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BACK TO NORBAL

FurnitureRandall Smithwithers was coming home. Finally. It had been a struggle reconciling his thought toward coming back to the family manse. So many memories which with Randall just couldn’t come to grips. But the place must be so neglected, he thought. Coming back to Norbal took some doing.

Father had a stranger sense of humor. He had called their home, Norbal. As a boy, Randall had once asked why father had been saying normal wrong. The elder always proclaimed the end of family vacations as “Returning to Norbal” It meant time to go home. It was a stranger quirk his father possessed.

The drive up the boulevard gave Randall the sense that something was wrong. Things had changed, he thought. Different in a strange way. The cab driver kept glancing back at his passenger.

“You okay, Pal?” the hack asked.

“I don’t know. Are you sure this is Caufield Boulevard?” Smithwithers inquired.

“Look Buddy, I’ve been driving this burg for 15 years. I know my way…” the cabbie started.

‘No, I mean… it’s just that I don’t remember…” Randall interrupted before tailing of into an inaudible mutter.

Silence filled the car. The driver continued to look back at his suspicious charge. Turning into the rather long driveway of the address Randall had given, the cabbie saw Randall face again, looking rather puzzled…again.

“Here we are, Fella!”

Randall stepped out and paid the man and watched as he navigated around the curve drive toward the street. Then he turned back to face the house. Taking each step tentatively, the returnee took in every sensation that overcame him. Slowly, he turned his key in the lock. He dreaded coming back to restore the place to livability.

As the door creaked open he noticed that the slip covers were all removed from the furniture. Not a speck of dust to eradicate. He heard soft music. Randall smelled a wondrous aroma. Roast Beef. Placing his bag on the floor, Smithwithers went to investigate.

The music he heard was coming from the drawing room. He recalled the years of his youth sitting here with his rock and roll records, driving his father crazy with its volume. The furniture was arranged as he had remembered, except that father’s chair had been replaced by an overstuffed recliner.

He walked through the alcove to the library. He noticed his books were missing. The shelves were empty, save for the brick-a-brack and knick knacks. His books! Stories of adventures. Collections of poetic works. Encyclopedias and such. Gone. All gone. This was upsetting Randall.

He heard noises from the kitchen. There was no longer a staff on duty to care for things. He had been gone far too long. Puzzled now. Puzzled and upset. Randall peered around the corner into the brightly lit room. A woman, standing near the counter with her back to the doorway in which Randall stood. She was busy in preparation of a meal. He could not process what was happening.

Softly, Randall cleared his throat. The woman turned dutifully, not startled or afraid. It was as if she was expecting “visitors”. Reaching back for her apron strings, she untied the bow and acknowledged the man.

“Randy! Oh my dear. It’s wonderful to have you back home. I’ve prepared your favorite…” she halted in mid-sentence and rushed to the confused Randall.

She thrust her arms around him in an exaggerated hug. Smithwithers had no clue. His lack of response made the woman pull back and her sad look gave Randall a start.

“You’ve been gone for so long… don’t you remember?” she said wiping a single tear.

He looked at her, studying her features. Something was familiar, but he didn’t know what it was. But he did know something was amiss.

She started to cry now, loud sobs that touched Randall deeply. He reached to console her, but he didn’t know why. Her perfume, a gentle scent, triggered something. He pulled away to look at her. Something… in her eyes, something.

“Pamela?” he asked, almost as a whisper.

Tears streamed harder now.

“You’re remembering, aren’t you?” she cried happily.

He embraced her again more for purpose than comfort.

“The doctor said it would take some time. I’ll be patient. You were in the coma for so long!” Pam reassured him. “The amnesia is expected, he said. But, I’m here. I’ve always been here.”

Randall took consolation in her words. It made some sense now. He wasn’t sure what to expect. But he just knew he was returning to Norbal at the right time!

THE SIMPLE THINGS

Lorraine Jenkins was tired. Between going to nursing school, and pulling a double at the nursing home, Lorraine had every cause to complain. But what purpose would that serve. Her ambition was driven by the need to help people.

She had come up the ranks the hard way, a slim black woman with manly features, but a very compassionate heart. Her mother had done volunteer work in the black hospital in Selma. A product of segregation, Floridine took pride in her work.She put all the compassion she had into caring for her patients. Lorraine recalled how tired and worn her mother looked after hard days. She was touched by how her mother would cry for hours when one of her charges has lost their struggle with life.

And here she was, a single woman dedicated to her work so much that she knew nothing of a social life. Her dream was to finish school and be the nurse her mother always strived to be.

But Lorraine was tired after an exceptionally hard day, Mr. Kettering in room 14 was fighting Pancreatic Cancer. He had been failing rapidly. Lorraine felt the end was drawing near. But Kettering had a spirit; he put up a fight. He was determined to survive to the new year. He promised his granddaughter he would be around for the Holiday.

Lorraine knew such promises were not his to make. But she smiled and nodded. And her eyes had met Mr. Kettering’s and the twinkle that lived there mesmerized her. Somehow, she knew he would not falter.

As she turned on the lights to her small Christmas tree, she sighed. It was one week to the dawn of a new year. Mr. Kettering had made it to Christmas. She smiled inwardly. The old guy was half way home. Lorraine took comfort in that fact. A monumental achievement. A “promise” kept. A simple thing.

PERFECT, MAJESTIC, WARM

PerfectMajesticWarm

“… a poke of light to crack the horizon’s stoic shell…”

The storm had passed. And every last remnant was fading faster than two hearts could imagine. Forgiveness came in hushed whispers of the heart. Yet memory reminded, that hind-sight was alright if it provided a lesson. He learned the hard way. He always learned the hard way.

The early bird did indeed get the spoils, as work and its toils became the obligation to end his lack of motivation. Settled under the covers until the nagging need to proceed overwhelmed him, Will’s feet finally kicked free of flannel confinement. Poking aimlessly with pointed toes in search of his slippers, the call of the wild overcame him to fore go the footwear to traipse across the tile’s frozen tundra for relief.

Will had this belief that his days mirrored the mood of his early waking moments. Often tense and hectic, he picked a bad day to give caffeine the finger and lingered with his orange juice a bit too long. His thoughts previewed the day ahead. He dreaded his Monday meetings, he had over-scheduled his clients, squeezing two lunch dates into his incredibly shrinking day. Travel tumbler clutched and briefcase under his elbow, Will started for the office.

A text buzzed his phone. He didn’t reach for it. The tone said it was urgent. It didn’t matter. Will drove toward the complex.

The stretch of Highway was relatively clear this time of morning. It seemed this corner of the world had been untouched my human interference. Off to his left in a clearance of trees, it began. A glimmer first; a poke of light to crack the horizon’s stoic shell. Edging skyward, It rose in rapid progression. Will’s indiscretion would set the stage for a great day. He pulled off to park and watched the rapid rise of a new day dawning. He sat fawning over it’s beauty, and out of duty to his heart, he called her.

“Good Morning Sunshine!” he began. “I saw this incredible sunrise on my way in this morning.It reminded me so much of you!”

A mumble; sleepy, sexy, nearly incoherent – it was laced with her heart.

“I love you very much” she finally broadcast in her warm comfort.

“I love you very much, too!” Will repeated passionately. It was going to be a fabulous day!

A SHOW OF SIGNS – DEMON DESCENT

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image courtesy of Digital Blasphemy

The Warrior knew.

Armageddon was at hand. Hell be damned.

He had seen the mark of Man left behind when He had descended, for this battle needed its Supreme Commander. Hell would be damned for sure. But not without a fight.

The agents of evil had infiltrated the gates, posing and passing as obedient servants of He who is to come again. The temptation is strong for those who are not prepared. Thankfully, Michael’s sword cut swiftly to separate the rebels from the Defenders.

The Warrior had been a Defender. He still was actually, But his “assignment” had been changed. He was to wait for the Coming and the Downfall. The mark of Man had affirmed the Arrival of Him. Now, the Warrior awaited the descent.

He remained vigilant; a sentinel charged to protect all that was Holy. His eyes were trained on the horizon. Tranquility took residence briefly, but he knew it was a matter of…

A thunderous rumble reverberated in the distant sky. A cacophony of screams and explosions; cackles and war cries. The sky became inflamed with the brightness of a million stars released from hope, each star a fallen soul discharged from the multitudes to avenge their infiltration. Plummeting to earth, scorching all that surrounded their impact to stand erect and strong; a combatant in the name of Darkness. The Warrior unsheathed his weapon; it’s glistening a signal to all.

The battle had begun.

The Warrior knew better this time.

Heaven and Hell be damned.

***

This is a continuance of one of my earliest FLASHY FICTION pieces. From “A SHOW OF SIGNS” (https://wallegories.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/a-show-of-signs/) Posted at FLASHY FICTION on 19 Jan 2010

GONE FISHING

Phil-bee woke up early. Before his mom. “Before the roosters”, like his grandpa used to tease. Actually, it was thoughts of his grandfather that enticed him to carry out this quest.

Philbin Barrett, Phil-bee for short, was grandpa’s pride and joy. Gramps was the only father Phil-bee knew, his own “a flash in the pan” as he heard his mother mention on the phone when she thought Philbin was out of the room. A mistake. A one-night stand, mom spoke in confession. Until then, Phil-bee had thought his father had died when the boy was three.

“The only redeeming quality of that man, was the little guy in the back bedroom” she was heard to interject.

So Phil-bee’s grandfather assumed the part as role model and teacher. A creature of habit was Jackson Barrett, and he taught his grandson the things Jack felt Phil-bee needed to learn in this life if he expected to go far.

All that changed as grandfather’s memory started to fade. Mom blamed some guy, an Al Shimer, for that. Ever since this Al showed up, grandpa just wasn’t the same. It was hard for Philbin to watch the only man who mattered in his life slowly become someone else. As Jack deteriorated, Phil-bee had to rely on the lessons learned from this good man. He tried to remember that man more than the person who did not recognize him any longer. Mom called it a “blessing” when Jackson Barrett had passed away.

“Gramps isn’t suffering any longer” she tried to explain to a tearful Phil-bee.

Phil-bee knew that along with being his grandfather and his teacher, Papa Jack was his friend. Phil-bee lost his BEST friend. If there was anything good in that revelation, it was that grandpa would live in his memory as long as Phil-bee kept him there.

The young boy’s mind was elsewhere as he stood next to his mom at Jack’s graveside. Philbin stared at the pile of dirt behind the square hole, watching the worms peek out and scurry back into the soil. The crowd of people that came to pay their respects was small. A few cousins, a couple of Jack’s friends from the service, Mrs. Burgess from their old apartment and the undertaker were Papa Jack’s only mourners.

Phil-bee remembered the talks he had with Jack as they sat at lakeside with their fishing line in the mossy green water. This was their classroom; where they had their best talks. Philbin needed to talk to Jack. But Jack was no longer there.

worms

“he reached into the tin can that held the wiggly worms”
(Photobucket)

Phil-bee dressed quietly, slipping his blue jeans over his spindly legs. He zipped his jacket right up to his chin and grabbed his ball cap. He gave the doorknob a soft turn and stepped out onto the back deck. Reaching down behind the deck chair, Philbin took the dented tin can that he had placed there last night.

The sun was coming up over the treetops as Phil-bee settled on the shore at their favorite fishing spot. The boy nestled into the moist grass as he reached into the tin can that held the wiggly worms that were distracting him at Grandpa’s funeral. With a shaky finger, Phil-bee hooked a fat worm. As he baited his hook (just like grandpa had taught him) Philbin started to talk out loud.

“Hey Grandpa Jack. It’s a good morning for fishing. I saved your spot…” Phil-bee started his long monologue.

In the early morning mist, a boy and his grandfather shared another moment discussing life and the future. Well, Phil-bee talked, and he was sure grandpa was listening. He had cast his line into the water a few times, but wasn’t having any luck. But it didn’t matter. Jack always said a bad day of fishing was better that anything he could think of.

Phil-be had talked himself out. He had told Grandpa Jack all he needed to say. He thanked Jack for being his Gramps and for teaching him stuff; for not being “a flash in the pan”. Phil-bee was honored to have been given time to be with Jack Barrett. He found peace there. Phil-bee forgave Al for taking Jack so soon.

“I love you, Grandpa!” Phil-bee tearfully whispered.

Philbin felt the tug on his line. He knew his grandfather loved him too.

GOSSELIN’S GALLERY – 3 MAY 2013

(Via Photobucket: loveej)

KITE EXHIBIT #1 – Chrysalis Interrupted

He wished he could fly. Furio Cappulscalco had a fascination with flight. He wanted to pick up and just soar into the clouds. But he knew little boys couldn’t fly. Why, he got into trouble trying to cross the street by himself.

He stood in the clearing by the lake, watching the kites dip and soar in the sky above the trees. He loved the graceful movements as the paper fliers performed an airborne ballet.

Furio wanted a kite. But he couldn’t afford to buy one, so he gathered things he found in the trash. Newspapers and colored tissues paper became the shell and tree branches were the frame.There was a spool of kite string that had torn and was tangled. Furio spent some time straightening the string and his make-shift kite was ready. He ran north and the kite bounced on the hard ground, He ran south and it did cartwheels in the dirt.

Furio checked the wind direction and he ran headlong into it. The kite seemed like it was going to elevate, but suddenly the kite “dipsy-doodled) into the edge of the lake.

Capuscalco was upset. His “kite” was a mangled mess. The colors from the tissue started to run and color the newspaper. An old man sat nearby feeding the pigeons and watching Furio.

“Your kite needs a tail, young man” the gentleman instructed.

“Kites ain’t got no tails” the boy snapped.

The man stood up from the bench and came by Furio.

“May I?” he asked the boy.

The lad held up the mass of kite to the man.

“She’s not so bad”, the man started, ” fix this here, tie this there…”

Then the man undid his necktie. He attached it to the bottom of the kite.

“Here, good as new!” handing the kite back.

Furio looked it over and wasn’t impressed. It looked the same as the mess he had made.

“Trust me son, she’s a beauty!”

Furio laid the bundle of paper on the ground and walk a ways along the shore of the lake. He took a deep breath and started to run trailing the string behind him. The kite dragged along the ground briefly and then went up into the air. As the kite unfurled, it spread open and took a beautiful new shape,

That’s when Furio smiled. The wadded bundle of paper looked like a cocoon, a chrysalis. But as it opened it was a butterfly. It soared and swooped in the sky. And trailing beneath it was the necktie tail.

Furio turned to thank the old man. But he was gone. The boy was pleased. He appreciated the kindness of the stranger. It gave him hope.

KITE EXHIBIT #2 – Spirits in the Sky

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(Via Photobucket: crysta1994)

Angeline drifted to the edge of the vale beneath Cherubine Mountain. Other souls had gather there as well. Today was the Day of Ascending.

The gentle souls were draped in white; long flowing gowns that fluttered in the wind. The rugged souls came in deeper hues oranges ablaze and blue and greens; aquamarine and gold. The colors were fit for celebration.

The angels came to watch the fanfare as the horns sounded and all the souls bristled excitedly. One by one they stepped forward gentle, graceful steps that became lighter and lighter.

The angles pursed their lips and blew to create the wind that lifted the souls skyward. In an upward motion, the spirits became kite-like and soared toward the heavens. Angeline watched in awe as one by one her friends ascended.

It was her turn. Tentative steps drew her into the opening where once souls of her kind had assembled. One step, two steps… Angeline felt lighter than air. Three steps, four… her feet no longer contacted the ground.

By her sixth step. Angeline had taken flight; a beautiful flowing kite, an offering to the creator. The sky at once was full of kites flying freely. No strings attached.

HONORS AND AWARDS

ShoesIt was the greatest tribute he could have been given.

He lived a honorable life; a loving husband, a doting father. He was the perfect son and brother, a hard-working employee and he did works of charity. Christopher Blandings only did what he had been put on this earth to do.

There were times that he wondered if it was all worth the trouble. Christopher was never one for accolades and acknowledgements; most of his meanderings were done in the strictest anonymity. It was just that the world seemed so out of step with the morals he was raised upon. People never seemed to understand or appreciate the way things were. Blandings was baffled.

His wife sympathized with her mate, but being almost a decade younger than he, she straddled the fence between the generations. But she believed in his good and kind heart. She loved his honesty and his loyalty. He surprised her on occasion with breakfast in bed or a tender back rub. And he had a fire burning deep within him that made Jessica lose control. There was nothing bland about Blandings.

She loved her man. She loved Christopher right up to the day he died. Sadness and grief were not emotions to which she prescribed. Jessica knew life was a celebration. And death was clearly an extension of that celebration. In his passing, she saw that her Christopher did not go unnoticed. As the funeral processed to the cemetery she became aware of something. The telephone wires were adorned with shoes. Their laces bound together, they were tossed aloft to wrap around the overhead lines. There were well over a hundred pairs hanging; she witnessed people removing their footwear and adding to the milieu.

Puzzled, she questioned the undertaker. His explanation brought a tear to her eye and a flicker in her already gracious heart.

“When a person passes, tradition had the mourners remove their shoes and by draping the secured pairs over the wires, pay homage to the person so loved. The more shoes that dangled, the more respected was the deceased.” he informed.

Again Jessica looked. And the tear were more abundant now. The entire route to his resting place was graced with shoes. Hundreds and hundreds of pairs pointed to his life as one well lived; having touched many hearts.

It was the greatest tribute he could have been given.