Archive | August 2011

A SHOW OF SIGNS

The lighting had made its indentation amidst the clearing.

They said there will be a sign.
A mark upon the ground.
This will be the spot where
He will return.

“The Book” said, “By his mark, you will know him!”

The Warrior stood off in the distance.
He saw its fall and the mighty power it possessed.
He felt its heat and destruction, all in a tremendous flash of light.
As the smoke raised skyward, where heaven had once been rumored to exist, the Warrior secured his belt and unsheathed his weapon.

The lighting had made its indentation amidst the clearing. Everything was charred and smoldering. The impact point was very defined. A cross. The mark was in the shape of a cross.

That was the sign. He would appear soon wielding the wrath of Him who had sent Him, and nothing more. The battle had commenced.

The Warrior knew.

Armageddon was at hand. Hell be damned.

RADISH, GOLD AND CHILLY

Caleb knew he looked silly in his under drawers, but damn it, who needed pants?

The reception Caleb received was chilly at best. Eyes were drawn to him from the moment he entered the gates of the border town of Byrd. His appearance was no different from the town folk. But since the fallout, they knew their own, and a stranger stood out like a rancid potato. Wearing the last bit of covering he owned and carrying his small bundle of wealth, Caleb approached the man in front of the General Store.“Help ya?” the storekeep queried.“Don’ right know” came Caleb’s reply. “Y’all got anything left worth a bite?”

“I reckon we can rustle up a can ‘o somthin’, if ya don’ mind surprises” the proprietor smiled wryly.

He reached to the shelf for an unmarked and dented can. The dust clouded the small area they shared as he blew the top of the can towards Caleb.

“What I owe ya?” Caleb asked.

The store keeper eyed Caleb up and down, noticing the two small parcels cinched to Caleb’s belt.

“What ya got there?” the merchant wondered aloud.

“This here’s all my gold. The other’n is radishes” Caleb confessed.

“Gold is worthless around these parts. But them radishes may as well be gold.” the owner prodded.

Caleb reluctantly passed the bag of radishes toward the store man, as the blank can came toward himself.

“Got an opener?” Caleb asked.

Brandishing the rusted utensil the store owner’s face became stern and devious.

“What else you got?” he sneered.

“You Bastard!” Caleb shouted, reaching for the cinch around his waist.

Caleb departed Byrd with his mystery tin in one hand and his opener in the other. His gold remained tied to his waist. Caleb knew he looked silly in his under drawers, but damn it, who needed pants when his stomach did the talking for him. He was plain hungry.

IN THE CARDS

“Shit, this is bad,” she said in her best Brooklynese, her accent now gone. “Very friggin’ bad.”

 

The archaic lettering called me. It haunted me. Every afternoon, I passed by “Madame Toltasz’s Moroccan Parlor”. This hovel bore all the gaudiness of a porcelain Rama with a digital clock in its belly. This place exuded mystery. Nestled between a Kosher Deli and an abandoned pawn shop, it seemed eerily out of place.

She was standing near the window, hidden beside the placard of the “all-seeing eye”. Toltasz was a gypsy, a seer. To some, she was a real witch. Her eyes moved along with me, making me feel as if she were directing my steps.

“She’s going to make me late again”, I said as I stopped in my tracks and turned for the door of the shop.

“Velcomen.” she greeted in her thick Hungarian accent, “Tarot today?”

Hands nestled in my pockets, I nodded toward her corner table. Her crystal ball adorned the center of the table scarf. Tapestries and abundant strings of garlic gave her little bizarre bazaar its appeal. And its aroma.

With a grand sweeping gesture, Madame Toltasz pointed at the empty seat before her.

I sat in drawn anticipation as she shuffled her deck. She drew each card from the pile, and as she did, she made a little noise. Each squeak, or Oooh, or Aha! was laced with her dialect. As she lay the pattern upon the tabletop, I felt optimistic.

She laid my last tarot card on the table. I smiled. It looked like a pretty good one. But when I glanced up to meet her cloudy blue eyes, she frowned.

“Shit, this is bad,” she said in her best Brooklynese, her accent now gone. “Very friggin’ bad.”

I saw the panic in her eyes as she raised from the table in abject fear. The last thing I remembered was glancing over my left shoulder just as the Metro Bus came careening through the plate glass store front.

DO YOU DARE?

I stand imprisoned. Bound by the dictates and restrictions of an arbitrary nature. My crimes were never of omission, but of commission. Tying myself too closely to the apparatus that would spell my destruction.

But I remain a man of vision. Dreams of freedom and flight make all things possible. No longer am I surrounded. No more will I rattle the tin cup of my despair across the iron bars of life.
Between each bar, there is space. Between my cell and the fence, there is space. Looking over the barbs until they vanish through perspective, there is space. From here to the guard tower of my conscience, there is even more space.

In space, there is freedom.
In space, flight is possible.
In space, my tired muse can spread
its wings and soar.

I stand in my prison cell, and can imagine my liberation. I freely cross the yard to the armed fence. I climb the chain link and hurl myself through the barbs, shredding my indignation and animus. I run for the tower, dodging the bullets of a vindictive jailer. In my mind I embrace freedom.

But, these shackles are quite another story.

PROCRASTI-NATE

They came together in a thunderous embrace.

Nathan Shell was a good man, to hear his Mama tell it. “My son, the screenwriter” she would proclaim. But, all the same she loved her Nate. Unfortunately, Mama wasn’t around to make proclamations any more.

In the living room of his lifeless abode, Nathan Sheldon Sr. sat, staring at photographs on the wall… the grandfather clock… the sunbeam that danced across his morbid hardwood floor. He exhaled deeply, trying to expend every last breath of grief from his worn, tired chest. Nathan’s gaze focused on one last portrait. “MY SON, THE PUTZ!” he shouted loudly for no one to hear. “That woman loved you! You bastard! Not even for her funeral?” he hissed.

He missed his son as much as he missed his Reva. She had been buried only a few days; Nathan Jr. only made it home once a year since moving to Los Angeles. It may as well have been an eternity.

“I need to be close to the business, Papa.” Nathan begged off during their last conversation.

“She’s not a well woman! She needs you around.” Sheldon pleaded. “I need you” he admitted inwardly.

His son perplexed him. The senior had gotten over the fact that he changed his name to “Shell”. No one but Nate really minded that his name sounded “ethnic”. But he never had time anymore. No time to visit; too busy to call. Never time to write something for which he wouldn’t be paid.

“Who has time?” the elder resigned.

“REVA!” he called out, “This house is so empty without you.”

Silence.

“Your memorial service, it was nice, no? So many friends. Important to so many people. They loved you. They respected you. Important to so many! But not to THAT SCHLEMIEL! YOUR SON, THE SCREENWRITER!”

Nathan’s anger boiled. He leaned over his armchair and spit, soiling the magnificent Persian rug Reva took so much pride in. No sooner did his sputum hit the floor covering that Nathan recoiled in regret.

He fell out of his recliner and to his knees, handkerchief in hand, blotting at the stain. Tears streamed from his sad eyes as his pleas for forgiveness fell upon the deafness of his vacant home.

“It’s only a rug” he heard in his head. “Only a rug.” Reva’s words came back to him hauntingly. Like the time he had spilled his coffee and soiled the arm of his chair.

“It’s only a chair, Nathan. Only a chair.” she always repeated. Words so important they had to be said twice.

The tears came freely now. Loud shivering sobs overwhelmed Nathan. He hadn’t cried like this since he was a schoolboy. Not when his Poppa died. Not when his younger brother Sol was consumed by the cancer. And this, the first tears that finally came for Reva. Loud shivering sobs.

He hadn’t noticed that the spot on the rug had vanished. He paid no attention to the fact that the sunbeam had transformed into the street lamp’s luminance. Nathan did not hear the resound of his door chime. There was knocking now.

“Papa?” the door voice called. “Papa, it’s me. Let me in?”

“Who?” the elder Nathan replied. “What do you want?”

“Papa, it’s Nate. Please Papa. I need to talk.”

“TALK! MR. FANCY BIGSHOT HOLLYWOOD SCREENWRITER WANTS TO TALK! WRITE ME A SCREENPLAY BIGSHOT! TELL ME WHAT A BASTARD I AM. TELL ME HOW BUSY YOU ARE TO STAY AWAY WHEN MOMMA NEEDED YOU MOST! TALK! Talk, until you’re blue in the face, you’ll talk…” Nathan’s rant continued.

“Papa?” Nate said softly now.

“What do you want? WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

The sound from behind the bolted door came almost as a whisper. Humble. Serene. A hint of shame lacing his expression.

“Forgiveness, Papa.” Nate apologized. “I’m sorry Papa, please forgive me.”

Nathan swiped a meaty hand across his brow, furrowed and spotted with flecks of brown. Again, with the voices, his head spun. Memories flooded. Reva filled his thoughts.

“Nathan, your brother Sol is here.”

“What does he want? I have nothing to say to that SCHIESTER!”

“Nathan. Your brother. Your own blood. He has something to tell you. Talk to him.”

“I have no time for him. I have no time for… talking!”

“Nathan?” she pleaded with her stubborn mule.

“WHAT DOES HE WANT?”

“Forgiveness, Nathan. Sol asks your forgiveness.”

“I have no time for for…” Nathan began, only to be silenced by her bony finger pressed against his thick lips.

“My sweet man. There is always time for forgiveness.” She smiled, now caressing his cheek.

“Always time for forgiveness” Nathan muttered, as he touched his face where her gentle hand once landed. He reached for the deadbolt.

His hand gave the doorknob a slow turn, opening to reveal his son. Nate stood contrite; literally with hat in hand, eyes lowered to the floor.

“I am sorry, Papa!” he demurred. “I am sorry.” he repeated. Words so important they had to be said twice.

“So, now you can make time for me in the time I have left?” Nathan prodded through squinted eyes.

“I have time for you Papa. I’ve put you off for too long. I have all the time you need. I’m home now, Papa!”

They came together in a thunderous embrace. Together again, for Reva’s sake. And it was about time.

LEAPS AND BOUNDS

She discovers a leaf.
It becomes her adversary.

Energy in shades of brown, layered; thick and hearty. Stout like a bold bottle of the brew that carries her name, “Guinness”.

Spring is a welcomed relief. I believe her spirit is energized by the change of season. As are mine. It is fine that her paws, all muddied and wet, get their prints all over the linoleum. It does my heart good to see her leaping and bounding.

She had been rescued for this moment. Freedom found in the compassion to which she clings. Free to love. Free to run. Never knowing which direction to explore first. Sometimes her decision is made for her, thanks to her squat legs and enthusiasm. Her feet go right; her body goes left.

She discovers a leaf. It becomes her adversary. It is her plaything. Speed is her ally. At least as fast as her stumpy legs can carry her. Trying to squeeze a lifetime of denial into a single afternoon.

Now, by the window she rests, dreaming of the warmth this day had brought to her explorations. Anticipation fuels her, and tomorrow is another day.

JUST A JOKE!

At one point, Donal hardened his stance, glancing back at his car.

 

 Donal was not amused. Once again, someone in the Guest Care office (Mrs. Cooks!) thought it would be funny to Photoshop his head onto a drawing. Of Donald Duck. Because that never got old.

 

Once again, someone in the Guest Care office (Mrs. Cooks!) thought it would be funny to Photoshop his head onto a drawing of Donald Duck, because frankly, that never got old. Donal was not amused.

He sat patiently, hands still lightly gripping his steering wheel. “Twelve and two”, he smirked inwardly as he waited. Three squad cars and the S.W.A.T. team flashed their semaphore behind him. The show of force afforded Donal some importance.

“They should see this, then they’d know not to laugh”, he thought, his hands clearly visible.

An officer approached on either side of his vehicle, pistols drawn as Donal’s breathing remained slow and rhythmic. He pressed the button on his power window, as it lowered fully open. Donal smiled.

“Problem officers?” he cracked, but the patrolman was far from playful.

“Get out of the car, Scumbag, and keep your hands where I can see them!” the cop shouted at Donal as the officer’s partner rounded the front of the car, revolver still trained on Donal’s chest.

He slowly pushed his door opened and stepped out into the crisp morning air, closing the door behind him. Officer Creedy and Patrolman Habib rushed the calm assailant, harshly pressing his face against the dust encrusted glass of his passenger window. Habib gave his handcuffs an extra twist as he slapped them around Donal’s wrists.

The two took turns shoving Donal toward their squad car. But at one point, Donal hardened his stance, glancing back at his car.

Through the rear window she stared, her designer sunglasses covering her eyes. A grotesque smile was fashioned across the stiffening lips of Mrs. Cooks decapitated head, which Donal had “pasted” on the rear shelf above his back seat.

He knew he would always remember that smile as he entered the police car harshly. In his mind, it would never get old.