Peter collected his mail and took a table at Café Central by himself, away from the ghosts of his friends: Kraus, von Hofmannsthal, Klimt, and the others. He plopped down on the cushioned bench beneath the window. As was the norm, his pockets were empty, his stomach was too, but that didn’t matter. He fully intended to pen some prose today, some poetry. Armed with his inkpot, his quill, and an armful of correspondenzkarten on which to write (because he thrived on the limitations that they imposed on his writing); he selected one and scribbled on the back:
“Ich habe zu meinen zahlreichen unglücklichen Lieben noch eine neue hinzubekommen
den Schnee! Er erfüllt mich mit Enthusiasmus, mit Melancholie.” *
*Excerpt from „ WINTER AUF DEM SEMMERING “, Written by Peter Altenberg, master of the aphorism, first published in 1913.
I chose to steal this, and use it as the verse for my Haibun.
I was in High School when I met Krissy (with a K) at a taco stand on night in El Paso. Me, Stevie, and Mike were out cruising in Stevie’s 1959 Cadillac convertible. It was a long, powerful automobile that was good for attracting chicks.
Krissy and her two friends didn’t require much prompting to crawl into the Caddy with us for a cruise downtown. Krissy came with a fat bomber, the size of her middle finger and I was pleased that she chose to sit in the back seat with me. On the way downtown we drank, smoked Krissy’s fattie, rolled up some Mexican weed so we could keep partying, and, most importantly, we stopped at the Piggly Wiggly on Montana where we bought a package or Oreos to stave off the munchies. I learned that night that Krissy could easily fit three whole Oreos into her mouth at one time.
Eventually we wound up near the University and lied our way into a Frat party. My smart mouth very nearly got us all into a fight but fortunately, my adversary developed a sense of humour at the last minute and we escaped.
The years have passed and been kind. Krissy and I have two high school aged children of our own. I don’t understand the kids today. They are not at all like their mother and I were. They’d rather play video games than throw up and hallucinate. I can’t figure it out. Can you?
Back in the day, Felix used to hang out with a chick who called herself Mouse. She was a skinny girl; hardly had any tits or hips to speak of. Looked a lot like Kate Moss at the height of the ‘heroin chic’ wave. Felix and I had grown up together on East 3rd. His ma and my ma used to play bridge together on Saturday nights. He used to be just Felix, but now he’d begun to think of himself as a … I don’t know … maybe he’d have called himself a high roller. Perhaps he thought he was about to hit the big time.
I remember I ran into them both one night about a week before Christmas at the 24 karat klub on Ashland Street. They were sitting in one of those velvet booths, up high where they could see the dance floor. Mouse was wearing one of those gold metallic gown things with a loose low neckline. Eye candy for sure, but her downside was an overpowering reliance on cocaine. She said it made her feel happy. She said it made her feel horny. She liked it a lot. I hadn’t seen them when I’d come in, but it hadn’t taken long to notice them once inside. I caught Felix’ eye and, he motioned for me to join him and Mouse and a bunch of other people I didn’t recognize. There looked to be a favourable ratio of women to men, so I stopped a nurse, pointed to the booth where Felix sat, and asked if she could bring me a single-malt to that table. I made my way up to join the party.
I had recently done some work for Felix and, he’d been happy with the results, so I was in his good graces. At the table, he stood. He clapped me on the back with his right hand as he wrapped his left around my shoulder, giving me one of those funny man hugs that homophobes seem to do in public. Mouse stood and leaned over to kiss me on the cheek. I stared straight down her top at what looked just like two fried eggs on a plate. Then I took a seat at the end of the table, next to Felix. He smiled and motioned down the table. A girl came over and sat next to me. That night the air was thick with a perfumed nostalgia, a smoky intimacy that slowed everything down, impeding thoughts and motion.
The nurse brought my whisky; I stared at Mouse’s chest and watched her snort coke off the tabletop next to Felix. I talked to that other girl whose name I never caught, but she didn’t seem to have anything interesting to say. Eventually, I tuned it all out and watched the couples on the dance floor. My head began to spin from the run together sultry voices of all the people with whom Felix, Mouse and I shared a table. I still didn’t know who any of them were. It wasn’t long before I could take it no longer and decided to leave.
I took a cab home and made my way up the walk. I fumbled with the key until I opened the front door. A buttery yellow light glowed from the kitchen, and the clink of cutlery caused me to slink down the short passageway and peek around the corner. It was that girl, the one from the 24 karat who never told me her name. She sat at the tile bar separating the kitchen from the dining area. I had a thousand questions. How had she gotten here so fast? What was she doing here? Why was she standing in the kitchen? Who the fuck was that guy she was with? On the other side of the bar was a man with a bald head, short red hair around the sides and back, freckles on the top. I didn’t recognize him at all. He was feeding her with his fingers, white cake with white frosting. They laughed. She looked up at me.
“Mr Cardona,” she welcomed me in my own home, “come on in. We’ve been waiting for you. This is Mr Smith.” She gestured towards the bald guy with red fringe hair. “I didn’t get much chance to speak with you at the club so we thought it best to come meet you here.” She raised her eyebrows and waited.
“I don’t know you,” I said, “I don’t know your name. I’ve never even seen this guy.” It was my turn to gesture at her companion.
“Oh, sorry; my bad,” she said, and then she looked into her purse, she fished around a bit before pulling out a black leather wallet. Opening it, she showed me a badge. “Special Agent McKitrick, FBI. This is Agent Smith.”
“How did you guys get here so fast?”
She grinned, “That’s not important now, is it? We need to ask you some questions about your friends Felix and Mouse.”
This week’s prompt:
You walk into your home and find two people you don’t know eating cake. What happens next?
goals achieved (my own, or my loved ones, or friends)
having the right tool
plans that works as they should
machinery that works and works well
something almost heard
something almost seen
sometimes a drink
something almost understood
the golden gate bridge
the purr of a mountain lion
well-honed knife’s edge
“Inspiration,” in English has had the meaning “the drawing of air into the lungs” since the middle of the 16th century. This breathing sense is still in common use among doctors, as is “expiration”…However, before “inspiration” was used to refer to breath it had a distinctly theological meaning in English, referring to a divine influence upon a person. The sense of inspiration often found today (“someone or something that inspires”) is considerably newer than either of these two senses, dating from the 19th century. (from Merriam-Webster.com)
Malloree was a few years younger than Logan, but she had been the apple of his eye for quite some time now. Ever since she had come to work at Pellmans.
Malloree was the most beautiful girl Logan had ever seen, and he thought that today could be the day. Today could be the day he would finally ask her out on their first date. He had done his research. He knew what kind of music girls her age liked. He knew what they liked to do. He stocked his car with smooth jazz CDs. He knew that girls liked saxophone players, he’d seen “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe. He got music that should make her feel warm and comfortable. He bought Kenny G, Dave Koz, Candy Dulfer, even Boney James.
He also remembered when he’d been in high school. In those days, girls enjoyed artists like The Carpenters, Christopher Cross, Barry Manilow or the Captain and Tennille. He used to keep eight-track tapes in his car in those days. For his planned date with Malloree, he stocked up on some of those artists, as well. Those guys were harder to find on CD, but he had located at least one example from each artist. He even managed to score a Barry Manilow CD at a Second Spin Shop.
That morning, at work, Logan kept one eye on the break room. He watched Malloree go in for coffee at about nine o’clock and waited, counting to ten before following her in. He planned to put a cheese Danish in the microwave and strike up a conversation with Malloree.
As he breezed in and spotted her pouring a cup, he made his way to the fridge.
“Morning, Malloree,” he sang out cheerfully. He reached in and found the bag with the two Cheese pastries he had picked up that morning at French’s.
“Hmm? Oh, good morning Mr Oberlin,” she responded absentmindedly.
“Please, call me Logan.” He looked in the bag, “Oh wow, looks like they gave me two this morning. I only asked for one.” He muttered to himself then, as if only then occurred to him, he offered one to Malloree. “Hey, you want one of these cheese Danishes?” He asked. “It looks like they gave me two this morning. I can’t eat two.” He held the bag out so she could see it.
“No, thanks Mr. uhm… Logan,” she said, “I have to watch my weight.”
“They’re from French’s Bakery,” he was trying to tempt her.
“I love French’s,” she said. “If you’re sure you don’t want it?”
“Oh, I’m sure. I can’t eat both of these.” He pulled a couple of paper plates from the cupboard, placed a pastry on each and slid them into the microwave. Now he had her attention and some time.
“Hey Malloree,” he started, “I won some passes to ‘WonderLand Park’ from a Gary Ghost contest on KJJW. I was thinking about going this weekend, but it’s no fun to go by myself. Would you be interested in coming along?”
There was a moment of silence. Then she gushed, “OMG, Logan, you listen to Gary Ghost?”
He held his hands out, palms up, “What? Of course, I listen to Gary Ghost. I’m not some old geezer.”
He smiled, she smiled and thought about it for a while.
“Is Gary Ghost going to be there?” she asked.
“I’m not sure,” Logan said, “maybe.”
Her face lit up when she smiled, “I’d love to. Thank you.”
“Great, I can pick you up around two on Saturday afternoon. You have to give me your phone number, tell me where you live.”
“Of course,” she said and then she wiggled her shoulders, set her breasts to swaying. She did a little happy dance as she exited the break-room, Her pastry forgotten. Logan decided not to chase her and, ate both of the Danishes.
At two o’clock sharp Logan pulled up in front of her apartment building. He went upstairs and knocked on the door marked 36B. Malloree, almost immediately came dancing out to the landing. She looked beautiful with her short and colourful sundress, sandals, and a wrap slung over her arm. In the car, Logan started the engine and pushed in the Kenny G Ultimate Collection CD. He selected the Songbird track. The music started slow and soft, but when Kenny began playing a look of extreme distaste came over Malloree’s face.
“What the f…. is that?” Malloree said with a loud laugh.
Logan turned red and reached for his Christopher Cross.
“Jeezus,” Malloree exclaimed, “don’t you have any punk music. Put on The Cranky Fuckers or Industry Tommys!” she smiled, rolled her window down, and raised both fists out into the wind as Logan pulled away from the curb.
Make of, or do with the following narrative what you will:
I remember the first time I heard Kenny G. We had MTV playing in the background while we puttered around, separately doing whatever it was we were doing, when this soft, melodic, soprano saxophone came wafting through the house. We simultaneously emerged from wherever we individually were, drawn to what this completely bizarre/not MTV sound was. The two of us stood dumbfounded, listening and watching ‘Songbird’ video.
“What the f….was that?” my husband said with a loud laugh when it ended.
“Afternoon sir. I’m Gerald, from Templeton Plumbing. You’re having a problem with your cesspool?”
“Thank God you’re here.”
“Yes sir, I’ve got the diver all ready to go. If it’s OK with you, I’ll send him on in to take a look.”
This week’s prompt:
I have a friend who genuinely loves their work as a bookkeeper. I can’t think of anything more tedious. What is it about an occupation or leisurely pastime that others misunderstand? What are assumptions others hold? How are they inaccurate? What would others find a happy surprise about an otherwise dull occupation or pastime?
I decided to rebirth a piece from long ago that somehow seemed apropos in response to this week’s prompt. Hope you like it!
Maisie, Gigi, and Coco took the bus downtown. They boarded on the eastside, not far from the Junior High. They got off on Pacific, down by the Catalyst and set up there. Gigi’s dad had told the girls that he had seen John Lee Hooker at the Catalyst. He had seen Little Charlie and the Nightcats there with Maria Muldaur. Coco’s mother told stories of Ry Cooder and Neil Young live at the Catalyst. Coco thought it might be just the place to be discovered. It might be just the place to start on their road to fame and fortune.
Cool chicks busking dark jazz collecting ones, and fives in an upturned hat.
So they sent someone to ask me questions. I was gonna lie to her, but her questions were more interesting than I thought they would be. She wondered why I was taking notes, though.
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
The Eden Expressby Mark Vonnegut
No, Mark Vonnegut, his son.
Let’s just say that I could identify with it.
Have you read it?
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’d like to think I coulda been a pretty good bartender, but I never wanted to work that hard.
If not that, then I’d like to own a hot dog cart.
Near a beach, on a boardwalk, not in a city
Have you ever eaten a hodog with brown mustard and julienned jalapeños?
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I try but I’m seldom successful.
My readers, in most cases, have more life experience than I do.
It means that they see right through my feeble attempts at embedding secrets in my work.
Only once and I’m not going to tell you any more than that.
Do you Google yourself?
Nothing that I didn’t already know
Mostly boring shit. My story isn’t that exciting.
I wanted to know the ending
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would want to have my parents read to me more.
As a teenager, the question is not so easy.
I guess, I would like to think that writing more at that stage in my life would have made me a better writer, but then I would not have had the opportunity to observe teenagers in the wild; in their natural habitat.
This would have hampered my ability to recognize their reality and know their reactions in any given situation. I might have become even less successful than I am currently and, that would be really bad.
You know, “A legend in my own mind …”
This week’s prompt:
Interview someone! Real or imagined. Come up with five questions and three follow-up questions to your interviewee’s answers. The Interviewer can be in first person, or a third person character.
I chose to present the interviewers initial question only, and then present my answer to that as well as her follow up questions below. You can undoubtedly ascertain the follow-ups on your own.
Prince Preston set his Daughter, Princess Imogen, on the saddle in front of him. “Today’s a big day for you, Immy,” he said, “Today we set out on a quest for the monsters. I need to introduce you to them one by one, just as my father did for me when I was your age.”
“Monster’s, Dad? Should I be frightened?”
“Not at all, Princess for the most part, the monsters are our friends. They protect our kingdom from foreign invaders and ensure that the press reports only the truth.”
The pair set off with a full entourage including; soldiers, cooks, nannies, cartographers, fools, and other consorts. Prince Parson’s plan was to head North first, then work around in an anti-clockwise direction. He would introduce Imogen to each of the monsters who patrolled the perimeters of the kingdom.
These included Persephone to the North, Germsnake in the West, Trancemouth in the South, and The Donald. The Donald who is ‘Keeper of the Eastern Purlieus of the Kingdom of Hoi Polloi.’ During the journey, Prince Presley regaled Imogen with tales and stories of the monsters.
“I expect that first, we will encounter Persophone,” he told her, “She is a dreadful and terrifying green-skinned being, but she has a gentle soul. Most imposing, she is taller than a tree, and when opening her mouth to roar she reveals hundreds of long razor sharp teeth used to slice our enemies to ribbons. It’s been aeons since anyone attempted to invade Hoi Polloi from the north. She likes kittens and could eat six score in a single bite. She’ll like you, I’m certain,” and she did. Persophone and Imogen got along famously and even built a treehouse where they could take tea.
“Next we will find Germsnake, in the west. When I was a lad, I used to sneak away from the castle. I would come to play with Germsnake. He has always been my favourite. As his name implies, he is a serpent. A five headed serpent whose bite is laced with deadly venom and whose scales are coloured a mottled brown and ecru. I would trust him with my life. I would trust him with your life. In the wars of Oh-Four, I watched him single-handedly repel 10,000 invaders from what used to be the Kingdom of Texas that lay along our Western border, but after Oh-Four Texas was annexed by Hoi Polloi.”
Germsnake was smitten by the princess and immediately asked her father, Prince Pomeroy, for her hand in marriage; but the prince said that she was too young. Germsnake vowed to try again in a few years.
“Trancemouth is the third monster who guards the Southern frontier. She is a vixen, a beautiful maiden with coffee coloured skin who used to lure sailors onto the rocks before coming to work for my father, King Kenny the Just. She can hypnotize our enemies with the sound of her voice and tell stories to entrance all listeners. She reasons with invaders and convinces them of the folly of war with Hoi Polloi. She is also fond of fruitcake. In fact, last year she presented your mother and me with a very large rum soaked fruitcake for our Christmas.”
“We never ate that cake, Da.” Princess Imogen pointed out.
“Right you are, girl,” he answered her as he poked the dimple that was centred in her chin. “And, we never will. Fruitcake is vile and disgusting. We will re-gift that this Christmas.”
After a polite and cordial visit, Pumpernickel and Imogen left the company of Trancemouth and headed towards the East to meet The Donald.
As they travelled Pantomine told his daughter about the final monster, “The Donald is the most frightening of all the monsters. He surrounds himself with minions who do his bidding and praise him. He is covered with an orange outer wrapping, that one must suppose is skin, and has hair that even wise men are unable to explain. He cannot be trusted, but he can be bought. He is the one to whom we will re-gift the fruitcake because he likes that kind of stuff. We hope that it will keep him pacified for at least another month. I shudder to think of what might happen if it doesn’t work. Then I remember the other three faithful monsters. They who serve the people of Hoi Polloi and seem to posses a genuine affection for you. I believe that, if necessary, the good people of Hoi Polloi, our three trusted protectors, and our armies could defeat him; but it would not be an easy battle. Never allow yourself to be caught alone in the company of The Donald.”
Author’s Note: The work above is a slightly reworked version of a post I wrote several years ago. In these days it seems appropriate. Does it count as allegorical, Ms Rose?
This week’s prompt:
Literary devices highlight important concepts in a text, strengthen the narrative, and help readers connect to the characters and themes. Some might work on an intellectual level, while others have a more emotional effect. They may also work to improve the flow and pacing of your writing.
Use Allegory in your story, character sketch or poem.
(from reedsy.com): In an allegorical story, things represent more than they appear to on the surface. Many children’s fables, such as “The Tortoise and the Hare,” are simple allegories about morality — but allegories can also be dark, complex, and controversial.Example: “Animal Farm” by George Orwell is a commentary on the events leading up to Stalin’s rise and the formation of the Soviet Union.
I haven’t seen Jack in person since we were shipmates, homeported together in Pearl. When I picture him in my mind’s eye I see a big guy with broad shoulders, bear sized hands, dark brown hair and a thick full beard. He wears dungarees and has a 36” pipe wrench resting on his shoulder. Jack was probably too tall to be comfortable on the boat, with it’s low overheads and short racks. He never complained though.
I saw him on the facebook the other day. He’s still big, has less hair than he used to, and his beard is now grey. Good to know he’s still doing well. And, he has grandkids. I’m not sure how many, but I saw a photo of one young granddaughter. At the top of his page, he is pictured sitting in a small chair, at a small round wooden table, his feet on the ground and his knees at about the same height as his ears. A sparkling tiara perches atop his head and a young girl holds his hand as she busily paints his fingernails with a light coloured lavender polish.
There is a tiny tea service on the table. Jack and his granddaughter are both beaming; they’re having so much fun together. I’ve seen lighthouses on the Oregon coast that don’t shine that brightly.
This week’s prompt:
“The apparel oft proclaims the man” – Wm. Shakespeare (Hamlet)
“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today,
when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” —Miuccia Prada
“I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world.” —Bette Midler
Write a fashion related character story. Here are some ideas to use, or to get you thinking:
Her first high heels or his first suit.
“That guy” in the ruffled tuxedo shirt and powder blue tails.
Uniform vs. “civies”.
The time the kids dressed and made up dad, or a pet.
A character’s clothing choice and how differently they feel, how they might change if they are made to make another choice.