The bobber popped under, and the rod jerked. Dad dropped his beer and wrapped his arms around me, his worn-smooth, calloused paws over my tiny hands, holding me holding the fishing pole. He loved me then, me laughing and struggling, reeling in my first bluegill.
That night I watched Dad swing on the porch, sweating Bud in his hand, smoke curling from the ash tray like a pig’s tail, all set against the overlapping buzz of A.M. ballgame static and bugs zapping in the summer night. I couldn’t get any closer, but from that distance I could love him, too.
Jack arrives, flaunting his Armani shirt. He’s made it in the 40 years since high school.
Three pints later, he’s bragging to Ian and Larry about his barrister’s job and BMW.
“So how’s teaching?” he gloats.
“Pays the bills,” says Ian.
“Still acing the crosswords?” Jack says, seeing Ian glancing at one on his smartphone.
“Yeah, this clue’s a bugger though.”
“What is it?” asks Jack.
“Crusoe stuck, begins with ‘m’, 8 lett…”
“Marooned!” Jack booms, now even beating the Oxford guy at his own game.
“Mine’s a Heineken,” says Ian to Larry’s laughter.
Jack, flummoxed, is all at sea.
(Posted to a page on the F.F.F. website.)
Todd was exploring the medina in Fez, when he got lost in its labyrinth. He asked a teenager for the direction, when several adults carrying dry clothes and towels passed by. Mentioning about a historic bathhouse, the teenager offered him to show its ongoing operation. Todd followed him to the dark basement of a decrepit building. A young gentleman was hand-feeding saw-dust to an open fire that being used to warm the water in the pipes above. An old radio-set was playing Michael Jackson’s Thriller, stopping to announce the U.S.-missile attack on Syria.
But, the fire-man continued with his responsibility.
Legs hanging out the Huey, chopper blades spinning overhead. Fresh Marlboro from the C-Ration hanging out my mouth. Fella next to me vomited his ham and lima beans once Charlie fixed their A.K.s on us. Bullets pang off the heli’s steel side.
I’m an angel floating down from heaven.
Hot lead whizzes past me, clips the sick guy.
Jungle sure looks pretty from up here. Whisking, vibrant tree leaves shake beneath us. Tall stalks of crisp grass wave heavily. I forget I’m in Nam, constantly.
Even soaked in sick guy’s blood, my side of the grass is greener.
I wait for money. I get paid to wait for hours. I’m a professional line-stander. Sometimes I’m very busy. Black Friday. iPhones. Barbra Streisand tickets. Today it’s $23.00 Norwegian cupcakes baked once a day and sold on a first come basis. Two divorce attorneys are paying me $250.00. To wait. I’m seventh in line with seventy or so people behind me. It’s been four hours. My ex walked by carrying a poster with the words handwritten: Fair Wages Now! She left me. I was not ready to be serious. We took a break. That was two years ago. She’s marching.
The chalice of knowledge was half full when his demons began to chase his moth-eaten body. He was told the light at the end of the tunnel would be his salvation. There was no tunnel, only nooks and crevices sewn together, dead end dreams. They were right about the light, though. It shone bright and heavy, his life played back in high definition. Was this hell? He watched his years expand and contract, people waxed and waned. His mother remained stark, sobbing louder than the beat of his heart; awakening him, untainted, a miracle, immediately forgetting that time was fluid.