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Dreaming of Eva

August 31, 2015 1 comment

Dreaming of Eva

You know when someone is staring at you from behind. You know when someone is following you, even if you hear no footsteps.

At least Paul did. He senses things, mostly real. Sometimes imagined. He felt her for innumerable weeks though her gender was only later revealed. A presence. Not intrusive. Not bothersome beyond mere awareness like a nagging, repressed thought you can’t pull forward into full consciousness.

In the beginning, she invaded occasionally and subtly like an itch you attend as a reflex, without thought. But lately. Lately. She became a constant, silent companion.

Paul doesn’t believe in ghosts. He has no special attachment to the dead. He thought of the presence often. One evening, dining alone, Paul directed a comment about the meal to her from across the table. Saluted her with his wine glass. It was at this point that he began to question himself and wonder if he should seek professional help.

That night she came to him in a dream.

Her head cradled in the crook of his arm. Her hair smelled as sweet as spring as he nuzzled. Daybreak. The sky still gray, half-lit. She squirmed and lifted herself. A morning smile. Eyes languid and liquid. Brown eyes. Brown hair. Brown body. She quit the bed and went to the bathroom.

Toilet flushing. Water running. The soft patter of slippered feet. She returned. Approaching, he could appraise her full naked form. Small in stature. She muttered something he could not understand before slipping under the sheets. Snug into him, the contrast of warm and cool, dry and damp. He felt for and found her most intimate part. She sighed and took hold of his.

When she took him in her mouth he studied her thick, shapely eyebrows and high, glistening cheekbones. Full lips. At the preamble to ecstasy, he awakened.

A friend of his, having listened to his story of the presence, had given him a recommendation. Mrs. Shapiro, a highly regarded expert in matters of the mind, its endless diseases and trickeries. He made an appointment.

For the next several nights, the dream repeated in various forms. The lovemaking was intense. More importantly, Eva, he can’t remember how her name was revealed to him, seemed more real than his current flesh and blood interests.

He cancelled his appointment with Mrs. Shapiro. He became hungry for sleep. He lived for sleep. His entire day became a prelude to the night. A sign of depression, he realized, but instead of feeling down he was invigorated.

He started going to bed earlier but learned that he could not manipulate the dreams. They happened of their own accord, on their own schedule and in their own form. If he desired the dream too much it kept him awake and dreamless.

###

The dreams moved beyond the bedroom. Picnics by a lake where they agreed upon the meaning of life, sharing existential leanings. Dinners in unfamiliar restaurants in unfamiliar cities. Rides in the country on unfamiliar roads in unfamiliar cars. Paul is living a parallel nocturnal life no more controllable than his daytime existence which has, of late, been spinning and wobbling like a top. He should be frightened but isn’t.

One night he goes to bed early with a headache. On that night, though he slept soundly, Eva does not come.

The following day is a disaster. Unable to concentrate, unable to work, obsessed with Eva’s absence. He wonders what Mrs. Shapiro would think of it all. He had never seen a shrink, had been shrink-less his whole life though probably sorely in need on several occasions. He thinks that a Therapist does not give answers but badgers you, like his father, into finding your own.

He would tell Mrs. Shapiro that his dreams are probably playing out his wishful thinking, resulting from his currently erratic,  irregular and unsatisfying sexual relations. Thrilling and confusing, however, is the vividness. He sees and can describe Eva with the competence of a lover.

Mrs. Shapiro will probably ask Paul to describe Eva.

He will speak of dark hair with loose curls that became curlier in the humidity. Her long, thin, somewhat prominent nose. Her brown eyes. Expressive pools under dark, lush brows. Small feet with toes the same length. Shapely legs and small high-riding breasts. Smooth complexion like coffee with cream except for the discolored patch above her left hip and the scar across her left knee from a bicycle accident.

Mrs. Shapiro will write things in her notebook. Ask if, given the precision of his observations, it is possible that “Eva” is someone from his past. A brief encounter from long ago.

Paul will protest, saying had he ever met such an exquisite woman she would not have easily escaped his memory.

Knowing by now that Paul is a worldly man who has traveled extensively and met many people of all races, nationalities and persuasions, Mrs. Shapiro might ask if Eva appears to be Arabic, Italian, Jewish or Moorish. Prodding for a suppressed memory.

Irritated, Paul will say, “How the hell would I know but admit that though Eva’s grasp of English is perfect, she delivers it with a vague French accent. Perhaps his eagerness to travel again has bearing. He wants to be away from here, free and possessionless save for possibilities. Things you collect but have no weight, occupying no space outside the mind. The possibility of meeting an Eva. The possibility of love.

Paul can talk about Eva for hours. He imagines himself prone on a sofa with Mrs. Shapiro perched on a leather chair with a notepad in her lap. A stereotype or the way things really worked? He will ramble. His stories about Eva sometimes veer off down cul-de-sacs from which he has to double back. He hears Mrs. Shapiro snoring. He doesn’t care because talking about Eva is experiencing her in the day time.

He describes sex with Eva, in detail. Rather than dozing off, Mrs. Shapiro sheds her professional attire. Her legs draped over the thick rolled arms of the leather chair, fondling herself and moaning with delight.

From stories, Paul is  aware of the rich history of doctor-patient sex. Although he has never laid eyes on Mrs Shapiro, he has visions of a married, middle-aged, hyper-intelligent, emotionally scarred Jewess. Not exactly his meat and potatoes though perhaps she should be.

The Eva dreams continue with the same intensity although less frequently.

Then one day at the farmer’s market, in line at the fruit stand, he sees her. Eva placing apples, selectively, one by one after careful examination, in a paper bag. She hands the bag to the clerk for weight and offers money.

Paul is speechless. Stunned. As Eva turns to leave he overcomes his trauma and touches her bare arm. Dressed for the fall season in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt he can’t check for the scar on her knee before fixing his gaze into her brown eyes.

“Eva!” He says.

She looks at him with a puzzled smile. “I’m sorry, you mistake me for another. My name is Ana Berrere,” She turns and walks away. Did Paul detect a faint French accent or was it his imagination? He is so flummoxed that he can’t concentrate. He tries to assemble the pieces of her into a complete and comprehensible whole.

Shaken, literally. He is unable to steady his hand around the ample serving Of Scotch he poured himself when he returns home.

He dials Mrs. Shapiro’s number.

Categories: Uncategorized

Randomania


I visit Rufus, Martin’s dog, to console him. He had surgery to remove a tumor and he appreciates my company while Martin is at work. I left my phone on Martin’s patio last week and my first instinct was to text Martin to make sure it was there. Duh! When I swung by  several minutes later Martin confessed that he had texted me to let me know he had my phone. How did we become this dependent on a piece of technology? And this stupid.

###

I overheard a conversation among young people at Iris. They mostly work minimum wage jobs and have crushing levels of student loan debt, tens of thousands of dollars, that they have no hope of repaying. One young man, the only one among the group without student debt, contended that it revealed higher education as a scam since there aren’t any jobs for you when you graduate anyway. I had to pipe in to say that the problem wasn’t higher education as a concept but higher education as a profit center. College was never intended to be strictly a vocational school. A broad based education was to prepare you for a richer life in general. Low information voters and low voter turnout, I argued, are, at least in part, the result of poor education which results in detachment, apathy and cynicism. Germany understands this and has made a college education free for all citizens. A well rounded, liberal arts education imparts critical thinking skills and knowledge about the deeper issues and furthers the purpose and processes of democracy. This has more inherent value than military adventurism  for a free society. Unfortunately, it doesn’t serve the oligarchy and their corporate media propagandists. A stupid, distracted and compliant populous best serves them.

###

You can’t leave all of your options open. Even if you try. A concept I have struggled with all my life. There’s always another job. Another girl. Another place to live. But rather than a way to move forward, that kind of thinking guarantees you’ll get stuck.

Besides there’s the island of unintended results. Small decisions made with little thought because of seemingly small consequences have a way of cumulatively ballooning into big decisions. Life making or breaking results. The sum total of your life, the calculus of your existence. Jobs taken or quit. Women wooed or abandoned. How do you balance the rewards and disasters of a carefree life with the safe, and secure but possibly sterile planned life?

###

Waiting

You wait

for bedtime

supper

sex

vacation

your next pay raise

A phone call

your tax refund

test results

the end of the wash cycle

her period

retirement

The end of the chapter, the last verse, the punch line, the final scene, the guitar solo

Patience is worthless

as is impatience

Everything happens

in its own time

The Guinness will settle

the paint will dry

the cab will arrive

or not

the rain will stop

the smoke will clear

Waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve, to close out another year of joy and disappointment and frustration and ecstasy and misery and the greying hair and swelling prostate continue unabated while you take one more shower or drink one more beer although nobody is counting

Much of life waiting

for petty events

when really

you wait for death

and what happens after

which is probably

nothing

 

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A Chicken Walks into a Bar


He dialed up his humor and intellect settings. Also sensitivity and empathy. Rolled back sarcasm and cynicism. Adjusted his configuration to those he knew appealed to most Earth women. He could always adjust on the fly if he encountered an unusual specimen.

He looked around the room. His language app seemed to be working sporadically. The species recognition utility was on the fritz. Too many inhabitants of the room registered as bovine or porcine to make sense. He scanned his own entity to make sure he had assumed human form. He had to be careful. He was getting a poor signal. It had been quite some time since his last visit. Humanoids came in a number of varieties throughout the universe. He needed to be careful to get the anatomy correct even when he locked onto the correct species. Did he need one or two penises or more? Arturian women accommodated several and yet their anatomy was more straightforward. Earth women reacted to his genital mistakes sometimes with horror, often with delight. Earth women like the Arturians had functionally specific orifices but in such odd proximity as to cause confusion.

There were amusing errors as well as the tragic ones. Once he realized he had entered a drinking establishment in the form of a chicken. He had to make adjustments in a hurry to prevent ending up on the menu.

###

“Are you from out of town? I’ve not seen you here before,“ she asked.

“What color is your bedspread?” he responded.

He knew there was something wrong with his response. She laughed which was encouraging. He made adjustments anyway.

“You’re a comedian, right? Here for open mic night.”

“You’ll like my braunschweiger,” he said.

She laughed again. “You certainly get to the point.”

She summoned the bartender. “I’ll have another gin and tonic and get my friend here another beer. What are you drinking?” she asked him, looking at him narrowed eyes that indicated many questions.

“Due birra,” he said, knowing that was an accurate assessment of his level of consumption but not quite appropriate for what she had asked. And in the wrong language.

“He’s a drunk comedian,” she said to the bartender. ‘Serve him another of what he was drinking.” She pointed to the empty pint glass.

###

They throw us out there underprepared to fend for ourselves, he is thinking, risking life and limb no matter the quantity or configuration. Perhaps he could get lost in this backwater region of the universe. Abandon the corps. Go A.W.O.L. He knew that many had tried but none succeeded, to his knowledge. He was fated to his destiny as a Breeder, charged with spreading the seed of the Empire until no habitable star system was left unfertilized.

A scan showed the chronological status, health and dimensions of his present company to be suitable for impregnation.

###

The work is not altogether unpleasant. The sensations are powerful yet fleeting. Just as you become fond of one of them she begins to rot, so brief are their lifespans. One of them labeled Sarah, a frail and fragile specimen had been the one to sow seeds of doubt in his own mind. Maybe they had it right. Brevity inspires intensity, a sense of urgency unfamiliar to his own  who lived many, many Earthly centuries. Sarah’s whatthefuckedness attitude made a mockery of the philosophies and grand schemes in which he had been been steeped since inception.

Like every life form, Sarah was reabsorbed, in her due time, in the great vortex of cosmic energy and pooped out in another form and, perhaps, in another time.

Perhaps as a chicken who mistakenly walks into a bar to become dinner. He laughed at his own perverse, foul (fowl) witticism that Sarah would have appreciated and turned his attention back to the current human woman under examination, who’s name he had already forgotten.

###

After a few more drinks, she invited him to her room, as expected. He conjured two penises and a prehensile tongue, hoping that would be enough.

 

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Old Man Resting


Old Man Resting

In a random direction to an uncertain destination but one cannot question his determination. He’ll sense the route. Eventually. The tugging of magnetic forces. A formation of flying fowl like an arrow pointing somewhere. He’ll discover a trail or breadcrumbs on the ground leading to a magical place. Or follow an enticing aroma carried on the soft autumn breeze. Something will show the way.

The joy of the truly lost and aimless. The freedom. Rejecting the fetishes of productivity and efficiency. Appointments. Goals. Measured accomplishments other than the length of your stride. It’s enough to be alive. On the move. Or not.

He stops to sit on a park bench. Awaiting the company of other park benchers. An unlikelihood among the scurrying, tight lipped starers at distant horizons that may or may not exist or have meaning.

Perhaps he should have consulted a manual. Had his cards or palm read. Rolled the dice. Hired a guide. Found someone who presents a card that reads Psychic Repair Free Estimates. Long ago. Instead he lingers on a park bench of puzzling placement. No bus stop before him. Only a leafy tree and a parking lot behind. The lot looks new. Maybe a building was razed but the bench spared. A sentry with none to serve and nothing to protect.

The bench has a wrought iron base. Fancy curlicued metal. The wooden seat and back slats with cracked and peeling blue-gray paint. A solid bench that will outlast him unless progress strolls by, takes note and finds itself offended (it’s easy to piss off progress) by this worn and abandoned relic. He’s talking about the bench, mind you.

A chorus of birds in the tree that provides unneeded shade. The sun will set soon. Perhaps the family of birds is preparing for bedtime. The sky is taking on the blue-gray hue of the bench. When the birds momentarily quieten the tree whispers to him in a language he’s beginning to understand. The tree has not shed its leaves yet but will soon. Perhaps that’s the source of complaint. Or the annoying, talkative birds

This could be Pittsburgh or Cleveland. A rustbelt town rendered cheerful by it’s charming dreariness. A delightfully desolate outpost. The perfect place to take a final stand. From a seated position. A place where you will not feel over-whelmed. Perhaps merely whelmed.

Suddenly a little girl wearing a simple smock dress stands before him. The dress has giraffes. She studies the old man perhaps wondering if he comes with the bench. She neither smiles nor frowns nor blinks, her eyes sparkle like tiny jewels against a fading background that is slowly losing definition. She holds a red balloon. Up the street her mother calls in a weary, vexed voice. The child hands him the balloon and scampers off.

He’ll sit for a while longer holding the red balloon until he gathers his wits, sorts his moods, musters his reserves, counts his blessings, discards his regrets, ties his shoes and scratches his crotch.

Or until something else happens.

###

Sunday

Whoever designated Sunday as a day of rest

was a fucking genius

Or one crafty, lazy motherfucker

Sundays are my time

Me time

I time

Get out of my face

Leave me alone

I can sleep the day away but that would be

a wasted Sunday

Better to do that on a day when I

should be working

I could make it a day of adventure,

of danger

start the day by shaving my balls with a rusty

straight razor

No morning church since I do not

believe

I’m not sure the church believes either

If there is a God I’m pretty sure It doesn’t believe

in churches

Drinking is a fall back option

but how would that differentiate

Sunday?

Maybe romance

Meet a woman with a glass eye

or missing front teeth

or a harelip

a mustache

bunions

hemorrhoids

halitosis

Okay, no bad breathe or yeast infections

nothing that stinks

Just something to make me less

self-conscious

We could fall in love with each other’s

imperfections

that’s how it ends up

anyway

Get married

Get divorced after she tires of my drunken ass

and lack of conviction

Go to the movies

Play the ponies

Read Dostoyevsky

Masturbate

So many possibilities

It’s Sunday

###

Keep those cards and letters coming. Slip a sawbuck into the next envelope, will you? Please.

I’ll keep trying to offend and provoke. To tease. To abuse. How else can I get attention? Hate mail is grist for the mill. Your torches provide light. Your pitchforks, tar, feathers, rotten tomatoes. All useful and appreciated.

I want to keep you awake at night with doubt and confusion. To corrupt you and your family. Your spouse. Your sons. Your daughters. Especially your daughters. Your second cousins twice removed I will remove thricely.

I’m coming for you and yours. All of it and all of them.

You, my loyal fan. Whoever you are.

Categories: Uncategorized

Randomania


Larger
When I saw her again
months later
perhaps longer
on the street, she was
larger

Still attractive
but expansive
like an animal
fattened
for slaughter

I imagined
the dotted lines
on the chart
tenderloin chuck round
brisket

I was heading
in the opposite
direction
on the street
and the weight

She becoming
voluminous
vast
whereas I was
disappearing

We talked
about nothing
thoughts masked
“she consumes”
“he’s dying”

I should have
offered lunch
but was afraid
of her appetites

On the street
where we stood
we balanced
her gains

my losses

###

Tragedy at Troublesome Creek

Deja Vu, Kentucky. Somewhere around Harlan or Hazard or Hindman or Hell or another place that starts with an H.

You’ve been there before.

Deja Vu is just up the road from the little hamlet of Decoy which kinda looks like Deja Vu but isn’t. It’ll fool you if you’re not careful. Decoy is a fake.

On the gravel road between Decoy and Deja Vu, on the right before you get to the rough hewn, one room post office, is a swinging bridge that spans Troubled Creek. That’s where Blaine and his childhood sweetheart, Black-Eyed Susan, would stroll, throwing stones into the shallow, churning, fast flowing, water below as they swayed and stepped carefully to avoid missing or rotting planks.

Legend had it that lovers, forbidden their desires by feuding families, threw themselves to their deaths off the swinging bridge. In retrospect it’s an unlikely story since the bridge is not high. You could probably only drown in Troubled if you landed face down with a broken neck. The locals make up stories to entertain themselves between shooting, skinning and frying up squirrels. It was a romantic enough story for the youngsters whose love might have been forbidden if they had been detected because they were cousins. Though not blood relatives. Black Eyed Susan had been taken in by the great aunt under unexplained circumstances. Her dark complexion, hair and eyes and chiseled features suggested Native American blood.

Blaine and Black-Eyed Susan had grown up together as almost brother and sister. They were of, essentially, identical age. Had been bathed together, back to back, in a huge galvanized trough, repeatedly replenished with boiling water from the pot on the coal stove. On Blaine’s grandmother’s back porch. They paid no mind to their nakedness at the time but it was soon enough that the “show me and I’ll show you” moment arrived. Thrilling and yet confusing.

Blain and Black-Eyed Susan made the most of the swinging bridge legend, standing in the middle of the bridge, swaying and holding hands and pretending they were about to jump.

The inevitable coupling would have soon occurred except for intervening circumstances. Blaine came down with strep throat but recovered after ministrations by the cranky and ill informed country doctor and various home remedies involving paregoric, honey, tea and even a little bourbon.

Naturally Blaine passed the infection on to Black-Eyed Susan whose throat also recovered but she would later develop rheumatic fever. Her tiny, young heart became inflamed and swollen and exploded, Blaine imagined, from unrequited love..
###

Solitude

The street sweeper
Wakes me at 3 a.m.
I listen to the roar
My eyes closed
Big brushes brushing
Sucking up debris
Dead rats
A vacuum on wheels
With a driver driving
Alone while the world sleeps
He sweeps with
Solitary singular purpose
Like a lighthouse keeper
Or a drawbridge operator
Or a night watchman
In dew settled morning
a poet in a courtyard
companioned only by words
not ready for the world
to awaken

###
Holes

Our mouths
Wounds that won’t heal
As are pussies
I suppose
Or anuses
Thought to be icky
But I must confess
I’ve seen beautiful butt-holes
Trust me
I have

Porous creatures, we are
A world sensed through openings
The sight of her
Her smell
Her sound
Her taste
salty or sweet
It can grab, you know
As if independent
Something to consider
Trust me
I have

The downside
Crapping. Puking. Pissing.
Ear and nose boogers
Blackheads, and pimples and boils
Pustules emitting vile substances from within
Styes and pink eye
And tears of shame
Or joy or grief
We ooze
Try not to think about it
Trust me
I have

Without holes
We’d be sealed
Gelatinous sacks
Of nothingness
Goo
Without expression
Rejoice
Your basic leaking essence
Embrace your holes
Trust me
I have

###

Words

He pulled the sheet from the printer and read what he had written. Crap! He help the paper vertically to crumple it and throw it into the waste can. The letters slid off the page and onto the table. He laid the blank, white page beside the printer.

He began sorting the letters into like piles. A’s with A’s. B’s with B’s and so forth. When he was done he noticed that he had no Q’s or Z’s. He began typing rows of Q’s and Z’s. He printed the page. Held it up and shook it. The Q’s and Z’s wouldn’t fall from the page.

Meanwhile the piles of letters had been marching onto the blank page. Arranging themselves into words, sentences, paragraphs. He read the passages. They made no sense but were better than the original. He shook the page but the letters were stuck.

He folded the page and put it into an envelope addressed to his agent. A few months later he received a check.

It goes to show that the best stories often write themselves.

Categories: Uncategorized

Randomania


Fried baloney sandwiches and tater tots at Nation on 13th. Even a toast bar popping up (literally) at Blue Oven in Findlay Market. Blue Oven bread is delicious and I’m sure the toppings are fabulous but I can’t help but giggle at the notion of a Toast Bar. All these foods from my childhood regaining prominence.

I think I’ll buy an old film projector caddy. The kind on wheels that the high school geek, with his glasses taped together, would roll into the class room to show a film strip. I already have a toaster. I’ll get a supply of Pop Tarts. Plain and frosted. I’ll wheel the projector cart with the toaster and tarts down to Fountain Square, plug in and offer gourmet Pop Tarts. I don’t yet know what makes them gourmet. I’ll work it out, something will pop up. I’ll sell them for $5 a tart. A business concept so stupid that it can’t fail.

Or cans of Vienna sausages. The little sausages packed in gelatin. Stick a toothpick with a squiggly, colorful, cellophane embellishment. Dust a little parsley. Oui. Oui. Ouinies. Pretend they are a French delicacy. $6 bucks. Genius.

###

Wash day. We had a wringer washer. A wringer washer, in case you don’t know, is a powered machine that churns and sloshes your clothes around like any other washer but has a set of rollers mounted on the top which squeezes the water out so you can hang the clothing on the line to finish drying. As a child I was fascinated by the flattening of the clothes. I wanted to help feed the clothes into the wringers but I wasn’t allowed because the rollers might grab my fingers and pull my hand through and crush it. In my cartoon inspired mind, I imagined the whole of me being wrung dry and flattened into a two-dimensional Mick. That would have been cool.

Summer wash days had the wheeled, wringer washer on the back porch in the fresh air. In the winter it would be wheeled into my older sister’s abandoned back bedroom. On those days with the house closed up tight against the cold, humidity clouding up the windows and the chug, chug of the machine and, perhaps, my mother’s relentless playing of Jim Reeves records sometimes prompted the horror. Paisley shapes, like swimming sperm, in my peripheral vision signaled the onset of a migraine.

The closet was my refuge. Seated on a box filled with Christmas lights amidst the hanging clothes with the vague aromas of their wearers. Shut out the light. Muffle the sound. It was my only hope. But odds were that my head would split as if rift with a meat cleaver. If I’d had sufficient grasp of the concept of suicide in those days I might have taken more effective action.

I’d usually have to empty my stomach in the bathroom. The headache prompted the vomiting, the vomiting exacerbated the headache. As if my head were being crushed dry through the wringers.

It would eventually pass, of course. The migraines became less frequent when in high school and faded into near non-existence by the time I entered college. I grew out of it, they would say. Perhaps I just found better uses for swimming sperm.

###

I want to launch a newspaper. Or a literary magazine. Paper based. A fool’s errand. I might as well tilt at windmills.

The newspaper would focus on O.T.R. Everything that happens here. Everything elsewhere that causes everything that happens here. In that way, it would encompass the world. Real news from real reporters instead of ideologues.

I’ll call the Literary Magazine, Itchy Brother, named after a character in The King and Odie cartoon series. Itchy was the ne’er-do-well brother of lion king, King Leonardo. Itchy suffered from the mange and constantly scratched himself. Itchy’s accomplice was the nefarious Biggy Rat. Biggy and Itchy conspired to take over Leonardo’s kingdom but the plan was always foiled by Odie, the skunk. More information than you need, I realize. Anyway, the literary journal will be called Itchy Brother. It will publish short fiction, essays, poetry, art, cartoons, photographs. An outlet for our considerable, repressed creative spirit. It will not make a dime and probably operate in the red until my passing.

I need a benefactor. A patron of the arts who has more money than she or he knows what to do with. Someone who likes acknowledgement. A do-gooder. If you know such person, put me in touch.

On a more modest scale, I need a laptop. Do you have an old functioning laptop you don’t need? My requirements are modest. Microsoft Word and internet/email ability. I’ll trade you something I have but don’t need. Items of furniture. DVDs.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stealing Second


Rita has children. Twin boys. They play baseball. One is more talented than the other. How can that be with identical twins? Apparently identical twins aren’t identical in every respect, he thinks.

Mike’s at the ball field at her request. Night game. The field lights are harsh. His head aches in the distance like an arriving train. He’s a little bit drunk. Drink is what it takes to tolerate the not-quite-identical twins and her enthusiasm for their all-too-ordinary athletic prowess. He has learned that all children, especially in America, are gifted and destined for greatness in their mother’s eyes.

He wonders if she knows he is a bit hammered. Probably. But she isn’t making a fuss. He is the most recent in a long parade of disappointments and she’ll make the most of it until a white knight comes along who can truly appreciate her brats.

He leaves his seat to go to the bathroom. He goes to the concession for a couple of beers and hot dogs. On his way back he dumps one of the beers down his leg. He hands her a dog and the remaining beer. Takes a bite of the other dog. She smiles, impressed with his lack of beerness, until she notices the drenched pants leg, then frowns and shakes her head.

The more talented son misplays a fly ball to the outfield. The ball rolls all the way into the thick grass at the perimeter where the change in the grass defines the field. There is no outfield wall. The twin can’t find the ball. Just stands there stupefied. Inside the park home run. Rita is crestfallen as if she, herself, has somehow committed the error. The pressure, unspoken or not, that parents of a certain type put on their offspring is enough to crush their spirits and turn them into sheeplike corporate drones. Or push a select few, the lucky ones, into open, creative rebellion, Mike thinks. “Baaah!” bleat the twins.

The dry hot dog sticks in Mike’s throat. Rita hasn’t offered him a sip of her beer and he isn’t about to ask. “Are you having a good time?” she asks, turning to him with those pale blue eyes that are icily beautiful. He knows that she is working up to a deeper, more important question. “Of course I am”, he says, “I’m spending the evening with you.”

“And the boys”, she corrects.

“Right!”

Rita was late having children. She turned 47 last week. She had been married for almost twenty childless years. Mike suspects the twins are the result of some biologically induced shenanigans though they’ve never talked about it. They also haven’t talked about the fact that the marriage pretty much went to hell immediately after the spawning.

A strike out by one of the progeny. Mike can never tell them apart. He suppresses a yawn. Rita is boiling over with frustration. With the boys. With her stagnated life. With Mike. At times like this she launches a full frontal assault.

“What are we Mike?”, she asks with her steely blues narrowed to slits in her still pretty face. “Are we a couple or are we just fuck buddies?”

“Can’t we be both?” He wants to retract his response having not thought through the opportunity she presented. She stares at him. He laughs nervously. “Of course we’re a couple. We’re a fantastic couple. I love you more than I can possibly express.” This brings the smile he had hoped for, her face open and beaming for a moment but just as quickly clouds over again.

“Tammy said she saw you with Jennifer.”

“At Tony’s. We’re occasional drinking buddies, honey. You know that. I would have invited you but it was last minute and I knew you were off doing something with the boys and we were only going to have one. Jenny bought a new car and offered to sell me her old Honda for a song.” He made this last part up to provide important authenticity. It’s time to shut up and let the crisis pass.

“Okay but you should have told me. I know the history between you two.”

“I understand. It was so brief and insignificant it slipped my mind. I’m sorry.” At this point he wraps an arm around her supple waist. Supple is a euphemism. Rita has thickened in the middle with age like warmed over soup. He doesn’t really mind. She looks damned good for her age. He’s too old and tired to be chasing after the thirty-somethings anyway. If not for the damned twins. She leans into him and rests a cheek on his shoulder. Her hair, flecked with a little gray, smells fresh and clean. Mike kisses the top of her head. She lifts her face and he kisses her warmly and sincerely on the mouth. She offers a little flick of tongue.

Okay, the opening he has been looking for, “Want another beer and dog?”

“No, but go ahead.”

Mike has been a good boy and is being rewarded. He slips from her side. She turns her attention back to the meaningless game.

He hears cheering as he walks away. He pretends it’s for him.

The concession stand isn’t busy. Mike orders two beers. Stands there gulping happily at one. Then attacks the other. He orders a third beer to take back to his seat. He’ll say there was a line. He’ll ask about the boys and whether she can get a sitter for the weekend so they can get away to renew their vows. It’s a joke between them. He’ll pander and set her up to grant him another reward.

 

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