to work for it,” she said, “but let’s get out of the water before we wrinkle.”

We went to breakfast and she told me straight up that in two weeks she was flying to Spain. Language Studies Program that she had worked her ass of getting into and she’s be gone for at least a year, maybe two. I had fourteen days to spend with her and she wanted to have a good time. I was up to that, too.

We were out in the Okefenokee, on a very cool day, drifting in a canoe, and Angel was rejecting my various suggestions as to what we could do or not do in a canoe, but she would laugh with each suggestions and then require me to explain how implementing the plan would not result in an overturned canoe. This was how that woman loved to flirt; give her idea that might work, she would reject them, but leave open the possibility that some part of the plan might, just maybe, have some validity to it. Meanwhile, we drifted in the sun, enjoying the sound of nothing but laughter. Angel began to warm up in more ways than one and asked if we slipped off the canoe path how would we be able to find our way back? It was a very serious question and not one lightly dismissed. I explained that the sun was heading west. The river was west of us. The two canoe trails ran east and west but the river ran north and South. No matter how far we went in, as long as we headed due west towards the river, or South, towards the trail we were on, we could get lost.
“Okay, let’s test your theory.” Angel said and we paddled into the Swamp. Two minutes, no seriously, two minutes later we could not see the trail. Angel slipped her top off and leaned back in the canoe. “Slowly, Mike, very, very slowly, I’m going to ease towards the center of the boat and you ease towards me.”

Later, as we were trying to reestablish normal sitting positions, I quoted a very old song, “Don’t Rock The Boat” and Angel looked at me very strangely. She went silent and I told her to look at where the sun was, now much lower in the sky, and head left, which would be were South was. It was an odd feeling. Angel was poised to say something, started to speak, and then just nodded her head and began to smoothly paddle the canoe, gently pushing a Cypress here or there out of the way. Two minutes later we popped back onto the trail.
“Tell me about that song, Mike” Angel said but she didn’t look back.
“It’s an old song.” I replied. “I was just a teenager. I don’t remember any of it but the don’t rock the boat baby part.”
“It was 1973,” Angel began as we headed back to the river down the canoe trail, “and I had just turned nineteen. I was in my mom’s car, a station wagon of immense proportions, and this guy got into the passenger side of the car and pointed a gun at me.”
“Damn” I said.
“He told me to drive, to take a left at the light, and we headed away from where I wanted to go and you always tell yourself if something like that happens you’ll do something and you won’t get taken but when he said to drive I drove and in my mind, I knew that something was going to happen to me but I kept lying to myself and saying that maybe all he wanted was a ride. Then he told me that, like he was reading my mind, ‘I need a ride, Baby Girl, I have to get somewhere quick and you’ll be okay, just don’t rock the boat, don’t rock the boat baby, don’t rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over’ and he just sang that over and over again for about ten minutes.”
“That’s plenty damn weird” I said and I feared the rest of the story. I didn’t want to think Angel had been raped but it’s not nearly as rare as most people believe.
Angel reached out and grabbed a limb, causing the canoe to stop. She took a deep breath and turned around to face me, “Mike, that song wouldn’t come out for another year. I nearly freaked out the first time I heard it. I lost it right there in the middle of a pizza place. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My friends thought I was nuts.”
“The guy that sang that song kidnaped you?” I was stunned.
“No,” Angel paused, “and it get even more stranger. He made me stop on this side road and turn the car off. It felt like being touched by a Nazi prison guard or something like that but he took a pen and wrote a phone number on my hand, like you’d do if you just asked someone out.”
“The guy gave you his number?” I was more than a little freaked out by that.
“Later I gave it to the cops and they said that it wasn’t a working number in our area code and they never found him.” Angel told me. “The number was 8675309” that song came out in 1982, nine years after I was taken.”

“What?” I couldn’t believe it. Someone who knew the musical future had kidnapped a teenage?

“So here’s the thing, Mike.” Angel looked at me as if she didn’t really expect me to believe her. “There was one more thing he did. He made me sing with him. I can’t remember the exact words but it was something like, ‘Hello, you fool, I love you, Come on join the joyride, Join the joyride’ It’s a song I’ve never heard but…” Angel stopped speaking. I started breathing again.

“I’ve never heard those lyrics, but we have to move, the sun is going down, okay?” And we had to paddle hard to make it back to the landing by dark, but we did. We didn’t speak all the way back and it was just too strange for her to by lying about it. I mean, who would make up something like that? We got back to the car and as I reached for the knob on the radio we both looked at one another.
“Do it” Angel said.

But it was Aerosmith and nothing more.

One her last day we went back to the cemetery. There on one side of the monument was this inscription: “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

“The man loved birds” Angel explained. “There’s a water fountain for them on the other side.” And on the other side it read, “Albert Walling Love
Father, Son, Brother and
Servant of Goodness.

Husband to Martha
Edwards Love, Meet
Me In Heaven.”

“So, you think that’s where we’ll meet, Angel, in heaven?” I asked.
“Yeah, Yeah, I do believe that, Mike, we’ll see each other again, but I don’t think it will be in this life.” Angel said and then she kissed me goodbye.

This song came out about two months later.



end

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Mother of My Firstborn Child.



We had drank too much, really, and that wasn’t rare back in the day. I had this vague memory of beer and music and now there was a woman sleeping next to me and I couldn’t remember her name. I eased out of bed to go to the bathroom and then went into the kitchen to get some water. Summer was just getting cranked up and it was warming up but not viciously so. I went back into the bedroom and contemplated going through her purse to find her name. She had golden red hair, insanely curly, beautiful hair, really. The sun cut a thin beam onto the bed and illuminated the left side of her head. This was a photograph, a painting, some memorable work of art waiting to happen, but it never would. I didn’t own a camera, couldn’t paint, and wouldn’t have believed I could write for another ten years or so. The woman stirred in sleep and having no other viable ideas as what to do with the moment, I got back in bed with her.
She awoke with a start and sat up suddenly. She looked at me, looked around, looked back at me, and said, “Where am I?” I told her she was in my apartment, and she started to get out of bed. “Where are my clothes?” she asked. I told her she had taken them off as we came in, which was half true; I had helped. I realized she wanted to get out of bed but didn’t want me to see her naked. I wanted to see her naked. I didn’t volunteer to help find the clothes. She tried to slip out of bed with the sheet but I pulled her back.
“Look, uh, I had a great time last night, really I did, but I have to go…to work.” She said this and made the intellectual leap it was better to be seen naked than to be in bed naked, if getting away was what was wanted. She got up and found her jeans near the door. The woman had an incredible body. Also, she was a real redhead. She found the rest of her clothes and came back for her purse. “I had a great time.” She said and bolted for the door.
Damn. Okay, I was twenty-something and a serious drinker. I lay there and thought about the night before and tried to piece together where I had been and with who. She had a very nice body. I got up and slipped on a pair of shorts and decided I had to eat at least one meal that day. There was a knock on the door.
“Yeah?” I said without answering it.
“It’s me.” She said. “Deborah”
Ah! I remembered her name now that she said it. I opened the door which wasn’t locked.  Deborah stood there red faced and looking really cute in an embarrassed sort of way.
“Do you know where my car is?”
She had forgotten she had ridden with me so I had to drive her back to the bar. “I had a great time last night” she repeated as she got out but I had the feeling she had gone too far too fast for her sober self. I stopped and got some breakfast biscuits and went back home.
I tried to backtrack as much as I could about the night and realized there was a good portion of it missing. Valdosta was, and still is, a college town where very young men and women are let off the leash for the first time in their lives and some of them make better decisions than others. Deborah wasn’t the first young woman in that bar to allow herself to be talked into a one night stand and she wasn’t going to be the last. Honestly, as much as she might have pretended to regret it as she left, the truth of the matter is she was excited and energized by the idea of sex for the sake of sex. That I did remember. I didn’t remember exactly how we met or when she showed up, and I was a little hazy on when we had made it back to my place. As tawdry as this all sounds I wasn’t very successful with women. I was very awkward in public and that has never really left me.

A week or so later there was another knock on the door. Deborah stood there, reddened again, and I held the door open for her.
“Really, I just want the locket back.” She told me. “Please.”
“Huh?” I had no idea what she was talking about.
“I lost a locket. Is it here or not?” Now she was beginning to look mad.
“I haven’t seen a locket but I can look.” I left the door open and looked back. She hadn’t followed me. I lived in a very old, very run down, but very large apartment. I went back to my bedroom and looked in the bookcase that was built into the headstand of the bed. Sure enough, there was a small wristwatch and a locket on a silver chain. I took them back to Deborah who had stepped into the doorway.
“Here you go.” I said. “Would you like to come in for a beer…or something?”
“Thank you.” She turned and left in a hurry.

The bar in question was one of those neighborhood bars that was close enough to the college to have a good mix of locals and intellectuals. One of the unspoken rules was if there was someone too drunk to function we would try to get someone to come get them rather than let that person stagger off. Mostly this rule applied to women because guys are pretty hard to stop when they’ve been drinking. But one night there was a very loud and very drunk woman who landed on the floor and we finally got out of her where she lived and her phone number. I called her roommate and told her to come get this drunk person before someone else did. Half an hour later Deborah showed up and eyed me very suspiciously and I got another very quick thank you before she left with a drunk draped across her.

Now, against all odds, Marla, the drunk roommate, was grateful to me for finding her a way home. She saw me in the bar one night later in the week and bought me a pitcher of beer for helping her when she was too drunk, and yes, that sounds weird now but back then it seemed natural. Marla sat there, with Deborah present, and heaped praised on me for helping a damsel in distress rather than trying to take advantage of her. Deborah sat there and tried to control her blushing and discovered that getting angry made things worse. The anger part came in when Marla invited me over to their place for a cookout. Oh, yes, of course, I would be happy to attend.
“I have never in my life done anything like that.” Deborah told me abruptly at the cookout. “And to be honest I am more than a little embarrassed.” I had sat down at a picnic table with her, after she had gone to great lengths to avoid me all night long.
“So because we’ve been intimate we’re supposed to be strangers?” I asked. I thought that was cleverly said, and remember the exact words even today.
“As long as you don’t bring it up or think it will ever happen again,” Deborah said, “or make any comments in front of anybody about…” There wasn’t enough light for me to see her face clearly but she wasn’t having a good time with the aftermath of our tryst. “…is there any way at all you cannot speak to me again?”

I eased away from the angry woman. Angry women were to be avoided at all costs and it wasn’t costing me very much to escape this one. Marla, on the other hand, thought I was valiant and gentlemanly and she retold the story to anyone who would listen. To toss some more gas on the fire her boyfriend, Doug, arrived from their hometown of Rome, Georgia, and he was more than just a little grateful for the rescue. Deborah sat at the picnic table and glowed red. Matters were made, much, much, worse, for Deborah at least, when Doug invited me to go with them to Providence Canyon the next day. Deborah had talked them into going so she could take some photos and Doug thought me going along was perfect.

The next morning the phone rang. “Dude!” It was Doug on the other end of the line. “So you totally bagged Deborah? That is awesome as hell, man, I thought she had that thing sewn up or something!”
“What?” I was still half asleep.
“Deborah says she doesn’t want you to go because you two go drunk and banged on the floor until the people downstairs banged on the ceiling!” Doug seemed elated for some reason.
“She said that?” Now I was awake.
“No, but from what she told Marla you put something on her.” Doug sounded like a man who was on the verge of screaming with laughter.
“She’s intense” I really didn’t know what to say. Doug went on to say they were going, I wasn’t, but he’d drink with me, any day of the week, and back then, that was something.

That was that, or so I thought. I ran into Doug at a bar one night and we drank ourselves into a coma because he was buying. The story lost nothing in the telling and unfortunately, Doug was not only buying but telling people why he was buying. This is the way he set it up: Deborah was one of those never say yes women who was going to go through college without a dent in her reputation. Well, along comes Mike and he turns her into a screaming panther with just a couple of beers! Okay, as the night went on the story got a lot stranger, but what the hell. We’re all adults here and I never said a word about what happened one way or another. Honestly, I thought I had seen the last of the woman.

And then about a month later Deborah shows up at my door one night with everything but a gun in her hand. “I’m late,” she tells me as she walks in, sits down, and starts sobbing. “Late, I didn’t even know you were…ooh, that kind of late, oh damn oh damn oh damn.” Then I felt like crying, too.  I knew better than to say something about us having options because I could tell she wasn’t going to respond well to that. For that matter, Deborah was in a state to respond poorly to anything I said or did so I just sat there while she cried. I started to put my arm around her and stopped, arm hovering in midair, and my hand looked at me as if to say, “Dude, this is goodbye, it’s been good!” and I decided against it.
“I did the EPT. It’s positive. Go get the damn bloodwork done, if you’re going to marry me,” Deborah said as she stood up, “and don’t bother speaking to me if you aren’t going to be a man about this.” And just as suddenly as she walked in, Deborah walked back out. Every bit of about five minutes had passed.

I went and got some beer but decided to sit around and be sober for a change. That woman, who I had spoken to enough to count all the times on one hand, was going to have a baby. My baby. I was going to be a father in, I did the math, holy shit, March or April. I didn’t even so much as have a dog, a cat, or a snake at that point in my life. At the same time, I had known a lot of guys who hadn’t done right by the women they had gotten pregnant and dammit, I was just not going to be one of those guys! I knew a guy who had ran off on the woman he had been with for a few months and all the while claimed she had cheated on him, that she was a slut, and there was no telling whose baby it was. I knew better. I knew her better. I thought I knew him better. But there he was out drinking like nothing had happened and some woman carrying his kid was out alone and likely scared as hell about it.  I opened my first beer and resolved to become a father to the child, even if Deborah hated me. I would go do whatever had to be done, first thing in the morning, which was about eleven for me at that point in my life, and I faced the future with a little less than a twelve pack in me.

It’s easy, ridiculously easy, to get married. Sunday night I found out Deborah was pregnant, and by Wednesday it was all over but the rice throwing. The blood work would come back by Friday and I could be a married man on Sunday. I went to her place to talk to her after getting the license and she looked all the world like a woman who was about to have her transmission changed by a stranger who was going to charge her after the work was done, in her bedroom. Doug was totally silent but he looked at me differently, that death row, stage four cancer, or you’re going to get married because you have to look. I don’t know how it is these days but back then for a man to marry the woman he had gotten pregnant wasn’t a sure thing. We hadn’t known one another but a month or so. Marla hugged my neck hard and she was teary eyed. I had to call my family but I just didn’t know how to explain it. After telling Deborah I had gotten all the details covered I started to leave. She got up and followed me out. “I guess I better start getting used to you,” she said with a sigh.

She wasn’t drinking so I wasn’t either. It made me feel itchy and weird. We sat down and talked about the due date, what we would name the baby, and how I planned to support them. This was long before health insurance was available at most jobs and I was working part time at the time. I had to get a real full time job. I had to stop drinking so much. We had to move into a kid friendly place. I had to meet her family and she had to meet mine. But mostly we had to have money. She had gone to the hospital to get an estimate and I remember it was well over ten grand. Deborah asked me if I had any money saved and I told her I had about five hundred dollars. Suddenly, that sort of money looked very, very small. But Deborah was just getting started. If we really wanted to do right by the child we were likely going to have to both work and that meant day care. She had made a list on a legal pad of the requirements she thought we ought to have for the kid’s future and it was scary as hell. I was going to have to work two jobs. Three or four maybe.
I needed some time to think. This was all mind blowing. Deborah said that we ought to live together, and we might as well start, well, now. She was going to get a few things and come back. Tomorrow we’d move the rest of her stuff over. “Let me have the keys to your car,” she said. I sat on the sofa in a state of shock until she got back. Girl stuff, hair stuff, and a lot of other stuff. My bathroom disappeared.

We went through the want ads and she circled jobs she wanted me to apply for the next morning, zero six hundred sharp. Deborah’s game plan was for me to get there before the managers did so when they did arrive my name would be the first thing they heard. We dragged my suit out and she told me she would iron it before we went to bed that night and then it struck me; she was spending the night. I needed some time to sort things out but…

When you’re in your twenties sex is never short of incredible. Yet there was something different about being with a woman who was pregnant with my child. As much as I wanted at the moment there was much more going to be demanded of me in less than a year. In three months she would be showing. Deborah would be as big as a house in five or six months. As we lay in bed together, neither of us ready or willing to sleep, there was a lot to think about. I put my hand on her belly and wondered who was there. Would this be someone who loved me or hated me? Would I be able to grow this person into a baby? I didn’t know anything at all about kids except they were smaller than adults.  Morning came very suddenly and I found myself in a whole new world. The morning sun in her hair looked a lot different now. The beauty was still there but now there was something else. This wasn’t an artistic moment to be enjoyed anymore. This was as serious as it was ever going to get.

“Yes, sir, my girlfriend is pregnant and we’re getting married, yes, our first, yes, I can start right away, oh no, I have no experience but…” and I hit a good solid dozen places in one day. I was exhausted mentally. Deborah was there when I got home. She had more than a few questions for me as far as what had happened during the day. She had suggestions.

“I can’t stand seafood, by the way,” she Deborah said suddenly, in a very sudden change of subject, “and I don’t eat very much pork.”
“Wow,” I said, “and I kinda love both.”
“We have to start shopping together,” she said, “so we have to find out what we both like.”
“Wow”  I repeated.
Then we talked about music; she liked top forty and I hated it. We talked about television shows, I didn’t much like television and she loved “Murder She Wrote”. We both liked Sci fi movies and Westerns, and we both liked a lot of the same books. Deborah was deathly afraid of snakes. I couldn’t stand gospel music. I liked women with long hair. After the baby arrived she wanted to cut hers all off. She asked me if I had any real job skills or any sort of training or anything at all that might help get us rolling before the baby arrived. This was the thirteenth interview of the day for me and I felt like I had pretty much failed this one too.

The next day was a clone of the day before; more job interviews and more rejections and more interviews. I kept thinking about the guy who had skipped out. It was easy. All I had to do was walk through the door, tell Deborah I wasn’t ready to do this, and she would get pissed off and walk away from me.  I really didn’t want to do this. I hated the idea of getting married and being a father. But it was an either/or situation. I could be that guy that denied his child or I could be one of those men struggling to make ends meet and working his ass off forever. There was only one choice, really, and I knew it.

“Ready to tell your parents?” Deborah asked. She had cooked supper and honestly, it looked pretty good. She had baked a chicken and there were a lot of veggies. There weren’t any mashed potatoes, but clearly that was not going to be a problem. There were much more important things being served.
“I guess so, yeah, we better.” I swallowed hard. This made it even more real. “When do we do the meeting of the parents thing? Where do your folks live?’
“They live in eastern Tennessee, a little town called Oakville, it’s a small community, really. I think we ought to invite all the interested parties over and everyone get to know one another all at once.” Deborah paused. “How does next Saturday sound?”
“Wow,” that was my new favorite word, “okay, let’s do it.”
“When are we getting married, Mike?” Deborah asked suddenly. “You are going to propose aren’t you?’
“I thought…” I started to say something about just going down to the courthouse but after two days with this woman I realized that look on her face meant something. “I’ll try to get it right.”
The third day of intensive job search meant going back to a couple of places that I had already been to before. It was different now. I usually wasn’t going to put up with anyone’s attitude when looking for a job but I needed the job a lot more than I needed to mouth off at some secretary with a goddess complex. I swallowed my pride, said yes ma’am and smiled.

Dinner was waiting for me when I got home and I realized I like it. All in all, I liked Deborah and she seemed to like me. She had fixed leftover chicken, and I knew I was going to have to get used to leftovers in a big way. I told her the job at the boat factory looked good, paid well, promised overtime, and she wouldn’t have to put up with me for about twelve hours a day, six days a week, but there were no benefits. Deborah had already made up the list of places to look the next day and none of them looked any better, but certainly no worse, than those before.
“So, Mike,” Deborah said in a tone of voice that I had learned to pay attention to, “do you want your life back?’
“No,” and I was serious, “it’s going to take some getting used to, but I can do this.” I said it and I meant it, but I had no idea if I could actually do it.
“I’m not pregnant.” Deborah said. “I started my period two days after our first night together.”
“What?” The chicken fell off my fork and hit the plate. My lower jaw followed.
“I’m not pregnant.” Deborah repeated. “I was never even late.”
“What?” It was my new favorite word now and I meant it.
“So you pick a woman up at a bar, drink with her, have sex with her, and then you do it all over again, and not once do you stop to consider what is going to happen if she hasn’t made plans for birth control. I wasn’t on The Pill.”
“What?” I repeated the word as if there might be something said that made sense.
“I went to that bar because after studying for a test for a month I thought I might get out and meet someone I could talk to about accomplishing something important to me. You wanted to talk to me about my looks. I tried to lure you into a conversation about what you liked and you wanted to talk about my tits.” Deborah didn’t look mad at all. She looked…happy. “All I wanted was for some guy to sit across a table from me and tell me that what I had just done impressed him. You were so drunk you couldn’t remember what subject the test was on. And you were doing great as far as what you were doing. How many times have you gone through that spiel to be able to get it right when that intoxicated? A hundred? A thousand? It’s like watching you guys play football or darts or anything else you men do. It’s a game. It’s a competition. You sit there and lap up the attention other guys give you when you have sex with a woman and you never stop to consider that there are consequences, large, small and in between, to the woman. It’s a small bar, Mike. People are watching you. People know what kind of person you are when you’re drunk, and when you ask a woman to go home with you it reflects on her image when you leave with her.”
“You aren’t pregnant?” I tried to think. “Why did you do this to me?”
“Are you listening to me?” Deborah laughed but it didn’t sound like she was amused. “Why did you do this to me? What did you do to me?  You got lucky, we got lucky, and the next time you get hammered and think an easy woman is a good thing, well, you might want to think about how the last week or so has felt.”
“All of this just to teach me a lesson?” I was stunned.
“No, all of this to teach you a lesson and for me to get sex on my terms. I used you, Mike. How does it feel now? I wanted sex with a man who was going to work hard at doing the right thing. I wanted sex with a man who would stand by me if things were tight. I wanted to have sex with a man who would work his ass off to be responsible and that’s what you did.  I made you feel like you had an obligation and I made the people around you feel like you had an obligation. Those are my terms, Mike, those are the conditions under which I like to get a man in bed with me. Now, you may thing those conditions are a little harsh, but how did it make you feel? Do you feel better or worse than, let’s say, fondling a woman’s breast in public while you’re too drunk to stand up?”

“But your roommates…I could have told my parents, I’ve…”  I was stunned.

“So what about the parents of the women you’ve slept with? Ever think you might have gotten some girl pregnant and never known it? When I came back for the stuff I left here did you think about anything other than getting my jeans off again? That’s when all of this came together. I knew right then I was going to do this.”

“You’re a bitch” I said it but I didn’t meant it. I tried to remember the last woman I had slept with while I was drunk and couldn’t remember her name.

 “You’re a harmless little creature, Mike, all in all, just like most men, but you still carry that one threat, that one bullet in your gun, and you haven’t a bit of care in the world when someone gets hurt when it goes off.” Deborah stood up.  “Honestly, I could fall for you. You are a good man, deep inside, and I started hating myself for what I did. I was going to make you sweat for a while but you really were going to do the right thing and now I have to apologize for what I’ve done.  But the sex was good enough to stay another night for, but you know what? I don’t think it will work. Thanks, bye.”
I heard the door close and for a moment I wondered how on earth someone could have done something like that. But I remember the guy who told me the kid wasn’t his. I remembered how it felt to hear him say it. The phone rang and it was the goddess secretary.
“I have spoken with your wife and we have decided to hire you.” She said in a voice that was meant to make me feel small. “We start work at seven.”
“Yes ma’am.” I said. “I’ll be there.”
I sat on the sofa with a beer in my hand. I wasn’t going to be a father after all. I hadn’t told anyone and in reality, there was no way on earth I was ready. But the thought had formed, embryonic and real to me. I had been used. I had been played. And something I thought was there wasn’t.
Take Care,

Mike

Monday, April 27, 2015

Urine Trouble Now ( Or Of Mice and Men)



There really isn’t a big difference between the smell of a dead mouse and the smell of living mice who have come to live in your house. However, I live in Casa La Pibbla, the House of the Female Pit Bulls, and the odds of anything else surviving their zoomies up and down the hallways at odd hours is miniscule. It’s a never ending stampede of paws in this place and mice are crushed rather easily. For that matter, it’s fairly certain that wildebeests would be trampled to death here and only my close and personal relationship with my savior, the fifty pound bag of dog food, saves me from death. Back Bitches! I have the food bowls!

My in-depth investigation reveals that there are no dead mammals in the house. However, someone small and with rodent like teeth has been feasting on the bird seed. There is a trail of cracked sunflower seeds leading into the laundry room where I discover the strongest odor is coming from the one place I hope that it isn’t; the dryer. To have mice nesting under or, dog forbid, inside of the dryer is biblical in its disastrous potential.

I move both washer and dryer, sweep up all the debris, and there is sure Mouse Sign here. I’m thinking many more than one, but likely less than fifteen thousand, yes, somewhere in that range, here there be meecees.

There are some positives here. One, I work outside a lot and around heavy equipment and that’s an environment where how a man smells, even if he smells like there are mice living in his dryer, isn’t going to be a career ender. Hell, come Summer, I will be lucky if that is all some of the guys smell like. Also, I’m not dating right now, and that’s certainly a good thing because mouse urine, as far as I know, has never been sold as an aphrodisiac. Of course, I don’t know that the dryer smells like mouse urine but because it could smell like mouse urine I’m paranoid. It’s like cleaning dog poo off your shoes before you go to someone’s house and you swear you can still smell it and then you get convinced they can smell it and before long you can smell it when you’re in the shower and have to check your feet.

And right now, there’s no point in trying to date until I can figure out which one of the permanent dogs has been peeing on the floor as a form of protest against Tanya, who pees on the floor about once every three days because the other dog is peeing on the floor, too. Tanya knows what I’m saying when I tell her not to pee on the floor and she pees when I take her outside and so does Lilith and Tyger Linn. But every once in a while there’s a Pibble Piddle Puddle and I have to get the vinegar out and try to salvage what’s left of the carpet in my bedroom.

There’s nothing that turns a woman on more than stepping into a wet carpet in the middle of the night, not that I’m likely to get that far anytime soon, but I’m a guy; we’re a gender prone to wild optimism when it comes to sex.

Oddly, male mice are too. They tend to think they can attract a female by peeing on everything. I’ve known grown men who couldn’t aim worth a damn in the bathroom, and maybe it’s the mouse in them that keeps them spraying this way. Certainly there’s no mistaking the odor of urine, man or mouse, and that’s going to cause both parties more trouble than they need at the end of the day. In the case of men, some woman is either going to meekly accept the idea of misguided misses or she’s going to go Bobbit on him. The mice, on the other hand, are going to find that I can set traps and take away their food supply and Clorox the whole of the laundry room. The birdseed is gone and won’t return until next winter.


What I really need to do is get a two meter long rat snake and turn it loose in the house. Of course, that Pibble thing, where they might react with less enthusiasm when greeting a slithery housemate. And there, again, is the dating thing, where a woman might just react with less than wild passion if I whip my snake out for her. I’ve learned over the years, uh, decades, that  women can be damn particular about a few things; the way a bathroom smells is one of those things, and a two meter long snake is another. Honestly, men, this is one of those cases where size really doesn’t matter; no matter how long your snake is a woman isn’t likely to react any more, or any less positively than if your snake was short. If a woman really wants to see your snake you’ll known it.

So tonight I spilled about a liter of beef broth all over me, the kitchen floor, the top of Tanya the Destroyer, who had tripped me, and wound up spilling a lot more into the trash can, as the liner collapsed. I did not mean to do any of this. Now, my home has the pleasant steak house odor to it that supersedes any and all other olfactory emissions within a kilometer. Also, there is a spot on the kitchen floor that has been thoroughly cleaned twice; once by the Three Amigas and once by me. I have no doubt there will be tiny teeth marks on my kitchen floor on the morrow and perhaps a new nest to be found under the sink. Yes, that would be thrilling, wouldn’t it?


Take Care,

Mike

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won





Mowing the yard is a lot like having to take two hours to cut your nose hairs. You know you have to do it but there’s no point in trying to pretend it’s enjoyable, unless you like that sort of thing. I’ve known married men who loved their lawns but that was because it was their time away from having to deal with being married with children. There’s a certain degree of Lawn Love that is understandable but everything after that is a cry for help or having nothing to do anymore in life. That’s way harsh, but no one I have ever know who was obsessed with their lawn had anything better to do.

I have a yard. There is grass in my yard. If I wish to keep the population of ticks, fleas, and other pests down, and be able to find my own dogs in the grass, I have to mow it once a week in the Summer. I do not like it. I decided to stop mowing one year and my neighbors, kind souls that they are, mowed while I was at work and never asked me for a thing. I realized that they thought I wanted it mowed. I realized they wanted it mowed. So here we are. Mowing.

It’s been two weeks since I last mowed and it has rained fifteen centimeters since the last time blade hit grass. In that two weeks the grass has grown as if being pushed out of the ground by Satan so some of it was nearly knee high. I dragged the mower out at seven in the morning and fired it up. Tyger Linn and Tanya the Destroyer hate the mower. They try to attack it. I have to get a stick and chase them away from it. Imagine, there I am, I hate mowing, chasing the dogs I love with a stick, so I can mow.

Since it rain another two centimeters yesterday the grass is very wet. It sticks to the underside of the mower and packs itself into flat cakes that resemble hash. I have to stop, move over to a sandy area, let the mower dry out enough for the grass hash to fall away, and continue. This is like mowing in a rain forest. It’s like mowing the Sargasso Sea. This is as slow as if I was mowing with a pair of toe nail clippers but I do realize that the longer I wait the worse it will keep getting. I find Amelia Earhart’s plane. I find a lost Mayan Step Pyramid. There’s the career lost by MC Hammer near the fence like but I can’t touch that. It’s thick, I tell you, and the going is slow.

I know the mower Al Joad knows the family truck. I know the sound the engine makes when it is bogging down or clogging up, and if it clogs up it will bog down and the thought that the up will lead to the down makes me think about how we use language. We could bog up to our axles or bog down to the fenders. But we never clog down to anywhere. Things are always clogged up, not clogged down. The mower sings me the song of its people. The grass dies in the revolution of the blade, decapitated and innocent. It takes a few minutes to get from point A to point B but every time I make the trip there is less to mow. Back and forth and forth and back. The mower sings me the song of its people and the grass that was cut when I started has already started to regrow.

The sun rises more quickly when a soul is out in the open working and there’s a mist that rises from the grown, the ghosts of all the dead grass blades rising to the sky, to be reborn in the same body next Saturday, to face the spinning God again. Thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of their kind seek to touch the sun but are rebuffed time and time again, none worthy of the sky, all rejoicing until they hear that terrible sound of the mower, singing the psalms of its people.

Many years ago, when I bought my first house back in Donalsonville Georgia, I took up bike riding to get more exercise. I pedaled out, far out of town, circling back through the backroads, and was aiming for a friend’s house near Jakin. A girl I was in love with in High school had moved to the same road, not far from her parent’s house and I saw her in the yard that day, mowing. Now always, but sometimes, when I’m mowing, I’ll think about that girl and that day, and I wonder if she looked up and saw me, and realized I had seen her. I wonder if she ever thinks about me when she’s mowing or looks up to see if I might be there again. There’s no telling how many blades of grass have come and gone since that day or how many more will come and go again, before I ever see her again, if ever.

Thoughts like that devour time and I realize I’ve created a very wide path between the fence and the unmowed part of the yard. I am more than halfway through. The sun is up but now I know I will be done soon and the hardest parts of the yard are behind me. The thickest areas are sheared away and done. My yard looks less wild now and the time I contemplation the mysteries of life under the drone of the mower’s song is coming to an end for this week. I know that one day someone will call me and tell me she has died or has been killed or one day someone will call her and tell her of my end, and that will be the last either of us hear of the other. Like the Mayan Pyramid or Earhart’s plane, there are things that are discovered while mowing that will never be heard from again.

Take Care,

Mike

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Woman With The Border Collie Purse

I remember the first time I saw her, the first time I was behind her, and it seemed like some sort of act. Her movements were contrived and her voice just oozed with deception. I keep telling myself that life isn’t a work of fiction and I can’t just go around writing everyone around me into some sort of story but there are people who beg for it. They plead, with their actions or inactions, to be put to print, even if no one ever reads them. This woman, on only the second encounter I have with her drags me into writing about her.

Let me set her up for you:

She’s about sixty or so and both times I’ve seen her she was dressed up like she was going to or coming from, church. She has this hat thing going on and a lot of church ladies do have the hat thing going on. This is a woman with a lot of bling on her wrists and she jungles and jangles with bracelets and bangles. And she has this purse. It’s a huge thing. You know those movie stars that keep tiny dogs in their purses? Well, this woman could keep a Border Collie in this thing she’s carrying. She’s got this super red lipstick on that makes her look like she French kissed a fire truck.

So here we go:

The cashier is ringing stuff up, the guy is putting the stuff in bags, and this woman is carrying on a conversation with them both. “My isn’t this weather wonderful?” “You know, I just love this store and everyone in it.” “Do you remember Michael? He used to work in the back in the meat department, do you remember him, I taught him when he was in the third grade, and do you know what, he was really good, really good, at math.”

Everything coming out of her mouth is just dripping with honey. And she has her bag on the counter and she has her hands folded on top of her Border Collie Bag. Finally, the cashier totals her up and suddenly it occurs to this woman she has to pay for the groceries. She acts startled as if she were lost in thought. She unzips her bag, digs down deep, up to her elbows, unzips another compartment, and she brings out a handful of change. She spills it out on the counter and begins counting out loud. So now she’s covered the last part of the amount. Everything past the decimal is accounted for, right? She picks up the remaining coins from the counter, one at a time, and digs down into her purse, nearly to the shoulders, puts them into the lower caverns, and zips it back up. Then she digs around some more and produces a checkbook. Yes, a checkbook. She asks to borrow a pen. She has to write the amount of the check in first, and then she has to write it out, which she doesn’t have to do because they just scan the check, and all the while she’s humming some song as if this is the best thing ever. She returns the pen, digs around to put the checkbook away, and in the meantime, she hasn’t budged an inch from the furthest point she could be from the cashier and still reach her. The person behind her, that would be me, could have unloaded the four items I had in my buggy, but no, the Border Collie Bag is sitting right there in the way.

So she tells the cashier to have a good day and finally, with great fanfare, moves slowly away, like a ship launching, and the only thing missing is the confetti and streamers. The cashier is a young woman and I can see it in her eyes. She wants to say something but she doesn’t want to get fired for saying it. I have four items and use a credit card. The cashier looks wounded, angry, used and plain pissed off.
“Is she like that every time?” I ask.
“Every time.” The cashier replies. “And she comes in here every day, sometimes twice a day. She pays for one thing with a check and change. It drives me fucking crazy.” And she realizes she’s said more than she needed to say. She looks at me and I just nod. Yeah, I got ya.

If I ever struck it rich the first thing I would do is hire someone to do my shopping. But I wonder, truly wonder, why Border Collie Purse Woman does what she does. I think she has to know she’s irritating the hell out of the cashier and the people around her. I mean, she does know, right? So is that it? It that her thing? Does she register this sort of an event as some sort of victory over the forces she considers evil? Is this her way of Sticking It To The Man? What would drive someone, anyone, to be such an obstructionist?

I get back to the truck and there she is, sitting in the car beside me, nodding her head to gospel music. So what if I’m wrong? What if she’s just incredibly lonely and that one trip to the store is all the human interaction she’s going to get? What if she’ll go home now and there’s no one; no cat, no Border Collie, no one at all for the rest of the day and night and those dozen or so words spoken to her at the store is all she has to eat until she goes in again. I get out of the truck and go over to where she’s sitting.
“I love your hat” I tell her and she looks startled and she looks at me if maybe I’m messing with her.
“I got it at LuLu’s” she says and she seems really proud of it.
“Looks good on you, really.” And that’s it.

So, it’s a win-win. If she’s really just a bitch and likes pissing people off she has to think she failed now. If she’s just a lonely woman needed someone to talk to she now thinks her gat attracts people albeit those she never expected.

Me? As I finish this I wonder where she is right now and if she’s wondering if I meant it about the hat.

I did. It was an awesome hat.


Take Care,

Mike

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Bombardier's Grandson

David was one of those people everyone knew but no one ever really knew. You would see him at a bar, usually by himself, sometimes with just a couple of other people, but you couldn’t pin down where you had first met him or remember anywhere he’d been with anyone. David was really super quiet and women liked that about him, but he very rarely dated. I knew one woman who went out with him for a couple of months and she told me he hardly said anything. At a restaurant he ate in a hurry, at movies he never laughed at the funny parts, and it took her walking out of the bedroom naked to get sex jump started. Most people assumed he was gay because back then that was the one answer for anything that was different about anyone.

A hurricane came through one year and I was one of those ride-it-out people who wasn’t going to let a little wind and rain chase me out of my apartment. I wish I had left because when things began to get rough I realized that if anything happened I was going to be stuck in the middle of a town with no one to come rescue the idiots. There was a knock on my door and there was David. His car had a flat a block from my apartment and he decided to just park it. It wasn’t the first time he’d been over but I could count the number of times he’d visited on my thumbs. But he did have beer. That was my kind of person; stock up on beer during a storm.

Guys won’t admit to fear when other guys are around. We’ll sit on the steps of an apartment with wind blowing grown trees over right in front of us and not go in until we need another beer. I have this theory that men drink because it’s the only way to remain calm when doing things that are bound to hurt. Someone once bet me I wouldn’t swim across a pool and back, naked, on one of the coldest nights in history. Of course I took the bet and that water was much colder than ice. I was lucky not to have hypothermia. It’s a guy thing. We boldly go where no man has gone before even if it’s stupid.

So David and I are driven back inside by the horizontal rain and wind and we drink more beer. The storm is here and now and it is rocking. The lights flicker, come back on, then go down for the count. We counted fifty-three beers in the cooler and the refrigerator and decided to kill off as many as we could to keep them from getting warm. We were going to drink twenty-six beers apiece before the storm blew out. It was a challenge. We had to finish the beers during the storm!
At that point in my life a twelve pack didn’t mean a lot to me at all. So we down the first four or five, apiece, in less than half an hour. I had a little pot but David shied away from drugs, other than beer. We built a pyramid with the empty cans and so the first two six packs were stacked three on the bottom, two on the next level with one on top. We were going to start trying to merge the two stacks after that. The wind was screaming outside and the ceiling began to drip water from it, but that the hell were we going to do at that point?

I went to pee and when I came back David had a beer opened for me and he handed me a pill. Pill? He told me, and this was about the fourth or fifth sentence he had spoken all night, that he had to take pills because of his condition. What condition?
“I’m crazy” David told me and he said it like he was telling me he was a diabetic or had back pain.

We killed off another couple of beers and I couldn’t feel my face or fingers. It’s wasn’t an altogether bad feeling but I could tell it was just the beginning. I asked him how long they lasted.
“I take one every twelve hours unless I get stressed out.” He said. David rarely smiled and now when he did it was like watching his lips move back but his eyes weren’t smiling. The candle light made everything just a little more surreal and I thought more beer might actually help.

I had heard about LSD but I had never tried it. David said it wasn’t acid, he had a name for it but I can’t remember it. But I knew LSD lasted about twelve hours. So, I figured I had a little better than ten hours left in the trip. The storm was raging now. The curtains were moving even with the windows closed. That was an eerie sight. It made it look like there were things crawling on the other side of the curtains. The Pyramid was getting bigger and David seemed obsessed with getting it right.

“My grandfather flew during World War Two” David said suddenly. “Over Germany. B-17, 1944. He was a bombardier. His name was David, too”

I really love military history and I always have. We opened two more beers, drank a toast to his grandfather, and suddenly, David wanted to talk.

So they go out on this mission, daylight bombing raid, and the Germans shoot down about half the planes, thousands of men die, and then for two weeks everyone is just sitting and stunned about how terrible it was. Then they went right back to bombing like it never even happened and the Germans are still there. They take off in clear weather but a few minutes out from their target they start seeing storm clouds ahead. So David the bombardier is sitting at his station waiting to take over the plane and set the sights when they get hit. Flak tears into the thin skin of the planes and they can all hear the ripping sounds from the guts of the plane. The bomb bay doors won’t open, even with the hand crank, and they’ve lost one engine. They’re leaking fuel. Crash landing with a load of bombs is something no one is looking forward to, really.

They’re fighting for altitude, trying to figure out how to get the bombs off the plane and the pilot tells them if they’re going to dump the bombs, do it now because they’re nearly over France. There’s a debate on whether or not they’ll make it back to the airstrip and if they ditch over the water that might be better and… the bomb bay doors open and the bombs go tumbling out of the plane. The navigator is over there one the controls and he has no idea what he did but it worked. But another engine dies and pieces of it rip the wing open. They are going to go down and go down hard.

So there they are. They see this field and it’s not nearly long enough. The pilot tells them they’re going to clip the trees and hope they don’t lose their wheels but when they touch down their left landing gear collapses and they plow into the ground. The plane spins twice and stops. Fire breaks out but there’s a hole in the plane big enough to drive a jeep through. David drags the navigator out but there’s smoke and fire and he isn’t sure where anyone else is. The two of them wind up at the edge of the woods watching the plane burn like it’s tapped into Hell. Someone walks out of the fire and dies burning. David and the navigator are frozen in place and can’t get near the wreck. Ammo is cooking off left and right. The storm closes in around them and it starts raining like the tears of all the angels in heaven.

David got up at that point and went to get us both a beer. I down the rest of mine and knew, really knew, we were screwed if a tree hit the house or a tornado came. I couldn’t feel my hands or face. Worse, I felt like I had descended into a semi liquid world where everything was muted and fuzzy. There was an odd buzzy noise coming from outside as the wind gusted and whistled. We were in the teeth of the storm now. It sounded like there were a billion bees outside trying to get in. I watched in a detached sort of way as David rolled the first joint of his life. Yeah, more pot, more beer, got any more of those pills? I stumbled to a window and looked outside. Total darkness enveloped the world. The house was dark except for a couple of candles. I could hear the water hitting the floor from the hole in the roof. There was a flash of lighting and it scared the hell out of me. For a second, just as long as the light lasted, I thought I saw someone standing outside in the street.

That spooked me hard. What the actual hell was that? I went downstairs and looked out of the common area door but it was like looking into ten thousand feet of sea in a storm. But now there’s something else. I can feel it. I retreat back inside and David hands me the joint. He’s coughing from his first hit of weed and that makes me feel better, like okay, he’s a rookie and I have something to teach him now. Right? So I tell him about the first time I got buzzed and he’s smiling that smile that looks like he’s really trying to look happy but his eyes, man, I’m beginning to wonder what he gave me because my mind is bouncing around and I can feel every inch of my skin. It feels like it’s loose or something and I might slip out of it accidently.

David starts talking again. So they’re about to get the hell away from the wreck when there’s an explosion. The navigator takes a piece of shrapnel in the neck and bleeds out in less than five minutes. David is covered in blood and there’s someone in the field walking towards him, out or the rain. It’s a Frenchman and David doesn’t speak a word of French and the French dude speaks two or three words of English. One of those words is “Nazis!” so David goes with him, because really, what the hell else is he going to do? So the French guy hides him under some boards and scrap lumber in the back on an old truck and David feels real fear now. The truck seems to be headed east, not west. West towards Germany. But David is trapped under the boards and so he rides in the back of the truck in a pouring rainstorm and after a while, even the fires from the wreck begins to fade away.

David almost dozes off when the truck stops so suddenly some of the boards shift and nearly crush him. He drags himself out of the pile of boards and he realizes why the sudden stop. They’ve come to a village, or what’s left of it, and it looks like the front might have moved up and both sides hammered this place. Horrified, David realizes that this just might be where that load of bombs were dropped. He wanders around and tries to help as best he can. Nearly five thousand pounds of bombs have fallen here and it looks as bad as it sounds. There’s dead and dying everywhere, what passes as a local clinic took a direct hit, and now there’s a nurse doing triage in a horse stable by lantern light. Her husband is the local doctor but they can’t find him. She speaks enough English to tell David to go with the others and bring back only those they can save and leave the worst cases to God.

All night long they’re trying to put people back together in this storm and right in the middle of it three Nazis walk through as if they’re sightseeing and one of them walks within a foot of David but doesn’t see him. Then there’re gone, not offering to help, not looking for trouble, just passing through, thanks. The nurse’s name is Angelina, she’s pretty as hell and David’s heart stops. As the sun comes up the storm is passing and she’s sent someone to the next town over that has a real hospital and they’re going to try to get some of the wounded over there. She tells David that he can go as one of the wounded and start heading west. But David wants to help. He feels like he ought to. So he stays. He helps get the wounded out and suddenly he realizes that the people here think the Nazis did this. They all believe the Nazis bombed the town because they had helped a pilot get out just a week before. David is dismayed but he’s relieved, too.

David stops talking and the wind picks up to another level. The rain coming through the ceiling has filled up a five gallon bucket and I realize I might have to move out when they do the repairs. It’s bad, really bad out there and the water goes off. But we have beer. There’s about half as many as before and we’ve cleaned out the refrigerator. David hasn’t moved except to pass the joint and drink and talk. I realize I haven’t moved either. My entire body seemed to be dissolving. If something happens now I’m screwed and I know it. The windows are leaking water as if we’re sinking under the ocean and I have no idea if this area is prone to flooding. I hear creaking noises as the building rocks in the wind. David sits up straight, looks towards the front door and smiles. This time he means it and it scares me even worse than before.

So David stays behind and helps Angelina with the wounded and helps bury the dead. Late in the day he notices a piece of sheet metal, maybe from a truck or something like that, wrapped around a tree, flung there as if from a terrible storm, or a five hundred pound bomb. There’s a man trapped between the tree and the metal and even though his body has been smashed flat into the tree the man’s face is smiling. David stares at the man and one of the guys from the village comes up, looks at the body and says, “Doctor”. David has found Angelina’s husband. So they pry the metal off the tree and the body and someone had to go tell Angelina. She knows, of course, her husband had to be either killed or injured but she’s devastated nevertheless.

So David stays on in the village, helps rebuild it, helps the people wounded by the bombing, and helps Angelina get over her grief. The war comes closer and closer but David isn’t interested in flying or killing or fighting anymore. Angelina teaches him French and he helps her English. When the Germans flee France and head back home, David realizes that sooner or later he has to return to America. He asks Angelina to join him and she agrees. They get married in the same little church Angelina was married in five years before and David walks back to the Allied lines and tells them he’s been in hiding.

It takes a little while, but he gets Angelina back over to America. They have kids and start a new life. But every time there’s a storm, David has this feeling someone is watching him. He keeps seeing shadows at night where there should be light. David also feels guilty about dropping the bombs that killed Angelina’s husband but he vows never to tell her. So one night David sees someone standing in the doorway of the bedroom and he freaks out. Angelina is upset, the kids wake up, they’re freaked out, and David breaks down and tells her that he thinks the ghost of her late husband is haunting him. Angelina reveals that she has seen him too, and tearfully, he tells David that she thinks it was American bombs that killed her late husband, not German, and she tells him that deep down inside, she was happy to be rid of him. Angelina reveals that she has always thought that God sent David to her for her to be happy again, but the ghost…

The building moaned aloud and I nearly screamed. I could feel it. The dead man was here. He was coming to settle his accounts with the living and there was nowhere on earth we could run. David just sat there in the flickering light and held onto the arms of the chair as if he had done this before.
“The first time was pretty bad, I must admit that.” He said. “And each year, on the day of his death, he returns. My grandfather dealt with it, my father dealt with it, and ever since my father died, I’ve had to deal with it too. The bad thing is it gets worse every year. Grandad saw shadows and things in the dark. My father saw images at windows and reflections in mirrors. I see the actual body. I have to look at his face. He stands before me once a year and I have to see through it. I’m sorry for coming here. I hoped he wouldn’t reveal himself to someone else.”
And I could hear the steps on the stairs now. One after another, the dozen or so steps leading up were being tread by a heavy foot. Boom, boom, boom, boom, it sounded like distant gunfire. I thought about running but into that storm? No, I had to stay. The heard the door swing open even though I had locked it.

“That’s why I never date,” David said almost in a whisper, “I want it to end with me.”
“What does he want? Is he really that pissed off that he was accidently killed and your grandfather married his widow?” I asked but as I asked it I realize that would likely be enough.
“What?” David seemed surprised. “No, it’s not the ghost of the dead Frenchman. It’s the pilot my grandfather didn’t try to save from the flames, look, there he is now!”
I ran from the room and into the storm and I never looked back.  

end





Prepare to Have Your Mind Blown





Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tanya Gets Fixed!




Tanya was gone for just over a day but the time away seems to have changed the way she looks at being with us. Now, for the first time, Tanya is coming back to a place she calls home. This is where her comfort zone is and this is where she feels safe. The permanent dogs snuffled Tanya and she snuffled them back, and then we all went for a walk in the woods. Tanya stayed close by my side for a while and then wandered off to investigate what Tyger Linn was doing. Usually she sticks to me like Velcro.

I’ve got a friend in the vet’s office who said that Tanya bared her teeth at someone trying to get her out of the pen but didn’t growl or bite. She also wasn’t as vocal as I had feared she might be. I believe Tanya is passing through one stage of her life, that one as a fearful stray to a dog that believes she will receive good care. All of this has to be very confusing to her but at the same time she seems to understand that what I do, and what I allow other people to do, is for her own good, even when she doesn’t understand it what’s going on. That’s a fine distinction but a very important one.

Last night Tanya stuck very close to me and that’s as it should be. There for a day she was back in limbo as far as she could tell and being back on the bed at my side is pure comfort. I made her sleep in the crate, which she did not want, but until she’s totally house trained she will remain boxed. She stopped at the door this morning and peed just a few feet away from being a good dog. But at least she realizes that the process of her peeing involves the door. She just has to make sure she is on the right side of it.

Despite the public sentiment that would have Tanya here as a forever home I still think she isn’t a good match here. Lilith still doesn’t like her at all and Tyger Linn likes her on every other day, and Tanya’s training seems to hit or miss every other day as well. She was good on the leash yesterday and she didn’t lunge when we got home. But at the same time, this is a dog that needs a more training and more time than I have right now. Don’t get me wrong here; I would turn her loose to be adopted without hesitation but the right home has to be found for Tanya.


So this morning I get up, let the dogs out, let the dogs in, feed the dogs, and there for a few moments in time, I lay on the bed and let Tanya lie on top of me. She nibbled my fingers and ears, and cuddled. She still smelled a little but like the vet’s office and I think this was her way of trying to change that. She wiggled and turned over on her back, moved around, turned on one side and then the other, just trying to find a way to get closer. The smell of the house, the other dogs, the bed, me, and everything that she knows of home is something she wants to wear for the rest of the day. Just like people like to wear clothes the dogs like to wear scents.

Tanya nibbles my hand, experimenting with how hard she can bite and showing me she won’t bite too hard. See, I can play without hurting you! And for a few minutes before my day begins I let Tanya be the only dog being petted and the only dog being played with, and in her world, the only thing she wants at this moment. Tanya allows me to inspect the sutures and all looks well. Alas! It is time to go to work and leave the dogs to themselves again.

Someone will adopt Tanya. Maybe this weekend she will find a home. But before I could adopt her out I had to get her to the point she realize what a home meant and now, more than ever, I believe that Tanya knows how to fit into a home. This little one still needs some polish and training but her life as a stray living day to day is fading more with each time she falls asleep with her head on my arm.

Take Care,

Mike

Friday, April 17, 2015

Shattered Rings and Scattered Dreams




It’s fascinating how dreams work, is it not? There I am, in an unknown town, in an unknown vehicle, driving to a house I have never seen before, yet it is all totally familiar. My mind made the whole thing up, none of what happened in the dream ever existed, except the woman, and around that one known, that one woman I haven’t seen since 1986, I’m driving to her house, in a car, in a town, and none of it ever existed but her. I know to park my car in the parking lot of the store next to her house because she likes for me to be discreet. She was married back in 1986 but estranged from her husband. I never thought she would go back to him but she did, and then left him for someone else less than a year later. But in the dream she was still married and still mine. Reality, it would seem, is not without a sense of irony.

It’s hard to describe a place you can only remember from a dream and only once at that. There are reoccurring dreamscapes and some of them I really love. Some of them are puzzles; I wonder why my subconscious would build something substandard or shabby. Some of oddities you would not see in real life, like the white house with white trim and a white mailbox. The only color anywhere near the house, except for the lawn, which is a very pretty lawn, is the red square on the mailbox flag. I stop and stare at that house every time a dream takes me there and I wonder if there is such a home.

There are also people in dreams that I have never seen before and aren’t likely to see again. There’s a dreamscape house that doubles as a daycare center, one of those unofficial businesses that is run by a woman who is good with kids. I stopped by there once to take something to her, and I never found out what it was, and there was a line of cars, five or six of them, waiting to pick up their children.  I thought that was a terrible thing, to have that many cars sitting out in the street but small towns allow that sort of thing.

I’m always the same age as when we met as so is she. I loved her hair, her smile, the way she moved around the room, like a fluid and the way she laughed. We argued the last time we were in the same room and I regret that, deeply regret it, and even though we’ve spoken on the phone a half dozen times in the last three decades I think it was that last face to face conversation I regret most. I said things I didn’t mean, but worse, I didn’t say what I felt. That is always a mistake when speaking to a woman.

In the dream we are young, and together and the time we spend is endless for it feels like there will be no end to this time when you are young and in love. She gets dressed and as I am getting dressed there is a knock on the front door.

It’s odd, because the man who has come over is someone I haven’t seen since I was a teenager. It was rumored he had an affair with his boss’s wife and for years people wondered did they or didn’t they? He is likely in his eighties now and I have no idea what became of him.  But she doesn’t want him to see me there. I get dressed quietly and leave out of the back door, but he’s leaving out of the front door at the same time so I think he saw me. It’s an odd feeling that is. To get caught doing something I shouldn’t be doing by someone I only remember because there were doing the same thing. Nicely placed, Sub Conscious, nicely played.

The dream ended as I left. I woke up and still felt guilty and caught. I could still feel the body buzz of really good sex and I still regret, even more deeply each time I think about it, the last time I saw her really was going to be the last time I saw her. She remarried and I lost track of her a few years ago.

So the dreams ends and I am sitting on the edge of the bed listening to Tanya the Destroyer complain about her captivity. She still sleeps in the crate at night. We tried letting her sleep on the bed with everyone else but she nibbled by nose at three in the morning and truly, no one enjoys that at any time of day. I wonder what it would be like to awaken one morning and discover that Tanya is part of a dream, or that the reality from which I draw most of my writing never really existed.  Perfectly meshed, the one reality is woven around another in my dreams, and for hours on end I live in that reality much as I do the one that most people would consider to be the “real” world. Yet we already know that our memory is faulty. We know we lose keys and cannot remember what happened to them. We forget phone number and we forget names as if the very essence of names forbids perfect memories of them. We lose track of those we love out of neglect or pride. This world we have decided is real makes nearly, almost as much sense as the world we crate in dreams and for all of those who claim they cannot remember their dreams they can remember very little from this world’s day to day living. Is this not true? Do you not see this each day?

Yet here we are.

Now, I begin a day again, the end of another week, and a woman I once loved is another day further away from me, another week removed from my life, and the possibility that we will never again see one another grows stronger.

In my dreams, I have seen her. And discovered in both worlds, love never truly dies.

Take Care,

Mike

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Dingo and I Face the Dawn




At midnight Tyger Linn gets up and leaps from the bed. We’re having some New Dog Issues and someone, and I know not who, has been peeing on the floor. I suspect it is Tyger Linn because Lilith is just too damn polite. I let the two permanent dogs out, keep Tanya in her crate, and go back to bed. Tanya isn’t happy but I know she went right before bedtime and she will be okay until I get up, which is about four hours away. I sense Tyger Linn’s return and she snuggles next to me, even though it is very warm for it to be very late. Summer is beginning to leave a few reminders of Her own.

At four forty-five I’m standing in the back yard with Tanya peeing. It feels like a sauna out here. The fogs is thick and heavy. The mugginess of the morning is oppressive. I can feel the sweat forming on my body. The air is so wet the body heat sticks to the skin and sweat tries to ship some of it off but it isn’t working at all. There’s a foul smell in the air as if everything that is decaying is jammed in the air at nose altitude.

Even the air on the inside of the house feels fouled. The fans only stir the humidity and there seems to be no relief. I take a shower and cut all the hot water off just to feel a sense of coolness a sense of aliveness that the very air seems to have stolen from me. The cold is a bit much but when I switch back to warm water I can feel myself sweating, in the shower, at five in the morning. Even with the windows open the bathroom fogs over and it is a portent of things to come very soon.

The black night is highlighted by white fog. I had a dream once, I had fallen asleep while reading, and in that dream someone blinded me with a flashlight that produced a beam of darkness. The darkness was very intense, so very intense that I awoke from the dream to discover I had rolled over and my face was turned directly into the reading lamp. The fog produces a blinding whiteness in the incredible dark. Blindness upon blindness and if there is a deer out there or a herd of deer, or even an ocean of deer, I’m going to hit them before I see them. I slow down and I hope I don’t get rammed from behind.

Fog makes people stupid. They go faster than they can see. They slow down slower than they have to, usually. And most of all, they forget it’s harder to see other people and they do not make allowances for being blind and for the blind. The fog is getting thicker and I wonder if it would be safer to return home, keep going, or find a place to ride this thing out. These thoughts occur to me as I see a pair of headlight coming down a side street that intersects with the road I’m on. She isn’t going to stop for the stop sign and she doesn’t see me.

I hit my brakes before she’s past the stop sign. I’m locking them down, foot braced, teeth clenched, hand on the horn, butt cheeks clenching the seat and there’s no way in hell the truck is going to stop on wet pavement. Without thinking about it I pull the wheel hard right, harder, and just as I’m sure I’ve hit her everything stops in time. Both sets of headlights are pointing in the same direction. We illuminate the house across the street and I can see tiny droplets of water drifting through the air. It seems obscene that Bach’s Partita in D minor is still playing. I can hear the woman beginning to scream.

“A Dingo got my baby!”

Okay, now this is weird and suddenly I have the feeling this has to be a dream. Did a woman I almost hit in the fog scream that a dingo had taken her child? The woman is out of the car and looking around as if she’s lost something and suddenly she runs down the road a short piece and comes back.
“I forgot my baby!” She screams. And she gets back in the car.

I have to back up to let her turn around and she’s is freaking out.

I have to follow her, I have to know what happen to the baby, or if this is a dream, and two blocks away I find her on the porch of a duplex tearing a baby out of a car seat. She left the baby on the porch.

I get out and this is a woman who is rattled and rolled. Oh my god I forgot my baby oh my god I forgot my baby oh my god I forgot my baby. She’s oblivious to me. She doesn’t care about anything else.
Finally, “I thought I left her on the back of the car, I knew she was dead, oh my god I thought I left her on the back of the car what if I left her on the back of the car?” She’s holding the infant and rocking back and forth. I think the child is still asleep.

I break the spell she’s under but gently. Is there someone she can call? Is there somewhere she has to be? She returns very slowly, but she looks at me as if she isn’t sure where we met.
“I ain’t never forgot my baby.” She tells me this and wipes the tears out of her eyes.
“Everyone forgets,” I tell her and it is true.
“Lord have mercy why did I go and have this young’un I can’t take care of nothing.” And with this the woman leans into me and sobs. Her body is racked with shame, terror, guilt, horror at what might have been, and most of all relief.
I still have the tears on me when I get to work. My shirt is damp with them. This is going to leave a stain on that young woman and it’s going to be a permanent scar. But her baby is still alive and she gets another chance, and another day to be a better parent.


Take Care,

Mike