Bad knees run in the family

It happened on a dead run, with the conditions a little spongy – what with all the pleasant temperatures recently that melted all the snow and unfroze the ground.
We were chasing squirrels, like we’ve done dozens of time.
Run, Miss. Trot back. Pant. Repeat.
Trinity tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her back left leg Sunday. She pulled up near the tree, tuned and limped back to me. Flopped down on the ground, panting. It was a long, painful walk home. For the both of us.
The vet isn’t sure how badly it’s torn, but suggested surgery. There are two accepted options for dogs.
One runs $1,200.
The other, $3,500.
Trinity is 10 years old.
I told the vet my situation. That I’d do anything for my dog, but that kind of scratch just wasn’t possible (not with an unpaid furlough coming up – the second we’ve had to take this year).
We’re treating her with strict rest, anti-inflammatory medication, pain meds and a ton of glucosamine.
She’s in a bit of pain and that kills me. Mostly, she knows she needs to rest and I’ve set her up in my bedroom, on her dog bed, with her own water bowl.
I ice the knee (she’s OK with it, but looks at me very curiously) with a package of frozen peas.
I spend my time in there, too - reading on the bed, working on the computer, listening to music. I pray that she'll be OK.
Of course, I did the research.
Turns out, there’s a lot of thought – positive and negative – on surgery.
Was told from other vets, from researchers (third-party) at a university vet med center that with her size and weight, Trin would be better off without surgery. Unless the knee just won't heal. And that depends on me.
I have to keep her quiet and resting for four weeks.
Then, we can start rehab. Swimming would be the best.
Anyone have a heated pool they’d like to volunteer?

Simple fiction, 100 words

Things Are Looking Up
The job wasn’t glamorous, but it was outside and he was thankful.
The company sprung for the jumper, cut ample for his large frame. He’d found the boots at a thrift store, a couple of thermal shirts, too.
If he got in early, he’d bathe in the industrial sink with the industrial sprayer, which left him clean - and pink as a rose petal.
The convenience store owner who cashed his checks let him use the address, since the company required one.
He kept to himself, even when coworkers pleaded for drinks, poker.
He had plans, always.
For a life, risen.

Sunday Scribblings: Aging

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is aging
“Well, we're all as old as we have ever been, and we're all at different stages of considering the aging process. What thoughts do you have on the subject?”
Again, more a prompt dedicated to those who journal.
I, however, twist.

Roger, Roger
Grandpa used to say he lost his ears over Korea.
He'd been a radio operator in a B-29 Superfortress, the aircraft made infamous at the end days of World War II for dropping the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On a bomb run over Weagan, North Korea, a close air support mission, his aircraft was riddled with shrapnel and in the ensuing decompression, both of gramps’ eardrums burst.
“It wasn’t so bad for me,” he said, “but it was really bad for Charlie O’Reilly, the navigator. He wasn’t buckled in and I watched him slowly get sucked out a hole the size of a milk jug, like sausage being squeezed into a casing.”
I liked grandpa’s war stories. I’d sit at the end of his bed while he told them, he in a pair of boxers smoking Camel no-filters and reading a book. He’d give me the books to read after he’d finished, and I’d have to shake out all the tobacco before I started.
Anyway, we’d sit – I’d draw aircraft of the era and he’s tell me of his days in the Strategic Air Command - before grandma - and winked when he got to the good parts about Asia and three-day passes.
Always on the bookshelf that made up his headboard – I never once questioned why he spent his time in the bed, just off his living room and in full view of anyone who walked in the front door while grandma had her own bed upstairs – was a shortwave radio. He’d fiddle with it, slowly working the dial with nicotine-stained fingers picking up news from the BBC, exotic voices (to me) chattering away in Chinese, Italian, Spanish.
On my 12th birthday, he got me my own shortwave radio, a smaller version of his own, lit with the world spread out flat, yellow waves running through it with all the time zones, starting at Greenwich Mean Time. In the darkness of my room in the basement, I’d slowly spin the dial, and pick up all the exotic dialects, the news from England, snippets of ship-bound traffic. Everything and anything.
I’d keep a list of interesting contacts in a composition journal, making neat entries in crisp architect lettering he made me practice (to this day, I can’t write cursive) by country of origin. When I arrived at grandma and grandpa’s house after junior high let out – mom picked me up at 5, when she got off work – we’d compare notes.
“Boy, it’s good you’ve picked up on the magic that is radio,” he said. “Madagascar? Are you sure, or are you just fooling with old gramps?”
I never lost my love for the shortwave, even through puberty, girls, high school, college, career.
By then, gramps had switched to Internet-based frequencies, and while my visits came less and less – jobs and family got in the way – we’d always talk shop. We talked radio. He still kept the huge shortwave on his headboard, and even when my aunts and uncles were drinking coffee and playing cribbage in the kitchen (maybe even sneaking a cold Pabst Blue-Ribbon on the porch when grandma wasn’t looking), he’s be in bed, working the dial like a safe-cracker. Finger-touch control; advancing across the dial smooth and deliberate.
Gramps believed in the power of radio waves.
He died in 2002, just as radio technology was getting smaller, more refined - hell, digital. Just before he died, he bought a pair of fancy, two-way radios, the kind with those new lithium batteries of long life. In his will, he requested that one be buried with him, the other left with grandma. He said he was determined to communicate from beyond the grave, and mom joked that if we didn’t do as he wished, he’d come back to haunt us all.
So in the breast pocket of his best suit, a black wool number, was the radio.
I was the one who made sure it went in his pocket powered up, set for scan, like he’d asked.
The other handset creeped grandma out and after the funeral, it was lost amongst the flowers, cards, cold fried chicken, and casseroles that neighbors dropped off.
That handset never left my memory, even as my own family grew, my hair went gray and the arc of my life continued on it’s path toward its end.
Grandma pasted recently, bringing together a clan that had spread across the country back to the house we lovingly called 416, the street number that was affixed the house in 6-inch, pounded iron numbers.
I was working my way through a second PBR tallboy – my uncles declared prohibition over at 416 – when I went digging though grandma’s ancient oak side table in the formal dining room.
In a drawer filled with gramps’ smokes, reading glasses and other detritus from his headboard (the room was redone into a TV room) was the second handset.
Eager, I boosted it and snuck into the sun porch and switched the handset on. Slowly, I flipped through the channels.
Then, faint through the static, I heard it.
“It’s beautiful,” he said. “We’ll be together again. But only when it’s your time.”

Bad behavior and a new beginning

As I type this, I’m drinking a Manhattan, sucking the barbecue sauce off a pork rib bone, smoking a Dominican cigar and there’s an apple pie in the oven, a pint of Hagen Daas in the freezer and a Porterhouse steak marinating on the counter.
I mainlined French press coffee all day. I ate bagels with cream cheese (twice – for breakfast and with friends at brunch).
Dinner will be the Porterhouse, medium rare, baked potato with all the trimmings and spinach wilted in garlic and bacon fat.
And more bourbon (oh, that smoky goodness).
Sunday, Second Sister’s work is hosting a pancake feed, one of the largest in the city (and frankly, there are many; Midwesterners like their carbo-cakes). I’m going to eat a shitload, and wash them down with coffee and a couple of Cokes. I’m hoping the meal includes bacon; barring that, sausage.
Sunday night’s dinner is a (slight) repeat; New York strip, medium rare, salad with blue cheese, fries – with Velveeta cheese on them. Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, slightly chilled, for desert.
And then….
A fast. A 21-day cleansing of the mind, body and soul.
A strict, nearly vegan diet. No drinking (yipes). No caffeine (yipes).
No catching a meal, in a bowl, over the sink.
(Hey, it's worth a shot.)
Because, I need a new, fresh beginning. I need to do things for me.
Lift my spirits (and, with help from Matthew, cleanse my spirit).
Maybe there will be some shrinkage of my head, so I can get it out of my ass.
Hopefully.

Thoughts, dreams, desires

An insomniac’s thoughts, like the night, are darkest just before the dawn.
Legs form a figure 4 in crumpled sheets, resist the urge to get up, so something. Head rests on hands, elbows out. Cursed looks at the clock, 2:53 a.m.; 3:11; 3:28; 4:01; 4:20.
Think, ponder, grasp.
There’s anger and sadness, thinking that no matter how good you do your job, the company will keep coming back and asking for some of its money back. That you’ve done everything they’ve ever asked – and more – and it can never be good enough. That you've got nothing left to give, a debt that crushes the lungs, the spirit.
There’s the pondering of not making the move in the first place. The pining for the life you had, the social agenda, the house, the girlfriend – but, then, there was the job that you came to despise. You jump forward, move to the prairie and everything is reversed. You work to make it like it was, but the going is slow and the frustrations rise.
Throw in worry and frustration that come when a family member is dying of cancer. The needs that have to be met, the tough decisions that always seem to crop up. The plans you had do not now mesh with the needs of the family. You gladly decide to put your life on hold – such as it is these days – and pledge to do what you can.
Then the pipe dreams come, the lottery fantasy, the one where you write and publish a best-seller, the one where you’re dating the hot brunette from Australia who has a Ph.d and a tattoo and likes to mountain bike (it could happen).
Then comes the realization of freedom, or close to it – it’s a combination of dreams and what would be hard-fought reality – to take this time of uncertainty and go do something constructive. Rebuild neighborhoods in New Orleans; go back to school and write that novel; use your skills for the common good.
And the cancer pulls you back. You’re on hold, remember?
(Why not quit, take care of him fully? You think.)
The dawn breaks and you no longer can hold off the new day.
And you put on a “good face” in the closet to meet it.
Knowing that at some point, you’ll be back in the darkness, awake, thinking.

Desperation fiction

A sign of the times...

Corporate Man
Arms dangle off the deck rails, the smell of the rain sweet in his nostrils; he breathes deep, exhales through a mouth shaped like an O.
Ice cubes clink in the glass he holds in his right hand; his eyes go soft-focus at the flashes of lighting that build off to the north. A storm brewing. A storm brews all over these days.
He’s barefoot – the overhang and a south wind has kept the deck clear of rain – and a shiver runs up his spine. He takes a swig from the glass, amber and smoky and swallows. He thinks it’ll stave off the shivers, the confusion.
In his back pocket, another request from superiors to cut his pay. Along with it, a letter, a pep talk. He’s done with pep talks, he thinks. A flash of anger, like the lightening in the sky, and he grits his teeth hard. Another swallow. Another sigh.
Other workers text, email. He doesn’t send back. The desperation the messages convey are poison; the helplessness a quagmire. He can taste their defeat, the ones who explain it all away with, “At least I still have a job.”
He shakes his head in disgust; another swallow. He thinks, stares into the dusk, gapes into the coming storm.
There will be no uprising, he knows, no revolution.
The corporations have sprinkled saltpeter into everyone’s paychecks, making its workers impotent, harmless as a basket of kittens. An army of Eunuchs, ‘fraidycats.
He musters up the anger again, but it’s a slow burn, less intense. Maybe it’s the whiskey; maybe it’s the timing.
“At least I still have a job,” he says, draining the last swallow from the glass, which he lets fall from his grip and watches, transfixed, at it’s trajectory toward the cement.

An American Sentence

I’m on the road, on assignment, but still wanted to get a little creative writing in. What better way than an American Sentence.

Embers’ orange glow, graceful sparks, transfix the eyes, yet let the mind wander.

Sunday Scribblings, "I come from..."

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is “I come from…”
A Fiction in 58 is all I have in the tank.

Inheritance

I come from a long line of fuck-ups and malcontents.
Laugh, go ahead, it’s OK.
Disenchanted, disagreeable, disheartened.
The family crest : Dead chicken holding a booze bottle, lit Camel in its beak.
Drop out, get knocked up, eat government cheese, boost smokes.
Cycling down.
The $50 manicure, pomade, wool suit doesn’t hide it.
Backwoods perfume.
The stench.

School Daze

It’s one of those situations where delicacy is most required.
And something that needs to be done within full view of other adults.
I was mentoring Friday, reading a few books over a school lunch of pancakes and eggs.
“Look, we got new milk,” Seth said. “It’s cookies and cream. And it TASTES like it, too.”
(It is an “acquired” taste, let me tell you.)
Anyway, we’re halfway into “Snow & Ice,” a book about, well, snow and ice, when Seth said, “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.”
(He is a very well-mannered 8-year-old; when we get together, I make sure we shake hands as an introduction and ending.)
Few seconds later, he comes back.
“Uhh, I have a problem, I can’t get this knot undone.”
He’s wearing basketball warm-up pants, the kind that tie with a shoestring. And there’s a tight little knot in the string.
And instantly, I’m not sure how to deal with this catastrophe.
(And I’m feeling severe discomfort.)
Other tables with mentors and kids look up, smile.
I take out my Leatherman.
“You’re not going to CUT it are you?”
(Now I’m thinking, ‘Mess with a kid’s pants AND bring a knife to school, Oy.’)
“No, bud, watch this.”
And I take the needle-nose pliers and work the knot loose.
“Can you get it now?” I ask, hopeful.
“Yeah, I got it.”
And he bolts for the bathroom.
“Whoosh, that’s better,” he said on his return.
And a weary sigh escapes from my smile.

A splash of fiction

A little slip of fiction, really. A Fiction in 58.

Atonement
Glasses lined up at the bar, 14 of them, filled with smoky bourbon, top shelf. One for each advancing year.
They go down bitter; he grimaces. The empties upside-down on the bar.
A lousy anniversary. Most other days, he gets by.
Fourteen years. She said, “I’m late.”
The clinic bill gets paid by Visa.
Another upturned glass.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are burden, natural and ubiquitous. I opted for a double Cinquain, a poem in two, five lines.

Ubiquitous grayness
bind my burdens tight,
it’s only natural, they say,
for hot tears to stream, natural;
I can’t

Bearing loads
not meant for children,
hands clasped on shoulders try,
it’s cold comfort at best, but
I persevere

Spring in SoDak

Spring evening
The music is faint, it leaks from a balcony where people shuttered from a long winter have thrown open doors, fired up barbecue grills.
They drag canvas sling chairs into the sun, the one going down, but still warm as daylight saving time begins to pay its dividends.
A glass of wine goes perfectly with the barefootness on the balcony.
A favorite song cues up on the changer; shirtsleeves are for now short, or rolled up on white-skin forearms.
The smell of barbecue smoke mingles with lit, scented candles. Breezes circulate dead winter air. Curtains rise and fall like lungs.
The hellos even seem sweeter.

An American Sentence

An American Sentence is a 17-syllable haiku, of sorts.

"A tempest of feeling, he beats a fist on cold windows – laughter, tears."

Sunday Scribblings "Dear Past Me, Dear Future Me"

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is “Dear Past Me, Dear Future Me.” Sort of lends itself to some sort of soul-searching angst – or science fiction.
I chose the latter.

Future Past

The first time we opened the wormhole, we attached a digital camcorder to a 14-foot length of metal conduit pipe, not knowing what to expect. Not ready, or willing, to risk anything organic.
Little did we know, it those days, that when you opened up a wormholes, it was like poking a Styrofoam cup with a needle. Continue in a certain spot and, well, you get leaks.
When the paper was published, announcing our discovery, we all shared in the Noble Prize. We became rock stars. We figured we were the promised ones, Gods, really, with the power to rummage into the past and fix society’s ills, to make a perfect future society.
Hitler never makes it out of prison. Lee Harvey Oswald stays in Cuba. The eight “pilots” are arrested well before 9/11. Katrina burns herself out before making landfall.
Drip, drip, drip.
Of course, if you’re reading this – I picked stationary that I (or I should say “we”) bought in Florence on holiday – well, you know.
The past, like a weakened dam, has collapsed. It has sent a torrent of desolation and suffering into all of those pin-pricks.
Of course, you probably already know all this.
All I can say is I’m sorry.
We deserved a chance to grow old, right?

Saint Patrick's Day (early)

For 30 years, there's been a St. Patrick's Day parade in Sioux Falls. For 29 years, it's been on St. Patrick's Day. This year, organizers moved it to Saturday.
The folks at Spoke & Sport invited cycling types to ride in the parade.
And I loves me a parade:






Just a slip of fiction

A Fiction in 58.

Spooks

There’s a box in the yard that the dogs whine at when they pass. Spindrift snow anchors it to brown, frozen grass. If you listen, and the wind’s just right, you can hear something scratching.
Nobody’s willing to touch the damn thing, kick it over, take a peek.
It appeared the same day old man Rivers died.
Coincidence?

Home and Away

Leaving didn't feel right.
Like a cinder block on the chest, heavy, a dead weight.
Goodbyes were said, promises of status updates, calls with questions. Getting out of town was filled with error, gas pumps that didn't work, wrong turns on highway exits you've taken your entire driving life.
You don't exceed the speed limit, there's nothing pressing at "home." Laundry, maybe, pick at dinner you empty from cans.
Home doesn't feel right. It's your stuff, but there's an edge you can't shake.
Updates given, voicemail and texts, and then you're left with nothing. The ebb and flow of a quiet house, dog tags jingle down the hall, a siren outside.
Tired, you slip into bed, between your favorite flannel sheets that smell so familiar and sleep won't come. The clock gets eyed, the ceiling. Even meditation, or what you think is meditation, doesn't work. Worry clouds everything.
You're home, but really, you're not. You accept that, for the time being, your life is on hold. His is more important.
And you try and adjust.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are cajole, recluse and temper.

Counter Angel
His temper had got the better of him again, this time at the corner convenience store where some snot-nose decided to make a comment behind his back; he turned and took three of the kid’s teeth out with a single punch.
Sixty days in county this time, group therapy, anger management, bla, bla bla.
A recluse by design – the cancer that pulsated in his pancreas the reason – he’d stop by the corner market for smokes, milk and never would meet her gaze.
With her eyes, she cajoled; chocolate pools where most men would happily drown. Not him. He was a hard-ass, a hard-case, bad-ass. Dead man, walking.
He placed two hardpacks of smokes, a quart of whole milk on the chipped counter and avoided those eyes, her crooked smile made more sensual by a small scar. He looked instead at the wad of money he dug from the front pocket of his jeans.
She ran a hand over her hip, jutted slightly and searched for his eyes. He tossed a wad of crumpled bills at the counter, waited for the change. He swiped it up quickly, went for the plastic sack as her hand intercepted his.
She turned it at the wrist, palm up, open. And in it, she placed a daisy.
Change bounced across the tiled floor as he gripped the counter; his neck veins popped as the red rose into his sallow cheeks.
He met those eyes; she smiled.
Sobs like hiccups caught in his throat; he swallowed, hard, and the wails came, innocent and incessant as an infant.
“Shhhhhh, it’s be OK,” she said. “It’ll be alright, you’ll see.”

Dogs chasing squirrels

Some people swear dogs can't look up. The chattering squirrel the girls chased up the tree is directly above them. Scully's actually looking for a ladder. Trin's kinda watching a bunny that split in the commotion and kinda looking at the squirrel. Choices, man.

A real world Fiction in 58

Time constraints call for a Fiction in 58.

Caregiver

The voice that used to strike fear at certain octaves has lost its ferocity, its bite. What comes out is feeble, a wobbly gurgle.
You don’t know how to respond, so you don’t. You shake your head - positive or negative - and mumble back.
Cover him up to the neck in fleece, scan his features.
Wonder what to do.

Sunday Scribblings: 'Listen up, because this is important'

The Sunday Scribblings prompt presented a challenge.
“What pressing matter do you have weighing on your mind? What would you like to say to someone? What would you like to say to the world? Or to yourself? What do you think is important enough to make people listen? What would make you say:

‘Listen up because this is important.’ ”

Attention Span

Dad burst into the soddie, nearly knocks the wooden door off its leather hinges; there’s an arrow sticking from the meaty part of his shoulder.
Mother jumps from the table, upsets the breakfast biscuits on a pewter plate, and rushes to get the mortise and pestle to grind up a poultice.
“Comancheros,” dad says. “Sneaky bastards attacked at daylight. We never stood a chance.”
He grips the arrow, wiggles it free.
Mother puts a hand to her lips, the other to her breast; her skin grows white. She recovers quickly and attends to the ragged, bloody wound, packing it tight with a mix of slippery elm bark and flax seed.
She pours dad a healthy shot of whiskey in a wooden cup, which he downs in a single twitch of his Adam's Apple.
“How much time?” she asks.
“Minutes, an hour maybe, hard to tell.”
I stare into my cornmeal mush.
Dad nudges my shoulder with a dirty hand, black soil and blood under the fingernails. There’s a letter in his clenched fist.
“You want to explain this?”
With my left hand, I pull the buds out from my ears with a pop; a decent baseline sends a cascading hip-hop soundtrack over the breakfast dishes. Sheepishly, I try to smile. Mother shakes her head, silent, runs fingers across her forehead.
Dad clears his throat.
“Listen up, because this is important.”
His features go hazy, out-of-focus. He starts into his lecture and I think:
“Ma’s gonna have a fit, he gets that wound to leaking again.”

Six Sentences for a Saturday

Six Sentences is one of my all-time favorite places on the Internets; the creativity that is shown by people is amazing. I need to contribute more. Yes, Rob, I say that often enough. But for now, here's a warm-up act, in six sentences:

Premonitions
If I press thumbs into my eye sockets, I get mild relief from the migraine that’s descended like a cheap paper shade over a dirty windowpane; plus, I get this wicked light show as I squish the rods on cones in my retinas.
“Stop doing that,” she says; I can hear her, feel the squint of her eyes, the scowl that’s curled those perfect pouty lips.
“I can’t help it,” I say, pushing and twisting my thumbs deeper; the pain is exquisite, the lights a burst of sparkler light in lightless room.
I hear the swish of polyester come down the aisle, feel her dainty fingers perch upon my wrist, smell perfume that is not hers.
“Is there anything I can do?” the stewardess asks.
In less than 60 seconds, No. 2 engine will flame out and a bolt the size of a fist will pierce the aluminum skin of the 737; at 39,000 feet, the decompression will be instant, deadly: “Pray,” I say, squeezing deeper.

Thursday short fiction

I started writing this with the intention of submitting it for Three Word Wednesday. It just sort of flowed out. It is a work of fiction. And does not include the 3WW selections.

Tanked
The first time I laid eyes on Steve McQueen, he was deceased, at least on casual glance.
Wedged awkward in clump of fake coral, I decided it was sad that they’d leave a dead fish in such a beautiful saltwater aquarium. I moved, and a bulging eye followed.
I decided right then he was a he –and his name was Steve McQueen.
It could have been Burt, or Irving or Leon – or Leona, I guess. But the jaunty orange body, the black racing stripe, reminded me of a muscle car, a ’69 Dodge Challenger maybe, so the name and gender stuck.
His bottom fins were built like little hands; individual fingers that allowed him to attach himself motionless in the artificial current and look, well, cool. Park wherever he wanted, just bulging eyes in movement with the surrounding environment.
He was sequestered with Frieda and Sunshine, the lemon-yellow twins that swam in graceful arcs; George and Alice, the Little Nemo fish - he big and fat, motionless in a bubbly sea anemone with Alice circling, giving nagging little nips; Spike, the black-and-white fish that looked like an inmate; and Huey, Dewey, Louie and Bart, the little Blue Angles with their slick blue bodies and yellow tails; Unger, the translucent fish that rested on his fins, too, but blended in with the crushed white coral bottom; and Mrs. Frieburg, the stylish but sensible striped fish with the pinched, pencil-face like my grade-school English teacher.
I didn’t name the sea slug. I mean, what’s the point? The giant turd moved all of three inches since I’d discovered the tank, a floor down in pediatrics.
The tank had become my widescreen television, low on Dolby digital sound yeah, but a calming, gentle treat like a backrub, that cooing of constant electric compression and water bubbles. Just as addictive as television, too. I watched, transfixed as the pulse of the floor went on around me.
Above me.
The third floor.
The cancer ward.
“Mr. Gannon, you’re father is calling for you,” the nurse said.
“Thanks.”
Dad was in the last stages of pancreatic cancer, discovered two weeks before in the emergency room after he smashed his thumb with a hammer. I mean, one day, you’re fixing the screen door and thinking about grilling a steak and watching the ballgame on TV with a cold one and then bam – you’re in a non-descript hospital room in a blue gown with your ass constantly hanging out, throwing things at the nurses your pain’s so high and you’ve got a haunted look, cheeks pressed on bone, flesh that looks like a beeswax candle.
And in confidence, you tell your son, your oldest, in a rambling diatribe that this fucking sucks and you scream about unfairness. Spit bubbles froth at the corners of your mouth, barely moisturizing gray lips, but catch in the gray whiskers because those fucking nurses won’t let you use a straight-edge razor because your platelets are so low that one shaving nick and you could bleed out. Fuck, who cares? I’m dead already, right?
And all I can think about it Steve McQueen.
And the twins.
Even that purplish-brown turd of a slug.
He wants prune juice, since the barrage of stool softeners the nurse staff push on him – “Why that fat-assed nurse keeps giving me these, I’ll never know” – won’t produce a B.M. and he needs to take a B.M. before they’ll numb the world with a push of morphine into his IV drip.
“Fuck.”
And the juice poured like a waterfall across the shitty blue gown, making stains like molasses. I move in with gloved hands – purple this time, from a box of medium gloves that are way too small – and a wad of Kleenex.
“Fuck it, Curtis. Just fuck it. Fuckin’ leave me alone.”
I retreat to pediatrics. To the sanctity of the fish.
And for the first time, spy a slender, hairy tentacle waver from a crevasse in the coral. Mesmerized, I try all the angles to get a look. It’s maddening.
“Mr. Gannon, it’s time,” the nurse said.
“Time for what?”
“It time. Your father…”
“But I have to know.”
“Know what?”
“Is there an octopus in there?”
“Oh, no, it’s a spiny starfish. She’s shy.”
“She?”
“Oh, I call her Belle. I don’t know why.”
Tears well. It’s all crashing inward.
“They’ll be here, after,” she said, touching my arm. “Right now, it’s time to say goodbye to your dad.”

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are avenge, genuine and ramble. First thing I wrote just poured out of me – and contained none of the three words. Oh, well. Pop’s getting ready to get out of the hospital, so time is short (and the wifi sketchy)
Here’s a couple of American Sentences, 17-syllable nuggets like a haiku. Heck, let’s throw in a haiku in there as well.

His ramble genuine, the message transparent – avenge me, damn you!

Genuine feelings spike her ramble; avenge thy wicked heart, she screams.

Genuine ramble,
spit like venom whips the crowd,
Avenge! Kill the rich!

The NaisaiKu.. Challenge

It’s been a lot of time spent in a hospital room this week – pop’s got a staph infection, but is much better, thanks – so The Tension has suffered a bit. My apologies to my early bird readers.

I thought I’d take the NaisaiKu.. Challenge. A NaisaiKu.. is usually made up of two Haiku length poems, the second being a reverse order or mirror image of the first with a CAPITALIZED TITLE inserted between them. Andy Sewina tries to build his in 17 syllables or less for each three line stanza.

Let’s give er’ a whirl:

Friends dance on edges,
dip their toes in swirling lust,
bliss, flesh, laughter, smiles
BLISS, FLESH, LAUGHTER, SMILES
dip their toes in swirling lust,
friends dance on the edges

Opportunity knocks

Friends who know of my little opportunity coo that it’s serendipity; another upheaval in a life that’s seen it’s share of disorder over a short period of years.
“It’s a great move, I’ll pray for you.”
“You deserve it.”
“Dude, good for you. But another move?”
I’ve once done something for the money, and it ended up being a really dark time in my life. So that colors my judgment.
I just want to be happy.
And settled.
Is that too much to ask?