La Bufadora

On the rocky coastline near Ensenada, BC, is a curious natural phenomenon known as, “La Bufadora,” the Blowhole. La Bufadora is a marine geyser. The spout of sea water is the result of air that is trapped in a sea cave. The air is forced into the cave by wave action. It blows up out of the hole with a spray of water when the waves pull back.

Not far from La Bufadora — which draws a number of tourists, even in winter — is a small market and beyond that is the requisite beach bar. On a chilly March night, Señor Marquez, a grape farmer and vintner, and his farm hand, Jose, were lifting cervezas after a long day clearing winter’s debris from the vines. Jose was Señor Marquez former brother-in-law and oldest friend. They’d grown up together, and when the shame of divorce invaded the Marquez home because Jose’s sister was and remained an incorrigible slut Jose appeared at his friend’s front door, shame-faced, hat in hand, “I’m sorry for my sister.”

“You have no reason to apologize to me. We have always known about Erlinda. Do you want a job? You can move in.”

So Erlinda had moved out, Jose moved in, and life continued smoothly from then on and no one ever guessed the secret of the two men.

The party lights around the bar flickered and moved in the wind. “Los turistas estan commenzando venir.” Jose gestured with his head to the door of the bar where a woman in her forties came in with a dark haired, dark haired boy in his late teens or early twenties.

Americanos?”

“Not sure. La mujer? Si, but el joven, no se.”

There were only two empty seats in the bar, both at their table. After looking around, the enigmatic couple approached. Señor Marquez and Jose stood.

“¿Con permisso?” asked the woman.

“Sure,” said Jose in English. They all sat down. “You speak Spanish?”

The woman nodded and smiled. “Un poco.”

“You study in school?”

“Si.”

“And you, you speak Spanish?” Jose asked the dark haired, dark eyed boy.

“No. I’m Italian.”

“Close though, ¿no?”

Señor Marquez, having caught the eye of the waiter, raised four fingers in the air and gestured to include the whole table.

The woman shrugged. They had a long drive back to San Diego and she was driving but, one beer?

“You know how? Like this.” Jose took the slice of lime from the plate, sucked on it, took some salt and took a swig from his beer. The waiter had brought glasses, but why?

The woman slowly nursed her one beer and waited to see how things would go.

Before long the table was covered with Tecate bottles, salt shaker, small lime slices, empty glasses. In a cacophony of Spanish, English and Italian stories that no one would ever tell rolled across the table’s wooden surface.

“Love is love, right?” said Jose, shrugging. “So now, I am un campesino, trabajo con las uvas de Andres. ¿Y Andres, here? ¡que desastre! Married to my whore of a sister.

No mas,” said Señor Marquez with great passion. “Tengo mi libertad.”

¿Y usted? ¿cuál es su historia?” Jose looked at the woman.

The woman stared into the warm beer in her glass as if looking for an answer that would reveal nothing (the waiter had carefully poured it. A lady should not drink from a bottle).

The young man answered for her. “Too much to tell.”

Debemos irnos. San Diego esta lejos,” the woman said, standing. If the bar had been lit by more than a string of party lights, the two men would have seen her blush.

They shook hands all around, thanking each other for the beer and conversation. When the door closed behind the inscrutable couple, Jose turned to Señor Marquez, “¿Amantes?

Si.” Under the table he reached for Jose’s hand.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/rdp-saturday-coast/

Los turistas estan commenzando venir = the tourists are starting to arrive
amantes = lovers
libertad = freedom
debemos irnos = we have to go
largo viaje = long drive
cual es su historia = what’s your story
trabajo con las uvas = I work with the grapes

Anything else, just ask… 🙂

French Letters

“You were living in Paris?” It sounded incredibly exotic and romantic to Megan.

“It’s just a big city.”

“Why did you split up? I mean, Paris!

“I was doing laundry. I cleaned out the pockets of his shirt and found a French letter.”

“A what?”

“French letter. That was the end. I packed up my things and my daughter’s things and we came back to America.”

The college campus was hosting a nature and culture fair and was full of exhibits. Megan and Sue were there to learn something about the local Indian tribe and to find out if they would be interested in a project they were working on, developing an urban wilderness park. The park’s board of directors wanted the local tribe to be involved in the park’s planning and development. The park was on the tribe’s historical lands, lands which included a couple of the tribe’s sadder stories during colonization by the Spanish.

“You were pretty passive back there with that tribal leader.” Sue’s tone was critical. “You don’t need to hold back.

The leader in question was a tribal matriarch, an older slouch of a woman to whom a park might not matter at all, though the history would. She sat behind a folding table with two young women. On the table was a newly made willow basket in which, traditionally, acorns were stored. The women had literature about the tribe and the new casino. Gambling had recently been legalized on tribal lands, and the tribe was busy building casinos on the vast acres of their reservation. They would end up rich, and casino management would become a major at the local university, but those developments were still in the future.

“I wasn’t passive. I gave her the information and told her that we would like the tribe to be part of the project. If I made a good impression, and she’s interested in what she reads, she’ll present it to the tribal leaders.”

“You should have been much more forceful. You’re not assertive enough. I’ve noticed it before, like when we have our volunteer meetings.”

Megan thought for a moment. She really didn’t know much, yet, about the tribe, but life had taught her that people like to make up their own minds, and she didn’t think the Indian woman would make the decision on her own. And the volunteers? They were volunteers. They had to be invested themselves. She had no authority over any of them.

“Sue, there’s going to be a park whether the tribe is involved or not. The board decided they should be involved if they want to be. I wasn’t ‘passive’. There wasn’t anything else to do or say.”

“Well, I thought we were going to talk to her. That’s why I came. All you did was introduce us and give her some papers.”

“Sue, what are French letters?”

_______________________________

One of my readers mentioned that this story is very dense and she can’t figure out who’s speaking. That’s all on purpose. I wanted to write a story about communication, expectations, secret agendas, underlying motives — all the stuff that emerges in seemingly irrelevant conversations. I think when we talk to some of the people in our lives (the more transient people?) there’s a lot going on beneath the surface and the words that come out are the tip of the iceberg. Basically, what Sue is saying to Megan is “I’d do your job better than you do.” Megan isn’t aware of that, she just thinks Sue is interesting and then thinks she’s hypercritical (and possibly ignorant about matters of diplomacy). It’s the kind of encounter we don’t repeat because we leave it feeling icky and confused. Even the Indian woman is inscrutable which is OK with Megan but not with Sue.

There ARE autobiographical aspects (the fair, the Indian elder, the park) but it’s not an autobiographical story. The conversation is a synthesis of several of these kinds of meetings.




https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/05/rdp-friday-laundry/

Cast Offs

“I took a nap, I don’t know, Tuesday? On the massage table listening to the tape, you know the one I had made of my personal resonating sounds? And I had a VERY important dream.” Shiela opened her purse, took out a smaller purse that held her tea bags and set one on the table waiting for the waitress to bring her pot of hot water. “One thing I like about this place when you ask for a pot of hot water they bring you a pot of hot water. Some places actually bring you a GLASS.”

“What was the dream?” Lissa hated her friend’s way of descending in to quotidian bitching and, anyway, she was sure Sheila had imbued the dream with deep meaning.

“Oh, the dream. I woke up and had only one thought, ‘Share with the poor.’ You know what I did?”

“No. No idea.”

“I cleaned my closet. I separated the worn stuff from the wearable stuff. You know what, Lissa? I have a LOT of clothes I never wear.”

Lissa looked down at her plate. Sheila’s taste and hers were pretty different, still. Sheila bought a lot of beautiful clothes, even if they were more along the lines of hippy-boho-chic than Lissa would ever buy. She swallowed hard. “What did you do?”

“Oh, I haven’t finished yet. I bagged up the stuff I wouldn’t wear but someone would and took it to Goodwill. Then, the stuff I could wear but never do? I’m not sure. I have to give it to the poor, but I’m not sure a lot of it is useful to the poor.”

“Sheila…”

The waitress appeared with Sheila’s hot water. Sheila filled her cup and put in the tea bag. “I always bring my own tea bags,” she said, something Lissa had known for years and years. “Ginger and green tea.” Lissa knew that, too.

“Sheila, I’m the poor.”

“You?”

“Well, yeah. I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores. I was just lucky to find a halfway decent suit for my interview last month.”

“Yeah, but you don’t want my cast-offs.”

“Why don’t I? Either I go through them when they get hung on the rack at Goodwill or you just give them to me.” Lissa laughed. “I mean, you know.

Sheila did know. Lissa was a pro at what she did, but it didn’t pay well and when her husband had left her for another woman, he’d left Lissa with the house and a lot of debt. Lissa worked hard to keep body and soul together. The waitress appeared with their lunches and set the plates carefully in front of them.

“You want to come over after lunch? We can go through all that stuff.”

Lissa was suddenly embarrassed. Why had she said anything? She stuck her fork into the tofu, spinach and walnut lasagna that was a specialty here at Kung Fud. “Never mind, Sheila. I feel weird now.”

“It’s OK, Lissa. I should have thought. But we really don’t have the same taste, do we?”

Lissa shook her head. “No, not really.”

The two women dropped the subject and went on to the usual, Sheila’s problems with her SO and Lissa’s struggles at work. By the time they’d finished lunch they’d forgotten all about the wardrobe discussion. The next time they met for lunch, though, Sheila handed Lissa a package. “I thought you would appreciate this. It’s a work of art.”

Lissa opened it and found inside a hand dyed, hand made Ikat kimono. She looked up at Sheila.

“I got it back in the days I was going back and forth to Japan. I’ve never worn it. I guess it could be a robe or a light coat, but isn’t it beautiful?

And it was.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/04/rdp-thursday-cast-off-cast-off/

Ladies Lunch

“Just the two of you?” asked the girl in the black leggings, black button down shirt and purple cummerbund.

“Yeah. JUST us.”

“Inside or out?”

“Outside, please.”

“Jenna will seat you. Have a nice day!”

Elizabeth and Sharon followed another legging clad nymph, this one also in black leggings and black shirt but with a red-orange cummerbund. “Will this do?”

“It’s fine,” said Sharon.

“Can I get your drink orders? Your waitperson will be Wesley.

“Sure, I’ll have a strawberry daiquiri and my friend will have…”

“A martini, please.”

“Perhaps you’d like to refer to our martini menu. We have a variety of martinis, strawberry martinis, sour apple martinis garnished with a Granny Smith apple curl. There’s our famous Abuela martini with Mexican chocolate and vanilla, or maybe my personal favorite, the Blood Orange which features two citrus juices, strawberry vodka and a splash of thyme infused…”

“A martini. Dry gin, dry vermouth, an olive. Do you have this?”

Jenna nodded. “We do.”

“Good. That is the martini I want.

Sharon raised an eyebrow, “Shaken or stirred?”

Jenna looked at the women blankly.

“Shaken or stirred. Whatever the bartender’s up for.”

As Jenna walked away with their drink order, Elizabeth shook her head. “Remember that Devo song, ‘Freedom of Choice’?”

“No. That kind of music never did anything for me.”

Elizabeth looked across the patio toward the fountain. At a small, intimate table in the corner an elderly couple sat holding hands across the table, staring stupidly into each other’s eyes.

“I just wonder why.”

Noticing the drift of her friend’s eyes, Sharon said, “You’re not going to make another foray into THAT are you? Jesus. You’re nearly seventy.”

“No, but looking back, I wonder why we were all so inarticulate.”

“Who’s having the martini?” Wesley appeared in a red-orange shirt, black pants and violet cummerbund.

“My friend,” Sharon gestured at Elizabeth. “The strawberry daiquiri is for me.”

“I think he could have guessed who the daiquiri is for, Sharon.” Elizabeth grinned. Sharon was the take-charge type, always organizing reality.

“Whatev’. You were saying?”

“Back in our fresh-blossom days, why were we so inarticulate?”

“I don’t think we were. I think we were VERY articulate. Way more than ‘Thx’ and ‘Ur wlcm’.”

“We didn’t have those options. I wonder if I’d been able to text I’d have managed to express more of my feelings.”

“Like what? ‘Luv u’?” Sharon laughed so hard that pulverized strawberries and rum nearly came up her nose.

“Yeah, maybe.” Elizabeth thought of at least ONE situation that would have been helped A LOT with a text saying ‘Luv U.” She took a long pull on her martini. “I don’t think we were all that articulate. Yeah, we could argue about shit, but self-expression? You don’t remember all those seminars, workshops, retreat weekends where couples went off to learn to ‘share’?”

“Oh yeah. Why I didn’t think of those? Those were SO helpful!”

“Seriously?”

“Well, yeah. I found them very helpful, now that you mention it. Didn’t you? Had a lot to do with LSD and self-discovery, if I remember right. It was about discovering our potential, sharing our authentic selves with others.”

Elizabeth shook her head. “I remember going to something at my church where we made collages from magazines to reflect our ‘inner selves’. To whom? All I remember of that collage was lighting a match, blowing it out, and opening the cardboard end to make a roach clip. I glued it to the collage, a 3D feature. As if that was information? It just said I was 18, and I’d smoked weed. I thought I was so cool.”

“Who had the braised veggies with braised mahi and braised vinegar and oil on a plate of braised air?” asked Wesley who’d returned with lunch.

Sharon had her hand upbraised. “I do and my friend is having…”

“He knows, Sharon.”

“OK, right there. A place where you DON’T communicate but you could. You could say, ‘I’m having the freshly smashed peanut puree with grape reduction on the housemade gluten free panini.”

“Esalen. That’s the place everyone was going to. What BS.”

“OK, Liz here’s the thing. You regret you didn’t communicate with the men in your young life…”

“Not as much as I regret they didn’t communicate with me. Now I’m older I get what they were trying to say.”

“…OK, you regret the poor communication, but you reject — out of hand — the things that were around to try to fix that. We were raised by people who didn’t communicate. They drank.”

“I still think those encounter group things are creepy, and I never did any drugs — well, weed. I guess the problem is I’m more Edward Abbey than a touchy-feely encounter group.”

“Edward Abbey? THAT was your model?”

“Maybe. You know what he said about that stuff? ‘Never did get to know those spiritual amphibia crawling in and out of Esalen hot tubs.’ That’s a great line. A Fool’s Progress.”

“Abbey didn’t do so well with luv, either.”


https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/rdp-wednesday-articulate/

Dog Star

“Listen to this, Trish. ‘Vela Constellation: Scientists Discover Closest Earth-Sized Planet Outside Solar System’ That’s it, Babe. I’m outta’ here.”

“What?”

“Vela, in the constellation Vela, there’s a planet, it’s hotter than Earth but so the fuck what? ‘GJ 1132b’. What kind of name is that?”

“A NASA name. I wish you wouldn’t use that kind of language in front of the dog. Is it inhabited?”

“It will be. I’ve shoveled my last driveway. Pulled snow off my last roof. No more pet-safe ice-melter for me, or Joker here, right boy?” He ruffled the ears of the aged golden retriever who was always by his side. “Space, baby. I’m going into space. I was just waiting…”

“For WHAT?”

“A planet in a different solar system — hell, that won’t even BE a “sol”ar system. Who knows what they name their salient star! Wa-HOOO! C’mon boy, let’s get that rocket rolling.”

“Rockets that roll don’t make it to other constellations, sweetheart. Could you reach up there and get the big platter down?”

“What do you need the platter for?”

“Thanksgiving? Two weeks?”

“Oh man, I KNEW there was a reason I wanted out of here. Who all is coming?”

“Your sister, her husband, their grown kids, their little kids, same-ol’ same-‘ol.”

“But WHY? I’d be a helluva lot more thankful if they DIDN’T come.”

“It’s YOUR family.”

“Not my fault, babe.”

“What would you rather do, besides go into space and live on a hot planet? We have hot planets in our solar system. You could go to Venus or, uh, Mercury.”

“Too crowded.”

“How? The only planet in our system with people on it is this one.”

“Right? Crowded. I’m going out to the garage and get to work on the ship. C’mon Joker.” The old dog slowly rose, his lopsided motion revealing the painful arthritis in his left hip.

“Joker should stay in here where it’s warm. Poor old guy.”

“I don’t think he wants to, do you boy?” Curtis reached down to scratch his dog under the chin. In that very moment, Joker collapsed on the kitchen floor. “Trish? Trish?”

“I’m right here, what happened.”

“I don’t know.” Tears streamed down Curtis’ cheeks as he felt the old dog’s neck to find a pulse. “He’s dead. Just like that. Right here.”

Trish went to the pantry and got a large trash bag. “What is that for? Are you putting Joker in the TRASH?”

“No Curtis, no, but any minute now his bowels and bladder are going to realize he’s gone. It’s pretty messy when that happens.” She gently placed Joker’s lower quarters inside the trash bag. “I think you should call the vet.”

“Why? Joker’s dead. What is the vet going to do with a dead dog?” Tears and snot mingled at the end of Curtis’ nose.

“Here babe,” Trish handed him a dish towel.

“Now I REALLY don’t want those idiots in my house for Thanksgiving.” Curtis wiped his face. “I’d better go dig a hole.”

“I’ll help.”

“OK.”

In the end, the dog was wrapped in the trashbag and carefully carried out to the wildflower garden in back where Curtis and Trish had dug the hole. It was Joker’s favorite garden because it attracted the most butterflies. Joker had always loved chasing butterflies, and it was a lovely sight to watch him.

“I’m sorry, honey. I know that dog was your best friend.” Trish wrapped her arm around her husband’s waist. He wrapped his around her shoulder.

“There’s only one thing to do now,” he said.

“What’s that? Get to work on the rocket?”

“Hell no. What would that trip be without Joker by my side? We need to go to the shelter. I think there is another dog waiting for us. Remember how we got Joker?”

Trish thought back. Well, of course. That had to be. “Captain was hit by the car and that night, Joker showed up at our front door. We weren’t even ever going to have another dog.”

“Nope. We weren’t.”

“Well?”

“OK.”

Curtis left the space ship behind and he and Trish headed down to the shelter where a goofy, wiggly brown and white bull terrier girl with a huge grin showed an obvious preference for Curtis over every human in the world. “I’m naming her Star,” said Curtis.

Bag of Beans

“Barb, c’mon. It’s a beautiful day. Let’s head up to the hills and take a hike.”

“Last time we got lost.”

“We weren’t lost. Saying we were lost is a real stretch. We’re here at home, aren’t we? Clear proof we weren’t lost.”

“You and your stupid short cuts. Through acres of dried cow paddies. No. I’m not buying into your ‘rugged individualist’ meta-identity, Trevor. I’m going with Angela. We’re getting mani-pedis.”

Trevor shrugged. He went to the kitchen to make some coffee, but when he got there, he found no coffee. “Sweet cheeks, didn’t we just buy coffee?” he called down the hallway.

“I threw it out.”

“Are you out of your mind? Coffee doesn’t grow on trees! Well, actually it does, but it isn’t free. Why on earth would you throw out five pounds of freshly solar-roasted Colombian coffee?”

“It’s not good for us. I read an article. Drinking a lot of coffee causes digestive problems.”

“Key words there, babe, ‘A lot’. In reality — which you seldom visit — plenty of very reputable studies show that coffee can protect us against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer AND it appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression. You’re just wrong, plus that was $50.”

“I know I’m wrong all the time, but you should listen me.”

“OK, so that’s a blatant contradiction. If you’re wrong all the time, I should absolutely NOT listen to you.”

Barb heard the front door slam. About half an hour later she heard it open again. Trevor soon stood in the bedroom doorway with a small bag of coffee. “Do I have to lock this up or are you going to leave it alone?”

“I hate you.” Barb began to cry.

“Oh Baby, don’t cry.”

“We fight all the time. We don’t like the same things. We don’t agree on anything. Why are we married, especially now that we’re pregnant?”

“Holy fuck, we’re pregnant?”

“I found out yesterday. She reached under her pillow and pulled out the little plastic and paper evidence. Trevor tried not to wince at the fact that Barb had been sleeping with her head over dried urine and, well, he had too.

“Oh, darling!” he wrapped his arms around her, cradled her head on his shoulder, kissed the top of her head, told her he loved her. They forgot all about the fact that they were fundamentally incompatible and each in their private heart, resolved to live happily ever after.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/rdp-tuesday-stretch/

Transformers

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “An Odd Trio.” Today, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel.

“Mom!”
“What? I’m in the kitchen. Quit yelling. You think this is the Greyhound station or something and you’re the station master?”
“Ha ha. Where’s my towel?”
“What towel?”
“My Transformers towel. My beach towel. I got swim today.”
“I have no idea, Larry. It might be in the dryer. I did a big load of towels yesterday and I haven’t had time to take them out and fold them. Hey, tell you what. You take them out and fold them.”
“No time, Mom.”
“No TIME? What’s so precious about YOUR time that you can’t help me?”
“Well, you know, carpe the diem and all that. I’m only young once.”
“Right. Well, if it’s not in there, I don’t know where it is. You might want to check your school locker.”
Larry dug around in the dryer and quickly found the brightly colored beach towel. “Got it, Mom.”
“Would it kill you to fold the other towels for me? I have to get to work.”
“It’s bad enough I have to be a latchkey kid without doing your work for you.”
“If you end up raising a kid on your own someday, you’ll find out just how fun it is.”
“Oh mom,” he said, giving her a hug. “I love you, mom.”
“I love you too, sweetie. I don’t know what I’d do without you. Careful on your bike, OK? I’ll see you when I get home from work.”

“Larry, dude, what’s up with you and that stupid ass towel? I mean, dude, this isn’t eleMENTary school.”
“I like Transformers.”
“Yeah, well, those are like TOYS. For KIDS.”
“You played Transformers. I bet you still do.”
Jackson’s face turned bright red.
“Yeah, well, there you go. My dad bought me this towel.” Larry put his hand on the towel as it if were a pet cat or some other soft and precious thing.
“I’m sorry, dude. I didn’t know. You might want to keep it safe, then, not wear it out. Stuff doesn’t last forever.”
“I don’t care. Even when it’s old and worn out, I’m going to like it.”
“Yeah.”
“Did you ride your bike to school? You want to ride back to my house after school? We can watch Beavis and Butthead.”
“My mom won’t let me watch Beavis and Butthead.”
“Why?”
“She says it teaches me to be crude and disrespectful.”
“Too late.”
“Heh heh, heh heh, cool…”
“That sucks, heh heh heh, heh heh.”
The boys collapse into stupid boy giggling until the coach comes in and asks them if they’re going to spend all day there.

When the last bell rings, Larry pushes his bike home and Jackson walks along beside him to Larry’s house. On the kitchen counter is a note, “Hi Honey. I’ll be home about 5:30. Go ahead and fix yourself a bowl of soup if you’re hungry. If Jackson is there with you, DON’T watch Beavis and Butthead. Watch something else. Jackson’s mother called me last week and screamed at me for thirty minutes about how evil that program is and what a bad influence. Personally, I agree with their music critiques, but it is pretty violent and it does exalt stupidity.”

“Your mom writes to you like THAT?”
“Yeah.”
“Wow. So what do you want to do?”
“You want some soup?”
“Naw.”
“Me neither. You want to play Transformers?”
“YEAH!”

The boys high-five and head upstairs. It’s true that Larry does have the biggest Transformers collection probably on the planet.

Warning: Jackson’s mom is right. Enjoy this clip at your own risk.

Here’s the story I wrote last time this prompt came around. I like it! 🙂

Blessed Oblivion

The night was dark, not in the least surprising, and the leaves, shunted about by the wind, spun like small dervishes outside her window. However, since no one saw this, it never really happened. Tricia slept, dreaming of the beginnings of a migraine. “I’ll shake it off,” she thought in her sleep and because it was a dream, she did just that, and slept on. A line of red began to show across the cloud-streaked horizon, and still she slept.

—————-

As the red tinged the sky, Tom was unlocking the door to his sprawling studio apartment overlooking the park, after yet another night of debauchery and remorse. “This has to stop,” he thought, again, as he tottered into the bathroom. He turned on the cold water and splashed some on his face. “I ain’t livin’ long like this,” he thought, looking in the mirror.

—————-

There was frost on the grass in the morning and snow was still a distinct possibility, but for now it seemed spring had come in earnest. The red light of the rising sun painted the faraway snow-peaks pink. Remembering Homer, *ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς, Annie said softly as she stretched and smiled. “Summer sheets. I hope it’s not too soon,” she thought. *Rosy-fingered dawn

—————-

Don was up before light, worried about death. He’d had one small heart attack and was on meds now and taking better care of himself, but he’d also developed anxiety over his funeral. As night retreated, Don was typing furiously on the local community Facebook page, writing his rant about the Catholic church. “I need to plan my funeral,” he wrote. “The Catholic church used to be $150 to rent the basement for an event. Now it’s $250. The church is greedy.” Did he anticipate the backlash and the trolling that would ensue? Among the chain of comments, was, “The church is corrupt. What about all the child molestation the church is paying for to the tune of $2 million?” Here? In this small town? The Parish of St. Joseph the Worker? All followed by a long litany of misspelled factual information from the secretary of the parish explaining the costs of repairs and maintenance in an economy where everyone — including God — struggles to make ends meet.

—————-

When it was over, these four last moments and many others, hurled into infinity by the red flame of apocalyptic justice, sped into the interminable memory of the universe.

—————-

—————-

Luv’ Story

“What’s wrong, darling? Your cheeks look wan and drawn.”

“What???”

“You look pale, tired.”

“Uh, nothing’s wrong.”

“You sure? I miss your rosy cheeks.”

“I have NO idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t sleep, that’s all. So, did you get the raise?”

“No. The subject didn’t even come up in my review.”

“You had an annual review and DIDN’T talk about money?”

“It happens.”

“Not in my world. We need more money, Troy. We can’t keep living like this.”

“What exactly is wrong with ‘like this’?”

“Last night, at Marcy and Trevor’s, we were the only ones…”

“‘Only ones’ what?”

“You know what?”

“No.”

“If we have to have this conversation you just don’t get me.”

“That you’re a superficial, materialistic little bitch? Sweet cheeks, I’ve always known that. So where do you want to have dinner tonight?”

‘Luv (Because I Haven’t Written a Cynical Love Story in a While)

“Where are you going?”

“I’d rather not say. I’m a free person. I can go where I want when I want.”

“Yeah, but, when will you be home?”

“None of your business.”

“Wow. What did I do to deserve this?”

“I feel like you’re smothering me. I don’t have any freedom.”

“What?”

“Seriously. Think about it. You always know where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with.”

“You always know where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with. It’s not like there are any big mysteries.”

“Why not? Wouldn’t some mystery make this relationship more interesting?”

“Seriously. You want mystery.”

“Well, yeah. With everything so predictable it’s not all that exciting.”

“You want excitement. Listen sweet cheeks. Mystery and excitement are not always good things. Maybe the mystery is I have another woman on the side. Maybe the excitement is that I’m leaving you for her.”

“Oh my God, I knew it!”