Heats and Tarts

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The Queen of Hearts did heat some tarts. Baked them in an oven, ten minutes at four hundred then three hundred fifty until brown and bubbly. It was an old family recipe passed down from Aunt Alice before she died and after all was forgiven.

The young Red Queen did vary the ingredients using, for instance, flamingo and mushrooms. That one pinked up nicely, the juices oozing from the vents. Red also made a nutter pie, chock full of died in the wool ideologues. The Cheshire Cat always attended the tea, accompanied by the Mad Hatter. They never grow old.

Heath and Tares

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A heath hike is full of surprises for the observant. Quiet! Do you hear a tittering in the bush there. It’s noisy under that blanket. Don’t be so nosy. Maybe it’s children or birds, in heather or tare, not secretive lovers panting. Imagine hide and seek games or the rattle of empty seeds. Take a minute away from the world. Avert your eyes. Give them some privacy. It’s no more than you’d want on a cool spring day in the middle of April, after the lambs are shorn and before the wool is knit into sweater gifts for the holidays.

Death and Taxes

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The whole thing started when Joe decided to do his taxes. He got himself a mug of coffee and poured in a little Irish whiskey left from St Patrick’s Day. Stirring in sugar, he took a sip and decided it was just the thing for an afternoon of crunching the numbers. He whipped up cream and spooned it on top. Carrying it into his study, he sat in front of the computer and opened his tax software. Three hours later, he was finished. He had a heart attack when he saw the bottom line. His wife blamed the whipped cream.

Bezerkely Buzz

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There’s a buzz in Bezerkeley. Just a fly. Not a contact high. Swatting the pest, I cross campus. The fly follows me.

I took a shower. I say it out loud. That gets a few looks.

Embarrassed, I wave it away with my copy of The Daily. Sprinting through Sather Gate, breathing hard, I slow. Gliding ahead of me across a wide swath of grass, an owl skims the air just inches above my head. The fly tumbles in the jet stream of the bird’s wings.

Psst, a pesky whisper. It’s back. A streak of grey, a flycatcher. No more fly.

Library

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He could not sleep. Padding to the kitchen in pajamas, he heated milk. Needing a cozy spot to sip it sent him from room to room, landing him in an overstuffed chair. Children’s illustrated books jumbled together with thick tomes, Pooh next to Jung, a shelf up from Wittgenstein, a shelf down from a huddle of keepsakes. He touched their textures, wound up a song. A tiny bowl, a Nutcracker ballerina, a music box, a rabbit tail.

A last ounce of milk. He rubbed his eyes and paged through his wife’s last drawings. Their life together. Now he might sleep.

 

 

Expectations

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Imagine an elevator on Thanksgiving. You are hurtling into a conflagration of turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and post-modern politics. Your mother, the feminist, stands left. Taking the middle, you and your school chum play at Cockney rhyming slang. Your Uncle Uncle embraces the Madmen Era. He never suspects that your friend, whose ass he pinches, is an expert kick boxer. He expects that gender rules. But it doesn’t. In the hall, she will enlighten him and he will nurse his bruised balls with one highball after another, reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the library.

Observe. You, too, will exceed his expectations.

Gypsy

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A woman worked the aisles of the train, singing a minor key Middle Eastern version of the blues in a guttural language. She wore primary colors in ancient patterns, suggesting crystal balls and gypsy caravans. You could tell she wanted money. Her stooped shoulders and broken teeth said she deserved it. At the end of the car, she pulled a metal bar from her skirts. Twisting it to jimmie the door, she took a breath in before crossing to the next car. Her scarves wrapped around her hand, she skipped across the swiftly moving gap of light above the tracks.

The President Bombs

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When the president declared war, he united the country. Cities of all sizes came out in force to demonstrate. There were signs that read, “The Achilles heel that made America great,” and, “Heel no, we won’t go.”

Three days on, the generals traded the nuclear codes for a military parade. The president tweeted he was joking. Like Reagan saying he’d bomb Iran. No one corrected the president. Reagan said Russia.

Some people remembered. Putin remembered. McCain wanted credit since he’d said, “Bomb, bomb, Iran.” Someone quipped about rockin’ and rollin’ without a plan. Most people agreed. The president bombed again.