Habitually she thought of others as she ate, today, she said to God, I am thinking of people who live with unintelligible horror. She grew still, yes, even a hundred years compared to eternity isn’t long, thinking this seems small compensation for those who suffer now. But the perpetrators? Yes, you showed us that evil can’t be flooded out of existence. But what about Korah and the rebels? she asked, longing for direct intervention. That wasn’t you? Oh, nature mutates, morphs according to our intentions? Our fates are mutually intertwined? You intend the earth, even angels, as our allies ...
Her family was Polish. His was Irish. They met on the El somewhere between O'Hare's tarmacs and the gorgeous views on LSD (Lake Shore Drive, natch). Together they braved heat waves, flipped off snowdrifts and marked their winter parking spots with chairs from their front room. They raised children who loved Portillo's Italian beef and the Cubs and were spooked by tales of Resurrection Mary. Eventually, the couple's relationship became as snarled as rush hour traffic on the Eisenhower, and the two went their separate ways, concluding that 'staying together through thick and thin' refers exclusively to Edwardo's pizza crust.
I was ready for birth. No one told me. I just knew. When the pecking began on the outside of my shell I smiled and sang. Then the beak pierced the egg. The fluids ran red. Could I be discarded?
The Great Eye looked in on me.
"Are you there? Are you ready?"
I felt the wings of me start to unfurl.
"Can I fly already?" I asked.
" Fly," I was ordered.
I asked "Where?" but there was no answer.
So I just took off. Out of the nest of broken eggs.
I can still remember it was a summer evening and the sky all orange and pink.I could hear kids playing and the ballgame through open windows and lawnmowers. I could smell the grass and hear the ice cream truck.and my folks talking on the backyard patio.
I should have been just another lonely lost dreamer, wondering where the answer was, but for the swirling, transcendent sound of Led Zeppelin blasting from my stereo. It was Timeless and as long as it was there, so was I. In fact Everything was.
And the world was perfect.
John’s eyes were spinning after staring at his work computer for so long. He panicked when saw the data he’d been verifying, even after he looked away.
“I need a computer game to clear the head,” John thought. Before he could load one, though, a multicolored vortex took over his vision. He blinked, shaking his head rapidly, but the reds, blues, and greens were still there. “What in the world?” he thought, his eyes widening.
His boss entered. “Jeez, John. Take a break. Your eyes glazed over.” John started, looking at his vortex computer background.
“I need a vacation. NOW.”
The Head of Sales read the letter aloud. “…I am eggs-pressing eggs-treme eggs-asperation at the delays in eggs-ercising the full eggs-tent of my order whilst appreciating that the eggs-igent demands of the previous month’s orders must eggs-acerbate the situation for you. However, I eggs-hort you to eggs-alt your efforts. February is eggs-tremely close, and my order must be fully eggs-pedited by 14th February to ensure eggs-actment of the goods in eggs-cellent time for March…”
She sighed and turned to her secretary. “It’s early this year and he’s panicking. Take a letter James. Subject ‘Chocolate, Bulk Order. Dear Easter Bunny…’
Dedicated to all readers who have signed up for some sort of eating or drinking purgatory this month.
New Year brought a new diet. 2018's fad – Dorothy's Dynamite Diet – required her to eat only whatever brassica took her fancy. Each day she consumed brussels sprouts, cavolo nero, spring greens, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, kohl rabi or pak choi, all seasoned with mustard seeds. Washed down with a litre of cabbage water.
Alcohol? You must be joking.
By January 19th she'd lost over two stones; by the 26th she was in Accident & Emergency. But she emerged in time to look at herself in the mirror five days later and say, "job done".
Eleanor's Eating Examination awaited in 2019.
Harry awoke with all his bones aching, particularly his knees. It was an unfamiliar bed he stumbled out of.
He switched on the bathroom light and saw a ghost in the mirror: an old man with pot belly and greasy grey hair, not the youth Harry thought he was. The expression on the ghost's face was one of shock.
"I'm going back to bed, this is all a nightmare."
There was a loud buzzing by his bed, a small machine was vibrating as he hid under the covers. Hours later he awoke...but the mirror still showed an old man.
Death unmasks my many skins, each guise a persona of note, yet each a life poorly lived. Starving for understanding, I awake, soul-soaked, upon the shores of Akasha, the keeper of eternity’s dreams. Translucent, my fingers slowly glide across the bindings, each one a volume of my ten thousand lives.
His Facebook avatar is a picture of Che Guevara.
He rants there as he does now against the evils of capitalism.
“We’re brainwashed to consume,” he says quaffing his pint of Heineken in our local Wetherspoon pub.
“Right,” I concur.
He receives a call on his iPhone.
“Pizza Hut? I’ll be right over,” he says.
He’s off to celebrate with his girlfriend who’s just got her 2:1 in Business Studies.
He calls an Uber taxi, ties a loose shoelace on his Nike trainers and puts on his North Face jacket.
And thus this ultimate product of capitalism takes his leave.
She discovered him handling microfilm at the community library, obsessed with newspaper advertisements and local tidbits from 1959. In contrast to his charcoal sweater and black jeans, she was clad in flowing tangerine, olive and turquoise cottons, like a mismatched hippie fashion show. She smiled affably, revealing several crooked teeth. He nodded stiffly, hiding deeper feelings and retreating within a terrapin's shell blackened with bruises, scraped by scratches and hardened by time. He tried to fortify his misanthropic mistrust, but, to his chagrin, he wasn't crafted from muscovite. He responded to warmth. When she coaxed him, he crawled forth.
The twenty somethings playing volleyball on the beach spotted the old man with his metal detector.
They laughed at him. But he was focused on his device as he shuffled along.
A little later, he passed by again. This time, his device began beeping. He pulled a small shovel from his pocket and started digging. Bent low, he struggled to pull something up. The twenty somethings laughed. One, though, went over to help.
He had found a large gold nugget. It sold for $1.2 million at auction. The old man split it with the young woman who had helped him.
A few of us from the class of ’76 meet for a reunion drink.
We fondly recall bygone days of knowing nothing but expecting everything.
We chat about mutually incomprehensible careers, shadowy sons and daughters doing this or that, wives, ex-wives, whatever.
A few pints on, we acknowledge in warm, sad camaraderie that we are entering the wastelands of old age.
At closing time we say our goodbyes and go out into the night.
None of us have discovered answers to the ultimate questions of existence.
I realize I am now merely older not wiser, knowing nothing and expecting nothing.
The athletic team was gearing up for the championship match. They huddled on the field, chanting and building up their energy. Then the whistle blew. They were off!
Tom ran downfield, holding the ball. When an opponent dive-bombed him, he screamed, tossing the ball to Chuck.
The goal was in sight, and Chuck prepared to throw. But then, another dastardly opponent raised Chuck into midair, defying gravitational law. Chuck yelled.
Fortunately, Zack was ready with a staff, to beat the enemy senseless. He then tossed the ball into the goal for the score.
Plutonian face-offs--not a sport for everyone.
He had saved tens of thousands in his lifetime but now looked out upon a barren wasteland.
“I couldn’t save them,” he whispered, then launched into the air and flew, looking for just one survivor. He scanned the earth with X-ray vision, listened with super-hearing and finally landed at his secret abode.
He lifted the lid of the lead-lined, crystal box. The lump of rock glowed weakly, green in the evening gloom.
He held the rock and slipped to the floor, feeling weak. He died from a broken heart, before the piece of his home could take his life.
Karen dangled in her husband’s weakening grip. They had taken this trip to renew their commitment to one another, since it seemed that all they did any more was argue.
Tom shouted, “Hold on! I think I can pull you up.” He scooted away from the cliff’s edge. “Use your feet to help.”
Karen screamed, “You’re hurting me! Are you trying to pull my arm out of its socket? I knew we should have gone to the beach, but I had to let you have your way...”
She was still bitching when Tom let go.
She rolled up the window and turned away. She never understood the foreigners’ fascination for her island’s sugarcane fields. To her, those swaying fields looked menacing. Bladelike leaves that cut through the skin, a sticky muddy ground that soils you, pulls you down, suffocates you. No, she did not share their fascination. She was not quite sure where her hate for the fields came either. Maybe it started the day uncle Teddy had picked her early from school and torn her clothes in one of those fields. The mud had been stuck to her since then.
"I do so love my life!" exclaimed twelve year old Jake in a horrible smug voice.
He had just been presented with a miniature Formula 1 racing car costing many thousands. Jake had a very low opinion of the under-privileged dismissing them as "paupers" but then paradise crumbled.
Jake's, father went bankrupt, committed suicide and his mother developed cancer. They relocated to a flat, amongst the "paupers".
Jake changed: he learned to cook and cared for his mother with the devotion of a saint. Previously he hadn't ever made his bed and never called anyone a pauper again.
When I brought her flowers she looked surprised, “you’re dying!” “No I just brought you flowers”, “I’m dying!” “No its just flowers for no reason I said.” Turns out our relationship was dying and we both knew it but seven years and college graduation coming was keeping us too busy to see it. Kim would go to Africa in grad school and write me about the sound of real lions roaring, we would be over less than a year after she left Erie, Pa, but on that day we kissed like we meant it like drowning people gasping for air.
Chief High Police Commissioner Or-SnIG Ke'puck of Pluto glared at his Prime Investigator. "How could Senator Potentate Klg-matg'n have been murdered in his quarters which were time-locked from inside and only he knew the combination?"
"It is baffling, Comish. Luckily, for us, famed Earthman Lawrence Gordon is on Pluto for our Annual Interplanetary Golf and Squash Tournaments, and I've taken the liberty of calling to request his assistance in this matter. I'm sure he could not turn down investigating a 'locked room' murder--and will respond immediately. We should see this case solved within a matter of hours!"
The Hoffman family were multilingual. They spoke Switzerland’s three main languages, plus Portuguese and Spanish, but didn’t speak English.
Nevertheless, they decided to holiday in Devon, taking in the delights of Clovelly, then across Dartmoor to the South Hams. They got lost, but stopped and asked two old codgers for directions.
“Excusez-moi. Parlez-vous français?”
They looked blank. “What?”
“Sprichst du Deutsch?”
“¡Por Dios! ¿Habla español?”
In disgust, Herr Hoffman drove off. “Crétin anglais!”
Bill turned to Bert. “Reckon we should learn another language?”
“Naw. Matey there spoke five, but didn’t do ’ee no good.”
The physician carefully removed a neural thread from its hermetically sealed pouch; only a handful could be entrusted with this delicate annual task. The thread was coloured pure white to show up any abnormalities, while eight inches at each end had been stiffened to make the procedure easier.
The doctor gently inserted one stiffened end into the patient's right ear, then fed through more and more thread until it protruded from the left ear. Using both hands, the doctor gently pulled it back and forth before pulling it right through.
"That's fine, Mr President. Completely clear, same as last year."
It had to come sooner or later, didn't it? Happens to everyone, eventually.
Went to Doctor Neals' office. Brief visit. "Short and sweet," I'd have to say.
Back home, I suddenly recalled Mother's words as she tucked me in: "Soon you will know that good, sweet sleepy time."
Ben Neals, M.D., spared no details. Three weeks at most, and they would be sheer hell. "This is better," he finished, pressing two pills into my hand.
And now I lay me down with no regrets, swallow the pills and lie still waiting for the coming of that good, sweet sleepy time.
He’d fallen from the crag above. I called the emergency services and waited beside him.
Briefly regaining consciousness, he asked, “Will I be OK?”
Looking at his broken body and the head wound I decided not to lie.
“Sorry. It doesn’t look good.”
“Yeah. Please tell my family I love them.”
“And pray for me.”
He drifted back into unconsciousness.
I conveyed his message.
I also went to a church for the first time in years.
Since then, I have lighted a candle for him there monthly.
It accompanies the ever-increasing number I light as life goes on.
“So you’re never tempted?” the editor asked from across the coffee shop table.
“To take advantage of people?” the hypnotist asked. “No.”
“This level of success at influencing people would be awfully difficult to resist. It would be so easy to get what you want.”
“Perhaps,” he shrugged as if it had never occurred to him. “By the way, do we have a publishing deal here?”
“Of course!” The editor was exuberant. “It’s one of the best I’ve ever read and I’m recommending it for immediate publication.”
“Excellent,” replied the hypnotist, accepting another cup of free-for-his-lifetime coffee from the barrista.