Silver Linings

Photo by Peter Kessler

The silver lining in our Covid story almost didn’t happen. My son responded to a Facebook post. A Michigan friend, who was stationed in Afghanistan, posted a message from a Sacramento friend who had housing for herself, but not her pets. Through social media, they spanned the world to locate a fostering contact point. 

It was a risk. Little was known about animal-human transmission, so we were leery of the multiple moves the dogs had made on their way to us. Potential virus vectors. But when Max noses in or Kohnan sings opera, I’m glad we took the chance. 

Welcome Gnome

Photo by Monica McHenney

An innocent mistake, pressing the camera button. The Welcome Gnome on the front steps stirred, his soul waking in the hot California sun.

“Water. Make it a spray, a spate, a mist. Elsewise, you’ll suck the life from this old soul.” The gnome skittered into the shade of an overhang.

The hose sang clear wet.

He wavered, quivering silver like a heat mirage, so that she queried, “Are you okay?”

“Delete the picture.” He hovered, real and unreal. “Stuck in a camera, I’ll shadow to dust. Resting, must, in the garden. There’s a spot for me. I’ll find my way.”

Not An Emergency

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There was a fight about money after my father’s funeral, though money played no part. The details don’t matter. Proximity: same car, same hotel, same any building and we erupt. It would have been a ruckus except our husbands intervened. My sister pushed a finger at my chest. Ghosts burned through me. We could have been scrambling over sharp-edged furniture into the emergency room.

The argument was predictable, something to schedule for a convenient time. A time free of hot flashes and cold stares. After forty years of not settling things, the fracas was expected, even anticipated. Not an emergency.

Interview with the Antichrist

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Why resign?

— E-mail. God sent me a cease and desist order. It’s here somewhere. Oh, maybe it got trashed when I ran out of space in my Yahoo account.

Were you surprised?

— Yeah. He doesn’t know me from Adam.

No idea you were evil incarnate until God got in touch?

— How would I know? The Biblical criteria are all over the map. Nero, half the Popes, fictional characters, even cardboard reality TV stars qualify. Another reason to quit.

I’m hearing that presenting as a sympathetic character is important?

— More like well rounded.

So what’s your next gig?

— Fairy tale villain.

John Lewis- 1940 to 2020

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John Lewis was buried this week in Atlanta. He grew up in Troy, Alabama, where using a public library was for whites only in 1956. Sixteen years old, he sent the city council a letter, the first of many times he protested Jim Crow.

Arrested 45 times in civil rights demonstrations, he was known for making “good trouble.” Also for mobilizing political action with the phrase, “We’re going to march.” In 1987, he marched into Congress representing Atlanta.

Can’t stomach an unfair legal system? Can’t accept people getting arrested for exercising the First Amendment? Stand with John Lewis’s legacy. Support change. Vote justice.

Space Trash

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Insects buzzed in Angie’s ears. The air was cooling, the way it did during her afternoon soaps.

Something outside announced itself with a booming jet plane noise. Ted ran through the living room, onto the patio. The object he found was small, less than two cubic inches, but heavy.

After toing and froing past the telly, he showed Angie a piece of debris clutched in an oven mitt. It was a burnt toast color. “Space junk. Like the magazine picture.”

“Sure ’nuff.” She motioned Ted away. “Better save it. Call up the museum to collect it later, after my shows.”

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.”

One Way Airport Call

man wearing pink polo shirt with text overlay
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His accent moved around a lot, a swampy Southern drawl that sped up to nail a point. It was all factual– temperature, weather, numbers, deals notched up on a piece of wood like hunting prizes. If he had talked about bagging a couple of ducks, it wouldn’t have surprised me.

The way he talks makes me wonder if anyone is on the other end. Self talk, tons, clothed in cliched business garb.

Then, he’s staring straight through me, absorbed in his own thoughts. His gaze is steely, purposeful, crushing. Competition and victory are the only things that matter to him.