Monday, December 31, 2012

Tomayto, Tomahto

The Ren fest was lovely as always; the Bakery and Mill with its working water wheel and grindstone, the Glassblowers’ shop with it’s fake bellows fed fire and the bright yellow twenty foot rocking horse with is human engine were all overflowing with people. I had avoided Ye Royal Games for years, truly there only to support my brother and his Robin Hood show, and take a handful of good pictures if I got so lucky. But this year I felt a little rowdy for some reason, quite unlike me since the days when my rowdiness would find me questioned by police.

Hit the loudmouth with the tomato was calling me, by description actually. It was when the young cur behind a ten by ten wall stuck his head through a hole, below which was painted the rest of his body, were he an eighth century hillbilly, and shouted out as I passed that I was both fat AND ugly that I was finally suckered into the con’s covered table where I plucked down a few greenbacks and grabbed my ammunition.

I couldn’t have planned it better I thought when the first of my three slightly split Big Boys flew out of my hand and a dozen yards from the mark. The con pushed his head and nearly an entire shoulder through the hole in the backboard, taunting that I couldn’t hit the broad side of a siege engine as I corrected for my aim and toned down my zeal while upping my speed.

If he were old enough to have hair on his baby faced cheek, I’d have scraped it off with tomato skin as my rocket lit his hair afire before exploding on the wall to his right. But like any good barker he cranked up the vitriol once again as I cranked up my grade school pitching arm, and before the crowd that had gathered, I sent off my last gift.

It was just a game I suppose, and I was just playing along, not offended by his slurs in the least. So I probably shouldn’t have thrown that hard. And he was fast, I’ll give him that, but almost not fast enough. He yanked his head back through the hole as my tomato passed overhead, taking his hat with it on its way to the parking lot well behind him. After a few minutes of applause had died down, he slowly stuck his head out and goaded me in an actor’s quivery voice. But I wasn’t tempted. I have but a few miracles up my sleeve,yet  even fewer coins.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Rise of Symbolina

He was quickly becoming famous, and everyone wanted a piece of his pie. Falsetto singing, guitar slamming, pretty boy black guys poured into my studio like strawberries into a jam jar. Everyone had the next big hit, and only needed this one break to catch the rising star. Could I just give them a few hours of studio time they’d ask. No, don’t have no money but when I make it I’ll be sure to reward you big time.

They all knew each other, most of them classmates in Central High School though spread out amongst five years of graduating classes. When Prince hit the national stage, everyone who’d ever stood within five feet of His Oddness thought the magic must surely have rubbed off.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sales Call

He’d come from the grasslands of the west; a dusky sort, in both appearance and attitude. A veteran of both Vietnam and Wounded Knee, he carried the scars of his two sacred nations as well as their flags, the latter inked into his chestnut colored skin. He seemed an original, his raven hair in braids, his jean jacket covered in glyphs depicting mammals and raptors. When he spoke, the gruff notes rendered danced from beneath his ragged mustache and swirled through the air, searching for the knowing ears, for the believers.

“Big score last night” he said as we both leaned on the stair rail alongside Richter’s drugstore on the city's West Bank.

“Yea?” I was curious as to why he’d chosen me of all people to tell. We were competitors, the Medicine Man and I.

“Acid man, pure and sweet. Blue dot they call it. Seventy five bucks a hundred if you want some.”

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Esmerelda's Child

The shell cracked ever so slightly. Desiree’ leaped to her feet, turned around and studied the fragile stone. A single, tiny claw had punctured the obstruction. Des touched her finger to it and willed the child-beast to continue in spite of its fatigue.

Another claw pierced the shale, and then another. The kind witch closed her eyes and began to softly sing.

Come little Dragon, don’t you fear
break through the bonds of your birthing sphere


A noise came from the shell; something between a growl and a whine. Then suddenly the crust burst into a hundred shards and the fist sized dragon whelp bobbled before her. It walked unsteadily toward Des, and once reaching her, lay its tiny head on her arm and began to purr.

“Oh I’m not your mother sweet thing. I’m afraid your mother met a sad end. But I shall care for you as she would have, until you might make your way.”

Sunday, December 23, 2012

She Comes in Colors



I hadn't written anything for what seemed like a decade. Some might call it writer's block, but I wasn't blocking anything... there was just nothing in my neck topping, air filled bowling ball to get me started on some winding path to whoknowswhereville. I once had been blessed with a bevy of muses, but they'd all taken some sort of hiatus. Just as I had decided that my writing life was over for all intents, I heard a knock at my door.

She sauntered in and took a place on my shoulder as if she’d never left, without so much as a “nice to see you again.”

“Where have you been? I haven’t seen you for a month of Sundays!”

“It’s more like six weeks from Sunday if you wanna be accurate and use a cliché at the same time” she said, looking askance and sticking her cute little nose in the air like she always did when she felt wronged. “A girl’s gotta have some fun ya know; I was out with my sisters doing a worldwide tour of our new dancing show Daydreams and Musebeams! You shoulda seen it! Merry Muse does a Hippity hoppity jig she calls Fergie does Flately and Mescaline Muse imitates Stevie Nicks running around the stage with a see-through shawl, waving it like she’s in a fairy parade!”

“And you? What do you do in this performance?”

“I exude!”

“Wha…?”

“Exude! You know… emanate, radiate, ooze, flow, secrete….”

“Yea yea, I know what exude means silly. Just what do you exude?”

“Inspiration mostly. A little creative juice, some confidence, a sprig of wafting humor, a few random concepts in need of a good fleshing out. You know, artist stew!”

“So why are you here then if you were havin so much fun?”

“I missed you.”

“uh-huh…”

“Ya old lug…”

“Prove it baby. Gimme something.”

“Well, you’re in luck! I just happen to have a great idea here in my pouch! If you just close your eyes I’ll sprinkle the dust on you and the daydream will begin!”

“This better be good. I haven’t written anything worthwhile since my heart attack, fans are falling away in droves.”

“I can’t guarantee its goodness my love, but I can guarantee it’s ours and ours alone, and that’s good all by itself don’t you think?”

“Damn it! I hate when you do that! I want to be mad at you for leaving me like that!”

“You will love me forever mister. And I didn’t leave, I just gave us a vacation. Now shuttup and close your eyes, we have textual weirdnesses to imagine!”

The Short Answer

“They tell me you’re the meanest highwayman that’s ever lived! They tell me you’re a legend in these parts!”

“That’s so” said one of the very large brute’s henchmen. “Dollop sometimes crushes a man’s skull with only his bare hands!”

“Yes” said another, “and then he hunts down the man’s wife to rape her, and his children sose to roast them on a spit and eat them all slow like!”

Dollop grinned, and then spat some foul looking goo from his blubbery lips. “And who might be askin’ stranger? Who wants to know about old Dollop?”

“The King’s justice if you please sir. If you’d kindly turn around so I might tie your hands and walk you to yon caged cart I would be most grateful.”

Dollop laughed as did his four men. Then, he screamed out some foreign curse as he raised an enormous cudgel over his head and leaned in to strike his opponent. But before the arc of the weapon had crossed his head, an arrow with bright green feathers swept through the ruffian’s throat, removing his Adam’s apple and attaching it to a nearby tree. As Dollop plopped to the ground, Bragi turned to his cohorts and said “Let that be a lesson boys. Never bring a club to a bow fight.”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Danse Cloudimalia

First, fire up your computer, then, step outside.
If it’s a partly cloudy day, find 5 cloudimals and identify their species’.
Close your eyes, and imagine those animals in a circus with yourself as the Leprechaun animal trainer.
If one is a crocodile, make sure you’re not lunch. If one of them is a dragon, make sure it breathes in the opposite direction.
Holding that thought, step back indoors and make your way to the Whine Cellar.
Place your fingers on the keyboard and type ten times “They’re magically delicious”.
Now, make your animals do tricks within the periphery of your mind's eye while you write the first things that come to your mind.

My wife looked concerned. “Honey, I found this list on your desk. 'Making dragons breathe downwind?' What is this thing?”

“Oh it’s just my writing checklist.”

“Really. Does it have a title?”

“I call it “The Method to my Madness.”

Friday, December 21, 2012

To His Honor

I was 13 and already I’d learned about the concept of honor. Sure, I’d also learned failure and disappointment, but I’d had a large helping of fortitude and commitment as well; commitment in all its meanings in fact.

As soon as my mother had driven off on her way to her mother’s for the afternoon, my father had called a meeting. He’d never called a meeting before, it sounded silly, and yet we were all dreading the probabilities. My sisters were 12 and 10, and the three of us gathered in the dining room while my toddler brother locked his brain into memorizing commercial jingles on the television in the next room.

“Obviously your mother and I have been having problems,” he began.

Yea. Problems. Like the sheriff showing up on Christmas eve to take mom to the nuthouse. That was a problem. Like the constant screaming, the smashing furniture, the wielded weapons and the continual accusations; he cheated with the church women, with the neighbors, with the neighbor’s daughter, with her sisters, he was a sex machine, a penisaur, a regular Johnny Appleseed. Yea, those were problems. None of us had spoken about the particulars. I knew he was innocent, as well as I knew anything, but even then I was addicted to the idea that there are no absolutes so I was forced to wear a nagging doubt around my neck like a freaking dead and rotting albatross that stunk to high heaven. My siblings on the other hand, I had no idea what they thought. I only knew they disagreed with me on nearly all matters of importance (and even those of no importance at all) so it was likely they assumed their father was a scumbag.

“I’m sad and worried about what this is doing to you guys, and I don’t see many options as to how to fix what’s broken.”

My stomach started to rotate, top to bottom, like it didn’t want to hear what was coming next so it was covering its tummy ears by squishing them into my intestines.

“I think I should move out.”

My stomach suddenly flopped back into position, but I thought it had gotten caught on my guts along the way as I nearly puked right there. The girls were teary eyed. Nancy cried a lot, so that didn’t surprise me, though when she’d cry I found it damned hard not to cry myself so I prayed that she would just sniffle a little and let it go at that. Barb on the other hand, even if she cried I couldn’t care, because if she did I was pretty sure it would be tears of joy that Nancy and me were in pain and suffering as that was the entire root of her miserable life.

He went on for another 20 minutes I think, though I was kind of floating off the ground so it’s hard to tell if my time sensors were working right. He explained that he’d already looked at an apartment up in the Lowry Hill area and it was crappy and hot, but close to work so he wouldn’t need to buy so much gas because it would be really tough financially but he thought he could make do and all that.

I visualized him in an apartment. Some shabby couch would be in the living room with a lamp next to it; on the floor since there wouldn’t be any end tables. Just a couch, and a tv, if he could even afford a tv. Maybe that would have to wait. And then the bed would be out of my grandparents’ attic, that teeny thing I had to sleep on when I’d go do yard chores all day and have to sleep over even though the bed was made for a Japanese guy and I’m tall like Frankenstein. And there he’d be I figured, most of his day when he couldn’t beg an extra shift off the post office, just staring at the wall and wondering what life was for since it obviously wasn’t for what he’d thought it was.

“But I wanted to let you guys have a vote in it. You’re young, but this will affect you as much as me. You’d have to live with mom and go to school just like you do now. I couldn’t take any of you with me, and I wouldn’t want to do that to your mom anyway; she loves you very much you know, even though she doesn’t show it lately.”

I knew that. I always knew it. Even when she was stark raving mad she loved her little Ronnie. And I knew it would kill her to not have us there. And of all the things I wanted my mom to be at that point, dead wasn’t one of them.

“So I want you guys to vote. I need you to tell me what you think. Should I go? Would you be ok if I went? We’d see each other all the time, you don’t have to worry, I’ll visit and I’ll have you over and we’ll go on Sunday drives like always… but, what do you think?”

There wasn’t even a breath taken between his question and our response. It was clear, and immediate. “Yes” we all said at once.

Why my sisters said it, I couldn’t be sure. I only knew how I felt. My dad leaving would tear my heart right out of my chest; but watching him slowly die, his soul eaten away by the acid of my mother’s mental illness, was killing me outright. I couldn’t stand to see him suffering anymore, trying to let it roll off his back only to have it fill his boots and weigh him down to the point of paralyzation. I wanted him to go even though I would then be the man of the house, responsible for all that man stuff that my mother wouldn’t be able to do. Maybe I’d become the target of her rage. Oh please God, let her skewer me and give dad a break. If only.

“Yes” we said again. And we all cried, except for David, who was busy repeating the last six McDonalds commercials word for word.

He never did go. He couldn’t. We, including mom, were his responsibility, and he just had to work it out. And none of us complained. I was only glad to have been there, to let him get his burden off his chest for one hour of one day. To his honor.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bona Fide Bloodhound

Others didn’t seem to have my problem. As far as I could tell each had theirs snuggly packed away in their garages, or their kitchen cabinets, or wherever people kept such things. Mine? Mine was let loose on this mountain trail, and it was up to me to catch it on my own.

It’s not like I wasn’t offered a share of at least a dozen others. In fact people had been cajoling my for weeks to just consider theirs’ my own. But I was having none of it. No matter how cozy I got with someone else’s it would never belong to me. So I ran; up, left, over rocks, through trees. I ran so hard I almost passed out, and then I crawled. I had the scent, I knew it couldn’t elude me entirely, but I had to overtake it and frankly, I thought I might die trying. Still, I had to follow my father’s advice to honor his memory. He always said, “never give up when in pursuit of the truth.”

I can hear it just over the next ridge, laughing at me as I wheeze my way up this hill. I wonder if it’s worth it, if the truth is all that special. All I know is when I get hold of it I’m not going to let it see daylight for a month. I’m far more comfortable saying “I knew it all along” than “No, you’re wrong, I have the truth right here…”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Little Voices



All your fun is just a coverup, distraction, clever lie
you're just wasting time pretending you don't really want to die
let's get real boy this is poetry; ain't nothin if it grins
stop that dancin and get back to splashy bleeding for your sins

He's wrong, I'm right, let's expedite this move from sick to sane
your humor's your salvation and your misery, your bane
spend more words on funky chickens and less wail on festered wounds
people snore through Shakespeare's tragedies, but sing to silly tunes


Bah that's poppycock and you know well, a car crash entertains
if you want your fan's attentions crush your head between two trains
don't you dare lock up the closet where your skeletons stand guard
bring them out and have a party, hoist your life on their petard

No I beg you, don't abuse your past; some secret's should be still
stop that airing dirty laundry, take your blue and yellow pill
take more pleasant walks with Ogre, keep your head within the clouds
better you keep razors from your wrists, than gather nodding crowds


Goody Two Shoes! Find a muzzle, wrap your head in cellophane
Me and Ronnie here are gonna blow a week on penning pain
try to stop us if you're desperate, but beware the dragon's breath
nothing's sadder than an angel who's been talked unto her death

Sporty Slippage

It was only pick up ball, there was no reason I had to take it seriously. I was a “b” player, well better than average, not as good as professionals, so while competition could be fierce, it didn’t need to be deadly.

I should have known better really. I am as ambidextrous as a mud pie, I can hardly scratch my butt with my left hand unless I concentrate on it to the exclusion of all else. And yet, up I went, tight to the net, left corner, perfect spot yawning within the defense just waiting for my killer slam to fill its gaping maw. The moment I hit the ball I knew I had a problem. I felt something snap in my neck and my left arm went numb, soon starting to ache. I played with it for the rest of the night, and did nothing but drugs and yanking on it through the next afternoon, but eventually it became clear, my not having health insurance was about to severely complicate my life.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Legacy of Fat David

He taught me how to separate the wheat thoughts from the chaff, and how to grind the grain into flour with which to make bread to eat while dining on philosophy. He taught me how to see into people’s souls, how to read between the lines between the lines. He taught me courage and self sacrifice, how to recognize the difference between the right thing and the well intentioned wrong thing.

But he also taught me to never take barbiturates together with hallucinogens, that heroin could be smoked rather than syringed, about the difference between hurting someone to teach them a lesson and hurting them to exact revenge, how to convince suburban kids that the vitamin B12 you’re selling them is actually mescaline, how to hide a live grenade in your back yard and how to threaten would be attackers before an attack begins.

A mentor’s work is complicated.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Daddy's Little White Contraception

“Daddy? What’s contraceptive mean?”

Tad choked on his beer, and while he coughed himself back into breathing he thought very carefully. Is the kid the right age for this? Am I the guy who needs to explain all that? And if I do explain this, does that mean I’ll have to do the whole damned talk right now? Crap! Where’s his mother!

“Contraceptive?” he said. “Well that’s a very complicated word, but if you really really want, I’ll tell you.”

“Yes daddy, I really really want” Bascomb said with a great big smile on his ten year old face.

“Ok son, well, you see, there was this terrible army down in a country down by Mexico. You know where Mexico is doncha champ?” Once the nod came he continued. “Well, these guys were really bad people, and they called themselves the Contras!”

“I think I get that part” said Basc, “but what does the erraaaceptive mean?”

“You know when someone’s trying to fool you? Well that’s called being deceptive! And the Contras were always tryin to fool people into thinking they were the good guys and not the bad guys. So when people lie real bad, Americans call them Contraceptives!”

Bascomb thought about that for a few minutes, and then his eyes lit up, signaling his having connected with the explanation.

“Daddy” he asked, What’s an Exile?”

“That’s when a place used to be an island and then all the water around it dried up. Then it’s an ex isle. Geez kid, did your mom say how long she’d be?”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On the Road to Punksville

Billy was with the Greasers. They used a bathtub full of Brylcreme to schmear their hair back into a pompadour. I swear they only let black haired guys into their gang, or dying your hair was the initiation. Nowadays it’s shooting a stranger, but it was a little less violent in the early Sixties. John Stack? He was a Baldy. Shaved their heads altogether, I spose maybe because they were ex Greasers and got so freakin tired of the lard they just cut it all off so they wouldn’t be tempted. And Sackett, “Satch” we called him, he was an Animal. Now those guys were really nuts. They actually filed their canines and then supposedly bit people when they got ticked off.

Oh and me? Well, I was only 10 at the time, and though I was big for my age, no self respecting punks would recruit me, ten year old punk that I was. I figured I was gonna start my own gang. We’d all wear t-shirts with lemon-lime Kool-aid stains on the fronts, and carry big sticks like my dad said Teddy Roosevelt used to do. I didn’t know who Teddy was, but I knew he was important, and the leader of a gang needed to concentrate on important things. Like the group’s name. The first one I thought of was cool. We’d be the “Get outa the way or I’ll sick my crazy mom on ya Boys.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Love of Love


When asked to name a single love I'm lost in the cacophony
of voices shouting "me, me, me! Name me, lest I lament!"
That list could take a hundred reams of ponderous soliloquy
so one in rhyme in this short time, will stand to represent.

A book re voiced by candle light while fragrant steam surrounds her face
Her legs massaged by beads of oil that mingle in her sultry bath
Myself, her valet on command, the keeper of her silks and lace;
yet more her bard, her jester, and the groomer of her wayward path

A poem by Frost, or of my hand; (she humors me though I'm unknown)
it's less the content, more the tone, that sets her onto peaceful shores
That I've been blessed within this muse, to pleasure by my words alone
is love unto itself I think, a faceless gift that is; no more.

For without words I'd have no chance, a man of generations past,
to give an ounce of love aloud; as softness is despised by most.
But still it cries to be set free, this need to share what will not last
a moments joy, a thought of peace, a shelt'ring touch, a well earned toast

So what you ask would be one love that fascinates this odd old man?
The fact that I still can my dear, I'm just amazed I can.

An Inside Job

“Who did this!” I shouted, hoping he’d open his blackened eyes and answer me. My best friend in all the world had apparently been the target in a brawl.

“Aww, it was nothing”, he said, sniffing back the ooze in his bleeding nose.

“Look pal” I said insistently, “there’s no cause for this. I’ve kept a close eye on you. There’s been no strutting, no pompous posing, no know it allitness. In fact you’ve been damned tame for quite some time now. Yea, tame. Almost invisible I’d say. So who the hell found reason to kick your butt?”

“Hey” Ego protested while puffing up his chest, no doubt causing his great pain due to the obviously bruised ribs, “He didn’t kick my butt! I kicked his! I was just takin’ a little break is all, before I go kick it again!”

“Yea sure bud. Nice try. Now who was it, or should I ask, who’s butt did you kick?”

“That’s better. Alright, now that you speak the truth I’ll tell ya. It was… Self Pity. There, I said it.”

I’d figured as much, but Ego’s a little fragile, at least in my neighborhood, so you never know; he might have just fallen off a freaking wall like that Humpty character.

“K” I said, “you stay here and I’ll be right back to pick you up. Self Pity’s got some whoopass comin’and I’m gonna be the one to show him his place.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

To Be a Man in Hornswaggle Holler

 To the prompt: "Factory"

"C’mon momma, we’re gonna be late” Billy called out as he scanned through “The History of the Vikings from 700 to 1000AD” one last time.

“Oh hold yer pants on sonny” she called back. A moment later she skipped down the stairs and into the foyer where Billy was waiting in his Sunday suit. “Well ‘aint you the spiffy one” she said as her eyes grew wide and she smiled bigger than a barn door with a broken hinge; “I’m so proud of my big boy I could bust!”

“Oh momma” Billy groaned as he ushered his mother out the door and toward the family sedan, “I aint no boy no more, and tonight you and everyone else in the valley’s gonna know that!”

As they drove Billy repeated all his sums under his breath. No one would slip one by him, if they was wrong, he’d be right there to set em right. And, he was armed for bear too, what with all the dates and times he had in his head, all the fascinating trivia he’d memorized. Let Juju Hornswaggle go on about his ‘how pigs breed’ knowledge, Billy knew important stuff from what the real Crocodile Dundee’s name was to the cultural customs of all the peoples of the world during the time of Harald Bluetooth, king of Denmark!

“So Billy,” said his momma excitedly, ”how’s it feel to be goin to yer first Hornswaggle Hollow Factoree?”

“Feels real good momma” Billy said as he mumbled the date of the signing of the Magna Carta; “yup, real good!”

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Recipe for Success

From his menagerie God plucked a Jew, and then an Arab and dropped them into his giant bowl. Reaching across a slender body of water he snatched an Indian and then a Pakistani and tossed them in as well. He added a Chinese and Tibetan, a Russian and Chechen, a white guy, a black one, a Mexican policeman and a Sinaloa Cartel drug lord, two Americans and a pair of radical Islamists, a homo, a hetro, a chick with green hair and a Swedish princess. Dozens upon dozens of humans were plopped into the bowl before God was finally sure he had one of each flavor. Then…

he turned on the super size Kitchen Aid Mixer the Holy Spirit had bought him for Father's day, and lowered the blades into the bowl before hitting blend. “Ok kids” He said, “this is gonna sting a little, but you asked for it.”

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Baby, I'm a Vex Machine

“What does it do!” Jimmy was on me from the moment I unveiled my science project.

“It’s a robot” I said, “can’t you see any better than you can wipe your nose?”

“But, what’s it dooo”. He was using that whiny voice. The one he made louder and louder until everyone was looking at him. The one he used when he wanted to make fun of someone, make fun of me, no, humiliate me.

It was just a robot. It whirred and turned around and its jaw opened up and it made sounds like “arr” and “ghh” and stuff. It wasn’t like Jimmy’s mock up of the entire freaking universe with paper mache planets and marshmallow moons. My dad didn’t have time or the money to make my science project better than anyone else’s like Jimmy’s did. Mine was just a robot.

“What’s it doooooo!” Jimmy was on the chair now, pointing at me and laughing. I grabbed the robot and jumped as high as I could, whacking him on the head with it and knocking him clear off the chair and onto the floor where he lay unconscious.

“It’s a flying pest exterminator” I said as I wandered off to await my punishment.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nibblin on Bacon, Chewin on Cheese

Thaddeus sank into the mud and sighed heavily. It was the worst of luck, a most humiliating turn of events. His newborn son… “ ‘e’s a mutant ‘e is!” The words of midwife Moll made him angry enough to chew his way through an entire forest, yet as his rank required, he just glared at her and let it pass.

He turned to his wife Emma and whispered “Our son’s not a mutant… is he?”

“Oh no silly” Em answered, “not at all. He’s just… sensitive! The doctor said in every other way he’s a perfect little beaver. He’s just…”

“Allergic to tree bark, yes I heard don’t say it again PLEASE!”

Emma nuzzled her man. “Don’t worry so precious. I called my cousin Samantha and she’s agreed to teach him her family ways if we approve. He’ll be much happier there I think.”

That was the last straw. Thad reared onto his tail, standing him six inches above his already imposing thirty two inch height. “No son of mine is gonna be a RODENT! He’s a BEAVER damn you all!”

But he knew, as he wandered off for the night, that it was the boy’s only option; and at sunset he gave Emma permission to start teaching him his cousin’s ways by singing him the anthem he would need to swear to follow… Muskrat Love.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

If you can't say anything nice

Podrick Johns was quite thorough in his evaluation. After all, the king himself had invited him to give council as the foremost art critic in all of Westros.

“This is awful!” he exclaimed, “and this! This is an abomination! Sire! I beg you to burn these ungodly dung heaps as it is obvious the artist is a complete twit!” And so his critique rattled on, until at last none of the 35 paintings displayed were unsullied by the master’s harsh words.

The next morn as Illan Flatwater approached the castle he took note of the head of his rival Podrick Johns hanging from the castle barbican. The foremost art critic in all of Eastros was nervous indeed, having been called to council the king on matters of the canvas. Yet he had a leg up on Sir Podrick, or a skull as it were. He’d already been told of the king’s newest passion, painting by numbers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Simple Pleasures



My father had been in a virtual coma for three days, the combination of morphine and pain forcing his lifeless body to convulse on occasion, a muted groan leaving his lips every so often. The last I'd seen him functional was in the presence of my siblings and a lawyer, his signature needed to square up one item before his demise so as to keep the probate hounds at bay. A man with nearly perfect, feminine script was reduced to illegible scribble as he whipped off his "x" and fell fast asleep.

And now I sat next to him for the third day, my attentions drifting between Hollywood Squares and his shallow breathing, constantly wondering if I'd actually made my peace with the man who'd given his life to the cause of his wife and children.

"Wow" he said, eyes opened for the first time in days and smirky grin stretching his chapped lips. I turned and rest my hand on his shoulder as if to keep him from sitting upright, a pointless maneuver as he was far too weak to move voluntarily.

"What?" I answered softly, powering off the television. "What happened?"

"I was just thinking of the time you and I and Christopher (nephew/grandson) were in Japan, in the Kyoto gardens....how pretty it was...how peaceful. It was so real, as if we were still there, wandering the pebbled pathways. I laughed when the gardener chased off a pair of cranes who'd been dunking for fish in the koi ponds." He chuckled a moment, then coughed, wincing back some sharp, derogatory report from an unidentified organ.

I smiled a curious smile and read the wonder in his eyes; the soft blue pools of insight that had watched me grow from hatchling to giant oaf. My palm slid from his shoulder to take his withered hand, his fingers barely able to grip mine in recognition.

"So that's where you've been" I said, doing everything in my power to not weep and ruin his one lucid moment.

He cocked his head a bit and raised an eyebrow, a favored affectation when he thought himself too clever. "We've never been to Japan have we?" he whispered, his words punctuated by a groan from deep within his cancerous body.

"Not yet" I said. I thought for a too long moment and added, "but it's on the list."

He smiled and lightly squeezed my hand. "You're a good kid" he said as he closed his eyes and returned to the red pine and boxwood flanked path, stopping at an ornate, red bridge to stand and watch plump, golden fishies; a final moment of pleasure before wandering off to meet his maker.