In that dying moment
I will use the old folks’ tricks against them.
Childishly, as familiar, floating faces tease,
I will dip in a toe for temperature.
”Come in,” their forgotten voices will call. “The water is fine!”
”I have just eaten.” I will answer. “And should probably wait an hour.”
An Exercise in Futility
My dog General Sherman was mixing up a tomato cocktail this morning while Pooky-Bear was doing her morning kettlebell exercises.
”How do you think I’d look in a pair of those leggins’?” He asked me.
I could not help my wince. ”Like you need to get in there and swing that kettlebell some.”
The General swirled with his celery stick before having a sip. “Oh. Never-mind, then.”
to revel in,
and bronzing skin.
God may dream
on days like this,
as worries a-way
like clouds adrift.
The Song Remains the Same
Can we experience change and still remain ourselves?
It is a ridiculous question which could only have been brought forth by academia, and is why they cannot be trusted. Of course we remain ourselves, even as we evolve.
Physically, a body strengthens itself and grows by consuming energy. Once consumed that energy recycles inside us as your body puts it to use where most needed. Upon your death that same energy will recycle into the soil, or into the air, water, or possibly it could even be consumed by another life form. Either way your energy will eventually find other bodies to nourish, be they plant, animal, fire, or fungi. The energy that makes up you will forever remain energy.
Mentally, we can change the way we think as we experience life, but those combined experiences which are unique to each one of us ultimately determine how we will respond to stimuli placed before us… for instance whether we will run, hide or fight, and in which order. It is these memories, latent or perceived, which make us individualistic even though we share commonalities with other life forms. I will always think and respond uniquely like me, even if trained to do so differently, as that training will become a part of my unique experience.
So yes, we change… even as we remain the same.
The Fountain of Youth
I remember reading through a giant Civil War book of my grandfather‘s when I was a boy. In that book I stumbled upon a series of photographs of long ago soldiers who had somehow survived the most grotesque of battle wounds. The images had been haunting enough to induce months worth of nightmares. My mind is sparked to recall those horrid, black and white images now as I lie upon my deathbed, struck by the similarities in those long-ago soldiers’ hollow, desperate eyes compared with the soul-wrenched eyes of these more modern, yet similarly tormented mourners who currently pass by my bedside, curious at the miracle of my demise.
At first the vaccine was only the newest rage, but not being a “fad“ following type of person it was not hard for me to resist. But then insurance companies began folding, and hospitals closing. The money, time, and lives that were saved induced “strong suggestions” from medical experts, government officials, and media outlets for everyone to take the “Forever“ vaccine as soon as possible. There was no time to wait if you wanted to live. Fear was stoked, and a panic followed which drove short the supply and up the price of the vaccine. Politicians fought over which side had gotten themselves onboard first as their constituents lined for miles outside of the clinics and drugstores to be poked. Finally the government mandated the vaccine for everyone, but still some small few of us skeptics held back, laying low.
The amazing thing was, it worked. It took several years to prove, but people did stop dying… period. Cancer no longer killed, nor accidents, nor age. Those with the vaccine stopped dying. The trouble (we came to see) was that cancer, age, and accidents remained. They were as common as always. And heart disease, dementia, and war. It was just that the vaccinated bodies continued to work through their horrors. The tumors continued growing, the organs continued aging, the accidents continued deforming, but all of these ravaging maladies had grown powerless to kill!
But the pain of them remained. Oh, how the pain remained.
And all the while we who were unvaccinated continued to pass, until we became the ideal. The grotesque blobs of human flesh lined up for miles to view us in our caskets, and to dream, and to wish for their own demise, a demise that might never, ever come.
Some fountain of youth they’d found! We were made to realize in the worst of ways that death is not the horror, that death is in fact the blessing, the easement of our suffering.
As they passed by my death bed, these souls to be pitied, I rejoiced that my decision to forgo the vaccine had been the right one, that I might die in my good time, and my sufferings pass. And as my eyes closed for the final time, and my soul prepared itself for endless bliss, I pitied those consigned forever to the hell on Earth I was leaving behind.
Billy Bananas donned his pajamas
and sauntered ’round the bowl,
past Pinky Peach and Mon Cherries
with their devilishly pitted souls.
Billy made his way ’round the crowded tray
’til he came upon Apri Cott;
she with luscious curves, pinkish verve,
and a seam that was smokin‘ hot!
Billy said, “Baby? What say we maybe,
split from this fruity fun?
I like you a lot, so let’s find a spot,
to unpeel and reveal my big pun.”
She replied, “Billy, Billy! Quit being silly,
I‘ll not be the jam on your bread.
Imagine the nerve! That I’d spread like preserves?
For a plantain with a stem for a head!
(So sorry… sometimes we cannot help but to follow where the prompt leads us.)
Is it possible to have feelings for hotel freebies?
No. Absolutely not…
but for the $9.00 minibar beers?
Maybe, maybe not.
I don’t kiss and tell.
Fiddler on the Roof
I am not really one to name inanimate objects. I am that guy who refers to his truck as “my truck,” and to my favorite fishing pole as “my fishing pole,” but for the prompt I will humor. I recently wrote a story called “Heebie-Jeebs,” which was inspired by a couple of pre-cancerous bumps on my scalp. Being fair-skinned and spending much of my life outdoors, the little bastard-ly bumps are not uncommon on me, certainly nothing that Dr. Lau cannot quickly freeze, or dig out with a sharp instrument. But the little shits know their man, and always come back. Dr. Lau implores that I wear a hat in the sun (which I always do), but still they come back in their never ending quest to turn truly cancerous and drag me (kicking and screaming) underground with them.
There are currently only two, but they are on the very crown of my skull (which is where the Heebie-Jeeb story began). To my wife’s chagrin, I constantly worry at them with my fingers, so for this prompt I have decided to name the larger one Ol’ Scratch, and the smaller one Beezle-Bump.
I have nothing else to say about Ol’ Scratch or Beezle-Bump, except that they are more irritating than rodents in the pantry, or excrement bubbling up from the bathtub drain, and that this is one of those many things you have to look forward to in your old age. Godspeed to you.
I must go now. The little devils have begun their fiddling, and so must I.
I knew. Something in the stuffiness of the air, and in the dead quiet calm warned me even before my panic stricken fingers had peeled free the blindfold. It had been done to me what I had done to so many others before.
Fuckin’ hell… and I wasn’t even dead yet!
But once finally settled into quiet reflection it occurred to me that I had been wrong from the start, that this was not the worst of all ways to go. Being extremely arrogant has given me a mortal fear of having anyone witness my passing, as death is our ultimate and final failure as humans, is it not? But there is little chance of my demise being witnessed down here, is there? I have actually won!
And so I (somewhat smugly, for the small victory) prepared myself through Roman Catholic prayer and meditation; readying myself to leave the struggles of Earth peacefully behind and to venture forth alone, relying only upon my own strength and courage as I passed into whatever it was that awaited ahead. After all, was I not the great Don Alberto Shiffioni, aka “The Undertaker,” and had I not lived my life in fine style through the uninhibited uses of fear and intimidation? “The Undertaker;” a well earned and deserved moniker; he who buried alive without qualm, and who bowed to no master!
And that is when, with the swiftness of a lightning strike, a flood of LED diodes blinded me inside my box. I was busily blinking them away when came to my ears the unmistakable clicking on of a GoPro camera.
So there it was. The Melanza Brothers had done it. They had discovered my secret hell, and had cast me into it, my life‘s deeds and death converted to an Instagram GIF for my godchildren to stumble upon in their never-ending surfings.
Fuckin’ hell… and I wasn’t even dead yet!
Someone, though, has made a grave, grave error. “If I ever get out of here alive there will be Goombah hell to pay,” I vow! Yet I must keep my calm. How many times had I told my sons to never, ever show them your fear. And I mustn’t let them see mine now. So, dawning my most gentle and tender expression I lift my head, peering emotionlessly into the camera’s lens;
for Christ’s freakin’ sake,
YOU’s NUMB-NUT PECKERWOOD
get me the fuck outta here!”
Yet through all my pleadings I proudly shed no tears for the world’s viewing pleasure
(or very few, anyways).
Fuckin’ hell… and I wasn’t even dead yet!
Too Much Like Mother
It‘s always unnerving when the elevator stops on the thirteenth floor of the building where my Amy works, but this guy seemed alright, though his bow tie and bowler were comically old fashioned. About 5’7”, he stepped jauntily to the back of the elevator with military precision while affording me neither nod, nor smile. At the back wall he turned on his heel to face the door, his posture perfectly erect, his hands dangling loosely at his sides. This last bit I found exceedingly odd, as there was not even a fidget from his fingers. I am one to notice such things, as I take an interest in hands, and what one does with them. In fact, hands (or rather my obsession with them) were our primary subject today, I having just been to visit my lovely and talented friend Dr. Amy Piersall, Head of Psychology here at the Periwinkle Psychiatric Institute.
Hands are a fascination to me. Never knowing what to do with my own hands, I have developed my interest in them from observing what others do with theirs. Take this gentleman riding the elevator with me for instance, he with the straight hanging, non-fidgeting hands. Now, most people would be doing something with their hands on an elevator. I have watched a billion hands on elevators in my time and rarely have I seen a pair hanging so perfectly still while on one. Elevators are tight, close, nervous places, so a man will often subconsciously slip one hand into a pocket as he steps inside, while a younger boy will stuff both hands into his pockets once the door closes, feeling himself trapped within. A woman will clasp a bag, or check her phone, and a girl will fiddle with her hair, or her mother’s skirt, or her father’s trouser leg, but few will let their hands hang so confidently loose and still as this man did, so I was intrigued.
I leaned what I hoped was casually against the elevator wall before speaking, one hand flapping the end of my unaccustomed tie, the other resting back-handed upon my protruding hip. ”May I ask which branch, sir?” When they looked my way I noticed a cold, flatness to his eyes which very nearly disconcerted me, but I was not so easily put off. “I asked, which branch of the military was it that you were in?”
”No?” I questioned his response, sure that he was wrong, and must certainly have been in one branch or the other. “Policeman, then? Or perhaps Scout Leader?”
”Marching band? Secret Service? Merchant Marine?”
”None of the above. And please mind your own business... Friend.”
The way he said the word “friend” did not sound as if he meant it, but I took it as being just his stiff, stand-offish style that made it sound that way. Surely he was not being purposely unsociable, as we were the only two on the elevator. I was just starting to delve deeper when the elevator took a resounding jolt before lurching to a complete stop. I nearly went down when it did, my leisurely lean against the elevator’s wall leaving me so vulnerable that the reeling of the car pitched me directly into my new friend, whom I found to be much stouter than he first appeared. Standing perfectly balanced with his feet shoulder width apart the shorter man was able, even in the careening elevator, to remain perfectly in position even as I slammed face-first into his shoulder, breaking my nose and sending a shower of blood onto my brand new, 40% off suit and tie bought wholesale. My fidgety hands stopped their fidgeting to grab at my nose even as the stalwart little man shoved me back to my corner, where I stood whimpering with neck craned back and nose lifted high, my fingers tightly compressing either side of it in a futile attempt to staunch the flow of blood.
”I say, Friend!" I stammered into the sudden pitch-blackness of the elevator. "Mightn’t you have moved when I was thrown your way, rather than aiming your shoulder in my direction?”
”I am not your friend.”
I found this rebuff much more painful than the broken nose and sought to settle whatever bitterness he had developed for me. “Well! Didn’t you call me one only a minute ago? Have I done something to create antipathy between us? I was only trying to be cordial, and to compliment your martial bearing.”
”You are annoying.”
“So my father always said, that I was annoying that is, being too much like Mother." My pinching fingers added a nasally texture to my voice. “But Amy is helping me with that.” I paused here, expecting a question from him, such as, “Amy who?” But I received no response from out the darkness, forcing me to continue on myself if conversation was to be kept alive. “The Dr. Amy Piersall, that is. Head of Psychology.” I said this last bit with some smugness. “We are engaged.”
”Hmmm.” I detected disbelief in his hum.
”Do you doubt it?” My back was up now. "She said it herself!"
”There is more than one meaning of "being engaged." Just how long have you been seeing this 'Good' Dr. Piersall?”
I was back on solid “conversational” ground now, as Amy and I were long-time loves. “Three years, now.” With that I removed my fingers from my nose and crossed my arms sanctimoniously across my breast, though it would be impossible for him to see my posture through the blackness inside the elevator.
”Let me guess,” he replied. “One date a week, and always here in her office?”
I could feel the blood trickling again, down my upper lip. I wiped it with my sleeve and re-pinched my nostrils for safety’s sake. “She is a very busy woman.” I squeaked.
”And you are the fool I took you for.”
”Oh yea? Well, your fingernails need trimmed. They are long and dirty.” Take that, I thought!
”It isn’t dirt beneath them.”
”No? Then what is it?”
”It’s blood. It turns black, over time.”
”Oh, are you also prone to nose bleeds?”
”It is not my blood, you idiot.”
”No? Then whose blood is it?”
”Didn’t catch his name. Just some guy who annoyed me.”
”Say, can I borrow a handkerchief, Friend? This nose bleed is getting out of hand.”
”You know… you are annoying.”
”So says my father… too much like Mother.”