Thursday, November 13, 2008

Truth in

The biggest "problem' that I have
With girls' stories amd women's literature,
and so called "chick flicks" is that they sell
The female a bill of goods.
The message being relationship
Relationship not hard work
Is the Balm.
Relationship not success
Is the Salve to bind a wounded life.
Relationship not accomplishment
Is the way to go.
Of course, in these ads for relationship,
Prince Charming is never abusive.
He never lies around the house in a ripped
Lucky tee shirt bearing the name of some
Faded Glory of some team long ago reorganized.
Burping beer.
Everything is covered in the petals of roses.
No one ever sees the carburator soaking in gasoline in the bathtub.
Woodland creatures do the housework while mice sew for the children.
Grease under YOUR fingernails? Perish the thought!
Cinderella would have found an afternoon alone in the ashes
Of her stepmother's house restful.
Wicked step sisters could not possibly have called her name
More times than hyperactive, over caffinated, sugared up , artifically flavored
Children screaming " Mommy, Mommy!"
It is probably a good thing that Sleeping Beauty slept
For one hundred years before marrying her prince.
Its probably the LAST good sleep she will have
For quite awhile.
Princes come with prices- lo fat, always hungry, need to beat the
Younger and . perhaps, prettier princesses off with a stick
or an M16- what ever happens to be lying around your craft room.
Princes can get fat and be distinquished, prosperous.
But poor Princess This or That has gained five lbs.
It will be back to the scullery for her ,if she does not watch out.
As if we were not ALWAYS there anyway.
Some of them are just organized by Martha Stewart
Where one can get a meal in less than thirty minutes.
I once found a menu that was cooked that promised dinner for four in TWELVE minutes.
Such promises may not live up to expectations.
they do not take skinned knees and falls from trees into account.
Relationships are part of life .
Movies and women's stories are fiction.
Perhaps we need to post the warning on the weight loss commericals
On all of the literature, movies and television shows marketed for
Women and girls.
Warning: May not reflect actual average results.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Time's Up.

I really hate it when you think that you know me.
When you think that you know it all.
How can I trust you to keep me safe ?
To keep me reasonably sane ?
If you are never on my side?

Elder ? You are no Elder of mine.
Let me tell you Buddy- you are out of time.
I thought that I knew you once
But that was long ago-
I was a kid.
What did I know?

Now you call me and demand I tell you WHY ?
I'm pissed , I am angry that you don't even
Easy Answers, easier words
That's what you crave.
Apologies are easy.
True work is hard.

Excuses, Excuses - Of those I have had enough.
You seek to smooth over,
Never attacking the root problem.
You glaze the surface
But Never seek the core.

Shall I go on? Do you even hear me?
Or am I shouting into a storm ?
Can you hear me as the rain whips my body?
As Thunder drowns me out?
The chaos you live in daily.
I have had enough.

The answer lay in you hand.
You blew your nose on it ,
Tossing it into the cyclone that is your life.
I watched it whirl and whirl higher and higher .
It got stuck up in a tree.
It stayed there until it ripped to shreds.

The shreds spread color that suited you.
Violent purples, electric blues, ruby blood drops
Throughout the story.
You collect people like Galloup collects polls.
Majority wins.

I am not and have never been part of the majority.
You said that you knew that when we first met.
Words are easy , true work is hard.
And you are lazy.

But you never ever ask your self
What if the majority were wrong?

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Was raised in a household of respect.
Her Father loved her but did not own her.
Her Mother taught her all the things that she needed to survive.
She owned her soul and her body.

When she went away to college, she was a good student .
Flawless in organic and inorganic chemistry throughout.
She was brave enough to walk away when she did not like a situation.
She owned her soul and her body.
"Too serious , too picky "chirped student opinion.
"Too picky , too serious " the voice in her head echoed back.
"She will never get her MRS. THAT WAY..." warned the voice of the Future.

When my mother married, my grandfather told her all the way down the aisle,
" You DO NOT have to DO this. Walk away now.
. You will give your body and lose your soul."
She shook her head,the Empress train trailing behind.
Tears welling in her eyes, she turned to her father one last time .
" My Mother gave her body and did not lose her soul."
She brushed her hand against her father's weary face , kissed him once.
Then matriculated to her MRS.
Her father whispered from the pew " But he is NOT me. I thought that you were smarter."

When my mother lived her marriage, she began to see the flaws in my father's glamour.
That he was jealous that she could earn more.
That people liked her better than him.
And his mother said " Teach her to Obey. Only children are spoiled."
Yes, he thought, only children are spoiled.
He took a vial of poisonous worms from his coat.
Then he sat down to dinner.

He slid the first one into her salad as she brought him a cup of coffee.
She smiled and sat . The worm was unseen against the salad.
" You were too picky, too serious in school. You are lucky that he married you.
He is the man and you must not embarrass him by making too much money . by having too many friends. " She swallowed the worm whole, never tasting it.
Its toxin spread and she Believed.

On Sunday, they went to her parents' home.
My father slid the second worm into my mother's drink.
She picked up the crystal glass as her father gave a toast to her new life.
The ruby lipstick from her lips glazed the glass.
" A GOOD wife gives her husband children" insinuated the worm.
"The Bible said to go forth and multiply. You are a bad wife and he will leave you.
You are a bad woman and God will hate you."
Mother cried at the beauty of the toast and the whispers of the worm.
Its toxin spread and she BELIEVED.

Two daughters later, my father brought my mother a box of Rexall chocolate covered cherries, took her out to dinner and hired a sitter for my infant sister and me.
He slipped the third worm into the creme brulee dessert.
" A Good wife ," began the worm," gives her husband SONS to carry on his name. You are ungrateful for his efforts. You cry alone when he accuses you and the girls of being why he has no money. You should not cry but do your duty..."
Its toxin spread and she BELIEVED.

The ghost of the woman that my mother had been grabbed her by the shoulders one morning as she did the family laundry.
As the wringers squeezed the clothes to go on the line of the porch in a place
where her Father's occasional help would not have lived, the hands of the ghost
squeezed her head and mended her soul.
"Where is the woman that you set out to be?
Have I been gone so long that you do not remember me?
Tell me the spell by which you are held
I will cure you , all will be well."

" I am leaving you" Mother said, " The children and I. I will get a job. Or at least I intend to try."
We children from the room were rushed . The door was shut . The house was hushed.
My father sped out with the speed of light.
"We'll be back " whispered the worms . " We Will win this fight."

Two days later, back he came. Bended on knee , claiming to be ashamed.
He said he did not feel well and would she drive the car?
He was going to the doctor. It was not very far.
On that dark Thursday , my mother's ghost was exorcized.
The worms had won the day.
For three months my mother was away.

The babies to my Aunts went on my father's side.
I was left to live there to balm his sense of pride.
A neighbor teen came in every day
to watch me when my father was away.
My mother didn't come home- the doctors said not now.
I feared that she was changing but I did not know how.

They led the body home and it sat down in a chair.
I looked into her eyes . There was no one there.
" Bonjour Mama" My little voice intoned.
" I think I know you. Can you tell me if I'm home? "
You are home and I'm your first.
Where have you been?
Tell me the worst.

"The worst, my dear, is that I was once some one else.
Now I am waiting to be told who is myself.
I want to please my husband,
He had them drain me dry.
He's going to rebuild me - and I've forgotten how to cry."

I looked up from my homework.
And she asked me what it was.
I told her multiplication.
She asked me to teach her
Because it was gone.
So everyday before my father returned home,
I taught her back the things she'de lost
in his sad attack.

My best efforts were too small,
It was my mother's body
but not my Mom at all.

The other two returned home,
Which the worms whispered was good.
Because only children are spoiled.

They ran her day
They ran her night
They kept way too tired to fight.
She got too thin.
Too tired and frail.
She never left the house.
It had become her jail.

One afternoon soon after,
I came straight home from class.
And found my mother's body,
from her moisturizer picking glass.
My sister broke the bottle.
She feared my father's wrath.
He would not buy another.
I handed her my cash.
I dabbed the little cut place,
where she had missed a piece.
It was the one time that her ghost hugged me - and then it was released.

I am not my father's daughter though I have called him DAD.
For the things he did to Mother, I sometimes get so mad.
I've seen the worms, I have heard the worms.
" Too smart too picky, too picky too smart..."
And my Self says " SO?"
And rejoices as I drop the worms into the garbage disposal , one by one,
Run the water and flip the switch.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Alice Every Day

Somewhere between whom I am
And who I want to be,
Is the woman that I know today as Me.

Her skin is too tight,
A feeling that I know.
It won't be long before I have to go.

Where I am going,
I have no idea.
The one thing I can tell you,
Is it won't be here.

Here was nice , once upon a time.
But the life that was lived here.
Won't be mine.
It belonged to someone,
Who came from some place far.
But now like Alice, I drunk the contents of a jar.

MY head has hit the ceiling
Limbs have burst the walls.
For limits that were placed here
I have grown too tall.

I have searched for the cake.
Its becoming ever clear.
That wherever it is hiding .
It is not here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 15

I pulled the back door shut behind me as I returned to the kitchen. I looked one more time out of the window over the stainless steel sinks . No, nothing had changed - everything was no longer on the black asphalt driveway. Perhaps I was going crazy. I headed towards the front stairs , thinking to gather up my clothes and do a laundry. I rounded the corner, only to find Duncan sitting on the gold couch in the living room. His fingers tapped nervously on the upholstered arm.
" Your uncle," his rich voice rolled over me like an ocean wave, knocking me off my feet," would be disappointed with your lack of good sense. " He pulled an old stainless steel lighter , pulled a cigarette out of what appeared to be a matching cigarette case. He lit it, sucked briefly on it . he went to the living room window and looked through it and out at the garage before turning and facing me . Half to himself, he said"Rome wasn't built in a day. These things take time..." then he turned and looked at me. He placed the cigarette in a leaded glass ashtray . He looked straight into my eyes. " Young woman. "he began. "You did some very foolish things today . Let us review them. You saw the items outside the garage, then you did not,isn't that so? Then, you thought that you would be Nancy Drew and find the culprit,is that not so?" I swallowed and nodded. " Yes. I know it is. You did not lock the back door behind you , which is how I came in. You never saw me because you were not looking. You cannot do that any more. You MUST pay attention. Too much depends on it." I nodded again and his great heavy arm came around my shoulder protectively. " what are you supposed to do, what were you TOLD to do IF something weird happened?"

I breathed slowly. I felt stupid and five years old . caught playing with matches. " If something weird happened, I am, I was, to call your house...because there were measures set in place to deal with such occurances." He squeezed my arm gently then patted my back.


" There are things going on that you donot have the experiance. Remember what your uncle told you. "

" How did you know about today?"

He smiled. " It was accidental. And to answer your next question," he began holding up his hand" Its my house and I was looking for something which I found. " Looking at my puzzled eyes, he went on" Did you not think it odd that the burglar would be so neat about it?"

I had to admit that it was true but that my curiosity had gotten the better of my good sense. He laughed gently , " I thought so. I WILL have to mention this , of course."

Duncan lowered his head, kissed my forehead , fatherly. He recovered his cigarette and opened the front door. " Keep the doors locked, Okay? "

"okay" I replied, following him to the front door and locking all of the locks after he left.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 14

I do not remember just when I settled down enough to sleep. It was more like a fade to black moment in the movies when the final curtain is drawn just before the credits roll. Sometime, during the early morning, I had taken myself upstairs and gone to sleep fully dressed on white chenille spread which I later coccooned around my body. It was quite bright when my eyes opened. I looked at the clockradio next to my bed-11am. Hopefully there was still time to make appointments to see houses today .

Coming down the stairs, I noticed that the front door was open-held only by the chain lock at the top. Had I done this in my sleep? It seemed unlikely that Andrew had not shut the door properly for even in his previous life, he had always been a stickler for locked doors. Unhooking the chain, I looked for signs of forces entry. There were no marks. Nothing with which I could claim such an attempt. Shutting the door, I noticed that the framing of the door had pulled away from the wall , nearest the lock but again there were no marks . I shut the front door , locking it tightly. Then I searched the house for a hammer. I was soon rewarded by the find of a small rubber mallet with which I pounded the framing back into place , reminding myself that this was , perhaps noteworthy to my uncle when he came by that evening. I returned the mallet to the bottom drawer of the secretary where it had been found, shutting the drawer behind me as I went.

Nothing prepared me for the sight of the back yard which seized my attention as I filled the carafe with water to make coffee. We had come in through the front door the prior night. Out back the two car garage which was independent of the main house, had both doors fully opened. The contents of the garage were neatly stacked in small piles outside of the doors. It appeared that whoever had done this, had plenty of time and knew what was wanted. As it seemed unlikely to me that the neighbors would not have noticed a stranger, perhaps they were familiar. Or perhaps they had arrived between the time that my uncle and I had left for Duncan's but before we had returned. I could call the police, I supposed about that but I did not even know who the owners were . Another mystery that needed to wait till the evening.
The coffee dripped then gave me an insolent raspberry as it finished.

I sat with the coffee in front of me, dutifully dialing the numbers. People were still at work- so I got mostly voice mail. I put a small amount of margarine into the fry pan for a grilled cheese sandwich. The phone bleated from the table. It was an older woman on the other end. Her son did have a house for rent about four blocks from where I sat. We could see it around sseven that evening. I knew the location, it was about a block from the library so was on the busline. I dutifully noted the number that was calling , her name and the address. I had burned one side of the grilled cheese but it was not lost. Then I ran up the stairs and took a hot shower, releasing the kinks from my body and the mystery from my mind.

Returning down stairs, I placed my book on the coffee table , and went back into the kitchen for a second cup of coffee. Looking out of the window, the piles were gone and the garage doors closed as they had been 24 hours ago. I unlocked the back door and proceeded cautiously down the cement stairs, watching for someone coming quickly inside of my line of vision . No one in the yard. I walked slowly around the house. No one. Okay , Rae, I decided You are nuts. Maybe none of it happened...I scooted for the backdoor and locked it once more. I wondered if Duncan would think me an incredible sissy baby if I called. I decided to chance it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Some days just go too quickly
They start cold and solid wrapped in plans
The plans fall apart- they don't unravel
They melt like ice on a heated day.

The plans become fluid and drip down my life.
The freedom cools who I think I am -
It ignites who I am .
That inferno leaves me exposed , vunerable, raw.

I hide that.
So why can you see it?
You called to me in pain.
I thought to cool the blistered places.

I planned to be the cool water running over your scorched fingers.
You planned to be the ocean embracing me,recognizing our sameness.
Celebrating our uniqueness- the ice becoming the ocean.
Your greedy tongue found all of the drops. None were lost.

Those drops healed you. I bank my flame tonight. Fire in ice-I am always whole.
Tommorrow will be different. The ice will be new and inpenetrable once more.
I am ice, but ocean frozen is iceburg- Primal flame hidden in your core.
Ice to ice , fire to fire, breathing the air of Life . Both based in Earth.

We are eternal . Forever the same. Constantly changing.
Existing before we knew we did.
We awakened to find it there.
Ice to ice, fire to flame , a strange dance to which we alone know the steps.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Smell of Roses Part 4

Jackie headed towards her hair appointment. She parked the car in the spot nearest to the door. The air felt cool as she entered the salon. " I have an appointment," she announced. The teenaged girl glanced at her briefly "Name?"

" Julie Kincaid"

" Thank you Julie. If you will have a seat , Amy will be with you in just a minute."

Jackie sat on the red vinyl sofa next to a young mother with two children. The younger of the two, a small boy with very curly hair and wide eyes , watched her carefully.

" Its his first hair cut" the young mother explained. The air smelled of hair spray and chemicals for permanents. " I hate cutting it but everyone thinks that he is a girl so my husband said it had to be done. "

" I cried when I took my kids for their first haircut- THEY were fine. Me? I was a mess."

The other woman knodded appreciatively. That first hair cut was like cutting the cord all over again.

"Julie?" A young woman of about twenty-five appeared at her elbow. " I am Amy. " Amy had pink hair cut into a modified shag. " Come on, lets get this done." Jackie followed her to the nearest shampoo station. Warm water spilled on Jackie's scalp- the minty soap was expertly massaged through her locks by Amy. This was followed by conditioner . The Jackie and the towel under her neck were guided upwards. Seconds later, Amy was trimming up Jackie's short hair cut, making it look professional and tight.

Jackie paid for the salon treatment in cash.She got back in the car and headed south on Commonweal Ave towards the mall. She picked out a grey pinstriped suit with camisole top and paid for that in cash. Then she picked out a black leather envelope type brief case. Again, cash changed hands.

" Can I send you a followup customer service questionaire ? It will get you 1-% off of your next purchase when you return it. " College student working part time was what Jackie supposed the young eager sales girl to be. She had not been so stylish in her college days. The youunger woman's chin length bob accented her angular face beautifully. Her light mocha skin betrayed very few acne scars. Good skin, good teeth. Jackie nodded her consent.

" J-U-L-I-E K-I-N-C-A-I-D. 1534 Fleming road ...yes, that is the right zip code. " She thanked the young sales clerk and returned to the car, locking her purchases in the trunk. Moments later, she was back on Commonweal, headed towards her next destination .

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 13

The ride back to the house seemed shorter than the ride had been to Duncan's. I noticed that I was very aware of time when ever my uncle and I were together. That the minutes scurried across my skin like spiders.
We both started to talk at the same time.

" This is more complicated than I had thought that it would be."

"How long have you known Elizabeth? "

Deep breath. "That's right , boyo, stall, stall ,stall" I thought .

" So is it too complicated for you ? Too complicated for me to stay? " I peered at his dashboard green tinged face.

" No, I still think that we can make it work."

I thought of the issues raised at Duncan's. " So how do we go about finding a house keeper that won't blackmail us?"

" I think that we had better start with going through that list of houses that you drew up last week. Can you start calling and make appointments for us to see them?"

"Starting when?"

"Tommorrow afternoon" He reached into his pocket and handed me a cell phone. " My number is programmed in there. " I looked at the phone. It was a disposable. "There are about 300 mins in there. I figured it was better than having anyone track us through bills. You might want to call Maria as well. Let her know that you are okay but don't worry her. No specifics. "

I dropped the phone into my pocketbook.

"Duncan's number is on this card. Memorize it but do not program it in. ANYTHING weird- or you do not hear from me after we have set up a time to meet- Call him from a public phone not the cell. "

"Then what, do I eat it ?"

" Tear it up and flush it down the toilet."

I look astonished at my uncle. I returned my glance briefly. " I mean it- ANYTHING changes. Call there first then me to tell me how it is being handled. There are people at Duncan's to manage these things. Hopefully ,we also will get to a place where we can depend more on ourselves."

We pulled into the darkened driveway. My uncle led me out of the car and to the porch. He entered the house first, as he had done the day that we had arrived ,snapping on lights here and there. He called me to come in. I followed quietly , going into the kitchen to make some tea. I placed the classified by my cup .

" Can you come here , please? "

My uncle moved unnervingly fast next to my elbow. " Which ones should I call?"

He looked seriou for a moment, then circled about five listings.

" Make them as late in the day as possible," he explained "early eveing is better still." I nodded as he circled the ones that he thought to be the best. " Choose in the order that you think you would like - pay attention to information about schools and stores. You are going to need both. What are your options for public transit - you know the routine." Looking up , he noticed tha tthe sky was lightening gently.
" How thoughtless of me! I have kept you up all night talking about our new fascinating lives. Get some sleep and leave me the information about the houses on the phone. "

I sipped my tea as his cool lips brushed my cheek. Tommorrow , I would have my work cut out for me. Tonight , I felt like ELiza Dolittle- I could have danced all night. What was this strange shadow world into which I was going? I had a feeling that I would soon find out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 12

The meeting was surprisingly well organized and short. I had been so absorbed in the events of the evening including the story that Marya had begun, that I had not realized until I waited for my uncle on the porch , that it was raining. That it had been raining for sometime for the street was wet. I waited for the car to pull to the front. My uncle had gone out the back door ,after instructing me to the front. Duncan and Elizabeth had accompanied him .

" So , what do you think?" I looked at the speaker. He was a young man, slightly taller than myself. His jacket was a soft charcoal wool blend. His pants were darker still. He was clean shaven. His eyes focused intently on mine. " I mean, its quite different for you. NOW, I mean..." He looked down for a minute and I caught my breath.

" Now? How do you mean?"

" Its your first time here, right? Aren't you Andrew's niece? He hasn't been around long either but seems to be well liked. " He looked down again. His chestnut hair was long enough to touch his collar.

" Yes. I am Rae. As you say , its all so new. I wonder what I will think in the light of day. Still, everyone seems to be very nice. But some of them , they seem to be waiting for me to SAY something- and I don't know what it is that I am supposed to say." I looked down at the cement porch floor.

' First times can be awkward. But yours seems to have gone well. Duncan is a good host. " He turned slightly at the approach of the Volvo's headlights. " Well, Madam," reaching for my hand-kissed it gently and stared directly into my eyes. "Your carriage awaits." He did not release my hand but lead me off of the porch , down the stairs and to the passenger's side. He opened the door. I slide in and absently clicked the seat belt.

" Thank you. Good night? " I offered and the door started to close. " Wait, I do not know your name."


" Thank you , David. " The moment felt anticlimatic- I felt like a child on my way home from summer camp caught in her first kiss. Which was silly - because we had not.

" Good Night, David " intoned my uncle from the driver's seat. At that he stepped back. The mood had shifted but I was not quite sure how. Only that my uncle had reestablished authority . David turned back towads the house and we pulled out of the driveway turning towards home.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 11

" It was after one of A-dam's raids that he happened to wander outside his normal range.He found himself alone-neither the entertainment of the previous night nor his friends were near him. It was humid. He was thirsty and sweat stung his eyes. His foot caught the crook of an exposed root and he fell to the ground. He went to rise, making sure that no one had seen his clumsiness. Ahead of him , he could hear the sound of water. Examining himself carefully- he found that except for a few scratches which bled and a bruise on his right knee, he was unharmed. He rose to his feet once more and continued on towards the water. He roughly brushed away a swarm of small almost invisible insects that framed and reframed his face and eyes. He heard a sound in the nearby water , moved forward slightly and listened. If it were an otter- he would trap it. He could use the pelt to trade . It was not an otter. It was a woman, a woman that he had never before seen. She was gliding through the water as if she were an otter. She had hair the color of blood when it dried. Her left arm bore markings of some kind which banded all the way around her upper arm. Her skin was more pale than his- and her eyes were luminous and green. She stopped her swimming momentarily and listened. Had she heard his breathing in the nearby bushes and trees where he had paused? Perhaps, for she swam slowly towards the far side of the deep sapphire colored pond. As he started forward in hunter style, not wishing to scare the prey - she swam more strongly, purposefully. She HAD heard him. He moved quickly down the hill, across the rocks and sand - into the water. He could see that she was young. Conquering her would be his joy and challenge. She was dressing quickly as he passed the halfway point of the pond-she saw him . But, she confused him for she did not show fear of him. It was more like the aversion that he, himself ,practiced when avoiding skunks. She watched him and timed how long she had to disappear. She grabbed a long small bundle from the shore, adjusted her clothing and proceeded up the hill behind her, the dark green brush hiding her path . He could see her movements for a short while as the bushes appeared to part to allow her to pass. He lost her departure briefly as he arrived in water shallow enough to walk the rest of the way to the shore . He listened- there was no sound. He moved forward into the vegetation, and found the tiny path that the woman had climbed so quickly. He smelled the air around him- nothing. His hands parted broad leaves looking for hiding places- but if there were the places, there was nothing hiding. He checked the radius of the area- there was no sign of human life except him. It was quiet-far too quiet. Perhaps this was a place of ghosts as in the stories told to him as a child. He moved forward yet again- anger motivated him. He was better than all of this- how dare the woman not just simper at his feet as the daughters of his own village did when he took them away. He began to push up the path and through the trees and bushes angrily. They did not part for him but seemed to conceal and block his path from his prey. Above him , a lone crow cawed mockingly- it felt like a hard slap. When he found her, she would pay for this insult. . " Marya stopped here and looked at me. "Not quite the story as usually presented, is it?"

" No," I replied " Is the woman Eve?"

" Stories , like lives reveal themselves as they will and as we will to live them." She looked up, " I think that Duncan wants our attention."

I started to object but she brushed my objections away gently. " The story is too long to tell in one night. You will be back" She stood. kissed my cheek . I turned and found my uncle at my elbow.

He smiled. "I knew that you would find Marya fascinating...and she is right, there WIll be other nights. But Duncan wants to speak with us about security . Things change all of the time . We must adjust to the cirumstances as quickly as possible. Its what keeps us safe." And with that , he led me into a large room filled with padded folding chairs. Dark crimson against industrial grey. A large poduim stood at the far end of the hall. Behind the podium , there were four men- all well dressed. They looked as if they could be successful anywhere. Duncan was the first of the men. His jovial manner subdued by focus on business at hand reinforced his request that everyone find seats and come to order.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 10

" So, How are you doing? " Duncan swept me up once more. " Here, here- try the chocolate cheesecake - it has THREE kinds of chocolate in it, all totally decadent. I have to send to New York for one and brought the other two back from Europe." He served a slice from a silver pie server onto a small floral plate. " Doesn't go too well with cranberry juice," he frowned, adding some sliced strawberries , then pouring a small amount of a red liquid from a cruet onto the mix. "Its a strawberry liquor that I make myself in the summer. I think that you will find it delicious." He handed me a small fork and a linen napkin.

It hard not to get caught up in this man's jet stream. It wa a safe and comfortable place to be . "Your uncle tells me tha you like coffee. Dark roast, I believe. I have some incredible Turkish that Ezsebet brought with her tonight . She has been doing business for decades with this small Hungarian deli over on the Upper East Side . " His undertow swept me towards the copper coffee maker which was as elaborate as any that I had ever seen. I watched as he measured the dark beans into a glass container which buzzed them into a finely ground powder. He measured THAT as carefully as any alchemist ever measured his herbs and resins for a potion. The machine steamed and snorted-levers pulled- it was clear that he was in command of his world. Dark and fragrant, the coffee fell from the machine into a small expresso cup. This was also handed to me . And I was in tow to a corner where a small dark haired woman in a black dress was seated.

" Marya!" She stood and greeted him warmly. Pointing to me,Duncan continued " This is Andrew's niece, Rae. Rae, this ia Marya, our historian of sorts..."

" You are too kind, Duncan" laughted the older woman. Her black hair clinging to her head in small fluffy curls , her eyes were dark and I estimated her age to be about fifty five or so. She was petite but gave off a feeling of strength that was surprising. Her voice belied a small trace of French. Her skin gave off the olive sheen more often than not associated with the Mediterranan .

" I am glad to make your aquaintance." We shook hands. Her handshake was self confident. "Please" motioning to the matching overstuffed chair next to her. Thankfully, it had a small table next to it and a coaster was materialized for my coffe cup as I balanced the dessert plate on my lap. The bitterness of the espresso balanced the sweetness of the dessert.

" I am going to tell you a story," began the older woman , solemly. " And when i am done , you may ask any questions that you like. Its just that the story goes together so much better when I am not interrupted." I nodded quietly,

" You are familiar with the Christian story of Adam and Eve?"

" We aren't religious but yes, I know that mythology..."

" Well , then , logically you know that it is not logical to assume that they were the ONLY people on Earth. That there were others as well. The story goes like this.
Once upon a time, in a time of the spoken word, there lived the son of a great Shaman king named A-dam. He was a vain creature , lazy and demanding. He was frequently cruel to the animals of his tribe , taking some into the hills and torturing them until they painfully died. No one tried to stop him for he was the favorite son of his father. It was not unheard of for him to kidnap maidens and despoil them, frequently sharing them among his friends when he had finished with them. No one objected for it was common knowledge in those days that as his father's favorite son , that he would someday have dominion over his tribe and their property. No one wanted to make such a powerful enemy for it was known that his cruelty had a long memory. Mothers watched their daughters closely and quickly arranged the best marriage that was possible when they disappeared."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 9

" I suppose" began my uncle " that you are wondering where we are going and why we should do so. " Without waiting for my reply , he continued," We are going to meet with some like me who have relatives like you who coexist, usually amicably. I was talking to David, just the other night.He mentioned that I should bring you tonight. That things had changed even since he had. Particularly with a minor. That it was important that we listen to what was said and ask any questions. Marya wants to meet you. You will find her interesting, I think. She is a sort of historian for us - and mentally keeps the books. "

As he finished his sentence, he turned left into the long driveway of a good sized stucco house. There were people on the porch, some with drinks in their hands , committed to conversations already begun before we were a thought in their world. He pulled the car into the first available space and stopped. I was dressed appropriately for the evening it seemed. The black v necked dress made me look slightly older than my years.

" Andrew! You have made it after all." A tall blonde woman in a sleeveless empire burgandy dresswalked as solidly in her matching stilletto heels as if she had been bare footed on the stairs which lead from the back door. She greeted my uncle with a kiss and an embrace, then turned to me. " Come, my dear. You must be Rae. Let me walk with you- the gravel in the driveway can be tricky if you are not used to it." My uncle silently signaled his consent, indeed his approval. And I was lead away by this beautiful woman to the charming older house from which laughter rang out . He followed directly behind us as gravel became cement stairs leading to the kitchen door.

" Stop" commanded a deep male voice. " Who have we here?"

' This is Rae, niece of Andrew. She will share his adventure." replied my escort.

"Is she a virgin to the house?"

"That she is." I looked over my shoulder at my uncle. He was relaxed and amused.

" Then bring her forward". A tall medium built man with a craigy face and receeding hair line stepped forward. He was well dressed in what appeared to be a hand tailored suit for it fit him perfectly.

He looked solem for a minute. Elizabeth released my arm and stepped to the side.

" I am Duncan. 'Welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely ; leave something of the happiness that you bring!' I believe that is the appropriate greeting for the occasion." He looked into my eyes and laughter shook his body.

" Thank you. I came of my own free will."

" Ah, Andrew! You did not tell me that this charming young woman was so well read. Come on in my dear, let me get you a drink. " His arm encircled me like a great gentle bear, directing me towards the lavious buffet table. He poured me a cranberry juice and handed me the faux crystal glass. ' Help yourself to anything that you like." Then he was gone. My uncle had lagged behind to speak with the tall blonde.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 8

I must have slept longer than I had intended. It was dark when I awoke and I could smell coffee coming from the kitchen. I cautiously found my way to the door of the kitchen , and uncle.

" Come on, " He urged ," we have much to do tonight." As he spoke, he set a dinner of rotissaried chicken breast crisp and brown , mashed potatoes with steaming chicken gravy and green beans in from of me. " I know," he began " that you prefer tea usually but I am afraid that this is going to be a very long night for us both." I shook my head to clear it. I sat down. I tried the coffee. It was smooth , full bodied and dark . " Eat up, Rae, we have to meet some people tonight.

The chicken smelled good. I took a small piece before adding salt. " People like you or people like me," I quiered.

" Yes" he replied then hurried off. I could hear him mount the stairs and turn into my room. Doors opened and closed on the floor above me. I heard the tap in the bath run. As he came back down the stairs, he was full of instructions. "Finish eating, have some more coffee then go upstairs and take a bath. I picked out some clothes for tonight.

' I had a shower this afternoon, I could just dress..." I pouted. He shook his head then kissed me on the forehead. His lips were cooler than my skin but not icy like the dead.

" This is special . I think that it will help. " Looking around the room , he gathered up the trash and put it into a plastic bag. " I am sorry to rush you. We WILL have to improve the way for communication..."

I drank about half of the coffee that he had given to me and finished the meal. He shooed me up the stairs as he cleared the table . I heard the back door close as I went up the stairs. Great, he had to change into whatever or die to learn to take the garbage out without being asked. Too bad that Maria could not see THAT!

When I got back downstairs, he handed me three letters. I looked at him puzzled. "Its just a precaution." Great. I sniffed, first he picks out a dress for me to wear , then I am his secretary. I took the letters.

I looked at the addresses. The first one was to Maria. The second to his attorney. The third was to my cousin , Mary. " If you would not mind mailing those the next time that you go out."

" How did you know ..." I turned and looked at him, " That I had even been out yet?"

" Haven't you?" He looked amused as he spoke.

"Yes, but ..." This was annoying. " I suppose that I am being watched?"

" Lets say that there is security in place here. That is WHY you are HERE."

" Because I am your niece?"

" And your father's daughter." He snatched his car keys from the kitchen table, and turned to go. He looked handsome in his dark charcoal grey suit. It explained why he had picked out a dress for me to wear this evening. I felt very grown up in dressed in black . my auburn hair,allowed to dry on its own, formed soft waves. I followed him out of the front door, which I locked with a definate snap of the dead bolt.
The neighborhood was silent except for the sound of my pumps on the flagstones.

" Madam," my uncle clowned bowing low as he opened the passenger door," your carriage awaits."

"Thank you , kind sir . I will be sure to tell my uncle of your good service when next we speak." I flounced into the passenger's seat. His laugh at that was deep and low as it had always been. Maybe tonight would not be too awful. He closed the door behind me. I had just snapped the seat belt when I heard the engine purr to life. He seemed relaxed.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 7

Collecting the damp towel from my hair , I reentered the bathroom which was art deco in design with a white and black tiled floor. I hung the damp towel over the edge of the tub. Looking at myself in the mirror, I was surprised how little I had physically changed for I felt in the last day, that I had changed a great deal.

I continued across the landing into the second bedroom . It was a small office of sorts with a large desk also made of mahoghany. On it sat a desktop computer, I opened the drawers- there were papers and pens, even a calculator in one drawer, but it held no clue as to who the hosts of my new dwelling might be. I turned the computer on. It was available for inhouse use but like the phone downstairs , was not connected to the internet for the phone lines were inactive in the house. I decided that this might be a good place to write a letter to Maria in the days to come. But it was too nice a day for that to stay inside.

I returned downstairs, recovered the keys from the half moon table. My jacket was where I had left it the night before, on the arm of the couch next to my purse. I fished for and found the envelope of money that my uncle had given me the previous night. I pulled a crisp twenty, secured it into my pocket , along with my pepperspray and id , slipped my stockinged feet into my sneakers. I walked to the front door, unlocked the dead bolt and returned the key to the cuphook. I stepped outside and stood for several moments on the porch. I must have been still tired because the sunlight felt overly bright bright but, I decided that there was a coolness underlying the late morning and that I would need my jacket. Minutes later , I returned outside and tried the various keys on the ring in the various locks. I even had the mate to the deadbolt. House secure, I turned on the small cement porch , walked down the stairs and across the bluegrey flagstones to the sidewalk. I took a long look at the house, noted the number 302 and the large Maple tree at the end of the driveway. I turned to my left , and decided that I would see what lay in that direction .

The neighborhood had seen more affluent times . The few residents that did venture outside were older,almost all of white or maybe Italian decent, some in wheelchairs. The gardens were well kept but it was obious that some of the owners had converted to aluminum siding which looked cheap compared to the residents who maintained their paint jobs. I felt if I were on exhibit- that they were waiting to see what change I had brought to their neighborhood. I kept walking. As I walked , I heard the sound of the Blue Tick Hound who had frightened the rabbits in the garden. He bounded up to see who I was , as I walked past his house which was surrounded by well trimmed hedges. He bumped against me in greeting. I offered my hand, palm up and he rubbed his head against it. He left me as I walked further up the street. Looking ahead, I could see that the street inclined to what appeared to be a more main street ahead. So , Uncle, let's find out what lies beyond Dracula's walls, I thought. A car passed me on the street blaring the latest violent pounding lyrics , making the joints of the car creak. I ignored it and kept on.

I had been correct. I reached the top of the small hill, and looked around me. It was a small area of shops, mostly mom and pops. I was living on Belcourt street. So now I knew where I was presently. I took note of what was available. Across the street was Colliers furniture store, to its right, there was the Sharp Spot salon which said that it accepted walk ins. Next to that , was an old fashioned drugstore, whose Rexall sign had faded after many years. A small white house had a green and gilt lettered sign which proclaimed it to be the local library. To my left, what appeared to be more houses, to my right, a small grocery store nestled back from the road in a grove of Elm, White Birch and Maple trees. It had a newspaper rack outside which bore a loud orange sticker proclaiming that if one really wanted a news paper , one had to go inside to get it. Well, a newspaper would be a place to start looking for a I headed to the small market.

The door chimes as I pushed it open. An old man watched me as I walked in. I smiled briefly and he turned back to the small tv behind the counter. I noted that the newspapers were at the counter. local produce lay in bins . I chose some fresh corn and some apples. I had not really taken the time to check, but I did not recall seeing pizza in the freezer at the house. I found the frozen foods and carried that as well as some cans of Coke to the counter. An old woman with white hair and the palest blue eyes that I had ever seen , shooed the old man out of her way as she began to ring things up.

" Where did you come from , Dear? " She asked.

" Oh , I am just house sitting for a little while, " I answered. I remembered the paper before she finished ringing me out.

"Oh that's nice. Do you have people here?" The pizza was being wrapped in enough paper bag to let me walk across the country and for the old woman to learn something about me.

" Not immediately here."

" Well, he," pointing towards the old sullen man " Is Benjamin and I am Bertha Crowell. We have owned this market for over forty five years so we know eveyone pretty much here. I noticed when you came up, that you walked. Do you live far? we do deliver , you know. " She handed me a card with their phone number on it. I pushed it into my wallet as I handed over the twenty. " Thank you, " I added almost as an afterthought.

" Pleased to meet you, " I added. " I am Rae. I am staying over on Belcourt. I am sure that we will be seeing more of each other. I reached for my bag, as she counted the change. I heard come again as I left. Must be hard to stay independent when the world was more and more being run by chains...Well, at least no one, yet anyway , had delivered the obligatory " Beware , young Miss of ...speech." But then this was twenty first century Untited States, not fifteeth century Romania or Victorian England.

The walk home was easier as most of it was downhill. I checked the mailbox for junk mail or letters for the owners. There was nothing. I opened the door, locking it behind me, hung my jacket in the closet to the left of the stairs . The groceries, I took into the kitchen. I preheated the oven for pizza, placing one of the Cokes and the newspaper on the table. It was almost one. Probably a nap would be in order sometime after lunch. I did not know what lay ahead for the afternoon and evening.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction ) Part 6

I awoke to see the sun streaming through the slotted vent windows that surrounded the sun porch where I had fallen asleep. A perky blonde weather girl was absolutely delighted that to the North of where I assumed myself to be , strong thunderstorm warnings were in effect until 9am. Her bouncy attitude was more than I could take , given my situation. I pulled myself off of the recliner, grabbed my tea mug and headed towards the kitchen, shutting the tv off as I went. Never one much for breakfast foods, I found some bread on the top of the refrigerator and some chipolte cheddar cheese inside . I found a small fry pan beneath the sink and placed it on the smallest burner. I located the coffee maker as well as the coffee. I had been expected for many of the brands were those with which I was already familiar. The coffee steamed through the filter and into the glass carafe below. The sandwich sizzled as the bread toasted nicely - good omen. I did not burn the sandwich today. I went into the dining room and took the small salad plate which I had examined yesterday. There was something homey about that plate.
Seated at the yellow formica table , I looked out of the back window that faced me. In the daylight, I could see a two car garage , a rock lined garden to the right . Three tall lilac bushes stood in the center of the garden . Surrounding them were purple iris, pansies, ribbon grass , roses of lilac grey, yellow with pink edges, brilliant reds , white and orange. Just beyond the garden was a brace of trees, and through a small gap in the tree line, I made out a small blue hill which was crowned with a radio tower of some kind. I thought that scene was perfectly framed. Still further to the right , was an old fashioned laundry pole. The garden continued around the corner , and morphed from flowers to herbs then what appeared to be vegetables. I recognized some of them , tomatoes, beans , carrots, peppers…there were other leafy things out there, that would bear further investigation later on for I did not recognize them from the window. It was obvious that the property was well cared . The grass was well cut and had no dandelions or weeds in evidence. Everything appeared to be in perfect order according to some intense planning. I wondered about the house, its owners and what purpose this place served in the bigger picture of what was. I was made welcome here, that was evident.
A mother rabbit and her three bunnies raided the garden. I watched them from the a smaller window over the kitchen sink as I washed my dishes and placed them in the drainer to dry. Running between the rose bushes, into the leafy vegetation , they provided a sense of security. Reaching for a red and white dishtowel on a nearby rack, I wiped the dishes dry . Darting through the garden , they sampled here and there- stopping for larger tastes of things that they appeared to enjoy. The baying of a neighborhood hound alerted the rabbits who scuttled for the brace then disappeared. I returned to the kitchen , poured myself a second cup of coffee . I returned the dish to the dining room cupboard . I went out of the archway and up the stairs to the right.
I turned right into the bedroom which my uncle had informed me , just the night before was to be mine while I stayed here. The mahogany rice carved bed had a white chenille bedspread and many pillow. There were 2 lamps in the room , a large touchier to the left and a smaller table lamp to the right of the mahogany nightstand. A small boudoir chair upholstered in white and pink roses sat to the right of the touchier with a small needle pointed footstool in front of it. Beyond that lay a window seat with pale rose chintz cushions. The window faced out to the front of the house , over the well kept lawn and to the street, which was quiet. To the left of the window seat was a glass doored, again mahogany , book case with many books inside including a full set of encyclopedia . To Its right , was the hot air register, curley piped reminder of an era gone by. Above that , was a small window which faced a tall row of juniper trees and through the row, the neighbor’s house next door. My eyes continued scanning to the right, where a large dark double dresser stood. It had two crystal boudoir lamps on it and was crowned by a very large mirror that showed the entire room. This was followed by two shallow closets with yet another window a short distance between them .This one facing the back garden and window seat. Its cushions matched that of its sister across the room. The wallpaper was white with tiny pink roses bordered by a ribbon scroll in darker burgundy at the top.
I placed my suitcases on the bed and began unpacking . Drawers , closets filled up quickly. I placed my Goddess statue on the dresser top , reminding myself that I needed to ask Maria about the crystal ball the next chance that I got. I put my shampoo and cosmetics in the bathroom which was next door to my bedroom. Clean clothes were laid on the bed. I found two doors to the left of the bathroom. Opening the first, I found towels of many colors. The one directly across the small landing , held toilet paper, cleaning supplies and toiletries. I removed two bath towels , a hand towel and a couple of face cloths. They did not match but it did not matter. A hot shower was in order, then I would look around outside a little. If my uncle was to return , it was not likely to be this early. The steam filled the room as I scrubbed away the grime of the journey and previous night. I wrapped my hair in a towel and hung the other, damp from my body , over the edge of the tub.
Dressing quickly , recovering my coffee cup, the contents still drinkable although somewhat cooled, I decided to check out the books in the bookcase. There were many titles by many authors. There was an unusually large grouping of Louisa May Alcott which extended beyond "Little Men" and "Little Women" to her lesser known works "Under the Lilacs" as well as Rose in Bloom. The encyclopedia were quite old as well, giving practical instruction on how to make candles and soap with lye. I loved the smell of the old books. I thought that was the smell of wisdom and experience. I continued on down the shelves to stories by HG Wells, Jules Verne, Dumas, Zane Grey and George Orwell. Assorted books on politics, philosophy , history , economics shared space with these. There was a family bible on the bottom shelf and a book of Masonic rites. I pulled out the large bible and looked at the family tree in the center. Someone had cared a great deal to keep track until about fifty years ago, then all of the entries stopped. I wondered why. I returned it to its original place. There would be time to check this out later in more depth. I certainly intended to check out the rather large tome on Richard the Third and the murder of the 2 princes as well as the one proclaiming "Rasputin , the Holy Devil".

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 5

I turned slowly from the window , leaning against the sill to think. My situation was this , I was somewhere , by myself, in the dark, in a house that I did not know, without a phone. I wandered into the kitchen and found several boxes and tins of tea, Sleepytime, Rose, Apricot Jasmine, Rose hip. I pulled down the green box of Sleepytime, washed out , then filled the kettle on the stove with water. Searching the cabinets, I found some mugs , washed one of those as well and set it on the stove. My treasure hunt turned up some Mocha Milan cookies , which I took with me ,as I tried to decide what I should do next. I walked slowly from the kitchen back into the living room, and from there into the dining room.

I found the switch by the entryway , for where I was standing , there was only an arch. Two white built in cabinets housed some of the most beautiful china that I had ever seen. Munching a cookie, I walked to the one on the right. I pulled open the door and picked up a small dessert plate. It was almost seashell shaped with very tiny pink roses on it. It was edged in gold, some of which went into the design itself. It was not possible to guess its age for the dish was well kept and showed neither cracks nor crazing. Slowly, I turned it in my hand- on the back was written Limoges France in a circle - the center of which has the monogram LR&L. I put it back and took a better look at the dining set- a cherry mahogany table , oblong with Queen Anne scrolling. surrounded by eight chairs with burgandy, navy, ivory and olive padded seats. The phrase "the better to eat YOU " popped into my head and I shuddered . The screaming whistle of the tea kettle sounded from the kitchen. I walked through the swinging door at the other end of the room and back to the land of poultry decorated reality. The kitchen seemed cozy after the formality of the dining room.

Grasping the mug of tea and the cookies, I went in search of the tv. Cable or no, normal sound was a must right now. I plopped into a leather recliner , placing both cookies and tea on a nearby table. I watched as the citizens of Paris waved their little flags for the arrival of Cardinal Richeleau and clapped. I had always loved Dumas and to see Charlton Heston, middle aged but fit in such a role, warmed me to the place in which I found myself. A good omen. My eyes closed as Oliver Reed told Micheal York a story about love. The last thing that I heard as I nodded off was " I think that she is dead. Don't you? I should hope that she is dead."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Smell of Roses Part 3

Jackie shifted uncomfortably before the massive white woman who filled the doorway. "If this is a bad time," she began.
"Naw," smiled the woman " He just gets busy tinkering and talking to his girlfriends-He will be right down. " She frowned a little , then yelled over her shoulder " Ricky! You are keeping this nice lady waiting."
Ricky kissed his mother on the side of her head- he was taller than she by about eight inches, well tanned , with dark hair and the deepest brown eyes that she had ever seen. " I got it." he replied as he bounded out the door. Turning to Jackie, he said" Cm'on , its over here to the side of the house. " They passed her Civic as they walked. " That yours?" he asked. " I will stay with it if you want to test drive mine- Hondas get ripped off alot for the parts. " they continued walking until they were almost to the rear of the building. Ricky unlocked a chain link fence and pointed. " Isn't she beautiful? I rebuilt her myself. "

She watched as he unlocked the door on the ivory colored car. She recognized it at once. She had once dated a man who was into classic cars and he had owned one. The karma on this vehicle would be good, she mused. "

" Go ahead," He began trying to keep the excitement of a possible sale out of his voice. " Look inside, the interior is all new. I took classes at Voc. for the last two summers to learn how to do this. " The Studebaker Hawk was cosmetically perfect. " Its an eight cylinder, which is why I am not charging more . With the price of gas these days , eights are harder to sell. Redid the body work and paint. Not that there was much to be done, never been in a crash. As old as it is, never been smacked. Go ahead run a Carmax on it- you'll see how cherry she is!" He smacked the hood solidly- " New transmission, all points and plugs , new alternator and starter...I even redid all of the weather stripping..."

" If she is so perfect , why are you selling her?" asked Jackie, doing her best to look as if she would walk away.

' I would keep her if I could but I am studying film at state and will be needing money next year for my senior project. It gets professionally submitted. The right project COULD make my life a whole lot easier. " Ricky looked like a child being asked to give up his favorite puppy to pay for dinner to feed his family.

Jackie looked at her watch and frowned. " I am ," she began " running a little late. Perhaps I could come back after I picked up my daughter and took her to her soccer game. I do want to test it."

Ricky , fearing the loss of the sale, thought a minute. " How long would you be? "

Jackie stood silent for a minute , appearing to consider his question. " About an hour, I think- ninety mins at most, Why?"

" Why don't you test it while you do that? I have your Honda. we will switch places with the cars and you can have yours back when I get mine back?"

" I suppose before I do that , I need to ask the price. "

" $13, 900. "

" That is a good price. But as you say, its an eight. I will fill it before I return it. You seem to have it almost full now."

Jackie walked back to her Honda, opened the door and waited for Ricky to back out the Studebaker. Then she pulled the Honda forward into the yard, walked to the back of the Honda and pulled out the colbolt nylon gym bag. When she stepped out of the yard, Ricky handed her the keys to his car. She placed the gym bag on the seat beside her. The engine sounded perfect, just as Rickey had said. After watching her pull away from the curb, he walked back into the house and shut the door.(to be continued)

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Smell of Roses Part 2

Jackie took the Old Coast Highway that lead into the city. She had planned this for months. If today wasn't the right day, then she wasn't sure that she would ever go through with it. No matter what , things could not go on as they had for the last year. That was not an option. The sky was blue but a very special shade of blue - one that was almost translucent as she sped towards the city. She was alone on this stretch of road , and there were no exits from which , her rational self , might counsel her to "turn around, to go back..." No, THAT voice had been silenced if only for today. It was her "Good Girl Self " that had gotten her into this mess in the first place. She was on her way and she intended to see this through. As, she glanced briefly to the left, she noted that not, only was there no one on the sandy rocky beach but not a single ship was on the horizon. There was no one to help her. More importantly there was no one to stop her. She could not remember when this stretch of road had ever been this lonely. This lonely and on such a beautiful day. She reached into her purse and pulled a roll of butter rum life savers onto the seat beside her. She popped the top one out of the roll and into her hand ." Yo, ho ho- its off to the city we go,' she thought, " A pirate's life for me...". The sea air made her nostolgic for summers at Cape Cod, salt water taffy and simpler things. "Perhaps", she breathed , "If she succeeded, no no, THAT was wrong. WHEN she succeeded, she could give the girls the same sort of experiance. " Yes, that seemed like a good idea...a very good idea. But to get there, she had to FOCUS NOW. She took the exit that would bring her closest to the office.

The exit brought her under the highway. Several street people congregated around a white Victorian corner store. She turned left onto Huntington. Bright art assaulted her eyes from the buildings on either side of the street. It was part of a city beautification project where the schools brought the children down to paint over the gang grafetti. Propaganda- we don't have gangs here, we have happy children painting happy pictures, it seemed to say. She knew that the prettiness was a facade to reassure timid tourists in this part of town. Turning to the right onto Sylvan, she drove between whitewashed warehouses completely lacking identity . The city had planted trees here to make it look less barren, less threatening. It had not worked. She could see dark forms in doors sleeping wrapped in colorful blankets here and there. The flowers, yellow, purple, and red looked ragged and worn in the median. The atmosphere had adapted the improvements and it all looked tired. She pulled her car into the first spot that she found, looked at the clipping in her hand, and checked the address of the building beside her. Another sign that she was doing the right thing. It was the very address that she sought. Sucking in her breath, she got out of her car, locking it behind her. One, two ,four, eight steps then up a weary set of wooden stairs to the front door. It was faded green once but now was tainted by the defiant tinge of city dirt " I have come about the car" she told the old woman who answered her knock. The old woman, brushed the greyed strand of hair out of her face ." Ricky, Come here! She has come about the car." (to be continued)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Smell of Roses

Jackie looked at the clock, ten mins till five. Her three children sat quietly on the couch, all ready to go with Jackie's mother for the weekend. She had not wanted to send the children to her mother's but there was no one else to watch them. She could not take care of them - not THIS weekend. Absently, she pulled her youngest daughter's finger from inside of the child's nose. washed it for the millionth time with a nearby wash cloth and admonished the child. " Lori! THAT is nasty, " she scolded. Sarah, her eldest leaned forward as the younger child's face darkened threatening a nasty squall before her grandmother got there. " I will let you sleep with Wookie", Sarah offered," If you don't cry and keep your finger out of your nose. Wookie doesnot like boogers." Lori's face brightened, the clouds of being in trouble banished by the promise of something deeply desired. Wookie was Sarah's alone- bright pink stuffed creature of uncertain origin, definately something from outer space. He had two spring based antennae and a shock of lime green faux fur for hair. Lori held out both hands for the prize but Sarah, five years older, held Wookie back- just slightly beyond Lori's reach. " Please?" the younger child ventured. Sarah shook her head and once again there were emotional clouds on the face of the younger child as she pondered her confusion. " You HAVE to say you promise" offered Eve , the middle child, as she looked up from her book. She shut the book dramatically , and announced " What a baby! ANYONE would have known that." Three years younger than Sarah, Eve was seven -and read three full grades above her class. She climbed down off the couch and headed for the bathroom. "Don't go far " shouted her mother . " Yes , Moth-er!" came the annoyed reply. Normally , Jackie would have challenged that but she wanted the day to go perfectly, at the very least , calmly until her mother got there. She did not want her mother to have a reason not to take the girls this weekend. Eve trudged back to the couch, plopped on it , rolling her eyes before returning to her book. Seven going on thirty, maybe. Come on , Moth-er, Jackie willed mentally.

It was not long until the burgandy Ford sedan pulled into the driveway. " Grandma's here! Grandma's here !" Lori sang out , forgetting about Wookie for the moment. " Don' t worry , Ma" said Sarah , " I will watch out for her so she is not a bother" indicating Lori as she spoke. " You are always my good girl, Jackie smiled, cupping her oldest daughter's face as she slid her hand down. Eve rolled her eyes one more time, then reached for her suitcase. " I am ready" she announced to her grandmother. " Why , so you are. But then my smart girl ALWAYS has her head on straight. Turning to her own daughter, she said firmly, " They will be back by six on Sunday. " Jackie nodded, kissed her three daughters and watched as the car rolled off down the road, avoiding rope skippers, jack players and bicyclists as she went.

She had forty eight hours. That might not be enough time- but it WAS all of the time that she had. Allowing that her mother might arrive BEFORE six on Sunday, it was better to say forty hours. Not as nice as forty eight, but that allowed for car turn arounds , tearful phone calls to her cell , and outer world emergancies. It would be a shame if someone else's car accident spoiled her plans. Planning as she walked up the stairs, turned to the right into the bathroom . Taps on, the smell of roses filled the bathroom. She loved the smell of roses and had even bought the complete line when her Avon lady had come to her door. It was her signature scent. Taps off , candles lit, she slid into the foamy water. The temperature THIS time was perfect. Good sign. Jackie believed in signs.

Half an hour later , she was dressed in a full skirted deep pink wrap dress. Pressing little ceramic rose earrings with diamond centers into her pierced ears, she gave herself a final look.
An American Beauty jewelry roll lay on her dusty rose satin duvet. She picked it up and placed it inside of her black patent leather shoulder bag. Then she walked out of her bedroom , down the stairs, into the kitchen , checking that the stove was off as she went, out of the backdoor and into the garage where her white Civic sat waiting. She raised the garage door from her seat after snapping her seatbelt. The door raised dramatically. " Ladies and Gentlemen," an unseen voice seemed to say , "Presenting Jackie!" . Like her daughter Eve, she liked to be dramatic. It was hard to be dramatically effective in a neighborhood ruled by baby poop and Girl Scouts. She had thirty nine hours remaining, with a margin for safety. She gunned the car, avoiding roller skaters, basketball players and skateboard riders as she went.( to be continuted)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Memory (another earler writing)

I remember you
Though your face has aged
And your name has changed.
You are the Romantic
To meet my Idealist
Both somewhat battered and tarnished,
In an imperfect world of Totalitarian Bullshit.
Ethic's armour weighs Mightily
A Burdensome mantle
Freely sought,the donning of which
Bestowed Greater Responsiblity not Glory.
We battle for the Dragon
Against the Crown
Whose promises are hollow and lacking honor.
Weavers are we of spells that beguile, mislead
Our enemies into a Pit from which they will
NOT emerge.
Weighed first in the heart
We know the price of Success as well as Failure.
And the hand still sought the sword.
You are the one who Watches
Me,Alone at my table lit by single black candle.
I push studies, strategies, across well worn wood
That shines like polished stone.
I hear you in the Dark and turn
Red eyes beckoning in the Dark
Vibrates something primal within me.
Something glows in me
Heating me from the inside out
Calling to you
Distracting me
The studies stoic in their Greater Purpose
Will have to wait their turn
Until the morning.
I hear the wolf call
And I remember.
I see your eyes
And am gone until the Dawn.
Come what may
I sought this forest path
Long ago, of my own free will...

Pygmalion ( a piece earlier than this blog)


From her place of Adoration
Satin smooth cold marble
She rises
Unlocks the shackles
Slips off.
Free of imposed expectations
She is her own Mistress
All is Hers
To Give or Deny.
Below her the wailing of supplicants
Chalice denied to the
Accolytes of
The God of Death.
Claims of Promises broken and ownership lost.
Promises that SHE never made.
That she will not keep
For which she will not
She will not join in their fevored furied funerary rites.
Functional demise over the cliffs
Political propaganda on the wide screen
Celebrating her exhaulted servitude.
She snaps the black leather of her jacket
Over her shoulder
She slams solidly the door
Which echos in the hall
Behind her.
They can keep wanting and wailing
She chooses Life and Freedom
Cool wind kisses her face
Darkness embraces her.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 4

I must have dozed off, for though I was vaguely aware of the turns - I only opened my eyes when I felt the Volvo finally stop. A medium white wooden Cape Cod style house with dark red decorative shutters and door loomed before me. Tall juniper bushes flanked both sides of a cement set of stairs. I turned to look at this place to which I had willingly gone. No other house shone even a single interior light. The world was asleep and I stood in the darkness miles away from where I had been only that morning.

My Uncle left the car door open and the headlights shining.. I watched as his feet climbed the cement stairs onto the small wooden porch, unlocking the red door. Reaching into the house, he flipped on the entryway light, went in,and then another light further in the house snapped to life as well . It seemed like seconds until he returned.

" Good, you are awake. Go on inside and I will bring the bags. " He sat once more in the driver's seat. shut off the headlights and shut the door. He was at the trunk before I was out of the car. I wrapped the throw around my shoulders , and trudged still drowsy , up the cement stairs . I entered the foyer and was faced with a white walled set of oak stairs and banister that lead up to an unlit second floor. I turned to the left and walked into the living room.

The room was average for the middle part of the 20th century. I sniffed and could tell that it had recently been cleaned and aired. We were expected. A grey green radio sat on a small mahogany half moon table with some minor scroll work. A bronze statue of an Indian slumped forward onto his horse beside it. Behind the Indian, three books, between a pair of bronze babyshoe bookends,
sat. The rug was a color called champagne. The furniture was well balanced- a gold chair at either end , with a sofa , also gold against the far wall. A fireplace well cleaned , end irons polished
sat between the two chairs , but there was no wood. I wondered if it worked. I heard the light for the stairwell click on , footsteps up the stairs , more clicking of switches, and my uncle's feet on the upper floor to the right of where I stood on the first. I sat on the couch , placing my purse on the dark wooden coffee table with a glass insert- ball and claw legs merged into the table beneath more of the tastefully discrete scrollwork. A large painting of a three masted schooner hung above the fireplace, whose white mantel held more than eight Hummels. My uncle returned to me.

" Come on, I will give you the five cent tour of the house. You can explore later as you will. " He entered the black doorway of the room facing me, light revealed its secret to be a kitchen.
I followed behind. Red roosters on yellow wallpaper surrounded the breakfast nook. The cushions were a complimentary print. The kitchen was compact with stove and backdoor at one end, refrigerator in a recessed area in the middle. I walked over , there was a double stainless steel sink . I lifted the tap and water flowed. No rust. We were expected.

" I wish that I had longer to do this today. Perhaps later this evening, when I return..." he frowned as he glanced at his watch whose alarm had just sounded.

" Return? You are not staying here".

He shook his head. " No, but this place is safe for you. Look around as you will. There is nothing beyond the ordinary to get you into trouble. I bought some groceries and they are in the cabinets and refrigerator. Its a little old fashioned but the owners were very kind to me when I explained that I would not be travelling alone. Your room is at the top of the stairs to the right . The bathroom is next to it. There are linens in the closet next to the bathroom . Feel free to use what you will. Washer dryer in the basement. I believe that the owner's wife has made up the bed with fresh sheets and blankets. She was worried that you would be very tired and and some what overwhelmed by the time that you got here. " The watch sounded urgently a second time-he handed me a set of keys and a small envelope .

" Its not much but you are allowed to leave the house. I thought that you might need some money if you did. You know the Rules- no one else in the house while I am gone. Certainly not any boys..."

" I don't know any." I sniffed in return.

" Sleep as long as you want - there is a television on the sunporch but they donot have cable , I am afraid. I will see you in the evening. Oh , before I forget, the phone doesnot work except for 911 service. " He briefly glanced through the back window over the breakfast nook table, took my head in his cool hands and kissed my forehead . I followed into the living room. He smiled once as he left, pulling the front door closed behind him. I threw the top lock, the chain and , taking a key from a cuphook near the living room, locked the deadbolt. The volvo pulled out of the driveway and into what remained of the night.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 3

It felt to me as if we had driven a world away from Maria's . The street lights along the highway were more sparse here than they had been, even as close as the restaurant. The pines, in places , blocked most of the sky. Every so often, I could see the lights of neighborhoods tucked discreetly away through the thickets that buffered the highways from their backyards. Even if I HAD stayed with Maria, even if things had not changed-I could not see myself living in such a place.

" Where are we going? " I asked , looking at my uncle. His face lit by the dashboard lights , had a greenish tinge, the stuff of horror movies.

" For now , I have borrowed a house from a friend. I want you to spend some time looking at houses with me , so donot make any afternoon plans. I think that buying is safer than renting-fewer prying eyes. I would also appreciate you sitting in on the housekeeper interviews. I need you to meet the attorney that will be handling your finances.

" Seems like a lot of people involved in this secret."

" There are , some of them have family members in similiar situations. Others , their silence can be bought , with a little help from the mythology to reinforce their silence."

The turn signal clicked loudly , as we took the next exit off of the highway. I could not see where I was headed for daytime workmen had laid the green exit sign on the ground, to the side of their excavation. All that marked the exit was a flashing sign with an arrow proclaiming it to be Exit 44E. Nothing more.

The sky was still deep blue as we left the highway. It was lighter than when we had left the restaurant. I ached from sitting too long in one position, I shifted slightly . As we started around the rotary , buildings were beginning to be visible . I made out the name of a candle shop as well as a realtor. A dark building proclaimed itself to be the Seafood King for all of your celebrations. We bore to the left onto a dark street , surrounded by houses such as I had, earlier viewed from the back. The occasional dog lodged his protest as we passed , but it was effortless because none ran out towards the car.

Sleepy, I put my head back. wherever I was, wherever I was going, I was not going to have to
find it by myself tonight . My uncle reached in back of my seat briefly , handing me a soft raspberry throw. Parent, I mused groggily and remembered the old joke that a sweater is something that a child wears , when its mother feels cold.

Monday, April 28, 2008

You Can NOT Have

You cannot take from me
What is mine,
For I will never tell you where to find it.

Do you even know
For what you seek?
I thought not.

Search high and low.
It won't be found.
Not in your lofty thoughts.
Not in your basest moments.

I know that you will never find my treasure.
The sparkling glass gems , the gleaming metal coins,
The Chalices of historical value.
Warehoused like Alladin's cave
Attractive, yet untouchable distract your magpie eyes.
You only want what you cannot have.

Didn't you know that I was the setting,
Long before you defined
The jewels?

You are a fool .
You do not remember that
Sometimes ugly ducklings
Make regal swans !

You cannot steal from me
What is mine.
Sonambullistic predictions will not
Find it for you.

You have no idea what you seek.
You donot know it when it stands before you.
Cardboard oracles keep my secret.
You cannot see the light
Yet you fear the Darkness.
You are pathetic. But then,that is YOUR choice.

My treasure is for me alone.
Hard won in battle.
Hard kept in defiance.

Beat me.
Starve me .
Deprive me of sleep.
I will not crack.
I am made of sterner stuff.

I am as pliable as kindergartner's clay.
I am as hard as titanium.
My treasure is for me alone-
My life shall be lived in joy.
And That choice is mine.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Choice ( a serial work of fiction) Part 2

My uncle threw my suitcase into the trunk of his car- its not many vampires that drive a Volvo C70 convertible. He had arranged for it to be purchased through one of his new aquaintances ,after everything had changed. I guess his transformation could be a kind of midlife crisis prompting him to buy the small coupe/convertible. I couldn't tell in the dim light if the car were black or very deep blue. It seemed to be the smallest of my need to know items at this time.

"Seatbelt, Rae!" In my fascination with his new toy. I had sat dumbly in the front . We were going nowhere till I snapped that belt. Family Rules, it appear , would continue to apply in my life. Mutely, I nodded and the belt clicked.

"You can still change your mind," my uncle offered looking at me. I turned my face so that it was lit by the dashboard lights and whispered "No. I AM up for this." He nodded , waited for a white and blue city transit bus to pass and then pulled into traffic. I had been through this adventure before though not exactly in the same way. It would be different this time. Everytime was a little different but this one had new elements in it with which neither of us had dealt in any of the others.

" Do you want to change yours?" I asked looking at him. Mutely , he shook his head . Taking what appeared to be a deep breath, he added , "I am not sure of the sanity of this. Perhaps I should have just let you think, like Adrian , that I was gone for good. Perhaps that would have been best for you. I don't know. I just liked having something normal in my life. There have been many changes in my life-and I am not sure how good keeping secrets will be for you. "

I watched as Powell and Fell became Erie and Ocean. Maria's was far away from me now both in distance and lifestyle. "Secrets? Like where you hide your coffin and stuff like that?" He began to laugh " Oh , you HAVE seen one too many Christopher Lee movies, " He choked between laughs. " We are going to have to talk." I stared at him as if he had lost his mind.

Route 24 going South was dead. Barely another car to be seen anywhere. Once in awhile , an eighteen wheeler would pass us and the car would shudder from the suction and breeze as it did.
I had been this way many times in the summer. But it was too late to be going to the Music Circus further south. All of those cars were bottle necked going North back into the city . He looked at me, amusement shining in those dark eyes.

" Have you eaten?" he asked as the turpentine pines and scrub oaks passed us on the right. Even the cars across the meridian strip going North , were virtually nonexistent. The landscape appeared darker than one I had ever before seen.

" Yes, meatloaf at Maria's at six."

"Could you eat now? Its almost one "

"Could you?"

"No, " he started as he gently shook his head. "I thought being too late for Music Circus and too early for the bars to be closed, that we might be able to get a table to ourselves in the restaurant up ahead. If we can , then some of the immediate issues might be addressed. I could use a break from driving for awhile. We will need gas soon anyway."

" Sure. "

Almost the minute that I had agreed, the lights of the restaurant were upon us. As predicted , the parking lot was almost empty. We parked by the door. The sign read that the restaurant was open 24/7. I wondered if my uncle had recieved an orientation packet to his new life, that listed, among other things ,restaurants like this one.

The seats of the booths were faux turquoise leather . It went beautifully with the almost wood table between us. The bored blonde moonfaced waitress , not much older than I , handed us a trifolded laminated menu, as I slid into the booth, shucking off my studded denium jacket . The restaurant might be open 24/7 but not all of the food was available. He ordered black coffee. This will be interesting, I thought.

I ordered a ham and cheese omelet and square flat corn muffins called toasties.An individual pot of tea with lemon completed my meal.. I really wanted french fries, but did not want to get into a discussion about food choices that would delay my already growing list of questions. I smiled to myself- great one he will be NOW about food choices. The waitress served the food with all of the good grace that one sentenced to live a lesser life could , managed a smile and went into the kitchen.

"Well?" I peered at him- waiting for instruction.

He stirred the coffee with his spoon. Looked at it , then at me and shook his head, " Believe it or not, I am not sure how to do this." he tapped the spoon as he had always done on the side of the saucer , as he laid it in the saucer. Folded his hands and squarely met my eyes. "Ask, " he said.

' You do not sleep in a coffin?"

" No."

" Well, then where do you sleep? "

" Away from the light. I seem to have developed an allergy to direct sunlight in large doses. However, I can manage parent teacher conferences in the afternoons, if needed. I won't feel terrific afterwards but you will not need a dustbuster to take me home."

" Am I going to live with you? "

" Not exactly. I will be living with you but not living with you. My intention is not to bring my business home to you. There is enough danger just you knowing. I will maintain two residences. That's where the right housekeeper fits in.

"Can you do any neat stuff like turn into a bat or mist or become invisible?"

" Not anymore than can you."

"Drat , and I was so hoping to use you for show and tell," I whispered teasingly.

" Are you really dead? "

" I am changed. Simply put, its genetic. But there has to be a trigger, a catalyst for the change to happen."

" Will I change?"

"Maybe, time will tell. "

I made a show of squeezing the lemon into my orange colored tea in my cheap white diner cup. Maybe Gypsies could read tea leaves but it did not work very well with a tea bag. There were no answers in the cup.

" How will I know? When will I know? "

" It may never happen. If it does, we will deal with it. "

The waitress appeared like an obedient genii , and whisked cold coffee away to be replaced by some that still steamed. Then she vanished as quickly as she had appeared.

Deep breath. I was beginning to think that this was a stalling tactic because he barely drew a breath all of the rest of the time.

" I have to think about it more- its not so automatic as it is for you." He took a small sip of the coffee and made a face. "Rules, I guess some of them should be discussed now."

"You mean special rules . Pertaining to the special situation in which we now find ourselves?"

" Exactly" Another deep breath.

" You will go to school. You will maintain your grades. If you cannot function independently - you can always go back to Maria's. She has offered to have you for as much of your vacations as you choose to go. She and I , we talked about wanting you to have as much of a normal life as possible. "

" I see"

"You have always been self sufficent. This is just the next step that nobody saw coming. I will contact you- and as soon as I can work it out , provide you with a way to leave a message for me. You will not follow me. you will not seek out my other residence. If someone approaches you and said that I sent them- living or changed - the same rules apply. I will tell you ,in person ,if there is to be a change. Otherwise- do not listen and get help . Understand?"


" Holy water, crosses, crucifixes donot affect me. Still telling people is probably not a good idea."

" Not tell anyone? Who would believe me? They would think that I had gone over the edge!!!"

His hands seemed a little more pale in the florescent light. Bill in hand, He stood , and motioned for me to do likewise.The bored waitress had materialized at the cash register. He handed her the money . adding another few dollars tip to the balance. I noticed that she had a hole in her nose. " the manager makes me take it out when I am here. Wants everyone to be like everyone else." She flashed a real smile as she thanked him inviting us come again.

Together we walked back into the night and towards the Volvo.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Our Stand (2)

How had we come to this place? We had come to this place because WE had been viewed by those that we had considered to be representative of us, of our lives as we knew them, to be parasites on the system . That we did not serve the larger plan and therefore had to be brought down a peg. And we, we had brought much of it on ourselves by being complacent , by taking the easy road, by letting those in charge make the tough choices instead of enduring minor inconviences ourselves. We had surrendered authority by failing in accepting our responsiblity.

I watched as my students struggled to recreate on paper the facts that would earn them a good grade. Their world was not about learning but about socialization and training. There was a difference between loving a subject and answering a state approved multiple guess test on a general education. Echos of Montag walking the teacher in "Farenheit 451" flashed in my head. Four times four is sixteen , eight by eight is sixty four, twelve times twelve is one hundred and forty four...learning by route not by heart. We had fallen in our educational rankings - we had failed to behave as good human animals and allowed our children to be the losers. It became about budget instead of education. Its what the system demanded. I wondered if we had to be satisfied with what the system provided or could we do more. Most of us already were stretched thin on time as we were. Papers rustled under sweating student hands, hoping to provide an adequate rationalization not to be retained in a lower grade. Bell, the students stood and handed me the state test as they filed to lunch. I put the papers in the proper approved envelope- I would not correct these- they would be graded by computer in New Jersey , provided of course , the students had exactly followed the rules in marking answers and changing those necessary. There would be another testing session like this after lunch.Tests show facts, they don't show heart or thought. Smiling, I handed the papers to the office proctor who removed them from my custody as soon as I had collected all of the answers. "You are all individuals, you can all think for yourselves," crossed my mind. Only they couldn't for they did not know how . I wasn't allowed. There had to be a better way. We were raising good consumers but not good managers of consuming. We were raising these children to lose. To be consumed by an uncaring environment that had already demonstrated that it believed in sacrificing anyone who did not fit their tight little niche. I had no children of my own but I had children who were mine over seven hours a day. I could not think of another single animal who voluntarily led their offspring to the slaughterhouse. It disturbed me. The lack of care in our human ecosystem screamed that perhaps the system itself was unhealthy and self destructing. I wondered if it were too late to turn it around . What did these children need? What had my teachers given to me that wasn't being given to the children today?

Wal- Mart , Neighborhood Market was smaller sibling to the Super Wal-Marts. It was in but not of the neighborhood. Not in the way that Crowell's Market used to be . I wondered if Mr Crowell had less of a problem with theft and employee loss because they had intereacted all of their lives. The neighborhood market stretched before me like a huge factory supply house. Very impersonal- and more disturbing that the lower rungs were filled from the neighborhoods which surrounded it but the managers had come from somewhere else. They had been removed from their support system. Wal-Mart not only replaced Crowells' but the consumer's parents and families as one moved up the chain of command. Was this what the children saw when they looked at the adult world? I wondered as I wandered through the factory like aisles buying packaged foods made by other factories. Where were the people in all of this? I saw corporate logos and image- but even in the ethnic foods, there was no ethnicity. It all came from research and development commissioned by the marketing department of a corporation intent on profit and loss and not on people. I returned my corporate commissioned prepackaged meals to their respective shelves - went in search of hamburger, mixed vegetables,cheese and potatoes . I was going to make the Shepard's Pie that we had made in our family for generations. I was not going to give up. Were there others like me? And how did I find them?

Julius, in a rare spirit of gracious generosity , offered to do dishes. I countered , saying that I would wash if he would wipe. I wanted to talk with him . I wanted his balance to my observations. " Start simple." He advised. " Start with people that you know, everyone knows how to do something." Who did I know? I knew a portion of my neighbors and some of my students' mothers. Fathers were less apt to show up at teacher conferences. "What are you planning to start ? How can I help? What needs doing? Between the two of us , we have two fairly good brains." He was right. I didn't need more to do, but no one goes into education for the money or the praise.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Stand

I heard the dripping of the water somewhere behind me in the darkness, as the gutters begain to run. The wrought iron man had added Spanish influenced scroll bars just yesterday. Too many homes , in our formerly "nice" neighborhood had been invaded by kids seeking quick money or drugs.

Mrs Canty , who has lived in this neighborhood since my mother was a child, was punched in the face by an intruder not more than 96 hours ago. When she fell , her head had hit the white oak apothecary coffee table . I know her house as well as my own. I used to go play Green Ghost with her daughter Carol and son Bobby in their basement. Teenagers have tormented her since Robert Sr died a few years ago . They run through our yards like a pack of wild dogs, stopping to beat on her windows and ring her bell at all hours of the night. Rather than risk the stairs in the dark , she had taken to sleeping on her couch. That was how she came face to face with the intruder.Helen was frightened but not frightened away. She wanted to stay in her own house. I understand that. The young girl, not more than fourteen had fled as she had come, out of the dining room window, her flight to leave was what pushed Helen into the table.

I had inherited my grandparents' home, a tidy two and a half bedroom white and green Cape Cod on two floors. Some of the neighbors had finished their basements. We never have - flooding is a problem in the Spring- even with the sump pump running. We did , however , put padded rugs on the cement floor. We took those up in the winter ,in anticipation of early flooding by thaw. New England winters are funny- sometimes they are not over when they appear to be. The basement had its own bathroom, laundry facilities by the stairs and some furniture a little worn for the living room but good enough for a den.A slightly soiled slipcovered that my grandmother had called a divan had weathered all three of the Super Bowls that had happened since we had moved in. Grandpa's leather recliner sat in the corner near the fireplace - it had not been used in years, probably decades we had promised ourselves that " when our finances straightened out, we would have both this one as well as the one in the main living room checked out and repaired if necessary.

The wooden stairs to the cellar were steep with a pole bannister on one side.. It was the reason that my grandmother had moved out after having lived there for over forty years. She could not do either set of the stairs anymore. If she could not do the stairs- she could not check the furnace which was also down in the basement. She could not get to the bathroom on her own during the day for there was one in the basement and one at the top of the stairs near the bedrooms. None on the main floor.So , she had moved to assisted living and my SO and I had taken over the house. I loved my grandmother's kitchen -it had a breakfast nook as well as a formal dining room . It had a sun porch where my grandfather, a short man of five feet four inches, used to sit in his leather recliner listening to Curt Goutie call the games for the Sox. He was a manufacturer's rep- what Arthur Miller would have called a salesman. But he was no Willie Loman . I hated Miller's play because it made salesmen look like losers. Many of them were not. My grandfather had the gift of the gab - with taunting Scot eyes.Sometimes it was hard to tell when he was kidding. He had lost much of his family's money through no fault of his own during the Depression. He accepted it with the best of sportsman like behavior - ate peanut butter sandwiches while on the road- and bought my grandmother her house- cash in the middle of it . There was a porch divan with poplin green slip covers which rocked slightly. Bored with the baseball , I had been known to fall asleep on that divan. He had quit school and supported a widowed mother and his two sibling, a girl, Olive and a boy, Jack. All three were dead by the time that I came along . He had sent himself to both a Catholic and a Baptist seminary and did not attend church. He read everything and accepted little on face value.

In the Spring white and pink lilac trees bloomed next to their two car garage.. You can see it from the breakfast nook which was wall papered in red roosters on a yellow background. When they were in full bloom, my grandmother, a large woman of six feet in height would cut me armsful of those sweet flowers. In front of that , my parents had a small vegetable garden . I was not allowed near the gardens -for my grandparents lived close enough to the Blue Hills that rattlesnakes and cottonmouth were known to frequent their land.
In the Spring of my eighth year , my eighty year old great grandmother, moved down from her farm in Chester , NH . She was a firey Irish woman who had grown up Catholic- she could quote and believed in her bible. Born in County Cork, she moved to Nova Scotia with her family, met my great grandfather, Martin , bought a farm in NH and converted to Protestantism because it was the closest church. When she moved to the United States, she never spoke Gaelic again because she was now an American. Americans spoke English.

So this house was our history and I loved it. Julius, who had come from a family of apartment dwellers was thrilled to have a permanent home. I loved the white built in china cabinets in the corners which housed my great grandmothers tea pots and cups from Ireland but alson my grandmother's mismatched best Limoge china from sets gone by. Her red mahogany table filled most of the room except for a red mahogany buffet along the left wall. Above that was a gold framed mirror. When my grandmother transferred title to me, I kept her furniture. When I sat at that table , on the crimson, olive and gold striped seats- I heard my grandmother's voice ,even years, after her death asking me to remove my feet from the wrungs of the chair, just like when I was 5. Sometimes I would put my feet there just to hear her voice. That grand table was always covered by a linen table cloth that her mother had embroidered. The braids in the rug under that roan tinted table had been done by hand by her mother, in deep jewel tones of garnet, emerald, sapphire, charcoal, as well. We used to take her to the woolen mills to buy remnants which would be braided or hooked into rugs for the house. I used to walk the rounds of the braided rug in the front entryway.

In the upstairs bedroom to the right of the stairs , there were dormer windows. You only see them now in the really old movies. Something where Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney would want to convert the two car garage into a theater to save the neighborhood library or other worthwhile project. I changed the wall paper because the pattern of diagonal roses in that bedroom with the mahogany rice carved bed and bookcases - tended to shift whenever I was ill , making me more nauseous than I might have been, still I loved the room though the closet space was small. Between the two bedrooms was the bathroon with its 1950's white and black tiled floor. The guest bedroom sported twin beds. a maple dresser and dressing table with cherbic crystal lamps. The half bedroom through that, had been converted to my office from where I corrected English papers in the evenings after dinner, far away from the noise of the television on the first floor.

My grandparents had had a good life, though not always an easy one in this house. It was in the days when there were families of responsibility living there. When ownership meant commitment- and pride, something that I found lacking in the recent changes. At the end of our street, Wentworth's drug store had been sold to CVS. I had known Sam, the father and Bob , his son,the owners, all of my life. They made me my first cherry coke using soda water, syrup ,and real cherries. Sam, a chipper man built rather like Monty Wooley, had wasted away of cancer, working until he could not any more and dying a year later in a nursing home. Bob, who looked like Robert Cummings, had told me how to make tomatoes so that they would taste good- he had sold my grandfather and I copies of the Boston Globe and The New York Times, as well as magazines about the Monkees and the Beatles. I bought a hamburger plate lunch at their counter the day that I went to see Thunderball. He told me about Robert Matheson's writing and helped me tie square knots for Girl Scouts. Bob died about four years after taking over the business from his father. Two men not from the neighborhood had come in demanding drugs and money- they shot him ANYWAY, after he filled their wishes. Tribally the neighborhood grieved. One of their own was dead.

It used to be quiet on my grandparents's street. Children used to ride their bikes and be safe.
a wakeup call was sounded when the little girl two streets over , a teen really for it was the day after she turned fifteen , when she disappeared. My grandparents , too old to join the search , helped man the phones and passed out cookies, sandwiches and water to the searchers. Metro police rang doorbells and called friends . Maryanne was no where to be found. Her mother wept on tv and her family's priest asked us all to pray. She was found in the spring in a state forest one hundred and fifty miles away. Some Boy Scouts braving an early spring on an over night camping trip, found her rotten body tied to a turpentine pine. Her head fell off when they touched her. It was then that the realization that no one really knew anyone shot through us like a bullet. A few months later , the manager of a nearby shoe store was arrested- at the time that Maryanne disappeared, he lived in the apartment building behind the swamp that abutted my grandparent's property below the lilac trees. She had been raped and abused. It could have been me. It could have been any child from the neighborhood.

As termites eat wood, so does change consume what is known . Change is destruction and destruction sometimes engenders growth. Plants become mulch and old habits die. With what they are replaced is our choice. If it beneficial or deadly. One must be cultivated , the other culled.

By keeping my grandmother's house- Julius and I took our stand. If it makes us snobby so be it. All are welcome to seek the dream but only if they exhibit the respect engendered by tradition. A tradition where children play safely and people donot jump at shadows. Where maple fronds are raked away not broken Budwiser and Jack Daniels bottles. We are the decendents of the Old Guard. We are the children of the Mayflower and those ships that followed, of the Puritans and those who braved the Salem trials,the Revolution, the Lowell girls,the McCarthy Hearings and Civil Rights initiatives. So donot tell us that we are not up to the challenge- we just refuse to surrender.