An uncertain future

viet-nam

Brian and Judy had a favorite spot to picnic, on a granite bluff overlooking the ocean. Warm summer updrafts carried the sound of waves up from below. The last time they visited what they called their “private place,” they made love. No one had noticed. Not a soul.

Disposable glasses of wine went deep ruby red in the mid-day sun. After lunch, they talked for a little while. Their conversation soon became hushed whispers of love lost in a seagull chorus.

Spent, they edged toward the edge of their cliff. Looking out from their special place, the sandy shoreline below went on forever.

Judy propped her chin on an elbow, “Isn’t this beautiful?”

A breath of salty sea air pushed Brian’s hair straight up, “Yes, honey. It is. I’ve dreamed of this place. A sad dream. One I can’t shake free. We’re in our private peace and I look down from the bluff. When the birds go quiet, the sound of an ocean wave crashing along the shoreline is like an oil painting on canvas being torn from corner to corner.

Fran touched his cheek and thought, “How can I not love this man?”

She wrote to him every Sunday, from that day forward. Willie came home from Viet Nam three years later. The loss of one his hands and a leg mattered not. They embraced tight for three full minutes. Tears of love and sweetest joy bathed each other’s shoulders.

The lovers never returned to their bluff overlooking the ocean. It wasn’t necessary. Their private place had become sacred in their hearts. And they kept the memory of it locked away forever.

 

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Sunday dinner

Max's Roasted Chicken

 

David noted the crocheted cloth that covered the dinner table. And he didn’t miss the fact that Liz had a new hairstyle. The aroma from the serving platter caressed his salivary glands. And when he pulled up a chair, passion or serendipity sat down once more.
Grandma Doyle, “Nana” to the seven others at the table, was in her favorite place, next to David, “Okay everybody quiet down. Liz, go ahead and say Grace today, I’m too tuckered out.”
The dining room hushed. Nana closed her hands, propped up her head, and shut her eyes in prayer.
“Heavenly Father,” Liz said softly, “We thank You for your everlasting love. Stop that Timmy, you wait for the meal with all of us.”
Timmy, seven years old, had a black eye. He squirmed, and bowed his head.
“Thank you Lord for helping David. He passed his bar exams. We also thank you f…”
“Crack!” Nana’s lower denture eased from her bottom jaw. It landed, dead center, on her dish.
Timmy leaned toward the old woman, “Go Nana! Spit out the other one!”
Nana sat motionless; head cradled between her fists. Her remaining denture sprang from her mouth, followed the same route as the former, and landed on her dinner plate. A tooth separated from its mount and spun like a piece of candy corn.
Liz looked hard at Grandma. “Nana, are you okay? You’re awfully pale.”
David leaned close to Nana and then turned to Liz. “I don’t think she’s breathing.”
“Do something!” Liz shouted, “Nana, Nana, wake up!”
David grasped Nana’s forearm, “You okay Nana?”
The old lady moaned. Her chin slid from her fists, and her head fell to her plate.
Little Timmy beamed, “If Nana ain’t gonna eat her pie today, can I have her slice?”

Gawk

I love words. Gawk is one of my favorites and I try not to forget it. Some people stare, others gawk. I’m not quite sure how they differ.

I admit that I like to gawk. A good gawk, at least one a month, helps me to relax and rid myself of questions that over-populate my thoughts.

Another word that I like is “woo.” I’m sorry to see this word disappear into the mists of time. Not many of us can recall the intricacies involved in a good woo. And to keep the process from being forgotten I wrote about it.

Sneakers, the kind that lace up and reach your ankles made my socks ripen in a single day. The inside of my sneakers smelled like week-old road kill. Everyone had the same problem with old-fashioned old high-tops.

Now they’re low-slung jobbies called tennis shoes, cross-trainers, or casual footwear. The long-associated foot odor of such atomic footwear still remains …some things never change.

Here are more words I hate to see go down the textual paths of time.

  • Agog
  • Swain
  • Hobnob
  • Lollygag
  • Moxie
  • Frump
  • Moth-eaten
  • Court (spend time with)
  • Swoon
  • The vapors

Do you have any favorites?

Gawk

 

A late gift

bb-pickles

A late gift:

Five days after Christmas, Harvey Hopper had a terrible head cold. He was proud of his attendance record at the pickle plant and showed up for his shift, even though he had a drippy nose.

He  was a production line checker. This was a key position in the pickle plant. It was his job to make sure the correct amount of seasoning bee bees dropped into the swirling brine in  each jar. Harvey had to  put on a special pair of magnifying goggles, bend forward, and examine the jars as they went by.  

Harvey never realized that on this day, he was adding a little extra something to each container. Every time he hovered over the jars, mucus from his tripping nose dropped into the pickle juice. It met up with the seasonings, and vanished into the swirling briny depths. 

Perhaps the salty liquid or the vinegar acted as a foil to  his nasal run off. Nobody knows for sure. Yet, quite a few people with pickle jars at home, and who had had their flue shots, wee treated for flu symptoms by their family physicians.

A man alone

stools

Ed Brinkman retired 14 years ago, and lost his wife two weeks later. Neighbors in his multi stored apartment building all called him “doc” because he held a PhD in sociology. Nobody gets lonelier than a man without children or family, especially during the Christmas holidays. He looked forward to the letter carrier coming by this time of year; many of his students still sent him holiday greeting cards.

Brinkman, like most folks in their early 70’s had to deal with a few health issues. He’d given up his daily ration of Maker’s Mark more than six years ago; except on special occasions when somebody came to visit. And that was very rare. In the cold light of reality, hardly anyone ever called in.

More than a few times lately, he’d press the button of his answering machine, just to hear a friendly vice. The message was always the same, “You have no messages.” Beep.

He wondered if his friend Harry was well enough yet to play cribbage at the senior center, two blocks down from his building. Harry had had what the docs termed a “minor” heart attack.

Ed looked at his laptop. He’d left it open on his kitchen table. He shook his head and thought, “Nah, too much crap going on. Nobody has anything nice to say anymore. And I’m sick of trying to sort through all the junk that’s tossed my way, from people who actually believe that what they say is correct.”

No, all he wanted was to hear some lively voices, have a chat with happy people, and quite possibly munch some snacky stuff and aw hell, celebrate the holiday with just one Maker’s Mark Manhattan.

He jumped an inch from his seat when his telephone rang, and he snatched up the receiver before the second ring finished,

“Hello?”

“Ed?”

“Yes. Is that you Harry?”

“Hell yes, who were you expecting to call, Santa Claus?”

“Ha.”

“Get you butt down to the center, Ed. I have two dollars that says I can take you in cribbage.”

***
Author’s note: I hope you liked this little snippet. It carries a moral for us all. Let’s take a minute and do something this festive time of year, for someone we know who is without friends or family. A brief chat and a happy smile, or even a quick phone call “just to check” will help dispel their loneliness, and put a little joy into their holiday season.

~And merry Christmas to all. (Ted)

It’s all in a name

pussy-aa

Wendell Beauchamps loved animals. He was very active in several animal rescue groups, and never missed a chance to attend one of the many monthly adoption events.

It was a nice in Griggs park today. Not too hot nor too chilly, and it was the time of the year he didn’t need to wear a jacket. He had only one animal in his adoption cage today, and he was determined to find it a new family and home.

 The cage was in the back of his PT Cruiser wagon, and he edged it out over the back bumper. Last night, he stayed up late and created a sign that he designed to fit above the cage for all to see. He had a good feeling about the hand-painted, wide, rectangular sign. “This is it!” He thought, this will get this animal a new home. Definitely.

 He waved to the young fella in a yellow vest, directing him to where he should park.

 His spot was in the shade of a tall oak tree, and there was plenty of room between his car and those abutting his space. Wendell opened the tailgate, adjusted the cage, and attached his big sign so it was easily viewable by all who passed by.

 Forty-five minutes later, the animal rescue coordinator came over to him and said, “Wendell, we need to talk.”

 “Sure Harry; what’s up?”

 “It’s your sign.”

 “Great sign huh? I stayed up late last night making it.”

 “You need to take it down.”

 “Can’t take it down yet, I haven’t sold the animal.”

 “Makes no difference; I’ve already had two complaints from two families with little kids. They don’t approve of it. You need to take it down.”

 “What’s wrong with it? It’s a good sign. I made it myself.”

 “Yes, you did a good job too. It’s just the way you worded it.”

 “What’s wrong with the words?”

 “Well, quite honestly Wendell, when people read ‘Get Pussy for only $25.00 right here,’ it kinda upsets some folks.”

 “That’s the cat’s name Harry, I didn’t name it. The homeless person I got her from named it when it was a kitten. The cat’s name is Pussy.”

 “C’mon Wendell, let me get you a cold drink, and we’ll discuss it further. Just lay the sign down for a while, would you?”

Celebration on the 17th floor

balcony

“It was hysterical I tell ya Margot! Totally like an old Laurel and Hardy movie…wait a minute, I need to blow my nose.”

 Pamela set her mobile phone on a table by a wide window, and snatched three tissues from a tall box.

 After a powerful nose blow, she gave her proboscis a couple of swift passes with bunched-up tissues, performed a rabbit-nose wriggle, and resumed talking with her girlfriend.

 “I still can’t believe it. The sun was beginning to set when a white-haired guy in a 17th floor apartment across from mine, slid open his balcony door and hauled out a Christmas tree, partially decorated. Hell, I thought for a minute he was going to drop it over his railing.

 Hang on, my throat’s dry, I need something to drink. I’ll be right back, I have a pitcher of Thigh Slappers on the kitchen counter.

 “Yeah, go ahead. You grab a mulled cider, and I’ll get a glass of Slapper. I’ll tell you what happened next. You won’t believe it. All the old man was wearing was a Christmas sweater, a pair of tall black boots, and a holiday stocking hat. AND, I could hear him singing, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.

“Yeah. Hang up. I’ll call you back in ten minutes or so.”

 Pamela clicked off, and walked to her kitchen.

 [To be continued.]