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.