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.


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

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.



The hospital was in a rundown section of the city. Streets wore litter like a torn overcoat – all tatters and held together by spit and chewing gum. The sum of all parts was still another negative, no matter what rule of mathematics you choose to ignore.

Louisa had spirited herself on-board the No. 13 bus heading up William St. She was worn and abused by her boyfriend. (She did her share of self-abuse as well). Her jacket was clutched to her breasts, doing a poor job of hiding the bump that protruded through the broken zipper. Louisa was cold and high and very pregnant.

So pregnant in fact was the reason she had boarded the bus at all. The Michigan Avenue stop would put her a block away from the Memorial Hospital. Ninety steps to decide if she was willing to go through with her responsibility.

The ride was bumpy. The upper end of William had been neglected and the potholes that remained from winter’s salty tirade gave the impression of riding through downtown Beirut.
Bloodshot eyes stared vacantly, flinching slightly as her labor pains intensified in strength and duration. Louisa’s bus was nearing her station.

The other riders, oblivious to her plight were absorbed in their self-importance to care that another crack whore was going to give birth to another addicted baby. The clinic could only do so much for the dark haired girl; she needed to step up and pay the price of motherhood.

Motherhood in the hood. Too many hoods to see straight. Mindlessly, Louisa disembarked the metro liner, shuffling feet in the direction of sanctuary, albeit for a brief moment. She stopped clutching her mid-drift. Doubled over in agony. She couldn’t do this.

Her scream pierced the moist night air as she plodded slowly toward the double glass doors. Passers-by paid no heed. A gruff nurse dragging on her cigarette turned her back to the wind and Louisa, shielding herself from both. The rickety doors slid closed behind her.

Louisa found a seat in the waiting area, in the corner of the room out of view. Sweat poured down her brow and the wince of child birth graced her face. Reaching between her legs, she clutched as her daughter came into the world in the waiting area, in the corner of the room out of view.

Nurses rushed to the weakened sound of a newborn’s first cry. They found her laying in the rack of the local newspapers, under the banner “Take one – FREE!” She had a slim chance to make it past midnight.

Louisa’s lifeless body was found at the end of a trail of blood where she had waited for the return bus in the shadow of a “DEAD END” sign.


He sees; She sees

He Sees:

“Hell-o Mamma!” George thinks to himself. A young mother walking with her young daughter.

“Hmmm, I wonder how old?” he muses. “Thirty-two, thirty-three?” never a passing thought to the young girl whose hand she clutches.

Pretty. Dark eyes and an innocent smile, and a body… Again, the daughter becomes invisible. He ogles and ruminates and waits for the right MILF to come along. A perfect stranger takes the seat next to him.

“She IS perfect!” George inwardly notes.

Dark eyes and a curious smile. Pretty. Just like…

“Ahhh! That’s it. Over by the swings.” His attention diverts.

Always the man who notices the skirts and flirts (in his mind) but can never find someone to call his own. And as it always happens, he’ll be going home alone.

She Sees:

“The only empty seat under a tree” Georgette notices. “I hope he doesn’t mind.” she finds herself considerate of the dark haired stranger.

“May I?” she queries.

“Umhph, oh…yeah, sure” George replies distracted.

She scans the park. A serene place, here near the lake. Geese swimming. Bobbing and weaving in the ripples, making more. The elderly gentlemen playing checkers near the walk bridge, breaking the silence with an occasional argument…er, disagreement over a move. And there…

“How sweet” she thinks, “what a beautiful pair! She has her mother’s eyes and smile!”

She thinks about her life, and envisions herself as the mother. Loving, protective, playful… everything her daughter needs at that moment. A perfect place to do it.

“Hmmm, a stay at home mom, perhaps, or a well spent vacation day – the way I would spend it!”

And a wisp of sadness befalls Georgette. She was that mother briefly, in the anticipation of her full term blessing. A blessing turned to a curse. Complications never imagined. Never crossing her mind.

She sees George preoccupied by the couple engaged in their bonding ritual. The old man pounds a fist onto the board sending checker skittering off of the table. She sees her life in flux; indeed of a redux but not on the list of recipients. But, Georgette remains hopeful.
Living vicariously through that special union, accepting their tender smiles as signs that her time would come.

Georgette watches the mother and daughter continue on their way. No tears this time. She is more accepting. It was a good day.

He sees if there are anymore “flowers to pluck”.

She sees that her dreams are alive; a someday mother-to-be holding hope.