Monthly Archives: November 2015
Paul has always been dramatic when he vomited, Kevin thought. Never really good at keeping his wits about him once a certain level had been attained. At least there were no fights, not like when they were kids. All in all, things could be much worse. However, sitting with Sarah and listening to Paul vomit was a sight less than comfortable.
“No, he’ll be fine. I’m sure it’s the stress.”
“Save it Kevin.” She sighed, tapped her toe. She looked lovely in her dress.
Her gaze wandered out the window to the yard. The room was spare. He could not hear the murmur of the assembled crowd outside.
“Time, Kevin – what time is it?”
“We’re not late yet. It’s 9:45. He’ll be ready in twenty; we can still get this off on time.”
“Let’s hope so,” Sarah said, her icy glare made him shiver like it hadn’t in years. He hoped he was sounding a bit more confident than he was feeling. “I’ll be back in a minute,” she said, “I am going to give Anna an update.”
It had been a party for the ages. The exuberance of friends long apart coming together had been the first intoxicant. A rare hooley. First the house, then up to the Union until they closed. Then back to Sarah and Paul’s where he and Kevin and some of the old boys shared toasts until nearly four.
Certainly not kids anymore. He had been expecting a spot on the floor, or the couch; imagine the surprise when someone picked him up at the light rail. They had given him an honored spot, or so he thought, in the guest room. Which is where he found himself two hours ago, sprawled on top of the covers, in his clothes.
With one sock on and one sock off he had hobbled to the bathroom regretting every drink, grateful for the guest room and the chance to move unseen. His hands were shaking, sweat and pollution beginning to desert him via every pore. At least he had kept his belly. He double checked the room when he got back there, even looked under the bed, just to make sure.
The shower had helped. But before he got there he had cut himself shaving and stood there in front of the mirror watching the blood drip down his neck. He had nearly fallen asleep as he stood there, watching it. He had been roused by the general alarm about Paul’s state and seeing as there was much else to be done, and while Paul was a certain priority he was hardly the day’s main event, and a large share of the responsibility for Paul’s situation had correctly been assessed to be his, Kevin had been put in charge of helping to get him ready, out, and about. Good to be busy, he told himself, keep the shame and loathing away.
Kevin had not had to dress him, but nearly so. A parade of memories passed by: of parties and hangovers, late nights and music and plenty of foolish blather. They were not currently pleasing to recall. He often missed his old pals and the rowdier days. When was the last time we closed the bar? When was the last time we walked arm in arm down the street singing at three a.m.? High tonight, low tomorrow. Takeoff and cruising were easy – the landing is what required management.
The drive from the house, though short, had been painful. Neither of them was asked to drive. Silence fell like a curtain as the two of them insisted the window be opened all the way. It was cold, but no one complained. Not a word in the car. Such a beautiful morning, such a happy day.
Sorry folks, what is done is done.
The changing room bathroom had quieted down.
Kevin knocked gently on the door. “Hey lad, are you in there? You ready to go?”
He was answered with a groan, and a “fuck off.”
With a deep breath he opened the door. Fortunately, although still in a pose of worship, Paul had all his clothes on and had had the decency and forethought to remove his jacket and tie before bowing at the altar.
Kevin closed the door behind him and moved to the window and opened it. The fresh air was a momentary delight. He arranged his arsenal of curatives on the windowsill with shaky hands: a flask, a loaded one hitter with lighter, two little white pills and a satsuma. He had hoped to employ these on himself but there had been no time or space and now necessity was intervening.
Paul slowly rose to his feet and washed his face. They might pull this off.
“Get over here asshole.”
“Ah Jesus, what the fuck have you got there?”
“Do you remember that time in Eugene?”
Paul started giggling and moving towards the window. He was ready to stand. He washed the pills down with a bit of whiskey. He did not ask if they were both his. Gagged, and then drank some water from the sink.
“It has always amazed me,” Paul said, “that a little shot can help you get through the day.”
“True. I have not had to use it in a long time.”
But use it Kevin did, and felt a stronger man for it.
“Hopefully not a career move.”
A quick light, then Paul inhaled, held his breath, then reached and craned for the window and a surreptitious exhalation. Kevin could not and did not deny himself the assistance of a smoke, so reloading had been necessary. It did not seem fair for the satsuma to end this way. They both tasted its freshness, but peeling and eating it had drained the scene of what little color it had. Kevin deeply wished he could retain the composure, buzz, and freedom from pain he would enjoy for the next two minutes. Retaining last night’s moonlight would be easier, eventually.
Paul got the jacket on and Kevin helped him with the tie. Once, Kevin remembered, he had been a snob about bowties. He was thrilled at the sight of the clip on. As Paul put the tie on it was noticed that the shirt had not escaped unscathed. There was a nice yellow stain on the shirt right above where Kevin imagined his friend’s swollen liver must be.
Paul turned to face Kevin. The tie was straightened and Kevin made him button his jacket. They both watched the button strain to hold his belly back.
“Suck it in Paul, stand up straight lad – you have to hide that stain.” Kevin looked him straight in the eye and gave him a strong slap on the cheek. “Get out there and give your daughter away.”
They left the little changing room to face the glare of the light coming in through the stained glass windows. Paul looked quite respectable in the end, and Kevin watched him as Paul strolled over and patted his wife on the ass while sharing greetings with the new in-laws.
Kevin shrugged his shoulders and observed the glare Sarah showered on Paul.
“That’s pretty saucy, you fucker,” Kevin muttered, “You are on your own now.” He went to find his seat.
No, I am getting to the point here. You wanted to know what happened, right? Well, that’s what I’m telling you.
You see it all came down to this admin person. No, not Kimmy. She was in sales, like I told you. She was the one who was always so perky and bubbly, even on a miserable day, right? Always spouting off these motivational slogans and telling us to visualize success? She was the one who got caught using the company email accounts to send off spam messages. She was already out of the company before all this happened.
No, it was the admin person, like I said.
No, it wasn’t Gerry either. He was one of the previous admin people. You know how I said Mr. Richardson was always this old school guy, believed in everybody calling him “Mr. Richardson” while he called us by our first names? Yeah, well his old school bit extended to running the office. He figured “admin” was just another long word for “secretary,” and therefore he didn’t have to pay them much. So he always got a lot of young people, people who didn’t have a lot of background. Incompetent, yeah that’s the word.
Gerry was one of those. He was before all this happened too. He was the one who spent more time playing online games on his computer than doing any of the work. Then when he got fired, he gave us all this big angry speech about how capitalism and people like us were killing the planet and all that. As if freight forwarding was this big evil thing right up with war and famine.
No no it wasn’t that girl either. That’s Irina you’re thinking about. She was the admin person after Gerry. Yeah, the one who complaining about how her kid was driving her crazy, stealing stuff and smoking all those drugs. Yeah, you remember. For all the time, we all thought she was talking about a son! I know! Weird, right?
So she didn’t last either. Then there was Joe-with-an-e, who quit to go off to Mexico with his boyfriend. Then there was Jo-without-an-e; she just stopped showing up one day and nobody knew why. About two months later Orrie the mailroom guy spotted her working at a strip club.
So finally, FINALLY, we convinced Mr. Richardson to retitle the admin job as “office information manager” and to hire someone who knew what they were doing and to pay them enough so that they’d stay. It took a long time to find somebody because Mr. Richardson still didn’t want to “pay a secretary like dot-coms pay a programmer;” that was the way he put it.
But after weeks and weeks and weeks, and ads on Craigslist and on the job-board sites and even in the print newspaper, who walks in the door but the perfect person for the job! I mean if this were some movie, there’d have been anthems playing when she strutted her stuff into the office for the first time. If you just saw a picture of her you’d say she wasn’t all that much to look at. But she had this feeling about her. Complete, total confidence. And she really did know what she was doing. As it turned out, she knew it better than any of us did. Certainly more than me, that’s for sure.
The first week, she stayed in after hours. She made this complete review of all the systems in the office. I mean EVERYTHING. She said she was so dismayed that so much of our paperwork was still, you know, on paper. Mr. Richardson had only brought in computers when suppliers and clients started to demand it. Our machines were still these XP relics.
So she pouted and put her foot down and she finally got the OK to buy a couple of Linux machines.
And she got the OK to put everything onto this “cloud based” database. All modern, she said. A universal file format; nothing will ever become obsolete, she said. All the successful companies are doing it, she said.
So we got that.
And for a while it was great. She ran all these “metrics,” she called them. Statistics out the wazoo. She showed where and how the company could save on fuel costs, keep the trucks going more hours with less downtime, schedule the drivers and the routes more efficiently, even schedule preventive maintenance on all the trucks so they wouldn’t end up stalled in traffic. She was making or saving more money for the company than she made in pay.
But then the discrepancies started to show up. Just little things at first. Like Mr. Richardson would sign in from his laptop at home late at night and just get a message on the screen saying “this data is not available right now;” but it would be all there when he got to the office in the morning.
Then a payment to the fleet fuel company got declined by the bank. Even though the database said we had more than enough in that account.
There were little incidents like that for months. But you look like you don’t want to hear about all of them.
So it turned out she was “skimming.” That’s what they called it. She’d set the database up to automatically move money out of the company into her personal account at night, send it back to the company account in the morning, but keep the interest for her. If we’d been a bigger company she could’ve gotten away with a lot more money than she did. But if we’d been a bigger company, this one employee probably wouldn’t have had that much control over how everything ran.
No, like I told you before, we can’t sue her. She says she’s got this “back door lock and key” to the whole database. Or something like that. She says if we do anything to threaten her, she can lock everything up. Makes you wish we still did it all on paper; am I right or am I right?
It was as if her many great accomplishments had suddenly been wiped from the main texts of history, displaced into the endnotes with lots of asterisks. Instead of one of the great success stories, she had become, years after her death, only a “qualified” success.
The new biography was that spectacular. It completely rewrote what people thought they knew about one of America’s most important women.
But even before the bio came out, her place in the pantheon of feminist icons had always been less than top-tier. She’d been a daughter of privilege. She’d never had to struggle to get to the top. From almost the start of her career, she always had connections. She never had to fight to get anything published or produced. Her fiction and journalism were more means to respect than to a livelihood. In modern media terms, they were vehicles to promote her “personal brand.”
But what vehicles they were!
Short stories that poked not-so-gentle fun at high society’s foibles. Stage plays that are still revived today.
And the journalism! As the publisher’s wife, she could have written low-grade Broadway gossip and gotten it into print. But she was much more ambitious than that.
She regularly published important scoops about the high-level machinations of politics, war, and finance.
She interviewed nearly every major politician and head of state ths side of the Iron Curtain. It had been said that no other female journalist until Barbara Walters had so much access to top newsmakers.
Then the new biography revealed, in well-documented detail, just how much “access” she really had to her subjects, and they to her. With the husband/publisher’s apparent blessing.
Reactions to the biography have died down. But at the time the book came out, a few women who had once admired its subject were publicly aghast.
Most other feminist commentators said they’d always known she’d never been any real role model. After all, she’d never written anything about sexism or racism. She never discussed the plight of women less privileged than herself. She’d never spoken out on behalf of society’s victims, except for the victims of “communist aggression” during the Cold War.
But instead of talking about who she wasn’t, her biographer asks us to talk about who she was.
In the biography’s last chapter, its author notes that her subject had never vocally challenged women’s assigned roles in society. But she’d personally rebelled against those roles.
This woman’s career had mostly occurred before The Pill, before the sexual revolution. She traveled in a milieu of extreme visibility, where everything one did or said was potential fodder for gossip and rumor. If she’d gotten into scandal, her husband’s magazines wouldn’t have written about it but plenty of others would have.
But she’d gone right on and lived her life the way she’d wanted to. She’d written whatever she’d wanted to. She’d slept with whomever she’d wanted to. She was her own one-woman rebellion.
They caught the ferry at Clinton. Or is it Mukilteo. They caught it on the mainland side, whatever it is called. They were heading to Coupeville for the weekend, for the funeral of an old friend of Livie’s family. George had met the man, exchanged pleasantries the times they had met. Eagles and chickens, cats and goats and raccoons.
“Are we going to stop at the farm supply and look at chickens? Bet there some deals to be had about now.”
“What would you know about chicken deals? Why would you ask me to get chickens now? Always about the chickens and the goats. Always designed to piss me off or make me look grumpy.”
“You have been grumpy, generally. Besides, I remember the chicken promise.”
“What do you mean remember?”
“You promised them to me once.”
“A moment of weakness, shortly after number two had arrived.”
“Must you insist on turning the kids into numbers when they aren’t here?”
They both smiled though. The chicken discussion and enumerating the kids was old territory. A comfortable debate they used to place themselves, or mark time, I guess. The clouds were close and rain streaked the windows of the ferry. There was plenty of white on the water.
Soon they were on to other familiar old debates. Her threat to get him a light to improve his seasonal moods. His threat to chuck it all: her, the kids, the house, and go get a job as a lift operator at Mount Baker. Live in a camper, the romantic life. Her threat might have some weight to it, despite George’s professed love of the seasonal darkness. His threat was as likely as a tulip blooming outside in November.
“You’d have to start like they start the kids. Picking up garbage, working at the food counter. You are way too old for that. You’re sure aiming high with that lift operator dream.”
“Wasted my best years on you and one, two, and three.”
They sipped their coffee. The main issue was burning a weekend away without the kids. For the funeral of someone they barely knew. George found the whole thing depressing: a waste of precious resources for something not very much fun, for a chore, a sad and heavy one at best. How much childcare karma were they spending on this?
“Maybe we can stop at the farm, take a look at the animals. I’m sure it is beautiful.”
“Always is. I just wish we could have turned this into an up and down day, rather than a weekend. It’s not that far, and I don’t want to go to this reception.”
“It is the least we can do.”
“The least we can do? Stand around at a reception where we don’t know anyone, looking uncomfortable. Lonely at a funeral. Weird. Sad.”
“Not that weird. That is what people do. Seems like you haven’t been to enough funerals.”
“Been to enough funerals? Really.”
“A better way to say it is you have been lucky. You should be counting things that have gone well. And people remember when you show up. And at the worst, you don’t feel bad about blowing it off.”
“Lucky my ass. One less thing to feel guilty about. Does not seem to account for much.”
They landed on Whidbey, returned to their car and headed north off the ferry.
“Maybe we can stop in Greenbank and pick up some chickens?”
“You know, that’s a terrible idea.”
“No fun. Have a nice weekend.”
They motored on as the twilight released the day and it turned to night. Traffic was light and their conversation faded. The drive was not too long. George had begun to dream of dinner, the news humming low on the radio. They were nearly in range of Coupeville, the lights of town beginning to brighten the horizon. Coming around a wide curve he saw two pairs of eyes, glowing from the road. Purely in reaction he hit the brakes, turned the wheel, slid off the road.
“George – what the hell.”
He looked up to see a pickup slowing down to check on them. The two raccoons were well out of sight, but he had a witness.
“Hell of a risk for a pair of raccoons you asshole. You got a brain in there? You safe to drive?” There were reasonable observations and questions from the truck’s driver.
Livie shivered. “Nearly killed us over a pair of rodents. George!”
“Just a reaction. No thought. Conditioning, not affection. Damn. I’m sorry Livie. It happened so quick.”
She reassured him that all was ok. She understood. Then she updated her Facebook status to let the world know he had nearly killed them over a pair of raccoons.
How lucky they had been, he thought. How many things have gone right. No oncoming traffic, nobody following too close. Not on an embankment, not in trees. So many things that could have happened that didn’t. He wasn’t shaking when he got back in the car, but, starting with Livie, earlier to the time he did not get arrested in Chicago he thought of just how lucky he had been. The cliff in Utah. He thought of one, two, and three. His friends. His job. He was quiet for the rest of the night and through breakfast the next morning.
The weather the next day was blustery. They went for a hike they had repeated more than once on the bluff above Admiralty Inlet. The wind howled on the beach and in the trees. The clouds blew out and the world looked fresh and new. You could see across to the peninsula and gulls riding the drafts. The visible world was big.
They went to the service for the farmer but skipped the cemetery. They stood on the road watching a funeral parade of tractors that seemed a mile long. You could see them from well out of town slowly climb the shallow hill first towards them and then turn to the cemetery. It was majestic and somber and beautiful. Folks were surprised by the sun and the number of tractors.
He didn’t grouse about the reception the next day. More than a few folks were happy to see them. And the food wasn’t bad. He even got to watch the game with some fellows in a quiet corner of the hall.
They got out of there around two. On the way back to the ferry, passing through Greenbank he pulled into the farm supply store.
“What’s up?” said Livie.
“I thought maybe we could check out some chickens,” he said.
This is an edit and continuation of my first story. I promise to have it finished and wrapped-up in a tidy little package by next week.
My parents were very private people. Their bedroom door was always closed. They had separate studies. They had instilled in me from the beginning that we all had separate spaces that were sacrosanct. They never came into my bedroom without permission, and it would never occur to me to go into their rooms without permission. Now I had permission.
I called Melanie and asked if she would come over and help me. I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew I didn’t want to do this alone.
She arrived early in the morning, so I cooked breakfast and coffee for the two of us. After the plates were cleared we sat in the kitchen drinking our coffees.
“You’ve really never been in their bedroom or their studies?” Melanie said.
“No,” I said, “Never.”
“Weren’t you tempted to snoop? To see if they were hiding something from you.”
“I thought about it,” I said, “but it was something I couldn’t do.”
“Were you afraid they might catch you?” she said.
“No. It wasn’t that,” I said. “It’s kinda hard to explain, but I couldn’t be who I accused them of being.”
She thought for a moment. “I haven’t the faintest clue what you just said.”
I thought for a moment.
“Do you ever lie to your mom?” I said.
“Of course I do,” she said. “All kids lie to their parents.”
“I never did,” I said.
“C’mon,” she said. “You can’t not lie to your parents. You can’t tell them everything. Christ, if my mom knew some of the things I’ve done she’d have a heart attack.”
“Not me,” I said. “I was always one hundred percent honest with them.”
She looked at me with a bewildered look. “Did you get in trouble?”
“Sure.” I said. “I could have lied my way out of things, but then I would be as bad as them. I knew they were lying to me, and if I lied to them I would be just as bad as they were. Do you get it?”
She sat quietly for a while. “I think so,” she said. “When did you start doing that?”
“Start doing what,” I said.
“Start being honest.”
“Always,” I said. “I can never remember telling my parents anything that wasn’t true.”
She sat there silently for a minute. Then turned to me smiling and said, “You know, that’s pretty amazing. Even as a little kid you knew something was wrong and you took a moral stand to differentiate yourself from your parents. You were like a baby Kant. You took irrationality and made it rational to you.”
I looked at her beautiful, smiling eyes and said, “Now we’re even.”
“How so?” she said.
“Now I haven’t the faintest clue what you’re talking about.”
She laughed briefly, reached over and took my hand and said, “We’re just staving off the inevitable. Ready to go exploring?”
I nodded, finished my coffee and stood up.
“Where do you want to start?” she said.
We started in their bedroom. It was a large master suite with off-white walls and beige carpet. They had separate closets, separate dressers, separate night tables and two double beds placed about three feet apart. Everything was neat and tidy.
“Do you notice anything strange?” Melanie said as she walked carefully into the room.
“No,” I said.
“There are no pictures or photographs anywhere,” she said. “It looks like a room display in a furniture store.”
She was right. The walls were bare. There were no photos on the tops of the dressers or night tables. It looked like a motel room that had been stripped of any decoration.
Their closets were neat as were their dressers and night tables. Everything in their closets was clean and pressed. Their dressers were full of neatly folded clothes, socks, underwear and belts. The tops of the dressers were bare.
We walked into heir bathroom. It had dual sinks it was plain as their bedroom. My father’s side had a toothbrush, toothpaste, Right Guard roll-on deodorant, a bottle of Advil and a shoeshine kit in the drawer. My mother’s side had nothing.
“Where’s my mother’s stuff?” I asked, looking through the drawers.
“I don’t know,” Melanie said. “Maybe she …”
“Shit,” I said. “She was in Connecticut. She took it with her.”
Melanie stared at the empty drawers on my mother’s side of the bathroom. “Cholly. This is really creepy. My mother travels all the time. She takes a ton of stuff with her, but there’s always stuff left behind.”
“Yeah, but look at my dad’s side.” I said. “There’s hardly anything here. And he was still here.”
“Cholly,” she said, “there’s something really strange going on. We have to keep looking.”
“We will,” I said, “but let’s get this stuff packed up. Maybe what I’m looking for is here, and I don’t want to come back.”
Corky had dropped off a lot of boxes he’d bought at Home Depot, as well as packaging tape to put them together. I went to the garage and grabbed a stack. For the next hour we unloaded drawers and closets and packed their belongings neatly into boxes, marking each one with the contents.
“Make sure you check all of the pockets,” Melanie said. “Maybe we’ll find hidden treasure.”
When we were done we had a half dozen boxes packed with my parents clothes stacked neatly in the middle of the room. And we had found nothing. Not a coin. Not a scrap of paper. Nothing.
We entered my mother’s study next. It was small, plain and lifeless. There was an Ikea desk with an old Dell computer, an HP printer and a number of vases filled with paper flowers. The floor was bare. There was a tall-backed upholstered chair with a plain white side table. Three walls were filled with framed posters and copies of famous paintings. All the images were familiar, but nothing seemed to go together. It looked like a poster shop at the mall. The third wall was a bookcase with hundreds of books – all hardbound popular fiction. It felt as if we’d walked into a well-lit thrift shop.
“Ugh,” Melanie said. “This is creepy. Where do we start?”
“Lets check the drawers first, “I said.
We opened the drawers in the desk and found little. There was a stapler with a small package of staples, a couple of pens and a ream of white paper.
“Did your mother ever use this desk?” Melanie said.
“I don’t know,” I said. “It doesn’t look like it.”
“Let’s check the computer,” Melanie said as she turned it on.
We waited in silence, staring at the screen as the computer booted-up. There was no password protection, so she grabbed the mouse and started scrolling through the files and applications. There was nothing. No documents, no spreadsheets, nothing.
“It doesn’t look like your mom ever used this,” Melanie said.
I started to turn away, but Melanie stopped me.
“Didn’t you say that your mom used to print out stuff for your little league team?
“Yeah,” I said. “She’d print out schedules and stuff for lunches.”
“Well, where are they?” she said.
“Maybe she threw them away,” I said.
She sat briefly, looking at the screen. “This doesn’t seem right,” she said. “Let me try something.”
For the next few minutes she sat silently typing away, hunched over the keyboard, moving the mouse from time to time. She finally sat back and said, “Somebody erased files off this hard drive back in February.”
“What?” I said. “How do you know?”
She looked at me and said, “Do you really want to know? Would you understand it if I told you? Trust me. Somebody cleaned up your mom’s computer on February twelfth.”
“Why?” I said.
“I’m more concerned about who,” she said rising from the desk. “Who had access to her computer after she died?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Corky and I are the only people who have been in this house, other than you.”
And then it hit me.
We stood there for a few minutes to let the reality sink in. Corky had erased files from my mom’s computer. But why? We talked about it for a bit but couldn’t come up with any reason. She spent a half hour trying everything she knew how to see if she could reclaim the files, but couldn’t.
“We can take the computer to a tech and they might be able to reclaim them, but I don’t know how,” she finally said.
“Well let’s deal with that later and get this room cleaned out,” I said as I grabbed some of the boxes from the hall.
I stated loading her books into the boxes when Melanie stopped me.
“Let’s go through them first,” she said. “I remembered reading about a woman who found an original stock certificate from Nike in her mother’s books after she died. It turned out it was worth thousands of dollars.”
“I seriously doubt we’re gonna find any stock certificates,” I said.
“No,” Melanie said, “But we may find something that tells us what is going on here.”
I pulled the books out of the box and started flipping thorough them quickly to make sure I wasn’t donating more than just books to the Goodwill. Nothing.
After an hour or flipping and loading we had found a candy bar wrapper and a dollar bill that my mom had used as a bookmark.
Following Melanie’s lead we pulled the pictures off the walls and checked behind them to see if she had hidden anything. Nothing. Most of them still had the price stickers on the back, and all of them seemed to have been purchased at the same store. We stacked hem beside the boxes of books and started to leave her room. I turned at the doorway and looked back. The room looked no emptier now as we were leaving than it did when we entered.
My father’s study was a study in contrasts. While my mother’s was sparse and bleak, my father’s was dense and textured. Ceiling-high bookshelves in dark wood lined all of the walls. He had a roll-top desk in one corner, stuffed with papers and piled with books. There was a large cardboard box on the floor beside it. There was no computer or television. There was a Tiffany lamp on the desk and a brass floor lamp with a brocade shade. He had a rich, green oriental carpet on the floor with a burgundy velvet overstuffed couch and matching chair. A small, round end table sat between the couch and chair. On it was a crystal decanter with amber liquid and two brandy snifters. There was a pipe rack and a round, leather canister half-full of tobacco.
“Wow,” Melanie said standing beside me, “I feel like I’m walking into Sherlock Holmes study.”
I also felt like I was walking into the life of a man who I had never known. I had never seen my father take a drink. I had never seen him smoke a pipe. I had never seen him do anything except smile and be.
Melanie walked over to the first wall of books. She started scanning the titles.
“These look like the same books in your mom’s room,” she said.
“Yeah,” I said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re all the same. They used to read the same books at the same time.”
“Really?” Melanie said and looked at me with a strange look on her face.
“They would pace themselves so they both finished at the same time,” I said. “Dad was a faster reader, and I would see him stop reading close to the end. When mom was about done he would pick up his book and finish with her.”
“That’s kind of cute,” Melanie said. “Did they enjoy talking about the book?”
“No,” I said. “They never talked about what they’d just read. They’d finish one book and immediately pick up another.”
Melanie looked at me. “I take it back,” she said. “That’s not cute. That’s weird.”
“Well, you’ve met my parents,” I said. “Nothing new there.”
The other three walls looked to be a collection of series of leather-bound books. The spines were black or brown. There would be a half dozen that were the same, then another group that were similar but diferent from the previous ones. Occasionally there would be a random stray mixed throughout the groupings.
“Your dad must’ve been a book collector,” Melanie said as she walked to the second bookcase.
“I guess,” I said. I went over to join her as she reached for a book off of the shelf. Before she grabbed it she stopped.
“Cholly,” she said.
The tone of her voice stopped me. She backed up and started looking at the other walls, looking at the spines of the hundreds of books. She appeared as if she was looking for something. She stopped and turned to me.
“Cholly,” she said. “These aren’t books.”
“What?” I said. “Of course they’re books.”
“No Cholly,” she said, “these are daily planners.”
“Melanie,” I said, rubbing my face with my hands. “I’m already freaked out enough. What are you talking about?”
She grabbed a book off the shelf, opened it and showed it to me. It was about the size of a novel, but instead of words the pages had the day, the date and a series of lines with a time of the day printed at the beginning of the line. I had never seen one before.
“What’s it for?” I said.
“One of my teachers had one,” she said. “She said it was what people used before computers. It has three hundred and sixty five pages with an hour by hour listing of the day broken down into 15 minute sections. She would put her schedule in there and then keep notes on what happened in class.”
I took the book in my hand and started flipping through it.
“Why is it blank?” I said. Before she could respond I came upon a page with neat handwriting on it. The date was July 6, 2001. It said:
6:00 – Get up. Shower
6:15 – Make breakfast
6:30 – Eat breakfast
6:45 – Leave for work
7:00 – Work
7:15 – Work
7:30 – Work
The “Work” notation continued on until a lunch break at noon and resumed from one o’clock until five, when he wrote, “Go home.” It continued in fifteen-minute increments that included:
5:15 – Get home
5:30 – Change clothes, clean
5:45 – Play with the boy
6:00 – Play with the boy
6:15 – Make dinner
6:30 – Make dinner
6:45 – Make dinner
7:00 – Eat dinner
7:15 – Eat dinner
7:30 – Eat dinner
7:45 – Clean kitchen
8:00 – Study time
8:15 – Study time
8:30 – Study time
8:45 – Study time
9:00 – Shower
9:15 – Read with Marian
9:30 – Read with Marian
9:45 – Read with Marian
10:00 – Go to bed
Every 15-minute slot had my fathers handwriting listing what he did that day. I turned the page for July 7, and everything was exactly the same. Same handwriting, same events, same pen. I flipped through the rest of the book and saw that all of the days of the week were filled-in with the exact same schedule. Except for the weekends. The weekends were blank.
It then struck me that this wasn’t a recording of what he had done, it was a planner for what he was supposed to do. The workdays were filled-out exactly the same, day after day, through December 31. But the weekends and holidays were just a series of question marks filling line after line. It looked like it had all been done in one sitting. The pen was the same. The letters looked like a font.
“Why does he refer to me as “the boy?” I said.
“I don’t know,” said Melanie. “Why does he have so many planners?”
I felt a chill run through me as I looked at this eerie collection. We started randomly going through different planners. They were all the same, but some had blank pages at the front and started on a seemingly random date. I would pull one out, scan it and return it to its place. The more I looked the more confused I got.
“Why do they start when they do?” I said. “And why is every one of them filled out til the end?”
“I don’t know,” Melanie said. “But let’s start at the beginning and see if we can see a pattern.
She pulled the first one off the shelf. It stated on April sixth. The second planner was exactly the same as the first, but the first entry was three days later on April ninth. The remaining days in the planner were filled out exactly like the first planner – all the weekdays were the same and all the weekends and holidays were question marks. All filled out through December 31st. The ink color was different from the first planner, but it was the same ink throughout the book.
The entry in the third planner was April 10. The fourth was April 20. The fifth was May 3. All had blank pages before the date, and full pages through the end of December.
I put them all back in their respective places and started counting. There were more than six hundred of them. Some years had more than others. They were in perfect chronological order. Every subsequent planner started on a later date than the previous one. All had blank pages in the front and were completed through the end of the year.
I sat in the armchair and Melanie sat on the couch. I poured whatever was in the decanter into a couple of snifters and handed one to Melanie. I swirled mine gently while I tried to figure out what all those planners meant.
“My father was a very organized man,” I said. “There has to be a reason for this, and there has to be a pattern somewhere. But I can’t see one. Why would he change planners so often?”
We sat quietly thinking.
“Change!” Melanie said suddenly. “Something changed.”
“What?” I said.
“Listen,” she said. “This might make sense. Let’s say your dad has to plan the whole year out ahead of time.”
“Why would he do that?” I said.
“I don’t know!” she said a bit loudly, “But just say he does. He plans his whole year and then something changes. So he has to start all over again and plan the rest of his year from the day that something changes.”
I looked at her incredulously. “That’s insane,” I said.
“I didn’t say it was sane,” she said, “I just said that it might explain it. Look at all of these planners. Does this look like the work of a sane mind? I’m just trying to help.”
I put my snifter on the end table and buried my face in my hands. I tried to think but I couldn’t. Nothing made sense to me. Was my father insane? Was he even my father? What was going on?
Melanie got up from the couch and knelt beside me.
“I’m sorry you have to deal with this,” she said laying her head on my knees.
I pulled my face out of my hands and leaned over and kissed her head.
“You’re right,” I said. “What can I do?”
She stood up, gently took my hand and led me over to the couch to sit beside her.
“If I’m right about what’s going on here,” she said gently, “we have to find a day that something changed.”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“Do you remember any specific dates – days of the year that you did something that would change your father’s schedule? Change his plans?”
I thought about baseball, band, theater – all the things I was involved in. I kept bringing up different things I had done, but I didn’t have any specific dates. Then it hit me.
“Eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve,” I said. “September tenth 2011.”
“What?” Melanie said.
“I was cast as Juror Number Eight in the play ‘Twelve Angry Men.’ We opened on September tenth 2011” I said jumping off the couch. “My director got me a T-shirt that said ‘8 9 10 11 12’ on opening night.
We went to the shelves and started looking for my dad’s 2011 planners. There were dozens of them. After flipping through a number of them we found one that started anew on September eleventh. And one that started on September twelfth. And again on the thirteenth.
“How long did the play run?” Melanie said.
“Three weeks,” I said. “It ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
We checked the next planners. Every day my play ran my father would start again with a new planner. Then there was nothing until ten days after the play closed on the twenty-seventh. The next new date was October seventh.
“Do you remember anything that happened on October seventh?” Melanie said.
I took the planner from her hand and walked over and sat on the couch. I sat there quietly. I touched my hand to the page. I looked up at Melanie and said, “October seventh is Corky’s birthday.” I started to cry.
Melanie came and sat beside me on the couch. She held me tightly while I cried. She didn’t say anything. After I cried myself out, I turned to her.
“Thank you,” I said. “Thanks for being here. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m glad I’m not alone.”
She caressed my cheek with her hand and said, “What do you want to do now?”
I took her hand and kissed it gently. “I don’t know what to do with the planners. I don’t even want to touch them for now.” I looked at the books. “Let’s get his other books boxed up at least.”
We stood up off the couch. I went to the hall and grabbed a stack of the boxes and started taping them. I brought them over to the bookcase and Melanie started stacking books in the boxes.
“Aren’t you going to check them for hidden treasures?” I said taping another box.
“Ah yes, I forgot,” she said. “We had such great luck with your mother’s collection. Why should we stop now?”
She pulled out the stack she’d already put in the box and started flipping through them.
“Nope, nope, nope,” she said as she tossed each one of them back into the box.
“I was kidding,” I said.
“Oh look,” she said standing and flipping through another book before tossing it into the box. “Here’s a stock certificate from Microsoft.”
“Alright. I give. I give, “ I said. “Just throw them in the box.”
“No. If you want me to check, I’ll check,” she said as she grabbed a book by its spine and shook it. “See what riches we can find.”
As she said it, two tightly folded pieces of paper that had been hidden in the pages fell to the floor.
“You found it!” I said. “The golden tickets.”
I went back to taping boxes as she picked up the papers and looked at them.
“Oh Cholly,” she said.
“Yes,” I said turning to her. “Cholly and the chocolate factory.”
The look on her face froze me. She walked over to me with the papers in her hand. Tears were forming in her eyes. She was shaking her head.
“Oh Jesus, Cholly,” she said, “we were right.”
I dialed Corky’s phone. He picked it up on the third ring.
“Hey, Cholly,” he said. “How’s the big move going? Finally decided you need my help after all? It’s a bitch packing by yourself.”
“I’m not by myself.” I said. “Melanie’s here.”
“Oh, good,” he said. “She’s organized, a hell of lot better looking than I am and probably twice as strong. Then are you taking me up on the offer of dinner? She can come along, too. The more the merrier.”
“No,” I said, “I don’t have much of an appetite. But I was wondering if you could come over right now. I could use a little help.”
“Sure kid,” he said. “Want me to bring the handtruck? I shoulda dropped it off with the boxes. I forgot about all their books.”
“Sure,” I said.
“Are you okay, Cholly?” he said. “Your voice sounds kinda strange.”
“Please just come over, Corky,” I said.
“Sure, kid,” he said. “I’ll leave in two.”
I put my phone back in my pocket. “He’s on his way,” I said getting up from the chair.
“Did he ask why you wanted him here?” Melanie said from the couch.
“Not really,” I said. “But he knows something’s wrong.” I began to pace.
“Why didn’t you want to tell him what we found?” she said.
“I don’t want to give him time to figure out another lie,” I said.
“That sounds pretty cold and calculating of you,” she said. “Are you alright?”
“No, I’m not alright,” I said. “I’m angry. I’ve been lied to my whole life. And I still don’t know why. I even asked Corky, and he lied right to my face. It doesn’t make sense. Why would they deceive me about this?”
I paced silently trying to make sense of all of this. Melanie sat on the couch watching me. After a few moments, she stood up, gave me a hug and said, “I’m going to make some coffee. I can’t stand to watch you pace.”
After a few minutes I heard the front door open. I heard Melanie greet Corky. They talked briefly. Moments later Corky entered my dads study with a hand truck in tow.
“Hey Cholly,” he said. He put the hand truck next to the pile of boxes and crossed to give me the usual hug. “Looks like you guys are getting a lot of work done.”
Before he could hug me he stopped dead in his tracks.
“What’s going on Cholly?” he said.
I handed him the two papers that had fallen from the book.
“I don’t know,” I said, seething in anger, “why don’t you tell me?”
He quickly looked at the papers. One was a birth certificate for a baby boy. The other was adoption papers for a baby boy. I didn’t recognize the names on either the papers, but they were both dated July sixth. My birthday.
All the color drained from his face. His body started to collapse. He seemed to age twenty years in the span of a couple of seconds.
“Oh shit,” he said. “Shit, shit, shit.” He slumped into the chair. “Where did you find these?”
“Melanie found them. In one of dad’s books,” I said.
“Goddamit!” Corky said. “I told him to get rid of them. Goddamn him!”
Before I could say anything, Corky popped up from the chair.
“Look, Cholly,” he said, “
LIFE ON MARS – DAPHNE BELLFLOWER
She stepped inside and immediately double checked the address on her device. Apparently this was the place. The elegant restaurant was packed and noisy. Annie stared at the crowd, picked out her path, and squeezed her way to the bar. There was one empty stool. She tossed her briefcase on the bar and sat down. She studied the bottles on the shelf and caught the bartender’s eye.
“I’ll have an Old Fashioned,” she said. “How old,” the bartender asked, smiling at Annie. She stared at his crooked teeth, fixated by the little brown bicuspid on the left. “Sorry,” Annie said, forcing herself to look away. “20th century. Hope you have cherries, or anything that’s round and red. Surprise me.”
She spun around on her stool and studied the crowd. Everyone was tall and slim and beautifully dressed, with smooth tight faces and perfect teeth. Annie stared, trying to find some vestige of the past in the faces that filled the bar. Mars was not what she remembered, not what she expected. In fact, it was so generic now that it might as well be Earth. She turned back to the bar and stared at her drink, overwhelmed by nostalgia. Her throat tightened. She closed her eyes and allowed herself one minute of emotional indulgence. She swallowed hard, grabbed her glass and took a long drink.
“You look like you needed that,” the bartender said, leaning across the bar just a few inches too close. “Did you just get in? You look like a first-timer.” Annie sighed. Apparently he was a talker. She looked for his tag. “Skip,” it read in cheerful pink letters. Skip, Andy, Chad, Trevor. It was like if you had a white male child you threw in towel immediately, beginning with the name. She couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Skip, it wasn’t like there were many employment options these days for people like him. But she found that the familiar stereotypes still manifested easily; the presumptiveness, the unearned familiarity. She forced herself to smile.
“It’s not my first time on Mars,” Annie said. “I lived here 25 years ago. Right after they got the Enclosure up and running.” She poked at the misshapen red sphere in her drink with her straw. “I came here with the original Hsieh Faction. A lot has changed since then.” She looked up at Skip. His eyes were glazed over, fixated on her chest. Mars might have changed, but some things never would. She picked up her drink and grabbed her briefcase. “You can put that on my tab. I’m waiting for someone. I’m going to look out the windows for a while.”
Annie walked through the beautiful crowd to the viewing area and looked at the night sky. The city was so bright now that she could barely see the stars. She squinted, trying to see the moons through the artificial glare. It was the first thing she noticed when she arrived, those two oddly lumpy moons. “The big one’s Phobos and the little one’s Deimos,” Steve had told her, his arms around her, stroking her face in the dark. That was back when everything Steve told her was significant, a revelation of sorts. But by the time she found out Phobos and Deimos meant Fear and Panic in Greek, Annie had already returned to Earth.
Mars wasn’t much back then when she first arrived, certainly not as beautiful as Earth where she grew up. California was still lovely back in those days; huge fires burning in billowy puffs, a constantly changing spectrum of oranges, reds and yellows. Her family lived in an enormous temperature-controlled compound above it all. The views were nothing less than spectacular. It was a simpler time then, or at least that was how Annie remembered it. Steve’s childhood had been the polar opposite of Annie’s and he preferred not to look back.
Annie first met Steve on the flight out from Earth. She was sitting on the station floor with the one bag she was allowed to take, studying the group of 18-year-olds who would be her companions for the next two years. Steve was the only white male on the flight. Annie wondered how he felt, if this made him uncomfortable. She watched as he paced back and forth, a small nervous oval. Feeling her stare, he turned to look at her. She caught his eye and smiled.
They talked from the moment they left Earth until they landed on Mars, 16 hours of forced intimacy. Steve’s background broke Annie’s heart; his fractured childhood, his lack of family, his poverty. “It wasn’t all bad,” he told her. “We were free. No expectations from anyone.” He smiled. “We didn’t have to work, we weren’t responsible for anything anymore. I could read.”
As the weeks passed, Annie discovered just how much Steve read. After listening to him for hours on end, Annie observed that Steve’s opinions were a combination of obscure philosophical combinations that didn’t seem entirely legitimate, yet were difficult to analyze due the sheer amount of reference. She came to the realization that his intellect was not the product of original thought. Over time, Annie began to despise Steve’s reliance on textual detail over experience and emotion.
“You should read Derrida,” Steve had suggested to the homesick Annie during one of her increasingly frequent sobbing outbursts. “Your nostalgia for your childhood, for your home, it’s bourgeois. Derrida would tell you that nostalgia for primitive societies contravenes basic structural imperatives, contrary to Levi-Strauss’s emphasis on the primitive or pure society as true autonomy of the state. Derrida believes that…”
“Um, fuck Derrida,” Annie said, standing up. “And Levi-Strauss too. I get it. You’ve done a lot of extracurricular reading. If you want to lean French, stick with De Beauvoir.” She brushed the purple grit off her pants and put her tool belt back on. “I’m going back to work,” she said. “We’re behind. Arrivals start next month.” She had walked away, angry again with his insistence that words and logic could somehow counter her emotions. “I’m back from my break Selena,” she had said to the foreperson. “What do you want me to do next?”
Annie pressed her face against the window and took another sip of her drink. She thought about the inconsistencies of time, how it sped up and slowed down, how capricious it could be. Her two years away–her life on Mars–were so vivid to her now, far more memorable than anything in the past two decades. The most ironic thing was that at the time she considered those two years the worst of her life.
For her two years of mandatory government service, Annie signed up to go with the first wave of pioneers; the Hsieh Faction. Hsieh was one of her heroes, a start-up billionaire who used his money to clean up the mess left by the old ruling faction, quaintly referred to then as the “one percent.” That group of men, by then dwindling in numbers and influence, created and left what history now called the era of Great Chaos.
Annie learned about this legacy in school; the fossil fuel, global warming, meat and guns. Rapidly losing power, the white men clung to the old ways. But it was the beginning of the end when the first black president of the then United States was elected. After that, it was just a matter of time before Earth was rightfully governed by the majority.
Hsieh, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, was one of first to deviate from the established billionaire ethos. He relocated his successful cyber shoe business to Las Vegas and created a village out of shipping containers and recycled materials. It wasn’t just another attempt at social engineering for the low income and homeless; Hsieh lived in a shipping container and gave up his car along with everyone else. He created green space where empty parking lots were before. There were community gardens, grocery stores, and public art. The homes were simple and affordable, and public education was free and outstanding. His success in Las Vegas started a movement that spread across the Americas. But Hsieh’s efforts were too little and too late. By the time Annie was born, most of Earth was under water or on fire.
By that time Earth was dying. There were too many people and not enough food or livable space to sustain the population. A team of scientists came up with the obvious solution, to move the most unfortunate from the floods and fires to another planet. Mercury was too hot, Venus too small. Before the Great Chaos, select missions had been sent to Mars. These efforts were discontinued after the disasters started on Earth. But as the situation became more desperate, the Enclosure was developed. This clear structure encased Mars and allowed the synthetic atmosphere to be created. With a couple of adjustments, it was ready to populate.
Annie finished her drink. She stared out the windows trying to focus on the stars. After a few minutes she gave up. The electronic billboards were more beautiful than the stars could ever be. She supposed that she should be sad about this, but it was too late to care about how she used to feel, what she used to value. She didn’t care about nostalgia anymore. She looked at her watch. He was 10 minutes late. Of course.
“I’ll have a hummus sandwich with sprouts on whole wheat bread.”
“Excellent choice! Anything to drink?”
“A cup of coffee. May I have soy milk instead of cream?”
“Great. Thank you.”
Sienna pulled her tablet out of her yoga bag. She quickly navigated to her email account and began to read while waiting for her friend Mariah to arrive.
Sienna looked up. “Mariah, it’s so good to see you, it’s been awhile! Well, being that we used to see each other about 5 times a week.” Sienna arose from her chair and the two hugged tightly.
“I know. Once every 3 weeks just isn’t working for me. It’s great to see you too Sienna! Thanks for suggesting this, good idea.”
“Here … have a seat. I ordered about 5 minutes ago.”
Mariah sat down and the two women locked their gaze.
Sienna leaned forward. “Did you hear the latest?”
Mariah collapsed back into her chair and heaved a dramatic sigh. “Don’t tell me there’s more!”
“But there is.”
“Ah, my sandwich is on the way. Mariah, why don’t you order something?”
“I can’t afford to go out to lunch. I can’t afford anything.” More drama.
“No problem. You can have half of my sandwich and I’ll add to my order and we can share everything.”
“That is SO charitable of you Sienna, thank you! I really appreciate it!”
“No problem…. Oooh, this looks delicious, thank you! I’d like to add a Greek salad to my order and the two of us will be sharing.”
“OK, anything to drink?”
“Yes please, coffee.”
“You got it!”
The two women locked their gaze again.
“I had to switch from a Smart phone to a flip phone to save money. Then, my laptop died and I can’t afford to get it fixed. So, I assume there’s been another flurry of emails?”
“You will NOT believe this Mariah.”
Mariah half covered her eyes with her hands, peering through her spread fingers in a child-like sort of way.
Sienna began to read from her email. “The first one is dated April 6” …
Saturday Yoga Intensives with Tarin at Yogiland!
Starting this Saturday, 11-12:30pm. All levels welcome!
$15 per session, space is limited!
… “And the second is dated April 9.”
I am sorry to inform you that the Saturday morning class will be postponed until further notice.
Many of you are aware of the health crisis I have been experiencing since November. I have regained some strength and thought I was able to teach once a week. However, I have experienced another setback.
My doctor has confirmed that my health is still in a very fragile state. Without any protection, it would be damaging for me to return to work in ANY capacity.
I know the closing of my studio, Yogi Universe, has been a hardship for many of you, especially on a financial level. Please know that I am mindful of that and am working to find a solution.
Thank you for your understanding and patience.
“What the …. ‘Mindful’ my ass! She absconded with the money! This is unbelievable!”
“I know, I know. OK … so now let me read you some of the responses …. Wait, I have to scroll down to the bottom. There’s quite an email string here ….”
Tarin, I still have not been reimbursed for the classes that I pre-paid at your previous studio, Yogi Universe, even though I sent you numerous requests. Please fulfill your commitment to your previous students.
A response is appreciated!
Tarin, I do need to voice that I have not been reimbursed for the Teacher Training course at Yogi Universe that never happened. Considering it was all the money I had at the time, I have been at a huge financial loss since the incident and have been unable to go back to school. I would love to come to your classes, but I need to feel that my financial rights are being respected. Considering you are back in the game, let’s talk about how we can keep moving forward on this.
I’m sure that many of you are in a similar situation: having been personally, emotionally as well as financially burdened by the closing of Yogi Universe. While many of you have grievances over not-insignificant amounts of money, I respectfully suggest that “replying to all” is not the best way to air them. Please consider that for as much as you have all lost, Tarin has lost as much if not more. As we all know from practicing with her, it was never her intention to be in this situation and I’m sure it pains her greatly to be here.
I DO think it is appropriate to be public with our opinions on this Nathan. And I do empathize with what Tarin has lost and what she is trying to regain.
I too have lost $1000 to Yogi Universe but I am in a situation in life where I do not need to beg her for its return. However, I do not respect Tarin’s decision to teach classes for a fee. She needs to acknowledge the burden she has placed on many people’s lives. It is NOT the yogic way.
What a shock it was for all of us. Let’s hope if we do not receive our funds, that we can learn a valuable lesson from this beyond where currency can go.
Well, it is not my news to share, so without getting too detailed, I have learned that Tarin has known for 14 years that she was ill. Why couldn’t she share some of these details with us? I’m sure there was a balance point somewhere between retaining her privacy and keeping us informed. She should have granted someone else power of attorney over her business. It was negligent not to do so under the circumstances. I’m not so sure it is as you stated, Nathan.
“Nathan is a twit. I agree, we need to be united. Of course we should ‘respond to all’, what’s wrong with him. And what’s with Jessica. Enough of this yogic BS!”
… Oh … wait a minute … this is good …. I forwarded this string to my friend Maggie. She took a few classes from Tarin at Yogi Universe, but was not a regular; probably because her ESP was telling her to run for her life! … This is good …
WOW! This is an interesting ripple in the saga of Tarin’s own yogic path, isn’t it? Sounds like she is in denial to me. Will there be a second test of faith leaving young yogis and yoginis even more wounded? She could simply offer free classes to all of her creditors until their balances are even, both financially and spiritually.
Did I ever tell you about the Buddhist group that I was involved with where improprieties abounded? These emails remind me of that. It’s amazing to me the denial or cover-up that happens when a teacher behaves like this. Some people just cannot accept that they’ve been really betrayed by someone they loved and respected.
I’ll admit to being curious about how she intends to teach with the big nasty elephant in the room. Is she suggesting that we embrace stealing into our yoga philosophy and practice?
I still find myself thinking and talking about her occasionally in the context that spectacular physical mastery of the asanas does not necessarily equate with enlightenment and joy.
You can share my musings on trusting Tarin with anyone who might benefit from a gentle warning. It would be tempting to a young and open heart to jump in and try again.
“Right on! Well, all I have to say is … Karma”.
You Don’t Have To Say Anything
I thought I’d better stop by sooner than later don’t you think. That’s Okay, you don’t have to say anything. I might as well have a drink. You know me always prepared. I have my adult Sippy cup “drank” already mixed up, Goose as usual. You know I never drink anything else still to this day, just pure juice.
Always have been a bit of a lush even from the first time we met, remember? What a long time ago it was and it seems like a long time ago too. We were so young and beautiful. Yes, we were beautiful people you and me. I’m glad we met. We sure had an interesting life or should I say interesting lives. I know, I know, getting married so young was stupid, not stupid but fast with the war looming and escalating and shit.
Back in 63, we were so unsure about life, unsure about the future, with the civil rights and JFK and MLK murdered with the Beatles and Mary Wells singing in the background. All the uncertainty, and shit, it’s lucky we made it out alive.
You especially were lucky not getting drafted by the skin of your flat feet, and well, I saved you too by marrying you. Thank God we have such nice children. That at least, I have to thank you for. A boy for you and a girl for me, just like in the song. Hell, we lived a whole opera, you know?
First love, young college lovers, me working to support your ass through law school, typing all that crap day after day when all I really wanted to do was go to New York and become a star, singing on Broadway and hoofing it in Times Square.
Remember, I was so gorgeous then, perfect figure, perfect face. No Lana Turner but I could hold my own in a pageant, I know what you you’re thinking damn it. Then, and then the baby, our baby the precious George popped out. He looked like a George right from the first. Not fancy like an Ernest or a Kennedy. Remember how everybody named their babies after the poor old dead Kennedys: Jacqueline, Carolyn, Teddy and even Ethel, for god’s sake.
Hold on, hold on, wait a sec, don’t interrupt me. I need a drink. All this talking gets my mouth so dry especially as I did smoke a joint before I got here. Yeah, I can still roll a perfect joint after all these fifty years. Hell, it was probably the drugs that got us in trouble in the first place.
I know you always thought it was me but you were the one who was so ready to experiment with all kinds of stuff, you old horn dog. The open marriage idea was definitely your original idea. You don’t have to say anything. I know you told me we would always be together even after you met that bitch Sandra. Oh yes, her, the bitch Sandra. There, I said it again, the one you married after me.
I was pregnant again. You were such a liar remember. Admit it. Let me tell you what happened. You didn’t just go camping with the gang. Gayle told me years later. You went with the bitch to a hotel for a dirty weekend, ya bastard. You just lied to me and kept on lying to me. For so long I actually believed you.
Well, I needed to believe you with two kids and no career and let me tell you by that time my body was in no Follies Bergere shape. No Siree Bob. I was a tank with sagging tits and a wide ass.
I was glad when you left. Well, glad after a year or so and after I met Old Mitchell, who treated me OK except for his little S&M fetish. That’s when I started drinking really. I just couldn’t find me. Thank god we, I mean you and me, didn’t have any more kids together. I mean you sure added to the burden of this good earth’s resources by having that brood with the bitch. Ha, she sure changed huh. Ha, now who’s the fat slob? Not me I tell ya.
Our kids are doing good too. Have you seen George lately? He’s living with his nice wife and our beautiful grandchildren are so great too. Getting big now. Almost grown up. I know you have been out of touch as well as out of reach living in Thailand with your harem, oh I mean hotel staff.
Davis is a fine woman too, although I think when we gave that beautiful child a boys name, well you know, now don’t get me wrong. If it wasn’t for Davis and her wife, I wouldn’t have a pot to piss in. Social Security ain’t for sissies. I can pay them some rent and my food stamps come in handy and I do take care of Yoko’s old mother who makes me feel young and spry cause she’s even older than me.
You’re almost seventy-five and I’m already seventy-one. I feel old as fuck. I guess I’ll have a drink to that and on that note since my Sippy cup is almost empty and my ice is near melted I’m gonna take my tired ass outta here and back to our daughters house. Again, thank god she wanted to take me in and I didn’t end up in a cinderblock high-rise with bat shit crazy neighbors dying on either side of me.
I’m still glad we met those many years ago. Life is what we make it and in the end we all die friends. Don’t worry about me, my friend the night watchman will let me out. I know your other family will be for the service. George and Davis will be at the service too. They wanted to be here. I don’t want to be here so I am staying home with all the grandchildren and old grandma.
Laurel got up from the folding chair with the help of her cane. She made sure the jar top was screwed on tight so the dregs of ice and lemon peel wouldn’t spill in her purse. As she placed the jar carefully in the oversized bag she rummaged around until she found her old metal cigarette case and extracted the specially rolled joint, a Sativa/Indica hybrid strain she grew herself in the basement of her daughters house.
She lifted the lower top of the oaken casket and carefully put the joint between the fingers of her first ex-husbands hands. She carefully closed the casket and shambled towards the back door of the funeral home and her waiting Access bus.
Loved the stories!
I hope some generous act in my youth will save me – loved John Leonard’s ranting.
Clark – play me some Spanish techno, I have been listening to the same song for too long.
Francey is bow legged? Really? Changes my image of her, bet she still looks great – seems Steve thinks so too.
Daniel – I met a cat named Zuni once. You have touched on a universal truth: Texas cops are short nasty twits who make trouble when they can’t find any.
Daphne – there is nothing better than a family fight in the airport security line. I know. And I did not have my nails painted.
Blingerman, oh Blingerman. Can’t wait to read the rest of B!G DICK’s city municipal confessional. I think Karen knows something about city staff.
Goldie, oh Goldie, nothing for you but cold porridge and a lack of redemption. Glad the bears finally wised up. She could at least replace the chair.
And as for Big Bertha, well, she’s probably the best boring machine our beloved Seattle town will ever get.
See you all next week.
PARADISE – DAPHNE BELLFLOWER
She wasn’t an impatient person, but if the airline security line didn’t speed up she thought she would scream. She bent over, unbuckled her sandals, and threw them in the angrily in the airline tray. The dirty airport floor made her hot pink toenails look even brighter. She winced as she walked barefoot towards the security machine. She turned around and scanned the crowd for her husband. She heard him before she saw him. “Yeah,” she heard him say, “it was close enough before the ref made that call. I don’t know how in hell he was off sides. In my opinion…”
“Are you coming,” she hissed. “Maybe you can talk about the game after we get through security. In fact, if we actually make our flight you can talk about it for the next 14 hours if you want.” She started taking off her bracelets, throwing them in the tray with her shoes.
He wasn’t a resentful person, but if she started one more vacation this way he would stop taking trips with her. He watched as she lobbed her bracelets into the security tray and gingerly walk over to the security scanner, a full four inches shorter without her towering heels. He tried not to laugh as she glared at the security guard choreographing her trip through the machine. “I’m right behind you,” he said, slipping off his shoes. The airport floor was filthy; he was glad he wore socks.
She watched him as he strolled through the security line, amiably chatting with the stone-faced TSA agents. She wasn’t a judgmental person, but she thought his refusal to be angry at airport security personnel was a serious character flaw. She grabbed her shoes out of the tray and put them on with a sigh of relief. She watched as he slipped on his shoes, fist-bumped a teenaged boy wearing a Richard Sherman jersey and yell “Go Hawks.” He smiled at her as he walked over to where she stood. “You’re tall again,” he said, grinning at her.
He studied her face. Her forehead was sweaty and her lips were tight. He wasn’t the type of person to tell other people what to do, but if she’d ask him for some advice he would tell her she seriously needed to relax. “Where’s our gate?” he asked. “Do we need to run? If that’s the case, you’d better take off those shoes again.” He laughed, then stopped when he saw the look on her face.