“Hey, you’re not really mad at me,” I said, gently tugging on his curly chest hair, already graying and smelling so deliciously of him. “Look, look, that’s a smile coming out, I can see it, I can see it!” And, as if my very words cast a magical spell, his facial expression changed. From a puckered brow and a frown, my powers of alchemy brought light into his eyes and a smile broke into blossom on his lips.
He wasn’t mad at me; I could regain my sense of invulnerability, at least in the present moment. Sitting in his lap, I felt at ease, warm, loved, and, above all, safe. Maybe I could even talk him into taking me for a piggyback ride! He would stroll through our small apartment, his strong hands holding on firmly to my ankles, and I would delight in my newfound height, being on top of the world, literally and figuratively! I could gaze intimately at the patterns in the ceiling plaster; I could glory in the texture and feel of the upside-down tulip-shaped light fixture. I was above it all. From this vantage point, I was the monarch of our apartment and thus the whole world -what joy!
That was how it first came to my attention. My beloved hickory walking stick had been unceremoniously dumped in the brown river water, solely to satisfy adolescent curiosity. I don’t know which one of the ten-year-olds said it; nor did I know who actually did the deed. I only knew that my stick was fast disappearing in the swift current of the Trinity River, while I had the forced realization that, while it was a treasured possession – it figuratively represented my authority in the woods – I wasn’t going in after it. Nope. Bad choice. Current too swift, not a good swimmer, it’s just a stick. In that order.
The PS 52-school yard was completely enclosed with a ten-foot-high chain link fence topped off with barbed wire. Why the barbed wire, I’ll never know. The building and its grounds were a lot worse than some of our present-day work-release facilities. Aside from all that, it was one of the better places to play a good softball game. If we won the game, seven or eight of us would try to go home a little richer. With our game winnings in hand, we would go into the far corner of the schoolyard and shoot penny to nickel craps.
I would imagine I was about fifteen or sixteen at the time. Some old biddy who was being her nosey self, called the police to report the gambling activity. Either this harmless activity during the war years must have been unpatriotic, or perhaps the real New York gangsters were all in the armed services. And sure enough, this old-time paddy wagon backed up to the gate blocking our only exit.
This week we take another journey into the fanciful worlds imagined by Marilyn Myerson with a double bill of two somewhat unnatural tales. A sneak preview of each one is provided below. — Editor
I Go By Many Names “I go by many names. I am the Boogeyman, the monster under your bed, I am the monster in your closet, the monster deep in your subconscious. You have never seen the real me: your imagination fails to capture my likeness. Still, in the marrow of your bones, you know me…you know I exist.”
Plants “Once upon a time, the saga began, the world was unbelievably different from the one we now inhabit. In addition to we plant folks, there were sentient beings known as animals. Strange, lumbering smelly beasts, many of them. They were unable to make their own food supply – can you imagine?”
Scene: September 1944, somewhere in eastern Netherlands. Two American soldiers dig in their positions in preparation for Operation Market Garden, a bold effort to push into German territory just three months after the Normandy invasion…..
“These hills are kind’a rough Frank. They seem to drop that artillery right down your neck—”
“Aw, we got it easy. I heard the jokers in Company ‘C’ are really having a rough time—watch it Joe…shelling again.”
“Yeh, we got it easy—just like riding a log down Niagara Falls. Say, how about that picture of that doll of yours? Where did ya’ ever hook up with a trick like that? She your steady?”
“More than that me lad. Keep yer head down, and I’ll give ya the story of Audrey G.—the sweetest little girl in all of Brooklyn ….,
What would a summer reading list be without poetry? Surely no other season is better served by the weightlessness and sophistication of poetic expression. Today’s blog features three exquisite verses bathed in summer’s golden tones, contributed by one of our OLLI-USF award-winning poets. Kick up your feet, sip your coffee, tea or chai and let your senses revel in the refined beauty of language. — Editors
The Temple to Luna, Goddess of the Full Moon, was built in the sixth century B.C. by Emperor Augustus on the Aventine Hill, overlooking the Tiber. There were tumbled tiled floors, double curved stairs, high archways, views of the river on all sides, groves of olives and lemons. On March 31st, upon the completion, a ceremony was held. It is said that the Emperor had commanded Homer to write a hymn invoking Luna, which was to be sung by 27 girls. And the story goes that, when the hymn was sung, Luna rode across the sky in Her silver chariot drawn by two horses, one white, the other black, pulling the Full Moon.
It became custom for a festival to be held each year on March 31st. This year was no different. The Temple had been busy all week … Read more
The whistle screeched from the old kettle, heralding its success in having boiled the water. Louise turned off the gas under the kettle and poured the boiling water into a chipped mug. As she stirred the tea in the mug, she thought again about how that mug had gotten chipped. Davey was almost two when he tipped the empty mug, hoping for a taste of the sugary tea. His little hands couldn’t contain the weight of the mug, and the edge of it fell against his beautiful left incisor, leaving chips in both the mug and the tooth. Louise recalled the hoop-la when Davey lost the chipped tooth the day he turned five. The new permanent tooth had so far lasted the rest of his life…
I was 15 the summer of 1963. It was time of hope and optimism. The promise of Civil Rights had permeated our generation, and we embraced it. We learned all the anthems: Blowin’ In the Wind, We Shall Overcome, WE Shall Not be Moved, argued with our parents about attending the march on Washington, and flocked to the movie theatre to see To Kill A Mockingbird which exposed the underbelly of southern segregation and Jim Crow. And oh how we loved Atticus, the gentle and wise soul whose integrity could not be diminished even as he was spat upon.
Snakes were the subjects of a recent challenge issued to the Imaginative Writing Crew. Some weeks later two contrasting stories arrived in our mailbox, and we thought it fitting to combine them for this week’s blog. Here’s a little taste of each story…..
Blocking my exit was the largest, meanest, blackest water moccasin I had ever, ever seen. Hell, years ago me and the kids would race through the swamps, and never fear o’ nothin’, but this guy was really, really mean looking. As he started his curl, ready to strike, his green eyes flashed from the light of the newly banked stove…..
I reached out, a mite tentatively at first but soon enough my arm stretched out in full confidence to savour the first touch of this magnificent creature. Her skin was dry, nothing “ooky” about it at all….