29 November 2014

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17 November 2014

Keats? Or Keats?

There were no figs left in the parlor. Not a single one.

Trentwiler walked through the entire rectory, trying to find but a single fig, but he came up empty-handed. “Just my luck,” he said aloud, “just my rotten luck.”

He made his way out of doors and found his sedan parked where he had left it the night before, although it had changed color from coal-black to a rather cornflower blue shade with white trim and running boards. Trentwiler paused a moment. “Damned vandals,” he muttered as he opened the door and slid in behind the wheel.

Out of the driveway of the rectory and then down the road he raced, speeding toward the village. His only thoughts were of figs, which he knew were available at the greengrocer in Oneonta. Surprises abounded this morning, however, for as he rounded a bend in the road near the edge of a trout stream, a young woman appeared, standing ankle-deep in the water. Her hair was raven, interlaced with a small garland of flowers, and her eyes wept great drops of crimson, which traced lines down the milk-white skin of her cheeks.

Trentwiler slowed the sedan and came to a stop at the edge of the stream. He got out and walked to the edge of the water. The young woman looked as though she might have some information regarding figs, but he was scared to ask. He looked closely at her and suddenly recognized the mark upon her upper arm.

“Were we, in fact, butterflies?" he asked,  "In a dream?”

The young woman looked at him deeply. The shadows of oak leaves played upon the both of them. “Rather,” she said, in a voice so soft, “ask yourself, my love, 'whether you are not very cruel to have so entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom'.”

Trentwiler held up a hand mirror to her face. The both of them turned into gossamer-winged monarchs, and the hand mirror splashed into the stream.

14 November 2014

Another Casablanca

I looked down into the little hidey-hole and strained to see if the earlobe-shaped nugget of glass was still there. Every now and again you find nuggets such as this in a hidey-hole. I have every reason to believe you know exactly what I am talking about – don't try to tell me you don't.

Hidey-holes come in all shapes and sizes. Hidey-holes are often found on the side of small outcroppings of earth, specifically designed to harbor a hidey-hole. This one was no different.

I looked in, but I could not spy the earlobe-shaped nugget of glass. It was a nugget given to me by my boyhood hero, Great Uncle Adolf. Great Uncle Adolf collected glass nuggets, and he only rarely shared them with friends, family, and loved ones. I was apparently quite special, and as a favored great-nephew, I merited (it seemed) to be given a particularly heinous nugget. That is what Great Uncle Adolf called it, anyway – a “heinous nugget.”

I never figured that part out.

Sometimes, when you are given a “heinous nugget,” you go about and tell all the world of your windfall. Other times you are content to keep it to yourself, take large doses of painkillers, and dance a merry jig in the privacy of your own home. This had been my habit in the reception of every other heinous nugget I had been bequeathed – until this one. When I received the particularly heinous nugget from Great Uncle Adolf, I immediately went out to the small outcropping of earth near the truss factory behind my house, located the little hidey-hole, and placed the nugget there. I pressed my ear to the soil and listened to the “thrum-thrum-thrum” of the machinery deep within the bowels of earth mother.


But that was many, many years ago. And now, lo, these many, many years have passed, and the machinery deep within her bowels no longer makes the thrumming sound. My eyes are dim, and my own bowels make powerful churning noises. The meadowlark has flown well beyond the field of grey and oily corn.

And I cannot locate the earlobe-shaped nugget of glass. Not a single one of us could, who had ever been given a “heinous nugget”, and who did not keep it pressed within our sweaty little palm. When the machinery ceases to thrum, the hidey-holes no longer give up their treasure.


Go and learn what this means.

03 November 2014

Change the Channel

Now, I would have liked to think that the old miser, when he died, would have stopped muttering, but it just wasn't in the cards. Do you know how it is? An old miser gives up the ghost and just keeps muttering on and on about whatever it was that he was talking about just before he died. Yes, that is exactly what happened. I was there. I heard it.

We were taking down the Kwanzaa bush and Clinton's Comet had just finished streaking across the sky. Clinton's Comet is not nearly as well known as Halley's Comet, but it is really well-loved. Clinton's Comet is said to have a southern accent and a penchant for cigars, blue dresses, and plump interns (whatever that means). We watched as the comet disappeared in the western sky, just behind an In-N-Out Burger. People put down their double-doubles and wept as Clinton went down on the horizon.


We got the Kwanzaa bush packed into Larry's Pinto and just then this old miser shuffled up to us, muttering something about textured vegetable protein (we knew he was a miser by the miser's union identification badge that he wore on his lanyard. Everyone wears a lanyard these days, don't they?). Larry offered to buy him a double-double (which contains absolutely NO textured vegetable protein, incidentally), but the old man shook his head and just kept muttering. Mutter, mutter, mutter. He muttered to the left. He muttered to the right. He muttered into the lapel of his second-hand Brooks Brothers suit. He removed his set of false teeth for a minute so that he would have an unobstructed path for swallowing his pride, and when he set the teeth down on the pavement they kept right on muttering by themselves. Larry expected them to chatter, he told me later, but they muttered – believe it or not.

Larry and I offered to give the man a ride somewhere in the Pinto, but he never answered. He went on to mutter something about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Larry looked frustrated and a little perturbed. I was hungry, and got to thinking about the In-N-Out Burger. The old man was muttering about the advantages of pomade over hair oil. Then he muttered about Lyndon Baines Johnson. Then he muttered about Lady Bird Johnson. Then he muttered about Little Billy Johnson, Lithe Buttercup Johnson, Lisping Brony Johnson, and the 1963 New York Yankees. It was crazy.

I had said that the old miser gave up the ghost, and that is true. I made it sound as though it were a natural death, however. In reality, as the old miser continued to hold forth and began muttering about commemorative collectible porcelains, Larry blew a gasket and beat the old man senseless with a limb that had broken off of the Kwanzaa bush, had fallen into the gutter, and had gone unnoticed until now.

The bush-limb was made of light wire, interwoven with prickly plastic threads. It took Larry nearly a day and a half to beat the old miser to death with such a soft, light weapon.

Larry stood over the corpse, breathless. The old miser's teeth went right on muttering away about the low quality of Kwanzaa bushes these days.

“Come on, Larry,” I said, motioning to the Pinto. “Let's go get us a double-double.”

Larry just muttered something about the Battle of Leyte Gulf.