She shuffled past a bevy of women standing outside the general store, their murmuring mouths hidden by folding fans. They watched her small, soft steps, and downcast eyes as she passed by.
“Poor Dawn,” one would say quietly. “Everyday, walking and hoping. Will she ever give up?”
“She won’t,” another would answer. “It’s mor’n twenty years now. If she were gonna stop wait’n, she woulda, by now.” Read More ->
He opened his eyes, looked at the ceiling and waited for the room to stop spinning. A few minutes later he took a chance and rolled over, fully intending to sit up, but decided he wasn’t quite ready. Rather, his gut told him it would revolt if he even tried.
Well, I guess a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt if it keeps peace in the family, he thought. His gut thanked him.
He used the time to consider his situation. He believed he was in a motel room just east of East Saint Louis. He distinctly remembered descending the train steps, crossing the tracks and checking into this room. He also believed it was a Sunday. He was unsure of the date, but it was probably sometime in the spring, maybe late April or early May. Read More ->
I sat looking at the phone. It was one of the old, black, rotary dial phones that no one uses anymore. I know most people now use the new push button phones, but I remember, long ago, talking for hours on end on that old black phone. It sat on the round oak table in the hallway and I would run the cord through the bannister rails as I sat on the stairs. I spent nearly every night there, at least, on those nights I wasn’t out with Martha.
I picked up the handset and dialed “0”.
“Operator? Operator? Can you help me find a number, please?”
“What is the name and location of the party you wish to reach?”
“I don’t know her last name now, I’m sorry. Her name is Martha and she lives in North Brook. She used to be Sullivan, back when I knew her, Martha Sullivan.” Read More ->
It was almost 4 o’clock and the sun was low in the west. The mountain blocked most of the direct sun and caused the flat, shadowless light, the bane of downhill skiers. I knew it would be like that this late in the day. I also knew most accidents happen then, when you are tired, and the flat gray light hid most of the moguls. It was almost like skiing by touch, the subtle changes in pressure on your skis indicated the up and down of the mounds and troughs. If you take it easy, it’s not so bad.
I made one critical mistake. When I skied off the chair lift, I forgot to tell myself I would take one more run that day. Most accidents happen on the last run, not the next to last. Usually, I lie to myself, saying the current run is the next to last, then at the bottom of the mountain, change my mind and decide not to go up again, thereby avoiding that dangerous last run. Read More ->
Located near the New Jersey bank of the Hudson River the clearing was bordered by several large trees and spanned ten paces. Fading shadows crossed the clearing as dawn approached.
Four men stood in the clearing at the four points of the compass, watching each other. A solitary man stood off to the side, with his back turned, pointedly not witnessing the events unfolding behind him.
Just as the sun broke over Manhattan Island and reflected on the dawn-calm waters of the Hudson, the man facing north raised his weapon and fired it into the air. Through the smoke-filled air in front of him he saw the flash of his opponents’ weapon, heard the report, then lowered his pistol. Read More ->
Mike woke as his alarm clock announced it was 5:30 AM. His eyes fluttered for a moment before they opened fully. He lay there organizing his thoughts. This was going to be a
telling day. First breakfast with the Chamber Chair, then meetings with the Treasury Secretary, followed by another meeting with State before lunch with the Idiot. He yawned one last time, stretched, then rolled over out of bed. What was that lump on the other side of the bed? Oh, he remembered now. She arrived late last night, after he was already in bed. She entered his bedroom, undressed and crawled into bed next to him. Read More->
Stephen left the two pilots sprawled on their retractable steps, walked back to the hanger and pushed both doors open wide. Reaching to the right, he flipped the light switch, bathing the entire room in glaring fluorescent light. It wasn’t a large hanger, but he had no trouble earlier guiding his own jet inside and turning it around to face the hanger doors to be hidden before the Gulfstream arrived.
“Ready to head back home,” he subvocalized.
“Hold on. You have another assignment today, Stephen,” he heard through his implant. It was more a heard/felt sensation. There was no audible sound as such. The specialized cochlear implant fed electronic pulses directly to his auditory system, just as the nano-electrodes in his voice box and neck transmitted words as if he actually spoke them aloud. Read More ->
Preface: I saw a young (to me anyway) woman sitting at one of those cell phone charging counters in the airport this morning. Dressed pretty much as described here, she was alone, but apparently waiting for someone. She was charging an iPhone X, I think. Thus ends reality.
It sat there, on the counter, silent, waiting for the exact time, and it new the time, exactly.
The woman picked it up, checked the time and set it back face down on the counter. She wore a bamboo colored blouse and contrasting pleated skirt. A tartan Kerry jacket mocked the plainness of the blouse and skirt. Her short blond hair was cut in a Mary Poppins bob and a scarf of one of the tartan colors circled her neck while sensible heels of a second tartan color adorned her feet. Read More ->
“Come in, Mike. Take your usual seat,” the tall man said, motioning to the empty chair.
“Thank you sir,” he said, nodding and walking around the small white draped round table, set with two ornate place settings, opposite each other. Mike’s place was with his back facing the window. He preferred this side of the table. The sun wasn’t in his eyes and he could see the other man’s face, fully illuminated, nothing hidden.
They both sat, unfolded their napkins in unison and laid them on their laps with almost military precision.
As Mike had hoped, the sun struck him from behind, casting a misplaced halo around his short white hair. Read More ->
“Pfeeeeet…pfeeeeet.” The factory whistle blows.
“Two,” he thought. “Time to get a move on.”
He tossed off the covers, petted the dog’s head, made sure Sally was still covered by the blanket, padded barefoot to the bathroom and closed the door after him. After a quick shower and shave, he donned undershorts and socks before stepping into his factory supplied one-piece olive drab uniform. He paused for a moment, his one-piece around his ankles, and inspected the burns on his arms and legs. The scars looked clean and healthy. That’s good. Tugging up his uniform before the pulling the chain on the single light to the left of the mirror over the sink. The bathroom relaxed back into its nighttime solitude. Read More ->
The corn was tall, even for this late in the season. It must be eight or nine feet, well above my head. It was that light, dead, dried brown and would normally have been harvested a month ago, but for some reason, was left standing, cut in a precise straight line along the field.
I stepped between rows of corn, like a ghost, making no noise, rustling no stalks. Beyond the rows ahead, I could see the lush green field of short cropped grass and farm house up on the hill beyond. Feeling, awkward, unsure of my steps and movements, I stopped just short of the edge, remaining hidden in the corn. It was quiet. As often said in the thrillers I used to read, it was too quiet. There should be more farm bustle now, at the end of the season. I wondered where the farmers were. I wondered why they left this corn standing, yet grateful for the refuge. Read More ->
I cut the lights a block before I arrived at her house. I hate this part. It was almost 2 AM and like my father always said, “Nothing good ever happens between midnight and four in the morning.” I quietly pulled up in front of the house, turned off my car and silently closed the door. I was palm sweaty nervous and the pit of my stomach was heavy as I again rehearsed the upcoming conversation. Read More ->
“It’s 100 degrees out Rose. Do you really want to go for a walk?”
“It’s NOT a choice, Dad. I gotta go outside,” Rosie said with a strong sense of urgency. “Anyway, it’s a dry heat. Not like back home.”
I snuck a quick look out of the side of my eye at her, like a husband in a Hooters, and said, “It’s humid in San Jose, Rosie? California, that is.”
As I open the drawer on the end of the drop leaf table in the front hallway and remove her bright pink leash, Rosie started running around my legs, dancing and prancing.
“Let’s get a move on Dad. I really gotta go!” Read More ->
She is a small, dark complexioned woman, not five feet tall, but of course, she is sitting now, one hand resting next to the button on the pleasure panel in front of her and the other holding both a now cold coffee between her forefinger and thumb and a dead cigarette dangling between her ring and little fingers. After one drag some of the ash fell into the coffee, but she is oblivious. Read More ->
We left for our morning walk at 5:45 AM as usual, and, as usual, walked up the driveway before turning left up Scenic Drive toward Newsome Heights. The hedges lost their beautiful spring red flowers, or leaves, I could never be sure which they were. We turned right, past the yellow fire hydrant. Rosie has no interest in the fire hydrant. Maybe because she squats to pee and doesn’t lift her leg, or maybe because none of her friends frequent it either. We passed John’s house on the right then Harry and Kathrine’s house on the corner, next to the second yellow fire hydrant. Then we saw them, or rather they saw us. There were a lot of them this morning, not the three or four we often see. Read More ->
“Garden, Rose. Garden!”
She looked up from her designated spot on the sofa, cuddled up against Mom, then put her head back down on her front paws, oops I meant feet, not paws. She had corrected me about that often enough. I didn’t want to re-litigate that discussion.
“Hey! Let’s go to the garden, Rosie. Come on. Get up!”
Rosie lifted her head again, glanced in my direction, then back at Mom. Slowly she stood up, stretched her front end, legs out straight and low and butt high in the air before she leaned forward and stretched her hind end until her legs started to shake. Read More ->
Fran texted Jen when we were in Loomis to let her know we were five minutes away. We turned right, just past the Snoopy mailbox and drove up the dirt driveway continuing the
big right turn, up and around the corner, through the open sliding gate. Rosie was leashed with her bright pink leash to the “waiting for pick up spot” as we entered the parking area. When she saw me open my door and start to climb out of the car she jumped up, spun 180 degrees and promptly slipped out of her collar. That was a cute trick she picked up when we first adopted her. I can never tighten her collar so that it isn’t too tight, but such that she cannot slip out of it. Excited, she ran over to me jumping up and down and spinning in circles. Read More ->
Following our normal morning pee and poop routine I walked Rosie around 5:45 am last Tuesday. As usual, she was a good girl, marking all her normal lawns and pooping on her favorite. Rosie likes to strafe poop, spreading
the wealth across the lawn and ending up on the sidewalk. During daylight hours this makes dooty duty easy as you can just follow the path back to the first bomb. When its dark and you are using a flashlight, not so much. Even though her business was complete before we were half way around the block we decided it would be a grand adventure to continue on, rather than retrace our steps (and smells.) Read More ->
The steps leading to the entrance of the Lazy Dog R
estaurant and Bar were sandstone tan
and edged with dark brown, no doubt painted to help patrons better see each step and not trip. Too bad the architect thought adding one extra dark brown line on the tan sidewalk spaced one step width from the first real step would be attractive. All it really did was to create a fake step which caused me to trip before I reached the real step. Rosie thought that was amusing. Read More ->
Just before dawn, the sun still hidden behind the trees, hills and homes to the east, and the sky paling to light blue, orange and white. The crescent moon and one star, actually it was probably the planet Venus, were barely visible in the western sky. We turned right a couple of minutes earlier and were now approaching the next right turn. Rosie pr
anced along the sidewalk while I followed keeping up with long strides. I am shorter that I was a couple of decades before but luckily still have long legs. She likes to keep the leash taught to be sure I am still there. I always try to keep the leash slack so she will look back and up at me every few steps, just to be sure. She is so damn cute. Read More ->
“Dad! DAD! Can we go outside now? Please!”
“OK, Rosie. Let me get my raincoat.”
“Oh no! Is the sky crying again, Dad?”
“Not yet, but it looks like it will be soon. This is a perfect time to go for your walk.”
I put on my raincoat and clicked Rosie’s bright pink leash to her bright pink collar.
As usual, she spins around in several circles, tail wagging and a big smile on her face. I open the door and step out of the way as she prances out the front door, first again, as usual. We are nothing if not two creatures of habit, and Rosalita always goes out first.
Just outside, she stops.
“Dad, the grass is peeing up.” Read More ->
“Don’t leave me here, Dad! I’ll be good! Please!!”
“We’ll be back next week, Rosie,” I said, rubbing her head one last time. “Have fun with the other dogs.”
Fran and I were dropping Rosie off at her boarding home while we vacationed in Southern California. Read More ->
A couple of weeks ago while listening to the radio I learned the song “Somewhe
re Over the Rainbow” was written in 1938 by two refugee Jews, Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen. Harburg used the song as a political subtext to express hope for America under FDR’s New Deal, as the nation was still suffering through the Great Depression. Although written for The Wizard of Oz (released in 1940,) with WWII fast approaching it also served as an anthem to the spirit of the Jewish people.
While doing the small amount of research I do for these stories, I realized I could not write a true depiction of life in Poland and Germany during the pogroms and ghetto era of that time. The atrocities inflicted on the Jews, and others, requires skill beyond mine to do justice to that story. This is a song about bad times, but with the absolute faith that we will weather those times. Someday we will be over the rainbow and we will f
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” remains totally relevant today. Read More ->
First the lyrics, to refresh your memory:
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Your daddy’s rich, and your momma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby, don’t you cry
One of these mornings, you’re gonna rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings, and you’ll take to the sky
But till that morning, there’s a nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy and Mammy, standing by
Her shirt was soaked-through transparent. It was one of her older brother JJ’s cast-off white wife beaters. She hated that name, maybe because it rang too true ‘cause she saw Mammy some mornings before she put on her face. Trickles of sweat dripped down her throat, between her breasts. The hot plastic truck seat stuck her shirt to its back and burned her butt. She’s gotta remember not to wear those torn-off blue jean short shorts, even if they do show her off. But it didn’t really matter. Read More ->
The sun hovered just below the horizon, blankets of gray/white fog slept in the valleys below, nestled between small rolling hillocks, reaching up with slowly undulating arms to the tall maples and pines. Unable to see anything but the tops of the tallest tree
s, everything will depend on only feel and sound until the fog burned off. The grass underfoot was wet. Slippery. The flat shelf of ground cut deeply into the steep hillside overlooked what, in a few hours, would be a beautiful landscape.
Tauntingly, “Go ahead, Einstein. Hit me. I️ dare you.”
Snidely, but a little flustered, “Is that all you got? What a wimp. “
Angrily, “Shut up. “
“Next time, swing like you mean it. “
Sarcastically, “Ha, ha, ha, ha. You almost missed.”
More angrily, “I️ said shut up.”
Sneering, “Yeah, but you did almost miss, and besides, it didn’t hurt a bit. “
Defiantly, “I️ said, be quiet. I️ am not listening to you anymore. “
Swing. Bam! Read More ->
I woke early this morning, before the sun, before the dog, and finished my normal morning routine, including breakfast and newspaper. I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Rosie, our rescued Havanese mix, came slowly stretching, one end at a time, around the corner for her morning belly rub. Another creature of habit.
“Time for our walk,” she said.
“Yes, Rosalita. Let me unplug my phone and turn on POTUS and we can go.”
“Speaking of going, Dad, let’s get a move on.” Read More ->
I just finished adding the bread ingredients to my larger mixer. (Fran bought me a 7-quart KitchenAid mixer last summer as my little one was tired from heavy use.) Before I could attach the dough-hook and start the initial mixing, I heard,
“Daaaaaad! Gotta go!!”
“Just a minute Rosie. Let me start mixing this then we can go.”
“No Dad. I don’t mean I have to go soon, I mean I have to go now. Like, right now!”
Sigh. “Fine. Let me get my coat with the hood and your leash and a poop bag. Then we can go.” Read More ->
It’s warm in front of the fire. The rug is soft, so soft. I am glad they bought that thicker rug pad. In a few minutes the blower will come on, then… pure heaven! You know, I could pull my bed over right in the hot air stream, but that may be too much comfort and definitely too much bother. I would probably doze off and not be able to just lay here and enjoy myself, watching them.
The big talking electric window is turned off and Dad is sleeping in his chair. Mom is using her little electric window, reading. It’s quiet. Perfect. Read More ->
The few wispy clouds reflect pale orange as the sun lay just below horizon. The sky over the city was gray and the buildings, still black silhouettes, were scattered with yellow lantern-brightened windows.
Fine silks drape him from the waist down as he lay on his side gazing out the door leading to his bedroom terrace. A wife, snoring softly, lay next him, naked, having no doubt kicked the covering off during the typically warm night. Read More ->