Friday, October 30, 2015

Mourning Doves at Surise

The mourning doves dozed in the sun, basking in the orange glow of the morning, a picture of true contentment. Bart was staring at the ceiling, wearing only the blond wig. No one could see the steel wool coated paunch. And even if they did, he was with this amazing lady, so it didn’t matter. Holly, elfin head covered in baby fuzz, was snoring quietly on his chest. The tumor and subsequent surgery had been discussed while they summoned their courage. The chemo badge was worn with no shame. During the night, the wig was passed from head to head, bringing laughter and more loving. It had been a dream full of surprises. 
But it almost didn’t happen.
But it did, and he would answer for it. His finger traced along the thin pale scar above her ear and eyes fluttered.
“Mmm….Hey, Baby.” blue veined hand glided over the gray paunch. 
“Hey, back.” 
Kissing deeply, they looked into each other’s eyes. A question began to form on her face.
“Do you believe in ghosts? I sort of do, that there are souls that are stuck here for one reason or another.”
“Like Amy?” He smiled. “When the wig fell off, I thought you were her.”
She smiled at that. Pushing on his leg for support, she sat up. Two wine glasses sat half full next to the bed. Picking them up, she took a sip out one and gave the other to him.
“I don’t know, but I did feel another presence in the room.” The voice dropped to a whisper. “It’s creepy, but I think she was looking down at us.”
“I know she was. That might be why I was a little…slow.”
Holly giggled at that.
“Aw, your cheating heart.” 
Draining his glass, he shot her a serious look. 
“I was cheating on her.” Their eyes locked. “I never looked at another woman while we were together, or really after she was gone. Tonight scared me. It was… too far, too fast. When you came out of the bathroom, I wanted to hide. Especially when I saw you hadn’t…”
Holly grinned. “Put my panties back on?”
“Yeah.” Tears began to form around the pale eyes he began to shake. “I…I never…”
“Oh, Baby, it’s all right.” She lay back beside him, wrapping her thin arms over his shoulders. “You never fall in love to cry.” 
His voice shook.
“Amy was behind you, smiling, when we were standing next to the bed. It sounds crazy, but I saw her, hands on your shoulders, like she wanted to join us.”
Kissing his forehead; the eagle admired her catch with a look of love.
“Or she approved of us.” She buried her head into his shoulder. “Amy was a very lucky woman to have had you. You are the best, most wonderful man I have ever known.”
“Even though…”
She put a finger to his lips; face brighter than the sun drawn across her belly.
“Older guys take time.” Finishing the wine, she placed the glass back on the nightstand. “It’s like baking a cake, and I got the sweetest piece.”
“But what about…”
A finger traced from chin to chest and a warm, wry smile blossomed.
“When you screamed her name?” The hand stopped in the center of his chest. “Honey, her spirit is still in your heart.”Taking his hand, she placed it between her breasts. “And she’s is now in mine, too. I wish I was half the woman she was.”
Calm set over them. After a while, Bart asked the question that had been on his mind for a long time. 
“Why did you get the tattoo?” 
Smiling, she sat up.
“To hide surgery scars” She flipped the shirt off. “Psycho busted my spleen and some other internal organs.” She brought his hand up to the long raised scar under the word COMES. “I decided anything I did to hide it had to be positive. Nothing more positive than this” 
The roughness of the ink was surprising, like raised braille. He traced each of the letters, across the top, then underneath the sun. When he finished exploring, the hand drifted further down, which brought a shudder.
“Did you do it so the sun would never come down on you?”
Laughing, she flicked the wig off his head. It landed on top of the empty glasses.
“Silly!” Pointing at the scar above her ear. “It will set on me sooner than later. We both know that. But, now I can say I went out with a bang.”
Bart stood up and brought her close. The waltz from the previous night resumed. 
“And I can say you were the rainbow arching through my clouds.”
Their lumpy, scarred images were beautiful in God’s eyes.
Topic-Dave Raider
Pic guesses: Mourning Dove (in blog), peace, Alabaster palace, elfin (in blog), Snow palace, offering, message.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Night Cap (Blogophilia 35.8)

The tenth floor apartment was not far from the park.  Limping, she leaned heavily on her cane as they entered the building. Inside the door was a modest unit fit for a single. A couch and coffee table sat on the opposite wall angled slight toward the corner where the TV was hung.  A door to the left was open, his made bed visible in the shadows. To the right was the galley kitchen. 

 “So, come on in.” Dropping the suitcase next to the couch. “It ain’t much, but it is home. 

“Coffee? All I have is some decaf.” 

 “Ooh, that sounds good. I’m freezing.”

“Did you want to change?” Red formed along the edge of his cheeks. “I can go back in…”

“Oh, hush. I’m not modest.” She grabbed a quilt that was on the couch and wrapped it around her. The hands disappeared and with a whoosh, the wet top flew over her head and landed on Bart’s head. She laughed as his face grew redder and frightened. A pale pink bra appeared next. Looping it around his head with a wicked grin, the embarrassment now was in full flower. Pulling the quilt out a bit, she shook from side to side.

“Ahhh… freedom.”  

The next command was accompanied by a peck on the cheek. “Sweetie, open my bag and grab the red t shirt.” 

He complied without a word. Unzipping the bag, he found the shirt on top. Flipping it over his shoulder, it landed over her face. Giggles sounded as the shirt quickly went over her head.

“O.K. you can look.” 

When he turned, the shirt was covering everything to the middle of her thighs. “Six Feet of Earth Makes Us All Equal” was emblazoned across her bust. 

“You like slogans, don’t you?”

“Yep. I thought it was appropriate since I am here for a funeral.” She threw the quilt back on the couch. Pulling up the shirt on one side, she pulled at the waistband.  “It’s going to take forceps and strong hands to get the pants off. I think they are glued to me.”

She started hopping from foot to foot. “Oh, God. I have got to pee.” 

Taking her arm, he guided her to the bedroom door. “Through there and on the left.”


“Need any help?”

“I think I’ve got it, thanks. But could you grab some panties?”

A night light marked the way. Pulling the door to, she flipped the switch. She was presented with the sparse accouterments of a male dominated space. Clean off white walls over large square salmon tile that dated to when the building was new. A beige plastic cup held a disposable razor. The toothbrush hung from a matching ceramic fixture. A plain mirrored cabinet hung over the sink. It was clean, but all form and function, no frills. 

There was a knock and she took the undies, laying them on the edge of the sink. Closing the door completely, the pants came off. They peeled off easy, just like when Mom would strip her. She found a towel and began to dry off.  The sequence after a rain dance would be yelling, stripping, two spanks, and a long hug with a towel fresh out of the dryer. Naughtiness had its rewards.

The commode was on the far side of the vanity. It was a high one with a grab bar next to it. Good, some support.  Hurriedly kicking the wet clothes aside, she turned and eased toward the seat. A scream stuck in her throat from the cramp going under her legs. Hot damn, this hurts. Taking a breath, the butt met its target. The relief was audible. 

After finishing, she pulled around the vanity to wash. A disaster of a woman stared back from the mirror. Blond and pink frizzed out every direction, beach hair and deep rings around crimson eyes. She made a half-hearted attempt to primp, but it didn’t matter. The raccoon eyes told her she was home. 

Her eyes shifted to a shelf next to the sink. A silver framed picture of a bald woman looking slightly down. Bart was vulnerable. Psycho Jack would be laughing right now, wondering how big the payoff would be. She knew she would not and could not squeeze him. Money had never done anything for her. Pleasing people did, but it seemed to always land her in trouble. Pleasing Mom only brought questions of what she was scheming. Pleasing Psycho only got the law involved. What would pleasing Bart bring?

Gently, she rubbed her hip. Dancing with the old man in the rain sounded like a bad drug store romance. It was fun and scary at the same time. Pulling up the shirt, she traced the letters of her tattoo. Bart kissed better than Psycho by a long shot. Age is an issue of mind over matter. Bart didn’t seem to mind and neither did she, so it doesn’t matter.

The sun is coming after all.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Flying Dutchman (Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers #35)

Yellow freighter came aside the President Street dock just before dawn. A shore crew took the bow lanyard, securing it to dock and quickly followed that with the stern. Stevedores prepped the cranes to begin the offlload when the Chief realized something was amiss. No Captain or Crew, just stacks of cargo containers piled high over the gunnels and a small flat screened kiosk at the top of the gangway. Without a touch, the screen lit up and scrolled the following message:

"I am De Vilengende Hollander, the latest in Cargo ships. Instead of a boat with no port, I am a boat with no crew. Swap my cargo so I may proceed."

The galley cranes followed the command and killed the crew. Another port taken over.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


It was on the table, a catalog from a well known online retailer. Sitting on top of what must have been yesterdays mail, the bold title "Thanksgiving Edition" caught my eye. It is only the middle of October, everyone needed to reminding there was something between Halloween and Easter to spend money on.

Schmaltz populated by the usual well-kept Stepford family. Two accommodations to modern sensibilities were made. There was an older woman, the Grandmother and a woman of color with slightly Asian features with an insufferably cute curly headed daughter, probably the live-in Nanny. All the women shown were slender without curves, well kept in the manner of the 1% There were a few men with facial hair scattered but they were cardboard characters to ladies. Scenes of thoughtful cups of coffee interspersed with shopping bags and confidences shared. It was an expensive shoot, designed  to think that if you bought these clothes, you too could be one of them.

It is all a fantasy.

In the real world, Grandma's tummy hangs over her privates and hair pokes out around a flowered scarf. There is no Nanny, just a random girlfriends alternating between screaming and laughing at the half-dressed, mud faced kids. The men still have beards, but they haven't been trimmed in six months Nobody has the money, so everyone sits down to whatever got scrounged up for supper.

And in the end.

They are still thankful.

For, in spite of everything, they are alive.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Night Echoes (Blogophilia 34.8)

The sugar maple shrugged its shoulders against the night breeze, not caring at all. The midtown skyline splayed out behind it, projected light bouncing off the gathering clouds. Another couple sprawled on the grass, another small romance. It was like the others it had seen in the fifty years since it was planted. Couple either came together, or didn’t. To the tree life went on.

Bart and Holly didn’t notice either. Their eyes locked on each other as the wooded edges of the park faded into the dimming light. As the temperature dropped, a sweater appeared out of a bag to fight the chill.  A piece of chivalry not unnoticed.  Empty Chinese food boxes piled next to her cane and across the cheap blanket kept in the trunk of the Lincoln for emergencies. An impromptu dinner on the ground qualified as a good emergency. Time paused. Nothing mattered except the moment they were in, foreign and scary to each of them in different ways. 

Holly had been a preemie and spent her first few weeks in the hospital. Surgeries to correct scoliosis and a club foot happened when she was young. She had always been the weird kid in the corner, even to her family. She survived school and started college because she was expected to. She managed two full years until boredom and depression drove her screaming. 

She met Psycho on a trip overseas. He was a big, tattooed brute who had been kicked out of the military for dereliction. In her naïve way, she thought that was so rebellious and cute. It helped he was a good fuck. The abuse began as soon as the ink was dry. Bruised and minor fractures glossed over for fear of worse. He made most of his money with retail fraud and shoplifting schemes. Her job was to return stolen merchandise for refund. Slapping and cigarette burns followed if she didn’t follow orders.  It was lucrative, but it kept them on the move to stay ahead of the law.

It was in an apartment outside Baltimore when he threw her down a set of stairs and broke her hip. It became the last straw. Her father came and brought her back home. Permanent protection orders were granted in both Maryland and New York where even Psycho’s lawyer couldn’t contact her directly. He got eight years for the assault and the last she heard he had theft warrants in three other states. There was still the worry of having to testify, but it didn’t look like she was going to be needed. The only thing she had to remember him by was the limp.  

Bart and Amy’s story began in the college library. He was English major and she was Pre-Law. They ended up taking classes together. He was brought up Baptist and she was Jewish. He was from a small town about a hundred miles away where everyone knew each other. There were no Jews there and she blew his mind. Raven hair and silky curves invaded his dreams all the way to her death and beyond. She thought he was funny and sweet, but the family didn’t approve of the Goy. Her father especially thought Bart was an embarrassment and kept trying to split them up. They dropped out school after she became pregnant and they quietly married before a judge. Her family disowned her and never would speak to them until she was on her death bed.  

Everything went tragic. At 29 weeks, Amy’s placenta abrupted, tearing her womb almost in half. Their daughter didn’t make it. It was a bleak several months afterward, but they became inseparable. The bond would be tested many times. He had a bad car wreck and was laid up for a while. There were no complaints, just her lovingly spoiling him. When he set up his insurance office, she would keep his schedule. Small disagreements stayed that way and they settled into their quiet life, depending on each other for small things and large.

Then her kidney’s failed, then cancer followed and life became a succession of medical visits. When it was all over, her family, who wouldn’t speak to them for thirty years, attempted to cut him out of the funeral arrangements and get her estate. In their mind the marriage never was legal, license be damned.
An awkward silence came as the story came to an end. A rumble of thunder rolled in the background. Bart gathered the empty boxes off the blanked. Holly watched as he made his way to the sidewalk to throw them in the trash.

“It’s funny.” The squeaky little voice seemed to echo unnaturally against the ground. “All the time the Psycho and me were together, we never had a picnic.”

A flash of lighting briefly illuminated the craggy face.

 “Oh, we had picnics, but they were planned weeks in advance.  Amy never was one for impulse. There was a schedule for everything and everything according schedule. Her motto was: ‘I plot my life to leave out the stuff readers skip’”

Bart reached for the bottle and refilled her glass.

“I remember the first time I saw you on online. It must have been after your ex put you in the hospital.   Something about you reminded me so much of Amy, almost if you had been my daughter.”

“What, that we both ended up in emergency rooms a lot?” 

That brought a sad laugh.

“No. Your spirit is like hers was before the medicines sapped the joy.”  He took a sip out of his glass. “In the last few years, all she worried about was money.”

“I know that feeling.” She stared into the glass. “After Psycho got arrested, I found all the bills from the nudie bars he was at when he wasn’t beating the fuck out of me. Finally paid the last one six month ago.”
She began to shift uncomfortable. “Help me up. My leg is going numb.”

He brought his hands under her arms to lift her. Her thin, rose covered arms went around his neck and his right hand found a home at the base of her spine. They began to dance under the maple tree. A song softly came from her.

“Step to the left. Step to the right. Middle of the Floor, feels safe tonight…”

She snuggled in a little closer. She had a bald spot at the crown of her head. Kissing it brought a contented purr.

“…Dancing on, the edge of a dream. Move in close, will I like what I see?”

The rain began to fall and Holly began to giggle.

 “When I was a little girl, I use to love to run in the rain and dry myself in the forest breeze. Ma said I would catch my death doing it. I would always wear the same pink dress, a shear top and ruffled skirt.” A very wicked grin opened up. “You could see everything through the wet fabric. But I didn’t care. I felt so free in the rain. I ran naked one time when Ma was out of town.  It was me, water dripping skipping down the path to the woods to let the air dry me like a sheet.” 

With a small turn, the dance went around the tree.

 “Amy and I would do something like that when we were dating.” Sadness filled his voice. “Run in the rain until we were soaked to the skin. Then we spend the rest of the day taking drying each other with soft cotton towels. I can still hear the cackling as the towel tickled across her privates.” 

Holly laughed. 

“Did it happen anymore after you got married?”

His voice broke.

“We did one last time about two weeks before she died. Right over there near the gazebo. She wasn’t feeling joy, just sadness and pain. The smile came back a bit, but it wasn’t the same.”

Bart laid his heaving head to her shoulder, letting the rain fall on her as they danced on. As the storm passed, she whispered in his ear.

“This going very fast.” 


“Ever been on a rollercoaster and the car is near the top?”

“Many times.”

“Well, we’re seatmates. We are riding this to the end.”

The kiss seemed to last forever.

Song Lyric: Edge of a Dream. Song in Her Head © 2009 Sarah Jarosz

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Twinkling Night (Blogophilia 33.8)

After a brief spin, Bart set Holly gently on the floor and handed her the cane and the small bouquet of flowers he had picked up from the street side vendor. Her thin arms gathered him into a long hug, burying his face into her highlighted hair. Laughter echoed down the long room, but few noticed.
“Oh, man! I wish I got that greeting every time I arrived somewhere.” She gave him a peck on the cheek.
 “So we finally meet!” Straightening her top, she kept giggling. “Although I wish the circumstances were a little better. I can’t thank you enough for putting me up.”
 “I know what having obnoxious relatives are like.” He said taking her larger suitcase. “I certainly would have more help when Amy died. Let’s get out of here before anyone thinks we’re crazy.”
A woman with perfect hair and six inch heels veered into their path, engrossed in her cell phone. Holly leaned in to get out of the way and looked up into grey framed face. Lavender and salt permeated his senses. They were two rays of sunshine in human cloud.
Opening the door with a flourish, Bart guided Holly gently into the front seat. Settling on the cream leather upholstery, she hooked up the seat belt and looked around.
“Nice car.” Her voice was sweeter he thought. “Reminds me of a limousine.”  
“Thanks. I bought it on a whim after Amy and I sold the house.” Twisting the key, he continued. “Decided it was time for a little luxury.”
The plaintive violin of Saint Saëns Danse Macabre filled the car. He knew it was a favorite.
“Hmmm...You thought of everything.” The grin got bigger. “Are you trying to seduce me?”
Laughing, he said “No. Just want you to feel welcome in a strange town.”
A car honked as they backed out, but that couldn’t dampen the mood. Neither could the autopay kiosk that made his bank account twenty dollars lighter. Daylight faded as they drove into the city. To the left, the large garnet sun sank against the horizon. Pink and gray clouds scattered to the right and the skyline had just begun to twinkle. Atlanta at its most romantic, if anyone could call the sprawling mess that.  
Turning in the seat to face him, she began the small talk.
 “So, how long were you married?”
“Thirty four years, four months and six days. It wasn’t always a fun ride, but I survived.”
“You miss her, don’t you?” She picked at a spot on her face.
He hesitated a moment. “When you are with someone that long, it leaves a hole than never really can be filled. And there are times it feels like she’s still behind my shoulder watching. Who knows?  She might be one of those stars, looking down on us now.”
Laughter filled the air again.
“How about you? You never said much about your debacle.”
The face darkened.  
“Officially, three years, but mentally I checked out after about eight months. Let’s just say, he…is not worth talking about.”
“I understand.”
The silence only lasted for minute.
“Yes he is!”  
Bart jumped from the slamming of the hand on the seat. An aquamarine ring, replaced the wedding band on her left hand. A Pisces and a water sign meant conflicting emotions and hidden triggers. It had been a long time since he had to worry about that.
“Psycho made me the jumpy, suspicious person you see.  He was sweet and charming at first, but like most psychos, survival meant a lot of shadow dancing.”
“How so?”
She fidgeted in the seat a bit, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation. Green radio lights reflected on the tears. Yep, she is an easy weeper. Most women were from time to time. He laid his hand on top of hers and squeezed gently. Looking down at the floor, her voice became a whisper.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter.”
“Am I being too nosy?” He slipped his arm over the thin, trembling shoulders.
“Not really.” Lightly blowing into a kleenex . “The two faced creep would double cross you by bringing flowers to dinner then throwing you against the wall because the carrots weren’t cooked.”
“Oh.” Hope she didn’t take the flowers wrong. He let the matter drop.
She suddenly perked up, unfastened the seatbelt, and snuggled close.
“But I didn’t come here to moan about the bastard. Let’s pick up some deli and have a nighttime picnic. If your Amy is in one of those stars, I want her to see you aren’t hiding in the shadows.”