She's the question,
She's the illumination.
She makes time for a friend.
She dislikes pretentious men.
She is way ahead of the times.
She is not interested in poetry... okay.
Just turned twenty, August two,
Just loves Brenda Lee!
Just wait a minute here, hold on now...
How old is this magazine?! What else?
Just watched Willy Wonka?
Just can't believe Frazier beat Ali?
Just life for Charlie Manson...
Doesn't believe in the death penalty... figures.
Just concentrate on Crystal,
Just look into her eyes...
Just lowered the legal voting age?
"Come on, man! Think about those thighs!"
"Just focus on what's in front of you,
"Just a few seconds more and you're set,
"Just hold that happy thought, Peter…
"Mr. Milton, are you finished yet?"
Caught in a time warp
A village, a museum
a living breathing
Caught over a hundred
years in the past
strung end on end
to general store
to the mansion
ten pew church
each joined to the
next by the spidery web
of narrow pine boards
ten feet wide
Floor length skirts
catch on splintered spikes
bare feet calloused from
does not care
staff or visitor
together or apart
until it ends
explore an old mine
the railroad turntable turned by
a team of draft horses
the theater across
a grande green lawn
the old fort on the cliff
return to the boardwalk
leading to the gate
package of sour dough bread
hard candy sticky in paper bags
the towers of city center
soaring on the horizon
The End of the Boardwalk
and dreams of a simpler time
Sunday evening. The clouds are hovering low on the horizon. The sun is sinking. And then there’s just us.
Here at the end of the boardwalk, where the wooden boards are chipping, we stood there, waiting.
I placed my hand on her shoulder and felt it. I turned away so those old eyes couldn’t see me.
If by miracle she knew, she didn’t say anything. She just looked at the waves crashing onto the shores and breathed in and breathed out. Breathe in and breathe out. There was not much else that her body could muster.
You know that feeling that you get when you know it’s going to be the final time? It’s not something you become aware of because we like to believe in fairytales that never end. When reality crashes through the delusions we tell ourselves, after the initial shock, it’s a gradual descent of memories and emotions that builds on itself and collapses into a mess that refuses to pick itself up and simply. Stop. Crying.
So there we were, our final trip together. A day not unlike so many others, but punctuated by the end. I already know what’s coming. How can I not know the drowning and the thoughts that haunt you with regrets? How can I not know the sorrow that diffuses into your identity, a constant leech of your happiness, and the hole that oozes of heartbreak no one can heal? How can I not know the hollow support that never fully reaches you but echos just enough to mock you? How can I not know the ones that don’t dare take a step through the door so they don’t see what’s raw? How can I not know the alienation and the isolation, the feeling that no one can understand this pain?
The stars grew brighter as the sun disappeared. It was time to go, and there wasn’t much that could said about what needed to happen. I took her with me. I shut her eyes, and singing softly for her but secretly for me, I said goodbye to this reality one last time.
Odie and the Extremely Long Business Trip
I knew my wife was heartbroken the day I told her those words:
“Penelope, I’m sorry; I’ve been asked to travel on a business trip with Aj and Mede to Troysburg to promote the company.”
“Well, if you insist! Go! Pack your things already! What’s ten weeks when I have a mother-in-law and a nanny to help me!”
“Thanks Penelope, I knew you’d understand,” I smiled as I kissed her on the cheek.
“Just bring home the moola, honey,” Penelope called back.
Odie set out with his managers, Aj and Mede, as well as many other salesmen to promote their company and sell items. They conquered the meeting and made a fortune in those ten weeks. Yet on their way back, there was a terrible tornado that picked up their car and flung them about for nine hours until they crash-landed in a junkyard in the city of the Cicones. After taking three days to recover in a hospital, they ravaged the nearest grocery store for supplies since most of their stuff had been hurled out the window while they were in that tornado. They nearly bought the store out of stock when the employees chased them out by throwing outdated produce and leftover samples.
The businessmen left the grocery store and hopped back in their dilapidated car. Odie turned the keys, yet the car wouldn’t start.
“It did get beat up in that tornado. I don’t think it will even start. We’ll buy a new car,” sighed Mede.
“We used up enormous amounts of money at the grocery store! How will we afford a car?” protested Aj.
“We’ll just rent a car. Follow me everyone. There’s a car rental just down the street. Let’s pick up our things and walk over,” decided Odie.
So the businessmen walked over to Polyphemus Car Rentals. While they were waiting, some of the men helped themselves to some cheese that the store offered for customers. While they were eating, the manager, Paul Phemus, saw them.
“Hey! It’s those businessmen who bought nearly everything in that grocery store! When I entered the store, I found they were all out of cheese! Now here you are, eating all the cheese we have left! Lock the doors! No one leaves this building until I’m finished with them!”
The employees hurriedly obeyed.
“Please, sir, we just want to rent a car. Then we’ll be on our way,” defended Odie.
“You shall be enslaved as employees for me until you pay off the amount of money you wasted eating all my cheese!” boomed Paul.
“Noooo! Sir! Please, spare us!” cried Odie.
Paul grabbed two of Odie’s businessmen and gave them nametags with the company symbol on it.
“They now belong to me!” decided Paul.
“No! Not Aj and Mede! Please, friends, turn from this wickedness! Don’t join his side!”
“Odie, I’m sorry, but I can’t help it; I was given a name tag. I must work for Paul now!” confessed Aj.
“Can't...resist, must….work...for Paul!” admitted Mede.
“You see? They can’t resist. Once a businessman, always a businessman. They are now...car salesmen!” declared Paul in his deep voice.
“NNNOOOOO!” screamed Odie as he fell on his knees and wailed at the ceiling. “Why? Why did this happen to me?!”
“Odie, you are now the head manager of the company. Make me proud!” whispered Mede as he disappeared into the EMPLOYEES ONLY room, never to be seen again by Odie and his businessmen.
Paul enslaved two more of Odie’s men the next day. However, when Paul was asleep, Odie snuck the keys of two Maserati car rentals. Then Odie and the businessmen drove away.
They drove all day, though by night both cars were low on gas. They pulled over, and Odie walked to a nearby gas station.
“Please, do you have any gas cans you can give us? Both cars are low on gas, and we need to return to the city of Ithaca as soon as possible.”
“Ah! You’re in luck! I have a special type of gas for you. If you use it for your cars, they will drive on forever without needing a refill. Yet whatever you do, don’t drink it, or you’ll be up all night.”
“Why would the drinker be up all night?” asked Odie.
“Son, trust me, you do not want to know,” sighed the man.
“How much is it?”
“Well, it’s pretty pricey, yet I’ve heard about what you did to Paul Phemus, the car rental salesman. Since you outsmarted him, I’m going to give you both cans for free! After all, he cheated me on a car awhile back, so this is my way of declaring ‘Take that!’”
“Thank you..uh..what’s your name?”
“Aeol. Here are your special cans. Pleasure doin’ business with ya!”
Odie walked back to the cars and filled them up. He didn’t fill all of them all the way though, he wanted to save some for his wife’s future golden Mitsubishi Chariot. As they continued to drive that night, some of the businessmen grew exceedingly thirsty, but Odie didn’t want to pull over because he was intent on arriving home. Unfortunately, they became immensely thirsty and tired and began to crave the cans of special gasoline. In fact, two of his men drank the remaining gas and soon became severely sick. They began to feel fatigued and nauseous. What started as coughing, turned into vomiting the gas they drank out the window. Since this was special gas, their symptoms were not minor. The two men were up all night sneezing and coughing extensively as they spun the car in all sorts of directions until Odie and the other driver were completely lost. Some news reporters saw the incident and decided to name a disease after it: Corona Gasolineria.
The two cars ended up at a mansion in the middle of nowhere. They asked the residents, Mr. and Mrs. Antiphate, to let them stay the night. Yet the couple turned out to be cannibals and Odie and most of his businessmen barely made it out alive. They sadly lost a few of their men. Thus, they hopped in the car and drove to the nearest police station to report what had just happened. Then they fell asleep in the car while Odie and the other driver continued to drive on. Along the way, they stopped in for a bathroom break when Odie and his men saw the Lotus Casino across the street. They were desperate to stretch their legs. So they walked in and ate and drank to their heart’s content. Little did they know that they are wasting weeks in that casino and gambling away all their money earned from the business meeting. After many weeks, Odie asked a fellow businessman in his company:
“Hey, do you know what time it is?” asked Odie.
“Time? Why should we care about time? We’re having a blast here at the Lotus Casino!”
“Well, I was thinking, we need to head back home now. Surely we’ve been here long enough, and I don’t know how much longer our money will hold out.”
“We still have plenty of money left. Just relax, Odie, and have fun!” he smiled as he rolled his die.
Odie observed everyone and found they were completely unaware of what was going on.
“I must get to the bottom of this. I need to make them stop eating the lotus flowers.”
Suddenly, Odie spotted a woman gazing down on everyone from a balcony. Odie figured she was the manager and the one behind everyone losing their awareness of what was happening. He rushed to the door that read: EMPLOYEES ONLY. It was locked. This was not a problem as Odie rammed a chair into the door and barged in. It was the manager standing on the balcony, her name was Circe.
“Well, well, well, I see you’ve figured out my evil plan!” she chided.
“I demand you stop whatever plan you’re using on my men and allow us to leave!”
“You think it will be that easy? I will free you and your business team if and only if you beat me in a game of wits. I have this poison here; it is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. I will pour it into one of the two cups of wine. If you drink the right cup and don’t die, you and your men will be free. If you die however, your men will be trapped here for eternity! Wha-ha-ha-ha!”
Odie thought about it long and hard.
“Well, Circe, you drive a hard bargain, but I accept. Pour the wine!”
She did and made sure Odie wasn’t peeking while she poured the poison. They sat down across from each other. Odie observed each of the cups. They were identical. Just as he was about to choose, he heard a voice from far away. He turned around to notice a man wearing sparkling boots with wings attached to them whispering from outside the room.
“Odie! My name is Hermie, and I saw which cup Circe put the poison in! Don’t drink the one on your left! It will kill you!”
“How can I trust you?” questioned Odie.
“You can’t,” smiled Circe. She hadn’t heard Hermie.
“You need to trust me, Odie. Don’t you want to reunite with your wife and child again?” asked Hermie.
Yes! Odie badly wanted to return home. He picked up the cup on the right and drank it. He felt fine and Circe grew furious.
“I can’t believe you won! How did you know?”
“Are you going to stay true to your word?” reminded Odie.
“Yes, yes,” she replied in an annoyed tone. She pressed a button and spoke into a microphone.
“Please bring me Odie’s business party.”
Down below, employees heard Circe’s command and gathered Odie’s men. They left the casino only to run into an old, blind man named Tyrone who had a prophecy for Odie in an alleyway.
He told Odie that he will save his wife and son from many door salesmen trying to sell her products that she does not need or want. They will bombard their house because Penelope recently received a large sum of money from her dead mother-in-law’s will. Many people wanted her money and were desperately trying to sell their products to her. In order to prevent this from happening, he and his men must resist petting the fancy, pampered poodles of the famous millionaire Surya. As Odie and the others were leaving, many old, blind, hobos and beggars crowd around Odie to talk. Some wanted to buy his clothes right off of him; others wanted to sell them junk they had collected. To be kind, Odie stayed a while longer and listened to their stories on how they had become homeless.
Afterwards they drove on, and along the way sirens blared loud advertisements in their ears. Odie was extremely annoyed and wanted to destroy those sirens.
“AAHHH! This song will not leave my head! All I want to do is buy bubblegum and back scratchers! Make it stop!” shouted Odie.
“Odie, just keep driving and forget about those catchy advertisement songs. All they want is your money anyway,” urged a fellow businessman in the car.
However, as they’re driving through the towns of Scylla and Charybdis, Odie’s men couldn’t resist the temptation and begged Odie to drop them off so they could buy the products the advertisements were blaring out.
“We want Palmbrellas! We want Palmbrellas!”
Reluctantly, Odie let everyone who wanted Palmbrellas out and made the journey with one car now and his few businessmen left.
They drove on, only to pass by Surya’s mansion. The businessmen peered out the window only to notice the lovely green lawn full of fancy, pampered poodles. They begged to be let out of the car too so they could stretch their legs. Yet while Odie shut his eyes, the businessmen petted the fancy, pampered poodles. Instantly, Odie remembered the prophecy, and to his devastation he saw the men were transfixed in petting poodles.
“No! Stop! Don’t touch them! Do you want my wife to be swarmed with door salesmen?” cried Odie.
But it was too late. The sky grew dark and the businessmen transformed into poodles. Surya walked out and laughed wickedly.
“More poodles to add to my collection! Yes! Now I have 101 fancy, pampered poodles! Wha-ha-ha-ha!”
Odie knew there was no way his men would return. He sadly drove away. Once a poodle, always a poodle. There was no turning back.
When he reached the city of Ogygia, a new law had been announced that everyone must be quarantined due to this new infectious disease called Corona Gasolineria. Odie was forced to stay at Lady Cally’s house for many miserable and boring months. Lady Cally, however, was extremely enchanted with Odie and begged him to stay even after the quarantine. Yet Hermie, who apparently stalked Odie the entire time, convinced Lady Cally to help Odie sneak out of the house during quarantine. She gave him the keys to her third favorite car and he drove away.
Along the way, all four tires popped thanks to Percy, the father of Paul, who had hated Odie for outsmarting his son, the car salesman. Luckily, a car mechanic named Imellia was hitchhiking nearby and ran to Odie’s rescue and fixed his tires. She pulled new tires out of her magical purse. Just in case Percy were to sabotage Odie again, she let him keep the purse until he made it to the next gas station.
Odie drove until the tank was empty and then dropped off the purse by the side of the road for anyone to pick up later. The gas station was called Phaeacia’s Perfect Palace. Odie walked in to buy gas and Phaecia asked him to stay and talk of his journey and whereabouts since quarantine had given her fewer customers and less to do. Odie stayed and talked about everything that had happened the last year.
Afterwards, she gave him gas and Odie reached Ithaca City.
Meanwhile, Marcus was two years old and Odie had long missed his first steps. Penelope, desperate to give Marcus a break from the salesmen, decided to enroll Marcus in a daycare. He met a toddler his age named Pablo and together they explored the playground to their heart’s content. However, he noticed his mother was missing and tried to escape so he could join her, yet the caregiver caught him and brought him back to the playground.
Meanwhile, Penelope tried to get rid of the many door salesmen that surrounded her house. They kept banging on the door, the windows, even tried to talk to her through the vents of her house. There was hardly any privacy. Often Penelope would find herself locked away in her room to catch a breather from them. Yes, she had tried ignoring them, yet they knew she was in her house nonetheless. All the while she heard screaming men shout:
“Buy one Tandem Beer Mug, get one free!”
“Wooden saws! You know you want one!”
“Silverware made from rope! Everybody needs woven silverware!”
“If you buy this hairy plate in the next 24 hours, we’ll give you three more for free!”
“High tide heels, it’s the new trend!”
“Palmbrellas! Buy one now and receive the next one half off.”
“Ugh! Just leave!” screamed Penelope covering her ears. She finally ventured out and asked for more time to decide which product she wanted to buy, when truthfully, she didn’t want any.
Marcus walked around the playground asking for volunteers to help him escape the daycare and find his mother. It was going well until two kids saw a daycare worker blowing bubbles for some other children. Mesmerized by the floating, shining, and wonderful smelling bubbles, they run over and join the others to pop them. More and more saw the bubbles and joined in as well. That left Marcus and Pablo right where they started. With nothing better to do, they sat down and drew with chalk.
When Odie arrived home, he saw to his dismay his house was overrun with door salesmen.
“Alas! The prophecy became true!” he cried. “I need help if I want to save my poor wife and son from these annoying men. I must be stealthy if I want to catch these door salesmen by surprise. I better lay low and find some help,” mused Odie.
He walked down the neighborhood to Elijah’s house, who had been a loyal friend and helpful neighbor for many years. Odie knocked on the door. Elijah quickly opened it and didn’t recognize Odie because he was weathered down from the journey. Plus, Elijah and Odie had not seen each other for over two years because Odie’s business trip was longer than expected.
“What can I do for you, kind sir?” asked Elijah.
“I noticed the house down the street was overrun with door salesman. I was wondering if you could help me rid them from the house?” replied Odie.
“Why should we bother with that mess?”
“I have not been in the neighborhood long, but I want to be a friendly neighbor to Penelope and her household. Surely, you agree?”
“Yes, of course! However, I have no idea how to rid the house of door salesmen.”
“Well, I have no experience in vanquishing salesmen…” lied Odie. “Yet I once rid the house of a mice infestation by setting out a large plate of cheese. While the mice were eating the cheese, I quickly threw a cage on top of them and caught them all!”
“Bravo, sir! I think I'm beginning to understand your plan. Only instead of cheese, let us steal the money from the door salesmen while they sleep. Next, we’ll put it in a huge chest and put it in the center of the neighborhood. When they run up and start to fill their pockets with money, we shall capture them in the largest cage we can!”
“Excellent! You work on the cage, and I’ll work on stealing all their money tonight.”
That night, Odie snuck all the money from the door salesmen as they camped around his house. He placed all their money in a chest and put it in the center of the neighborhood. After that, he helped Elijah strap the cage to a tree over the chest. This way they could pull a string and the cage could fall on top of the door salesmen. Then they would call the police.
The next day, as the door salesmen were waking up and eating unhealthy cereal for breakfast, Odie climbed on Elijah's roof and shouted: “Hear ye! Hear ye! For all you door salesmen out there! There is a ginormous chest full of money in the center of this neighborhood. Claim it now while you still can!”
As soon as the door salesmen heard ‘ginormous chest of money’ they sprinted towards the center of the neighborhood. Elijah was waiting for them, ready to pull the rope and trap them. Penelope, Eulalie, and Marcus woke up to the noise and rushed outside to find the door salesmen running away.
“It’s a miracle!” screamed Penelope. “They’re all gone!”
“Who’s that funky looking man on your neighbor’s roof?” asked Eulalie.
“Why, if I didn’t know better I’d think it was Odie, but it can’t be because he’s still gone on a business trip,” sighed Penelope.
When Odie heard that, we climbed down and ran to Penelope.
Penelope was extremely relieved and overjoyed at her husband’s return that she didn’t know how to respond and broke down crying. While Penelope, Odie, Marcus, and Eulalie were catching up, Elijah had captured all the door salesmen and called the police.
Odie and Penelope would never worry about door salesmen anymore because no businessman would ever forget who Odie was. Odie became a legend from his two year journey. Odie became the head of the company as well. He hired new employees and expanded the business. He and his family became wealthy and lived in a rich mansion of their own. No door salesman ever bothered them. Marcus grew up and pursued a career path similar to his father. He enrolled in college and studied business for his major. Eulalie decided to live with Odie’s family, where she cared for the three of them. Thus, they lived happily ever after.
Quinarui frowned at her husband. “But it says ‘evil’. What if…” She trailed off as her daughter skipped into the room, her wavy brown hair bobbing as she went.
She couldn’t help but smile at the little girl standing in front of her. Her big brown eyes stared innocently at up at her mother, her caramel colored skin that mirrored Quinarui’s own shining in the light from the doorway.
“What are you guys talking about?”
Exchanging a swift glance with her husband, Quinarui tried to act nonchalant. “We’re just talking about adult things.”
The young girl pouted and turned to her father. “Daddy, will you tell me?”
He chuckled. “Why don’t you head back to your room now, while Mommy and I talk?”
She eyed her mother’s belly. “Are you giving birth? Is that it?”
A laugh escaped Quinarui’s stone-gray lips. Her due date wasn’t for another month. “Not quite yet. Go ahead back to your room now, dear.”
“You know, Mommy, I’m going to be the best big sister ever. I’ll be so strong and protective! One day, Mommy, I’ll even be strong enough to kill you!” Her face broke into a playful smile, her single missing tooth visible. Despite knowing her daughter’s good intentions, Quinarui couldn’t help but feel uneasy. She didn’t have a problem with her children becoming more powerful than her—they would rule this kingdom eventually, anyway—but the fact that killing her own mother had even crossed her mind was so…
“You need to go back to your room now,” her husband repeated gently. “And close the door on your way out.”
“Okay,” she murmured reluctantly, and skipped off, then slammed the door behind her.
Once the sound of shoes clopping on the floor had faded, Quinarui turned to her husband again. “What if one of them turns out like my grandfather?” She squeezed her eyes shut. He had died more than three hundred years ago, and yet she could still remember him wreaking havoc on the city her grandmother had worked so hard to build. He had set it aflame, killing so many in the process. She was only but a girl at the time, and had lost one of her lives. “He was a pyroct. They are more aggressive…”
Her husband stared into his wife’s green eyes. Her creased face was worn and tired. Her thick, brown hair was in a low bun, clearly hastily tied. Normally, her blue wings were bright and glowing; now, they were drooping and dull. “Pyroct or hydroct, it doesn’t matter. Our kids won’t be affected by some silly power they were assigned to at birth. We just have to raise them right.”
“But pyrocts are even more aggressive than hydrocts, and…” Quinarui eyed the doorway where her daughter had exited. “She’s already having trouble controlling her anger bursts.”
“She’s five, Quinarui! Of course she won’t be able to completely control herself.”
“I was able to comfortably do it when I was two!” she snapped. Feeling tears starting to burn in her eyes, she lowered her voice. “Look, I just want to protect my children from becoming monsters. What if we can’t even raise our own daughter to be moral when she’s a hydroct? I’ll never forgive myself if I end up turning a pyroct into a murderer like my grandfather.”
Her husband’s jaw dropped. “Our daughter will not become a monster! I’m confident she’ll be a nurturing older sister.”
Quinarui stared at her husband, feeling a deep sinking feeling in her stomach. What if she wasn’t able to raise her kids properly? What if she did give birth to a pyroct? What would she do? Her own daughter was already occasionally showing signs of anger and violence. She should have been able to control her feelings by now. If she couldn’t even raise a hydroct correctly, how was she supposed to raise a pyroct? She stiffened, a new thought creeping into her mind—it said to “slay” the evil. She knew that at the time being, she was more powerful than her children. What if she was the one? Would she have to kill her own child?
She straightened. “We will remove all books that mention the life-stealing power or Interficio. No child of mine will ever use those.”
“Quinarui! You really think the best way to raise our children is resorting to secrecy because we’re too weak to be truthful?”
She looked away. “Yes. I do.”
Neither of them noticed the little girl peering through the crack in the door.
I Hate You
You cannot say "I hate you"
Until you know what hate truly means
Those words can really break you
No matter how tough you seem
"I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!"
You scream and scream away
"I hate you! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!"
"I'll hate you 'till my dying day."
Tell that to your dying mother
Just like you always have
Tell that to your crying brother
His fault you're always mad
Just walk away; don't let it show
You really don't care
He stole your toy three years ago
He's clearly unfair
You couldn't tell her she belonged
Or say the horrors her death'd ensue
That'd be proving yourself wrong
So instead you said "I hate you"
And now you're alone
All on your own
You don't need them anyway
At least that's what you say
You don't let your tears show
She's gone now, you know
Last thing she heard before meeting her fate
Was that she was the one you promised to hate
But you think—you know—she deserved it
For taking your phone away
A stupid punishment made by an idiot
Made you do homework all day
Your brother's sobs still echo in your head
It breaks—No. It doesn't break your heart
He deserves to know that his mom's dead
For, as a toddler, spilling black paint on your art
And when you take your final breath
And slip into eternal rest
All of you that's left
Are the long-gone words
So well they knew
All they'll remember
Is "I hate you"
So forgive the annoyances
The mistakes of the past
Remember the times they cared
And make those moments last
Before time snatches them away
Make them aware of what's true
The simple phrase unspoken
"I love you"
what would my superpower be?
if i could chose to have a superpower, it would be the ability to not fear death, and be able to grant that to other people as well. not a lack of fear that would drive people into recklessness, but just a general acceptance so people can go to sleep at night.
Brown Eyed Boy
People joke that brown eyes are full of poop. Blue and green are placed on a pedestal, and I too, was guilty of this.
Blue eyes are beautiful like ocean water, like the sky. Green eyes like grass.
But have you ever seen brown eyes get hit with sunlight? A beautiful shade of amber, of honey, of flecks of gold.
Absolutely beautiful on his face speckled with freckles. His face has always been my favorite part of his appearance, and I hope that maybe, just maybe, I’ll get the chance to see him again.
The Truth About Elbows On The Table
The truth about elbows on the table
From an early age we are told to not put our elbows on the table, especially while having guests. even back in the swamp, where i matured out of the ooze, the custom was well known, and many who failed to comply were thrown to the hungry manatee, which has mercy for none. But how did this existential imperative came to be?
listen here, my friends, and hark my words.
It all goes back to the war of the roses. England changed hand from Lancaster to York, York to Lancaster again and again as the tide. It all ended (sort of) with the brutal and treacherous reign of Richard III. Richard, ever distrustful of his barons, seldom ventured out of the palace and rarely went on the royal procession , the traditional touring of the castles of the land. He mostly feared an attempt on his life while on the roads, and poisoning, and seldom drank wine, which may or may not have reminded him of a certain drowned nephew.
But there was a minimum degree of traveling that he was required to accent to. And so, just before Easter, he went on such a rare excursion , touring the strongholds that he knew with certainty would stand by him. And so, the honor and burden fell to lord after lord, as they feasted the retinue in the great halls, spending each a fortune on food and entertainment. Woe be to he, who failed to please the very, very irritable monarch.
And so , It was on Easter feast that the procession reached the estate of the Earl of Willowsby, who was known as a former Lancastrian loyalist, until he changed sides. The visit was to be his one and only chance to rehabilitate his good name, in the eyes of the crown and he spared no expense in the effort. Great amounts of foods, were brought, garments of exquisite taste, spices of great luxury. Troupes of actors, singers and story tellers were summoned. all had to be of the greatest display of sophistication and wealth. under no circumstance, should the guest find his visit boring, bland or tedious. Most of all, the Earl of Willowsby knew that his feast must surpass that of all other hosts which the king visited. And so, upon the evening, great effort was made, and the fires of the great hall were lit and the kitchen was a hive of activity.
We must digress now, to consider the life within a castle in the late middle ages. All but a very select few of the household lived in private rooms. With no electricity or other modern amenities like running water or sanitation, concentrating the household staff, retainers and guests in one large, heated room was the most practical thing to do. This giant hall was called, surprisingly, “the great hall”, all meals, were taken there, all major public events, were held , and so was all the sleeping. On days were feasting was prescribed, long tables would ring the room, around which all would sit and enjoy themselves. The most important, the chief guests would sit on raised platforms with the host and the guest of honor sitting at the midpoint of the long table. This platform, called a dais, would elevate the guests from others, and serve as a symbolic representation of the power structure . All this was accomplished thanks to the usage of trellis tables. Now, trellis tables, were no new inventions. They date back at least to roman times , if not older ages. A long, broad, plank of wood would serves as the table. On which food and drink and tableware would be placed. The plank is supported on both ends by two triangular legs. The trellis table must be easy to assemble and disassemble, as that many guests would be provided a place to sleep in the great hall itself, once the tables are cleared and the floor is swept clean. The legs of the trellis , are therefore not directly connected to the table, but held in place by articulated “trenches” , where the top points of the legs meet the table board. Apart from that, as we mentioned the board is simply a long plank of wood.
In this case, as befitting the royal visit, the greatest trellis table was erected on the dais and decorated with a rich velvet tablecloth. It was worth in it’s own a large fortune. On the evening, great plates of the best dishes were served. Fish was avoided as it was after the lent period, by which time all were quite tired of seeing the blank stare of marine animals from their plates. Large metal service trays were brought forth, holding lamb and pork, and veal and venison, pheasant and goose, hare and boar. Fruit was dearly brought from faraway lands, as were cakes and bread of all shapes and colors. Large pitchers of wine, beer and mead were placed. The household did not neglect to place silver candelabras, laden with large candles to provide lighting and freshly picked flowers in earthenware vases, to give a pleasing aroma.
You might think that the trellis table broke under the strain of such a load, placed along its extensive span. But it was not so. Trellis tables were cunningly constructed for just these occasions. More akin they were to bridges which hang between two cliff-sides than they are to the puny tables of our times. The table was built with a strong “spine” which did not allow the board to bend and sag under the weight placed upon it. Indeed, the table which was to be placed on the dais was carefully inspected by the master caretaker of the castle on the preceding day. The the Earl of Willowsby was still worried for the table and to assure it’s reliability, the table was erected in the courtyard. A horse was then made to walk upon it, carrying on its back a knight of the guard in full armor. Imagine such a sight! A table and a horse upon it with a knight riding on top!!
The table held the weight. It did not bend the slightest and after a long moment, when all the workmen and dignitaries inspected the table to their satisfaction, the knight was given a sign. He gently kicked the spurs into the warhorse’ side and the animal made a heroic leap off the table. The table was then cleaned and brought to the great hall to be erected in perpetration..
On the night of the feast, King Richard III was not in a good mood. He was never in a good mood. That was one of the things that made him so famous. That and killing his nephews and everyone who dared to irritate him. The king was not in a good mood, as we said; Reports had come in, from spies in France and in England proper. They confirmed to Richard’s distress that an enemy from abroad was conspiring with many within the kingdom to make preparations for war. He was not one to take such threats lightly. But could not ride back to London on the day, as bad weather had caught him and his men on the road. He walked from the solar, the castle’s master bedroom, which was made ready from him, into the great hall wearing his finery. Men watched him as he strode Onto the dais, avoiding his eyes, and yet trying hard to not seem as though they were avoiding his gaze. Most importantly, they avoided at all cost to stare at his famous hump. A certain theatrical portrayal had since exaggerated his deformity much beyond what it really was. But it all paled in comparison to how it became renowned in the gossip of the times. All knew the ultimate penalty for staring at it, but all could not resist the temptation to gaze upon the royal peak. It is so with children and so with adults, that when they are told not to do something, they find it more irresistible upon them to attempt it.
As the hump was more on the right side of the king’s back, and the king was now facing the great hall, all those who faced him on the LEFT had a clear view of it, for better or worse. All those on the RIGHT had greater difficulty seeing the hump, as it was not the mountain that they had envisioned or hoped to witness.
All through the night, men from the right side made visits to their comrades on the left, ostensibly to talk of family relations and gossip as all do. They were of course using such schemes to sneak glances at the king’s unimpressive hump. Oh, how they tried and tried to catch sight of the rumored mountain crest.
As they drank more, their endeavour became more and more apparent. King Richard was quite used to this by this age, having possessed a hump all his life. He knew to restrain his considerable rage at the impudence of the revelers. Of course that is not to say that he forgot and surly not forgive such an insult. King Richard the third was a indeed a marvel of his times remembering slights and assigning future revenge.
All through the night, he drank little but milk and glared at the revelry. He ate very little of the dishes prepared in his honor. He was not impolite to the host, but did not exude much joy, as was the custom of kings, particularly during religious feasts. The comedians, singers and other performers did their best to entertain the somber king to no avail they did however distract much of the celebrants from the worries of the day and along with the copious amount of drink that was served, helped to dull the caution that one must have in the company of royalty.
It was so, that during the later stages of the evening, a knight by the name of Sir Clinton Bandry approached the king. This he did under the heavy influence of drink and merrymaking. As the king was sitting elevated from him, upon the dais, and seated in a great distance, the knight made his way across the great hall, and was stopped by the guards just beside the table. As he was totally intoxicated, he made an inept display of bowing to the king, nearly falling over. He received permission to address the king, after expressing his desire to pledge the king his loyalty and to vouchsafe his service in the upcoming battles. The king assented to this and allowed the man to come closer. the drunkard came close, but it was then that a sudden dizziness had overtaken him. To brace himself, he placed his elbows upon the raised table as stern pillars do to a cathedral, thus he stood, ever so slightly to the right of the king, which gave him an excellent vantage point of the royal eminence. He then declared vociferously of his intention to support the king even until death , and to do his best to avenge the king of all those who betrayed him. He did so, while all the while half-looking at the king and half looking at the hump.
It was then that our story takes a turn for the worse as could be expected.
You see, as the knight was being so boisterous , and yet holding himself up only by the grace of his elbows which were planted firmly unto the table, a fragment of the table’s spine became undone. This flaw was not seen while the horse was upon it the day before, but apparently it became more acute as the horse made it’s final gallop, which unfortunately stressed that point more than others and caused slight cracks in the material to expand and lengthen. These though were totally hidden all through the evening, as the table did not sag even under the enormous weight of all that food and drink. But the elbows of the knight and the weight they had forced upon a very narrow area, and only one side of the table caused the table to now bend downwards unevenly. If you looked at it from the right way, at a certain distance, the problem would have been made apparent. The table was long and the bend was very slight but it was down-turned at the most critical place, so that it made the table become like a longbow, drawn downwards, with the leaning drunken knight as the arrow.
As poor Sir Bandry concluded his speech, the king was already seething from the obvious attempt to see his hump. He had already imagined how, this knight would be served.
“be off with from my presence” he said coldly. The knight , finally realizing the mistake he had made, became gravely frightened. He quickly rose and thus removed his elbows from the table. The effect of which, was that in a fraction of a second, the table itself, now relieved from the added weight bounded upwards dramatically, sending a large decorated bowl of dark pudding flying directly at the kings lap.
The transformation of potential energy to kinetic energy , which was at play here might have been amusing to all who saw it, but for the fact that now as the king’s own garments were ruined! They all looked in horror, those on the left side and those on the right, as the king stood up and examined his pants. If ever there was an example of god’s wrath upon the world, it was in the expression upon Richard, the third of his name, king of the famously cool-headed English on that moment!!
Sir Bandry stood in shock, trembling like a child awaiting punishment.
But the king’s expression surprisingly changed to a shallow smile.
“so! my good man.” he exclaimed warmly “As you said, you intend to serve me in the wars?”
“yes... yes” mumbled Sir Bandry.
“a fine and noble intention. I see you are a strong man. Very commendable! Do you think that you could carry a barrel filled with liquid, say.. oil perhaps.. do you think you can do that? Carry such a heavy weight? ”
“why.. a barrel full of oil?” said Bandry “i could carry such a barrel, easily, and for your honor, your majesty i shall, if you so require”
“that is very good. “ said the king “upon the morning, you will be made to hold a barrel filled with oil which will be fastened to you with ropes, and both YOU and IT will be then placed ever so gently upon the trebouchet, and sent flying, as you have sent the pudding flying!! GUARDS TAKE HIM!!”
And so the guards did. While it was such a swift change of mood , most of those who knew the king were accustomed to such caprice.
But this story is not altogether a tragedy. The good Earl of Willowsby, who was sitting beside the king during the events, and was remotely related to Sir Bandry, then intervened. Risking his own life, you must realize. He begged the king to show forgiveness, and if not that, at least to consider things practically. War had not broken out yet, and Sir Bandry with all his flaws would still better serve as a human missile, during the hostilities than a mere practice shot for the artillerists. Furthermore, the good Earl argued, it was known to be lucky for kings to show mercy on Easter feasts, and it certainly would give the king’s loyal men comfort and courage to know that they are fighting in support of such a merciful and godly man.
To that the king accepted. He made a decree of twofold importance. That all shall know the mercy of Easter feast and the fool Sir Bandry . On that same decree it was made known that the king was most displeased with the habit of placing elbows and feet upon tables, which was so heinously prevalent in houses, taverns, castles and other public places. From that day forward as a law of the land, all who are found to place their elbows upon tables of any size, would be tried for high treason for they undermine the safety and peace of the kingdom. The penalty for such gross misbehavior shall be hanging for the poor, beheading for the noble and burning at the stake for the Jews , Scots and all women of child-bearing age. You may be interested to know that this law has never been repealed or amended. And so until today the law of the land is clear; Placing your elbows upon the table, during dinnertime especially, is a serious violation of the ethics of the time and shall be punished accordingly.
Incidentally, both Sir Lincoln Bandry and his benefactor, the Earl of Willowsby , survived long after the death of king Richard III in the battle of Bosworth. You may remember it, when the king would have famously traded his entire kingdom for a horse. Both men lived for many years past that, promoting the laws of the land, but Richard’s elbow-on table prohibition most of all.
Aren’t we just little emotional atoms?
The meaning of life? Looks like I can't figure it out... Well, who can actually? Let me tell you what I think though. And you can share your insight too.
To have children, to continue your kin, some say is the meaning of life. But what about having children? It's the happiness they bring, you will probably say... But you will die, they will die too. The next generations will also die after that. And finally, all of humanity. And then, in the absolute ultimate account, what if giving birth to these children, has absolutely no meaning for the universe in which we live?
Some believe in God, heaven and hell. I almost envy them, because they have a reason to live, a meaning for that life, and a goal. But I don't believe so I have to think of an answer elsewhere.
People somehow never realized that we are just meaningless ants, which, by a coincidence of biological processes (which we even argue about how much we really understand) on the planet, have found themselves in the middle of a large, infinite space, which in itself will probably one day disappear, if what we think we know about it is true.
We are just a collection of atoms with feelings that think we are important.
But alas, we are not important to the planet we live on. And our ego doesn't seem to understand that - we want to be important and to matter. But it is a fact that our planet will be better off without us. Without us in our current form. Because the only thing we know is ruining it with plastic, by killing animals, by wasting resources, by burning forests, by starting wars, with poverty for some at the expense of wealth for greedy idiots that we choose to ruin our countries, with corruption, malice, alienation... Should I list more? We all know the rest. And we are not doing anything to change it.
We are both the highest form of life and the most stupid one - we allow slavery, violence, racism, homophobia, greed, eating disorders, and more... We don't even know our basic human rights.
Let me ask a twisted question for a bit of reflection - you're currently on a dying planet that revolves around a burning ball in an infinite space: does it really matter if people are fat/thin, gay/straight, black/white?
Do we really need money and status to guide us to everything?
"But the world revolves around money" - No, the world revolves around the star we called the Sun. Some old greedy people have arranged it to their liking, so that now we kill each other for papers with the faces of famous people on them.
Why did they do this? To control us. And see how well it works now.
That's why I liked the recent ending of the series "Money Heist". It showed a great example of how money, gold, and the economy based on them, are just a phycological barrier to us all.
Also, the most absurd thing (for me, personally) on this planet and about us as humans - racism. For example, why would anyone even think that black lives are less valuable than others? What goes in the mind of a racist to think something so stupid? Why have we, humans, never been together in anything? Why are we like this - to make people go and protest that they matter? I can't understand how the most intelligent creatures can think that one of their own may be different somehow like a person because of the color of their skin... Could an almost white sparrow hate a dark brown one? Of course not. They are not stupid.
It's like we always focus on the wrong things in life. We are not important, the only thing we can do is to know and understand what is around us. Admirations for people like Elon Musk who want to take us to Mars. But with all due respect to their work - does it make any sense to lead today's humanity there? Or anywhere else? I want to see Mars too, I want to see the whole universe and beyond to find some meaning (and I blame Doctor Who for my disappointment that this will never happen). But I know that people will ruin it and I wonder why do we even try to reach other planets before we try to fix our own? To ruin them too?
Recently I read about a tribe on the North Sentinel Island. All they want is to be left alone. They don't want us near them, to steal their food and carry our deseases. In their history, there was a moment when some scientists decided to basically kidnap children and elderly from the island. The elderly, of course, couldn't survive with us because they were not immune to our deseases so, to not risk it further, the scientists returned the children (with gifts as sorry). Like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Why did they even think that would be a good idea in the first place is beyond me. And no wonder those people are ready to kill everyone who comes near them. We basically lost our right to judge them on that after killing some of their families.
Maybe this is the meaning of human life - to destroy... That's how it turns out to be, that's all we do. But it doesn't sound very nice and cool, does it? It's a pretty grim conclusion that no one wants to believe.
Maybe I'm wrong, of course. Maybe it does have a meaning, maybe there is something beyond death... Isn't that why some people believe in their God - so that their life can have a meaning. Of course, another topic is that religion is sometimes like the idea of racism - it is used mainly for control, sowing hatred, and murder (depending on the religion).
Well, whatever life really is, I'm thinking of living it to the fullest, at least to be happy, I'm already here anyway... We'll see in around a hundred years what the big conclusion will be. Or we won't see...
For now, I just hope more people could think about how bad we've become and how much better we can live if we just break away from most of the rules and stigmas that keep us under control. Let's live like the smartest mammals we're supposed to be. So that at least it could make a little hit more sense to be here - we will help our planet (and possibly our future ones), rather than just destroy it.
That sounds more optimistic, right? But alas, difficult to achieve with our current mindset.
Okay then... I'm going to look for the meaning of life. And you are most welcome to share your opinion on the subject!