Two Fools In Love

Soon the old man was able to identify individual sounds. When he first woke, he woke slowly and lay still, keeping his eyes closed, listening to the silence. But the silence had fled. Its place now filled with the creaking of the house, light staccato pattering of rain on the bedroom window, the song of a single bird in the garden, the hissing of the coffee pot in the kitchen, and his wife moving around downstairs. He dreads the rain. He dreads what it will do to Marie. The rain always sends her to a dark place. But, it hadn’t always been that way.

He thought back to when weekends were special. When he and Marie would load a basket in the car and drive to the shore for a picnic. They would drink from each other’s soul and soak up one another’s company along with the sunshine. He smiled then.  He could see her dancing with him in the park, beneath the gazebo, to music that only they could hear. Bittersweet memories of how they could scarcely wait to return home and fall into each other’s arms, lost in passion. Those days were gone, barely a memory.

He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Today was Saturday. His dread of what today would bring was starting to numb him again, to suck the very essence of his life away. Where had Marie gone? Who was this broken woman who had taken her place? The change had not been gradual it had been sudden and abrupt. One day he had a wife who found joy in life, picnics, making love, and dancing to the music in her head. The next he had a bitter and angry woman.  A woman whom he hardly recognized, who had little regard for anyone or anything. She would chase down and confront strangers over imagined slights or sideways glances. She would lash out at him for minor or nonexistent infractions and at night, every night, she would pray for it to end, she would pray for death. There was no joy left in her life.

The misery began when they lost Hannah. Three weeks old, SIDS the doctors said. Marie changed overnight. She hardly slept anymore. Hannah would be 25 today, had she survived.  Marie had mourned for a long time.  She had hurt for a long time.

He dressed and went downstairs for coffee. Immediately it began. “Why didn’t you? … Why haven’t you? … How could you? … Don’t forget …“ He wasn’t really listening. He quit listening long ago. That wasn’t fair and, he knew it was selfish but, it helped him to cope. Instead, he was remembering the woman he had married. It helped him to remember that he still loved her. The crash of a plate breaking in the sink brought him back and he sprung up from the table. Marie held a long sharp shard of porcelain in her hand, like a knife. She was bleeding, her palm cut by the sharp edges that she gripped so tightly. She was crying. Her face a mask of pain.

He coaxed the makeshift weapon from her hand and held her close. She cursed him and flailed her fists against his back until she tired. He cried too and helped her to the couch so she could sit down. “Let me get your pills,” he said. He came back with the new bottle. The three month supply he had picked up at the pharmacy just yesterday and he gave her a pill and the glass of water. She took it and he handed her another. She looked at him, a faint light in her eye. She took it and motioned for another. He gave her three. Soon the bottle was empty.

“I do love you, you know,” she said. When she smiled at him he saw the old Marie, the Marie whose life had not been destroyed by heartache. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back, “Sit with me?” she asked.

“Of course,” he moved next to her and took her hand. They sat like that for hours. Two old people, two fools in love. Still in love after all these years.

Daily Prompt: Futures Past

Daily Prompt: Futures Past

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?
(Thank you, mirakraz and tori23, for inspiring this prompt!)


 

“A teacher or a librarian,” my older sister told her seriously.

Aunt Beryl nodded at the expected answer from Lee Ann and looked at me.

“A preacher.”

“Really?” she asked, “Why do you want to be a preacher? Your parents rarely even take you to church. What do you know about preachin’?”

“Not too much yet,” I confirmed. “But I know that preacher’s get to stand in front of a crowd every Sunday and talk to a room full of people. Everybody listens to what they say, so they must be pretty important, and I reckon they have the rest of the week off, to do whatever they want. Listen to the radio and go to the movies and stuff. Working only one day a week is mighty appealing to me, Aunt Beryl.”

She smiled, “Sorry boy, it ain’t that way at all. Preachers tend to work seven days a week and if someone needs them in the middle of the night, they got to get up and go. Preachers work more hours than most folks. You still want to spread the word, do you?”

“No ma’am. Do you think I’d be a good hockey player?”

“Not yet, but you could work into it. You should grow a bit bigger, you need soft hands with the puck and you really have to get faster skating backwards. Think you can work on those things?”

“Yes ma’am”

“Then, you’ll do just fine.” She said, and turned her gaze on my little sister.

“A happy lion or a fire engine.”

 


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Barbara Pyett Ultimate Deadline:
365 Days of Thank You Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach
Speculative Paradigm Shifts The Dubious Virtues of NOT Being In The Moment
Muddy River Muse Recognized, but not that way

 

Here, There Be Boggums

Charlie and Ann’s new home had two bedrooms, two baths, and a new roof – set on three acres.

Ann told him she didn’t like the old fence behind the house separating the lawn from the wood, maybe twenty-five feet long, it looked like it could topple at any time.

Charlie agreed with her; tugged a picket, and it came off effortlessly. “I’ll have this down by Thursday.”

But Thursday never came.

The Boggums came first.
They came that night.
Crept through the hole where the picket had been.

By morning the baby was gone.


 

Light and Shade Challenge Friday 30th May 2014

The prompt I used:

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”
G K Chesterton

Daily Prompt: Trick Questions

Daily Prompt: Trick Questions

A Pulitzer-winning reporter is writing an in-depth piece – about you. What are the three questions you really hope she doesn’t ask you?


 

Barbara came in and took a seat in the chair across from me.

“It’s good to have you on the show”

“Thank you Barbara, it’s good to be here.”

“We want to talk to you about your book of course, but first we have some other important questions that we want to ask. Is that OK?”

“Fine with me, as long as the questions are not too hard,” I laughed nervously.

“You grew up on a farm and raised sheep, is that right?”

“Uh huh but, we called it a sheep ranch, not a farm. My family has been raising sheep on that land for over 100 years.”

“So you know a lot about sheep ranching and sheep, in general, then?”

“I probably know more than the average guy on the street but there are a lot of ranchers who know more than I.”

Barbara’s expression grew serious and she tapped the eraser end of her pencil on her forehead a couple of times. “Why then, don’t sheep shrink when it rains?”

My jaw dropped. Did she really just ask me that?

She quickly shook her head, “No, sorry, sorry. That was really an unfair question and I’ll retract it.”

“Thank you Barbara.”

“Your first book didn’t sell very well. Am I right? Not like your new one.”

“That’s right Barbara. I think my mother bought the only one. My wife wouldn’t even buy a copy she waited until my mom finished it and then borrowed hers.”

She smiled, “What was that book about?”

“It was a chronicle of epic failures throughout history. I somehow believed that people would find it interesting. I guess I was wrong. Maybe I need to write a sequel and include the publication of that book.” I smiled back at her.

“So you wrote a book about failure and it didn’t sell, huh? Does that mean your book was a success?”

“Are you feeling all right Babs? Do you need me to get you some water, maybe an aspirin?”

“Thank you but I’m fine. Let’s move on shall we?” She stood up and faced away from me, offstage. Then she twisted her head and looked back in my direction and down towards her backside. “Does this outfit make my butt look big?”


 

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Daily Prompt: Mutants and Hybrids

Daily Prompt: Mutants and Hybrids

If you were one part human, two parts something else — another animal, a plant, an inanimate object — what would the other two parts be?


 

One part human
One part rock
One part egg

The human part can be:
Caring               Talented
Brilliant            Clumsy
Cruel                 Shy
Mysterious      Curious
Inventive          Amusing

The rock and egg parts?

The rock is unthinking and hard.
The egg is fragile, easily broken.
They are there initially for balance through juxtaposed opposites.
They ultimately facilitate, and simplify, our self destructive behavior.

Seriously, did you ever put a rock and an egg in a paper sack together?
Only one of them gets out of that bag alive!


 

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Daily Prompt: Finders, Keepers?

Daily Prompt: Finders, Keepers?

 While walking on the beach you stumble on a valuable object buried in the sand — say, a piece of jewelry or an envelope full of cash. What do you do with it? Under what circumstances would you keep it?


 

Castaway, I woke on the sand under a blazing sun. My lips were chapped, my mouth was dry. My skin felt tight and crawling from exposure. How long have I lain here? I raised myself to a sitting position and groaned when I saw the shade of red that my shoulders had become. I must find water. That should be the first order of business. Behind me the jungle was alive; a flash of motion, sensed rather than seen, in my periphery – perhaps a predator, lurking, stalking. I should take care.

I turned my attention to the sea, hunting for signs of the ship, perhaps wreckage on the reef, something useful that I could salvage. There was nothing. Not a trace. I surveyed the beach in both directions. To the east was a large granite outcropping. Perhaps 60 feet high it dropped straight into the sea. I would have to enter the jungle to climb it but the high ground would offer a fine perspective and allow me to glean a lay of the land. To the west the beach extended into eternity, gently curving northward and fading from sight. I stood and began trudging west.

After only a few steps I caught a shine from near the waterline, perhaps jetsam from the wreck that had washed ashore. It was a bottle. I could see it now. As I drew nearer I could see it was a soft drink bottle, thin plastic with a red label. God, I was thirsty and I could see the dark liquid contained therein. When I reached it I unscrewed the cap and drank, finder’s keeper’s right? It was nirvana but, it was only a half liter bottle. I looked further. If there was one bottle of Coke on the beach there might be more. Driven by my thirst I walked faster towards the west.

I came to a point on the beach where the trees reached almost all the way to the water. Unable to see around the point through the thick jungle I listened. I could hear the surf gently falling onto the sand. I could hear the seabirds and the wind stirring the fronds on the palms nearby. But, there was something else. A sound I could not identify. A low rumble or murmur that was almost musical. No longer sensing menace from the jungle I cut across the sand, near the treeline rounding the point. What I saw was magnificent. My heart soared. In front of me lay a small harbor or cove. The idyllic beach was dotted with umbrellas and sunbathers. The hotel behind them loomed several stories high and several bikini clad servers carried tropical drinks to the vacationers sitting on the beach.

I found this five star resort. I was going to keep it.


Sorry – this was pretty lame.  Here are some better takes on the prompt – check em out!

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Light and Shade Challenge: What’s the Law Like in This Town?

Light and Shade Challenge Monday 26th May 2014

 

Two prompts. A photo and a quote.

Image courtesy of wax115 on rgbstock.com

The photo was lovely. A boot. I tried, I really did, but I couldn’t do anything with it.

The quote:

Anyone breaking these rules will be loved and forgiven in the usual manner
.     From part of a sign in a shop in York, UK

 Author’s note: I love England. I love London. I love York. I love San Francisco. What you are about to read is fiction and does not reflect the opinions of the author. What you are about to read is what “Al” thinks. Any resemblance to any persons, living or dead is accidental. Al and Carmen are figments of my imagination.


 

I ain’t never going back to England
Too much sweetness ‘n nice.

We was in London, havin’ tea and bread
We’d been there for about a week.

I leaned over to Carmen and I said to her
I said to her, “Jesus, Carmen, don’t it make ya crazy?”

She says to me “What’s that Al”
“Ever’body is so fuckin’ nice here. That’s what.”

You know what she says? She says “I dunno, I kinda like it”
We were in some fancy hotel restaurant.

Drinkin’ tea
Eatin’ some kinda hard biscuits with cream. I didn’t feel alive.

I needed some conflict. I needed some chaos. I needed to mix it up
I stood up right then, and I made a beeline towards a waiter holdin’ a big tray over his head.

Filled with glasses and plates and food
I put my shoulder down and clipped him as we passed between tables.

Broken dishes, fish, chicken, and cutlery flew ever’where. All over the restaurant
Lots a noise and that waiter landed hard on his ass. It was beautiful.

I knew he was gonna be angry
I knew he was gonna jump up and lay into me. I craved it.

You know what he did
He apologized.

Yeah, that’s right
He apologized.

Like it was his fault I took a run at him
What a pussy.

It’s this city, I figgered
We gotta get out of London.

Next morning – me, Carmen, and the boys took a train to York
I figgered it’d be like New York ya know. Namesakes and all that.

Gritty and hard. With an edge
I needed that.

I was excited when the train approached the station
I wanted bookies, junkies, whores, and street fights.

I wanted to get my hands dirty
You know what I got?

In the station there was a sign over the platform
Said, “The City of York Welcomes You”

How fuckin’ ‘touchy/feely’ is that
I almost puked. I could get this shit in San Francisco.

We got a taxi outside the station
The hack looked a little punchy.

Like he’d gone a few rounds in his day, so I said to him
I said, “What’s the law like in this town?”

He says to me “We got some tough coppers here
They don’t tolerate law breakers.

“Anyone breaking the law in York will be taken in,
They’ll be loved and forgiven.

“Cuz that’s the way we do things here
That’s the way we are in York”

Fuckin’ English
Too damned civilized. I ain’t never going back.


 

Daily Prompt: A Name for Yourself

Daily Prompt: A Name for Yourself

 Some writers’ names have become adjectives: Kafkaesque, marxist, Orwellian, sadistic. If your name (or nickname, or blog name) were to become an adjective, what would it mean?


 

TNKerrvescent could be synonymous with many adjectives. Including but not limited to:

quiet or complex
zealous or apathetic
vivacious or boring
gentle or callous
unusual or insignificant
adorable or despicable
bewildered or aware
colorful or dull
mysterious or comprehensible
perfect or flawed
obnoxious or wonderful
kind or merciless
joyous or grave
thoughtful or imprudent
foolish or circumspect
enthusiastic or indolent
wild or controlled
lazy or industrious
wicked or caring
innocent or cunning
real or plastic
helpless or resourceful
strange or conventional
dangerous or secure

 It’s kinda gonna depend on who is doing the defining. Dontcha think?


 

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Speakeasy #163: The Ballad of Danger Dan and Sweet Nell

Sweet Nell was lashed to the train tracks. Struggling against her bonds only seemed to pull them tighter. The train to Tombstone was approaching fast. She could feel the vibration running through the steel tracks and hear the rhythmic beat of the locomotive bearing down. But, the sound of the train would never be loud enough to drown out the evil laugh of ‘Black Heart Bill’ as it echoed down the canyon. Bill pulled his black Stetson low over his eyes and laughed as he watched Nell’s certain demise. He already had the device. That was what he had come for. Killing the girl was just icing on the cake – an afternoon’s entertainment.

It looked like curtains for Nell.

As luck would have it, ‘Danger Dan’ was riding nearby and heard Nell’s cry for help from the rim of the canyon as he happened past. A quick assessment told him all he needed to know and he fearlessly turned his faithful steed, Scout, towards the place where Nell lay bound with coarse rope, helpless, on the tracks.

“I’ll deal with you later, Bill,” he yelled to the villain as he galloped past; his focus on saving the damsel.
Cutting her bonds just in the nick of time and pulling her to safety as the Tombstone train barreled past, just inches away.

He held her softly in his arms and they looked deep into each other’s eyes; her blonde tresses were perfect, not a hair out of place, her breast was heaving. She was a vision. Dan paused and gulped. Without warning Nell pulled back quickly. “Crap, is that a spider?” she yelled as she crawled backwards and away.

“Oh my God,” Dan screamed and stood quickly, brushing his tunic, “get it off, get it off!” Nell got to her feet and rushed to him. It was difficult to get close as he flailed in panic, arms waving all about.

“It’s OK, it’s OK. It’s just a leaf. It’s not a spider.” She said gently, over and over, until Danger Dan calmed down and his arms rested at his sides once again.

“I knew that.” He said, and shuddered one last time.

The Tombstone train pressed onward and on the other side of the tracks Black Heart Bill whispered, “curses, foiled again,” in a voice so soft only his horse could hear.  He twirled his mustache, slipped the device into his saddlebag and made good his escape. He was long gone by the time the train finished rumbling past. His lead was too great; it was useless to pursue him. Dan held tightly to Scout’s rein. Throwing his head back he yelled, “I’ll get you yet, Black Heart Bill.” The canyon walls eerily echoed his promise back to him as the sound of the train receded in the distance.

He sensed Nell next to him and turned. Her blue eyes were plaintive, looking up at him. One lock of his dust colored hair had fallen over his forehead; she reached up and brushed it back behind his ear, “Um, thanks for saving me from the train and all.” She closed her eyes and pursed her lips in anticipation of true love’s kiss.

“Oh, sure thing.” He said, “You know I’m not really scared of spiders. Don’t you?”

She opened her eyes and looked questioningly at Dan, “Of course… I mean like, your name’s Danger Dan. You can’t be scared of spiders if your first name is ‘Danger’.”

“Middle, actually.”

“What?”

“Danger is my middle name. My first name is Francis but nobody ever calls me that. You can call me Danger, or Dan if you prefer. Please don’t call me Francis. I’m not sure why I even told you that. You must promise not to tell anyone else.” He reached into his tunic pocket and pulled out a sugar cube for Scout. “Well, I guess I better get going.”

“Oh… yeah, me too,” said Nell.

Dan swung up on his saddle and turned Scout towards the west. Leaning down he kissed his horse on top of the head, waved to Nell and said, “Bye, maybe I’ll see you around.” He clicked his tongue twice and headed into the sunset at a trot.

“Yeah, see you ‘round,” Nell said. She put her back to the sun and started walking towards the ranch. It should only take two or three hours to get home. She never looked back, she just kept walking.


 

If the Speakeasy is open a click on the badge, above, will take you there.  You can learn more about what this is all about and play along, if you are so inclined.

Daily Prompt: Break the Silence

Daily Prompt: Break the Silence

When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said.


The skimmer saw my dolphins.
“How can you go to sea on a ship that’s designed to sink?” He sneered.

I didn’t look at him.
“Easy,” I replied ” How can you go to sea on a ship that’s not designed to surface?”


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