Alone

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You back out of the driveway, past the “For Sale” sign, into the same roads you sped over in high school. Some blacktop. Some gravel. All deserted. No one caught on and you never got caught.

You know you can drive fast until you get to town. Then slow to a crawl. Wave at Mrs. Brown. Pull up to the undertaker’s where your honor student persona worked ages ago as a receptionist. A job where straight white teeth counted.

When you said good-bye, locked the door on that past life, you never intended to return. But now, alone, you’re back.

‘Til Debt Do Us Part

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When the Titanic sank, it was accompanied by the strains of the orchestra playing Nearer My God to Thee. The music calmed survivors and doomed alike. Maybe the musicians thought there would be enough lifeboats to get away at the last minute. They clearly felt an obligation to provide art as a bromide for the fear of imminent catastrophe.

Once the damage was all sorted out, the musician’s families received bills from the ship’s booking agency for the tuxedos that went down with the ship. Come hell or high water, they would collect what was owed them. Business as usual.

She Had a Natural Talent for Clowning

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Anastasia’s body joked in broad gestures while her face screamed wry. With a tilted head and a mincing clown step, she could amplify a joke into a stand-up routine. The final requirement to fulfill for matriculation was choosing a name.

When Anastasia asked her mother for suggestions, Clotilda was inscrutable. She frowned and shrugged. “Finding a name is a singular quest.”

Anastasia left the house in a huff. Children playing outside imitated her strut, parading behind her. She walked backwards, raising her arms like a majorette or a policeman directing traffic.

And then the name popped out. “Boza Boza Boom.”

Aces Low

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In the kind of stunning reversal the president is famous for, Trump declared that he will be going back to Germany, where he came from. Pouting, Trump said, “No one appreciates my genius. I made America what it is. The Dems broke it.”

It’s not the first time a Trump fled their country. Trump’s grandfather came from Germany as an economic migrant. His grandson would have kept him out. Friedrich dodged the draft in Germany, so they didn’t want him either. Like his grandson, he was not a patriot.

Trump might decide to stay here. Germany might not have him.

Thinking About Birthdays

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Agapanthus always seem too big for the vase at the cemetery. So I bring something smaller, something that doesn’t grow in the yard.

Samuel’s life was brief. Before he died, he held my finger. Breathing through a respirator, breathing through pain, breathing away the last hours of his life; he loosened his grip. The tight fists that fought to stay alive loosened so his cold hand held my finger once before he passed.

I’m glad we had that contact, just like I’m glad to be part of my two son’s lives. Still, I sometimes wonder who Samuel might have become.

Birthday Wishes

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“He’s not old enough for live ammunition.” As if settling the issue she said, “He hasn’t even made his first communion.”

“He’s a good shot.” The boy’s father turned up the stairs. He wrapped the box of bullets in teddy bear paper and stuck a yellow bow on top. He never had been good with bows. But he knew she wouldn’t wrap it. Not after that tirade.

Timmy’s kindergarten buddies would come sit around the festive table. His father set the ammo carton near the cake, pride trumping judgement, fear overcoming reason.

She would pray for them both.

Alabama Justice

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A pregnant woman approached the battered wooden desk at her hometown police station. “Charge me with endangering my fetus.”

“You’re Buck’s wife.”

She nodded. “He’s the one endangering.”

“What you do to git him riled?”

It was always the same. They wouldn’t take a report.

“I read it in the paper today. He was mean when I married him. I’m ready to pay for my crime.”

“You got any marks?”

“Not yet. Just threats.”

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it, Mrs. Buck. Go on, now.”

A woman officer came in. She made the arrest.