The Texture of Beige

Haibun



The smell of petroleum product permeates the cool clear air. Fluids drain from the overturned automobile to the worn surface of the track on which it lies. The driver is unnaturally silent and still. Wildlife gives a wide berth to the scene. Tonight the rains will come to scour the road; clearing the way for scavengers to do their part in the morning.

Dawn watches and crows
begin feasting as vultures
and coyote wait.

OLWG #30 – Fallen Angel

 Written for OLWG #30



“Tell us about Grandma again, Papa. Pleeeeze.”

“You’ve all heard this story at least a thousand times. You don’t really want to hear it again, do you?”

“Yes, yes we do! Pleeze Papa pleeze,” a chorus of young voices sang back to me.

“OK, gather round. I’ll tell you, but this time, I’ll tell you the whole story. You kids might not know it but your Grandma was an angel; an angel with magical powers.”

“But she was a fallen angel, right?”

“And, she was invisible too, huh Papa?”

“Who’s telling this story? Me, or you?”

“Sorry, Papa, sorry.”

“Yes, she was sort of a ‘fallen’ angel, and yes, she could be invisible when she wanted to be. She could also fly and, she always knew what I was thinking, but when I first met her she was just beautiful. That’s what I saw and I fell in love at first sight. She had long black hair and her skin was autumnal; flawless, smooth, unblemished and almost the colour of copper. She was tall, and lithe with a smile that would light up a room. Looking into her eyes was like looking at the sun and you dared not let your gaze linger lest you go blind.

“She looked young to me but she was wise and she only appeared young. Angels have been around a long time and she was thousands of years old.”

“Really? She was that old?”

“Don’t interrupt me when I’m talking! But, yes she was really that old. Did I mention that she was beautiful and kind too. Kind with a mischievous streak, and it was that penchant for mischief that made people think she might be a fallen angel. You see she liked to do robberies.”

“Robberies? You’ve never told us that before, Papa.”

“You weren’t old enough to be told that before. I think you might be old enough now, so I’m telling you. It’s important that you remember this: she wasn’t bad. She just liked to steal things for fun. She never kept the things she stole either, she would give the goods to other people who needed it; and if she robbed from you today, chances are she would give you something that you needed even more within a couple of days time.”

“How would she know what I needed?”

“She was an angel, she knew everything.”

“What kind of robberies would she do, Papa?”

“She’d steal whatever took her fancy. She used to like to rob banks because of the challenge involved and, it was easy to find people who needed the money. She enjoyed nicking the batteries out of farm trucks and stealing limousines. She would sometimes steal makeup or food. She could pick pockets. She could relieve a gentleman of his wristwatch, or a lady of her diamond pendant and they would never notice. Once we robbed almost a hundred gas stations in a single day. She’d empty out the tills and give the money to the hobos at the train yard and, when she knocked over a gas station she always took a couple of Twinkies too. She liked Twinkies and those were the only things that she kept for herself.”

“Wasn’t it dangerous to be robbing banks and things, Papa?”

“Yeah, it was dangerous, deadly even, but she wasn’t ever scared. She could just disappear to make her getaway, and she was an angel, for Christ’s sake. What the hell would an angel ever be scared of? She wasn’t scared. She wasn’t. She was beautiful and, she laughed at danger. Did I mention that I loved her? That she could stop traffic with a smile?”

“Where’s Grandma now, Papa? Did she go back to heaven?”

“Probably, Cindy, but I don’t really know for sure. She may have found someone who needed her more than I did. Or, she may have found someone who she needed more than she needed me. I don’t know… maybe she should have been scared. All I know for sure is that one evening we were dining at LaRue’s and she excused herself from the table, as I watched her walking towards the powder room she began to shimmer, like a distant road in the desert. She disappeared that night and I never saw her again. I hope to see her again after I’m dead.

“At least one last time, that’s my wish. One more chance to see her smile, to see her smile at me the way she used to.”


This week’s prompts are

  1. Really? That old?
  2. Was she really invisible?
  3. Just as deadly as it looks

 

OLWG #29 – Through the Looking Glass, Revisited (Bad Poetry)

 Written for OLWG #29



Ever been too high?

no? Neither have I

I once took a header

through a rabbit hole though.

I met no queens, I met no hatters

nor albino bunnies, if that even matters.

 

At a long wooden table, all set for tea

was a dapper transvestite, looking at me.

He peered through specs, with really thick glass

in disbelief he glanced askance.

He, you see; was impeccably dressed

I on the other hand looked quite the mess

 

I didn’t smoke hookahs, saw no smiling cats,

but I saw something almost as int’resting as that.

At dawn there were birds and two fat boys;

with a friendly sensei.

who spoke at me – to my surprise;

taught me to use mushrooms, for controlling my size.

 

When I woke, I had a knot on my head

I felt horrible, wished I was dead

I recalled a walrus named Paul, a carpenter too

I remember the face of a singer named Grace.

Ever been too high?

no? Neither have I.


This week’s prompts are

  1. Neither have I
  2. An impeccably dressed transvestite
  3. The birds at dawn

 

OLWG #28 – Whatever Happened to Randolph Westcott?

 Written for OLWG #28



Randolph pulled the collar of his overcoat up and pulled the brim of his fedora down, an almost futile attempt to shield himself from the rain. Glare from the automobile headlights reflected off the wet pavement casting an eerie glow over the city street, and suddenly, there it was. Randolph probably wouldn’t have noticed it – if not for the lights from the passing delivery truck.

Help Wanted, the sign said. Black letters, carefully hand printed on a buff coloured background; it was tucked into the corner of a steel framed casement window. Right there, in the middle of the block on 57th Street between Scott and Grant. There was no name on the building, there was no indication of what the business was inside, but Randolph leaned over and retrieved the sign. He read it again, flicked the dog-end of his cigarette into the running water along the curb and headed for the door.

The door opened onto a passageway that ran straight back, perpendicular to the street, a flight of stairs disappeared into darkness on the left side of the corridor. To the right a wooden door stood ajar and the tinny harmonies of Glenn Miller’s Stardust played softly inside. Randolph pushed the door open. A girl with short curly brown hair and a green frock sat at a desk inside. She was busily engaged changing the ribbon on a burly black Royal typewriter that was perched at her side. Randolph waited to be noticed.

When she finally saw him she pulled herself together and sat up straight, “Good morning,” she smiled a million watts, “may I help you?”

Randolph held up the sign, “I, uhm?” he fumbled.

“Of course,” she said and indicated a hard backed wooden chair across the desk from where she sat. “You can hang your things on the rack there.”

Randolph draped his overcoat and hat on the stand by the door and moved over to take the chair she had indicated. As he sat, she held out her hand.

“Margaret Monroe,” she introduced herself and Randolph bounced back up from the chair he had barely touched.

“Westcott,” he said and took her hand, “Randolph Westcott.” She continued to smile at him as he released her hand and sank back down into the chair. They sat for a few moments, in awkward silence. “What, uhm, what kind of man do you need?” he held the sign back up, pointed at it. “There’s no name on the door and the ad, here, well it seems pretty general.” His turn to grin.

“Oh, yes of course; we’re looking for a marketing man, Mr. Westcott, this is a marketing company and we’re way ahead of our time. We need someone who can be an Ambassador for our client’s brands. Someone who can spread the gospel of our clients all over the country, while building their brand awareness. We need someone who can…”

“’Scuse me, Miss Monroe, but shouldn’t I be talking to the boss?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Shouldn’t I be talking to the boss?”

Her expression changed, her brows knitted and the smile disappeared, “Mr. Westcott, this company is called ‘Monroe Marketing’ it’s my company. I’m the President, the Executive Director and the CEO. You are talking to the boss. Do you have a problem with a woman being the boss? …Well, do you?”

“No ma’am, I have no problem with a woman boss. It’s just not very common these days. Most women haven’t been liberated yet.” He gave her his patented sideways grin.

“OK,” she said, “I’m sorry that I jumped at you, but most men haven’t been liberated yet either.” They had struck a balance, détente, a truce.

“How does one go about Ambassadoring and building a brand?” he asked her.

“There’s an art to it.” She told him as she warmed up to her subject. “What kind of experience do you have?”

“I’ve done warehouse work.”

She frowned.

“I was a short order cook in Poughkeepsie for awhile.”

She shook her head.

“I did some film work, and theatre, mainly vaudeville; you know the stuff, don’t you? mostly just a lot of gratuitous sex and violence?”

Her smile came back, “Perfect,” she said. Then she leaned forward on her elbows and crooked her finger to bring him in too. Lowering her voice to a whisper, she began to explain the position. Randolph listened carefully. He asked questions in all the right places.

Moments later, Margret knew that she had found her man. All that remained now was to negotiate the terms of his employment.

 


This week’s prompts are

  1. Ambassadoring
  2. Gratuitous sex and violence
  3. and there it was

 

Vita Brevis

Herbst



There is a new literary magazine represented here on WordPress. They call themselves Vita Brevis. I am taking the liberty of lifting their description of themselves (abbreviated) and pasting it below.

Begin Quote

“Ars longa, vita brevis” (art is long, life is short). This maxim so moved us that it seemed only right to title our literary magazine after it. It may seem curious that we chose Vita Brevis (life is short) as our title instead of Ars Longa (art is long). But this choice was more than appropriate; after all, the aim of our magazine is to publish work that shows a keen awareness of not only art’s beauty and immortality but life’s toils and finiteness. We want to revive and nourish the rich existential literature that forms when art and the human endeavor collide.

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They have been kind enough to select one of my pieces for publication and it showed up this morning. The title is “Herbst” and the link to it is above. Take a look at what the Vita Brevis team is up to. Show ’em some love.

Gracias Amigos