The Sleepy Shoemaker

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The shoemaker claimed that elves made his wares. It might have been true. Even his wife never saw him working. He gabbed and napped the day away, but all night he cut and stitched. After a television personality interviewed him, business soared.

Success cured him of insomnia. He worked afternoons and into the night, falling asleep before finishing his orders. Still, every shoe was ready in the morning. Puzzled, he kept himself awake drinking coffee and pinching himself when his eyes drooped. Just when he couldn’t keep from nodding, his wife sneaked in.

“It was you,” he said.

“Who else?”

The Intersection of Three Tales

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The bears were shocked when they arrived home. Their cottage was a mess; broken furniture, dirty dishes, spilled porridge. Clearing the table, Mama found the house sitter’s note.

My Dearest Bears,
	
         A most frightful situation has befallen my grandmother. She was nearly eaten by a wolf and I must stay with her as my cousin, Red, has used all compassionate leave. 
	Another cousin, Lorelei, will house sit. She runs with a careless  crowd. I will cover all damages.

Regretfully yours,
G. Locks

Surprising Mama, a spiky haired stranger streaked out the door, into the river and was never seen again.

He’ll Never Be a Real Boy

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Dick Dern opened the nozzle, turning a spray of water on his classic Cadillac. With a vague feeling of déjà vu, he rubbed the hood with a chamois cloth and talked the car smoothly into the garage. The man was persuasive.

He walked inside to his office, where his wife was shredding papers.

“Honey, can’t we throw this old thing out?” Jane Dern pointed to a manly wooden puppet with a pouting mouth and an extraordinarily long nose.

Dick closed the closet. “No way. That dummy is the most successful campaign prop in political history. I’ll need it again soon. ”

Charming Cindy

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The tag on the salesman’s lapel read Bill Charming. The only customer in the shop, Cindy, had a shoe in mind. A sturdy one, suitable for running.

“How can I help you? Don’t tell me.” Bill opened a gold box. “You’re a dancer. I just know it. And I have the perfect slippers for you.”

Before Cindy could say a word, Bill strapped a dazzling heel on her foot. 

“That’s not what I had in mind.”

But as the second slipper caressed her foot, the world changed around her. She and Bill danced. Around a ballroom. Until midnight’s toll chimed.

Happy Birthday

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We sing Happy Birthday,
A gay grid of celebrants, in a non-traditional party,
All five participating squares bathed in screen light.
Quick to smile, slow to mourn this unknown country.

We clap ourselves on the back, no clue where this is going
Or when we might return.
Time's cycles extinguish candles burning bright. Wax drips fluttering
Quite like a guttering flame: always shifting.

We might gather in person soon,
Seduced by the promise of a wild celebration.
But not today.
Quiet when it's over, worrying.

Waiting, our grand hopes scattered, eyeing the horizon,
Watching in darkness for an illusive dawn.

Ornery

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My ninety-year-old mother is getting stir crazy. She says to me:

  • I’m too old to be alive.

I say:

  • You’re too ornery for heaven and the devil knows you’d raise hell.

She laughs. She roars. She can’t stop.

  • My mother said the good die young, the rest are too ornery.

That’s my grandmother, who was herself pretty ornery and died at a ripe old eighty-seven. Ornerier than Mom.

Ornery, it’s a good word. A word for times like this when the world is upside down. Time to get stubborn. Find some beans, seeds and flour. Happy for a quinoa stash.

She Always Gets Her Man

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Z.Z. had a sixth sense. A magician, he bungled through many close curtain calls. On a rainy Seattle night, Interpol surrounded the stage where Z.Z. was performing. Once again, he disappeared.

The trickster took a cab to the train station. He caught an express to Canada. Amelia, fetching in black lace, bewitched him in the dining car. Upon arrival, they checked into a Vancouver motel.

Within days, she’d talked him out of his fingerprints, tax returns, and aliases. “Can’t be too careful with magicians,” she said running her finger along his spine. Ten minutes later, the Mounties got their man.

Bert’s Berth

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Bert’s Berth, in Sleepy Hollow, is where Ichabod Crane bunks between late night rides. It’s quiet, since Bert’s doesn’t have much in the way of a lunch crowd. Around three in the afternoon, the pub scene starts. There’s beer, stout and ale on tap. Twenty four different kinds of quench, all told. Half are bottled and a third are obscure. Ichabod takes dinner in his room. At ten pm, he slips out. He stops in for a hot toddy around four am. It’s a small group by then. Most of the guys are off their heads. Ichabod fits right in.

Beats and Barts

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Beats and Barts are both slangy guys. Beats hang in coffee houses reading obscure poems. They wear black jeans, and turtlenecks, and maybe berets.

Barts are regular Joes. Not the coffee kind of joe. They dress casual, cool, and colorful. They’re likely to play pick-up basketball and treat everyone to ice cream afterwards.

How can these two men intersect? They’re father and son. Or a woman is involved, one who time travels from the fifties to now. A feminist before feminism found itself. Imagine, she realizes that her poet isn’t woke. She walks into another dimension. There’s conflict either way.

Notre Dame- Fiction Interrupted

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Word Ladder, Death and Taxes, will continue next week.

We left Paris on Easter of 2015, after ten days of being tourists. Though we hadn’t intended to, we witnessed the veneration of relics from the passion of Christ ̶ the crown of thorns, a piece of wood and a nail from the cross ̶ at Notre Dame Cathedral. This is how that happened. My husband and I were standing in an apse, whispering about how difficult it would be for photo recognition software to distinguish between the apostles pictured in the stained glass ̶ their faces are virtually the same ̶ when a deacon indicated we should move and shushed us with a finger to the lip. A little puzzled, we complied. Looking around, we saw a procession moving along the aisle. A priest (most likely the bishop) held aloft a reliquary containing the glinting gold crown. Assistants on either side held the other relics. For about twenty minutes, they moved slowly through the church as people crossed themselves and bowed their heads.

It is this scene that came to mind when I heard on the radio a few days ago that Notre Dame was burning. My first thought was to hope that it was not the result of a terrorist attack. Following the story in the news during the next few days, I was relieved to hear that the fire was accidental. As information has come in, it seems that someone miscalculated. Things got out of control. Often they do. This might be true for political conflagrations as well. If so, let’s hope that we can get those under control and that a respect for the accomplishments of the past can rescue the future. Notre Dame has been rescued and rebuilt several times.

The Easter Week commemorations for Good Friday and Holy Saturday will be held at Sainte Sulpice and Easter Mass will be celebrated at Sainte Eustache. Sunday organ concerts are held each week at Sainte Sulpice, though I’ve never been. The organ at Sainte Eustache is is quite powerful. I’ve heard it. The seating is spartan, consisting of folding chairs. But this is true of most churches we visited in Paris.

The organ at Notre Dame was spared from fire by a stone roof. When we were there in 2015, a sign was posted on a collection box requesting donations to make a few repairs to that organ. Perhaps now that people have opened their pocketbooks to rebuild the cathedral, the organ can be restored completely. This is how things progress, in fits and starts, forwards and backwards, with a crisis often required to concentrate the mind.