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IF MAN WERE MEANT TO FLY…

Running now, flapping arms and spindly legs churning, burning energy and kicking up the granular path.

Running now, flapping arms and spindly legs churning, burning energy and kicking up the granular path.

Joshua sat on the ridge that overlooked the shoreline. The morning moved on trepidation’s feet; slow and lumbering as if afraid to awaken the slumbering surf. He watched the sun rise above the trees behind him, knowing full well that soon he would be bathed by her engulfing warmth. Joshua waited.

His legs were splayed out before him, propped up upon his elbows soaking up the sounds of the water lapping the sand. Joshua heard a murmur as well. A cooing, a trill of a sound, repeating in as much as the waves receded and returned. The gulls were welcoming the day as well.

Joshua was amazed by their multitude. As the morning painted the landscape in it’s light, it became more apparent. The sand was blanketed in shades of white and gray and black, moving in unison, a oscillation of avian beauty. One bird raises it wings and stretched. Others mimicked his motion. Here at the lake – it may as well had been an ocean, the day began.

Joshua drew a sip from his drink box, watching. Studying, noting the flex and sense of community these birds displayed. Another gull flaps its wings, affording him space; drawing others to its movements.The flapping continued as it lifted off of the surface, drifting to the right swooping over the masses. More followed. All aroused they took flight moving a bit closer on the beach to land and migrate again. Joshua came to his feet. He wanted a closer look.

Joshua was twelve, and his curiosity was his most endearing quality. There was so much he wanted to accomplish before he was poisoned by young adulthood. His innocence enhanced him; he was fearless and driven.

Slowly, he approached the swarm of birds. Some were spurned to take evasive actions, others just moved to allow the boy to pass by. When he reached the center of the congregation, he stopped completely surrounded by his feathered friends. The sound of the waves crashing was muted by the cooing that raised in volume; a crescendo that filled Joshua’s head. He closed his eyes and felt the surreal sensation that made his feel more like one of these weathered birds instead of a wide-eyed young boy.

Again the flapping commenced. Bird nudging neighbor, awakening to the activity. More birds lifted off the ground. Joshua followed suit, extending his arms and moving them up and down in sync with his “brothers”. The birds moved more rapidly, and Joshua aped their arc. Running now, flapping arms and spindly legs churning, burning energy and kicking up the granular path. Suddenly, Joshua lunged forward, leaving his feet and furiously undulating his appendages. He had achieved flight. Briefly. And just as suddenly, the boy came crashing down to earth.

The gulls laughed and cackled. A wave of birds dipped down toward the boy and then headed out over the water. Joshua pulled himself off of the sand, brushing the grains from his lap, spitting up as much as well. He had a mouthful of sand and a belly full of laughter, again mimicking the gulls. And he smiled. Joshua knew little boys couldn’t fly. But his imagination rose up to take him wherever his heart desired to go; even joining the birds over the water. He was okay with that. Joshua rationalized that maybe he’d learn to surf instead!

HOME SOON

A sleigh pulled by two strange horses and an old driver came alongside the dead snow tracker.

It was a strange twist of fate. All of his luggage made it home fine. But somehow, Andrew Worton never did. How the hell he ended up in the Yukon was beyond any stretch of imagining. Clad in a short sleeved Polo shirt and light khakis, Andrew looked out of place.

And here it was, a week before Thanksgiving and no means of getting out of there until Tuesday. He had resigned himself to missing the dinner. He would not get to sample his mother’s pie. Her health wasn’t what it used to be and his sister was lousy with Mom’s recipes.

Dad was another story. The picture of health and vitality. Golfed twice a week. Swam at the “Y”. Walked the treadmill with great regularity.
Working his way to better health. But something went off course. He had worked himself into a massive heart attack. Andrew wished there was another way.

Stewart Crossing sat mid-province and had been isolated just after Andrew’s flight had landed in Canada. Snows and wind whipping and the cold was stinging Worton’s bare arms. The constable at the landing strip had found Andrew something more suitable, which was a blessing, he thought.

“Don’t think you’ll make the States by  week’s end”, the officer informed, making Andrew more anxious to head on out. “If we can get you to Whitehorse, you can catch a flight there, but getting south looks treacherous.

Frustration had settled in and Andrew did a foolish thing. Bound and determined to get home com hell or high water, he rented some skis and headed southward.

He was making good time, considering, but his legs were tired and sore, and stray caribou mocked him with their trumpeting and snorting. In a clearing was a small village, a new destination.

Nothing spectacular. Some residences, a general store, a postal facility and a snowmobile dealership. Great luck for Andy!

The proprietor felt for the young man and traded an older machine and some gasoline for the cross country skis and the promise to pay him when he got back home. Andrew couldn’t say no.

The further south he went, it seemed the snows followed him. He ran adrift a couple of times. And ran out of gas near Champagne, slightly off course. He sat in the rigging despondent and sure he’d never see his family before he met his end.

Something in the distance. A ping? A tingle? A jingle! Louder and stronger it came. A sleigh pulled by two strange horses and an old driver came alongside the dead snowtracker.

“Ho-ho” the old man said. “Looks like you should’ve stayed put now, doesn’t it.”

Andrew was in no mood, but did agree. The man offered transportation. Andrew accepted and climbed in beside the gentle soul.

“Get on, Musher! Get on, Mudder!” he yelled.

His beasts sprung into a gallop and leaped over a fence rail. The rig rose skyward gaining altitude and Andrew held tightly to the side rail.

“Breaking in the new “guys”” the old man smiled. “A little over a month and I may need backup”.

Andrew stared at the driver and finally realized he had seen him before. The old man glanced a wink at Andrew.

“You know, they’re not going to believe you!” smiling so lively and quick.

“Just get me home, Nick. I’ll worry about that when I get a drumstick in my hand!”

UP WITH THE SUN

…her long dark tresses, spraying the sand with her seductive “rain”.

Rob Caruso had given up all hope. He was far removed from the shipping lanes. No chance of rescue remained. He had been gone for three years. He was REALLY late for his last appointment. As a matter of fact, that’s how most people referred to their friend now. He was the late Rob Caruso.

But hope has a second face. When you give up hope, you actually open yourself up for any possibility. As he emerged from the thatched hut he caught a glimpse of all that was possible.

There she stood, a curvacious silhouette in all her natural beauty. She was Toostana. The name means Tuesday which Rob saw as ironic, since he found Toostana on a Friday. The native cleansed herself in the teal blue lagoon waters tossing her long dark tresses, spraying the sand with her seductive “rain”.

Rob scratched a hand through his disheveled hair and sighed. The thought of being alone becomes less depressing when shared with one as ravishing as Toostana. The thought of clothing also becomes less relevant when all that tanned flesh is the most stunning outfit one could “don”.

The sun crept slowly over the cliff…

The sun crept slowly over the cliff, illuminating more of the shore and bringing every trace of Toostana’s beauty to bare. But Rob’s paradise held this one fact. Who needed the sun to creep slowly over a cliff when Toostana was baring her beauty quite nicely on her own? All he could do was pray for midday!

NO ACCOUNT

Hiram Fletcher had a seemingly impossible task. Even as the dust settled on the city of his birth after the unspeakable horror of two airplanes explosively hitting the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Bureau of Information had assigned him to get an accounting of the victims.

Oh, there were people getting the names of the fallen and the First Responders who bravely went in to the buildings as other hurriedly rushed out. An easier task than befell Hiram.

He couldn’t figure out why the information he sought would have any bearing or historic significance on the tragedy. Fletcher needed to find out what political affiliation these people held.

When he hit the streets he saw the devastation. And the depression and the utter disbelief that something so illogical could befall New York City and reverberate throughout America. But he had an assignment and his duty to his superiors drove him onward.

“Excuse me, Sir?” Hiram approached a gentleman clutching a photograph of a woman with two children. “Have you lost someone?” he absent-mindedly asked.

“Are you with the government?” the man started holding out his portrait. “My wife? Have you seen my wife?”

His tears fell. His words coming in thick sobs.
His friend and partner. His wife; the mother of his two children. Nowhere to be found.

“No sir, no I haven’t seen her. Could you tell me something?” Hiram said almost afraid to ask. “What was you wife’s party affiliation?”

The man looked at Hiram incredulously.

“Wha… my wife’s par… YOU SON OF A BITCH! FUCK YOU!”

The man stormed off glancing back at Hiram briefly before continuing.

Hiram felt the piercing thrust of the man’s painful daggers gouge out a piece of his heart. He went in search of another survivor.

A woman stood motionless. A blank stare filled her eyes. Looking for the towers of that impressive landmark.

“They’re not there” she mumbled. “The towers… they’re… gone!” she turned to Hiram. The pain that resided upon her face made Hiram move on to find another person.

He found a firefighter, dust encrusted and composing himself for another foray into the mire.

“Can I help you sir?” the First Responder asked.

“I’m… um, with the Bureau of Information. Can I… um, ask you…” Hiram started as the young man rose to stand.

“Look, I’d love to answer your questions, but right now I have to get back there. My brother is missing. I have a lot of “brothers” missing here.”

“Just one question? Your brother was he affiliated with any political party?” Hiram blurted.

The Responder exhaled deeply. “Buddy, let me give you some information for free. Don’t go around asking that question of too many people. People have died here. Friends, and brothers and wives; husbands. Fine people all! Does it matter if they were Republican or Democrat or whatever? Leave it be!”

And he walked away.

Hiram proceeded to perform his job finding much truth in the firefighter’s words. He walked all afternoon meeting the same resistance. Fletcher’s report would be a surprise to his supervisor.

There were no Republicans killed in the tragedy. No democrats fell silent. The number of Conservatives and Liberals were equal. Zero.
His breakdown was very brief and spoke volumes.
The people who died were Americans.

Attached to the report, Hiram Fletcher included his resignation. What did it matter?

LIFE SLOWS DOWN

“Flanders always adhered to the bromide: “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!”.
Image Credit: Photobucket/anhanh_2008

A man among men was Albert Flanders. A true leader; a man with ideas. He had spent his life in a hurry to get anywhere. If his feet were still moving, it was a good bet that Albert had a plan. He was that kind of man.

And people tended to take his lead. Flanders always adhered to the bromide: “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!”. The man with direction (Albert) was naturally the boss. The followers liked his ideas, but hadn’t the intestinal fortitude to see them through to completion. Those totally disinterested were best to just sit there and not be trampled.

At least that’s how it was when Albert was in his prime. It was hard to keep up with a man that was committed to succeed. And despite the consensus, success was NOT a bad thing; not something to be punished, only something to be celebrated. But as the years passed, folks found it much easier to just not be trampled. Albert still took charge, but fewer and fewer people were inclined to move forward with him.

“Teach a man how to fish, and you’d feed him the rest of his life” Albert retorted, “but I’ll be damned he’d still want you the provide the worm and bait his hook for him!” And so it was.

Flanders was old now. A shell of his former self; a slower version of the man obsessed. But he still possessed the inner fire; he continued to drive forward, one shuffle at a time. Albert still had a plan.

At least his feet were still moving. He was that kind of man.

EXTRAORDINARY

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ~Lao-Tze
 

Philbin was a strange kid.

Called “Phil-bee” for not much shorter than his real name, he was always in the way. At least that’s how it felt to the most curious boy.

Phil-bee was the only child of a widowed mother; they were each others one-and-only, at least until Phil-bee took an interest in girls.

He was nine, a sort of awkward pre-teenie weenie, who had an interest in science and movies and a secret place under the attic stairs. Phil-bee liked to explore, and what’s more, he was darn good at it.

One afternoon after school, Phil-bee took a detour through the park (disobeying his mother’s orders to come straight to their apartment). But he had “discovered” everything he could under the beds and in the closets and was bored as all get-out at home. Phil-bee needed adventure.

And so the park became his new proving ground. Phil-bee saw a group of older boys playing ball on the south diamond. He watched them for a brief moment, but continued on his way. The trails wound between trees and shrubs and circled the picnic area. He saw a couple of old people on a paddle boat in the lake. They had to be old, the woman looked like his mother. She was probably 29-30 years old as Phil-bee could figure.

There were park benches in the distance. And there appeared to be an elderly gentleman on the last bench. As Phil-bee strolled the trail, looking at the birds in the tree and the geese on the lake, the old man had gotten up and shuffled down the path.

The boy tried to imitate the bird in the nearest tree, having found a new sounding whistle. Pursing his lip, Phil-bee blew, but couldn’t repeat the noise. He headed for that last bench to rest a few moments before heading for home.

But before he could sit down, Philbin felt something bounce off of his foot and skitter across the leaf covered ground. A brown wallet peered out from under the dead foliage, which Phil-bee quickly retrieved from the dirt.

Upon opening the wallet, the boy saw a photo identification card of an older man. Phil-bee couldn’t be sure, but it looked like the man that had been sitting just before him. He looked down the trail and called after the man.

“Hey, Mister! Guy from the bench…” Phil-bee squeaked.

But the man was nowhere to be seen. He was gone.
Phil-bee saw that there were dollar bills and credit cards in the appropriate slots, and photographs of a boy Phil-bee’s age. Maybe it was a grandson, the boy fantasized. Phil-bee knew a few things that his mother had taught him well. And sometimes a boy figures thing out on his own.

Phil-bee knew that if someone had found his grandfather’s wallet he would want it returned. His grandfather had gotten very forgetful lately and Phil-bee knew how important his information would be to grandpa. Besides, mom always told him that it wasn’t proper to take something that wasn’t his. They both agreed that those were the right things to believe.

Phil-bee tucked the wallet into his back pack and headed straight home. His mother wasn’t due home for a couple hours yet, but he let Mrs. Burgess in 1B know he was home. She kept an eye on Phil-bee.

The young man went over to the kitchen table with the brown billfold and opened it before him. The face on the card had an important look to it. Older people always looked important to Phil-bee. He had no need to count the dollars in the wallet, and the numbers on those plastic cards meant absolutely nothing either.

Only one number concerned Phil-bee. It was on line 3 on the identification card. “If found call: 555-7823” He headed for the telephone on the counter, dialing carefully to get the numbers right. Phil-bee heard a voice.

“Hello, who is this?” the shaky voice asked.

“Hello sir,” Phil-bee started. “I was at the park and found something that might be yours. Is this Mister Will…William Johns…Johnson?” Phil-bee struggled with the name.

“Yes. Yes it is.” the man sounded relieved. “You found my wallet?” the man asked.

“Yes. Mr Johnson. I have it here and I didn’t take anything or nothing. I just knew you’d want it back.” Phil-bee sounded older than his years at that moment.

“Is there someone there with you?” Mr. Johnson asked.

“Mom will be home soon. My dad died when I was three” Phil-bee offered too much information.

“When your mother comes home, please have her call me back so I can come for my wallet. Can you do that… uh, what was your name?”

“Philbin. But people call me Phil-bee” he said proudly.

“Thank you, Phil-bee” the man said softly.

Mom and Phil-bee and Mrs. Burgess were waiting in 1B when they heard the buzzer. Mrs. Burgess answered the door to the distinguished older man.

“I’m William Johnson” he said as Phil-bee approached the two people. “And you must be, Phil-bee?” he asked.

Phil-bee smiled as he held up the brown wallet, watching the man’s face light up. Taking it in his wrinkled hands, Phil-bee noticed how they shook just like his grandpa’s did. William reached into the wallet and took out the dollar bills handing them to Phil-bee.

“Here, this is for you. A reward for finding my wallet.” Johnson smiled.

“Mr. Johnson, I don’t need no award for finding your wallet. It was just the right thing to do!”

Phil-bee looked over toward his mother and saw the smile spreading across her face. Mr. Johnson smiled too.

“You have an extraordinary young man here” Johnson told Phil-bee’s mom.

Mom just smiled more brightly.

“Yes, I certainly do!”

GIVE A DAMN!

“…if Bonnie Blue could weather the storm of war to remain standing, then Scarlett and Rhett could find the ground upon which to rebuilt their foundation!”

Rhett Butler had left Tara. He was fed up with all that the South had become. Atlanta lays in ruin, and it seems the heart of Georgia had ceased to beat. But Rhett had come to the point where he just didn’t care any longer. He worried about getting through the rest of the day. Tomorrow had to care for itself for a while.

The smoke was affecting his breathing, and his cough had turned raspy and painful. Rhett Butler had gone a mile down the road before he even turned back toward the plantation. He did indeed love Scarlett O’Hara. He just didn’t know why the lady needed to be so headstrong and confident.

He walked on down the trail passing hulled out houses and shacks unfit for habitation. He saw the servants and house staff of one of the mansions standing outside of its smoldering shell, not knowing what to do, or more correctly, where to go. They didn’t want to suffer the fate of their escaped brethren in lieu of these circumstances.

Along the way he stopped in his tracks. Rhett had come to stand at the gate of the cemetery where he and Scarlett had buried their daughter, Bonnie Blue. The wall was crumbled and many of the headstones were flattened to the ground. But one stood above the rest. Bonnie’s marker was crooked, but still upright.

Rhett thought that this was a sign from beyond the grave; Bonnie Blue was speaking to him. He figured it said that if Bonnie Blue could weather the storm of war to remain standing, then Scarlett and Rhett could find the ground upon which to rebuilt their foundation and re-establish Tara.

Scarlett at upon the top step of her grand staircase when she heard the strong rapping on the door. She rushed down the steps to the bottom and then stopped to compose herself. She discerned the shadow at the door through the glass. Scarlett knew it was Rhett.

“Who is it?” She called coyly.

“You know damn well who it is! Scarlett, open the door!”

“Why should I open the door when you were ready to leave me on my own?” Scarlett demanded an answer. “Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow. Come back then!”

“But Scarlett, I love you! Why not let me in now?” Rhett reasoned.

“Because tomorrow… is another day! You say you love me, but right at the moment, I don’t give a damn!” she finalized.

“Damn, damn, damn!” she heard Rhett mutter as his footsteps faded down the cobblestone.