Nondisclosure Agreement

 

Looked at from this long view,
so many miles and trials
from the oath never to,
perhaps the secret
never was a secret anyway.

When you own the fact,
wear it proudly, like
a navy cashmere overcoat,
what does it matter
if the one who swore
never to tell…tells?

Maybe it doesn’t matter,
maybe it does.
Maybe you want to hold
your co-conspirator to
a higher standard – a test,
control – than the one
set for yourself.

Or maybe the secret keeper
just wants to hold something
you shared with the one
you knew you could trust.
And that trust is the only thing
you still share to this day.

Once again, I’m participating in Writer’s Digest’s twice-annual Poem-A-Day (PAD) Challenge. I must write a poem for each of the 30 days of April, based in some way on a prompt theme set by WD Editor Robert Lee Brewer. This came along just in time, since I was just about to throw in the terry cloth keyboard, because it feels like I no longer can answer the bell for another round of creating. Day 1’s prompt: Secret.

Deadline

7035-journalistsorbloggers

Um, good afternoon, I’d like to speak to Jason Lafleur, please. Oh, hi, Mr. Fletcher, this is John Berdar from the Press-Republican. Heh, yeah, the Republican Press. I hear that a lot.

Anyway, I was hoping you had a minute to talk to me about…. No, nothing to do with that. I never heard about any DWI. Not anything with your name attached. I just was kinda wondering if you’ve heard about the State Police looking for your cousin, Loyal.

No? Okay, thanks. Oh, wait a second, please. You don’t know anything about Loyal’s disappearance, but maybe you can help me fill in some blanks the troopers won’t. I won’t have to use your name or nothing. You could be what we call a source close to the family. Funny, huh? Someone in the family being called close to the family. I’ve got only one brother left and I don’t think I’d want him to be that kind of a source, close to the family. He’s a real dick.

Oh, oh, I’m sorry, you don’t need to hear my sorry story. Let’s get back to Loyal. You two grew up together, right? Uh huh. Sure, up in Chateaugay. Love how you local folks say that, shadda-gee. Sorry, I’m from Albany. I’m sure you think I’ve got my own weird accent.

So, you and Loyal grew up in Chateaugay. Would you say he was a quiet kid, kinda a loner? You know, like how the neighbors always describe their neighbor who chopped up his mother and fed her to the cats or sprinkled her on his salad or whatever.

Oh, yeah, sorry. You were saying he was a hell raiser then? I hear you kinda ran together back in the day. Were you the quiet one in your dynamic duo? Kind of a balance thing. Funny how nature likes that balance. Human nature too, I guess.

Anyway, the troopers tell me, what little that is anyway, that Loyal once got caught outside your Mom’s house holding something they later connected to a beating he must’ve given a guy named, ummm…Steve Yaddeau? Yeah, he must’ve been a tough kid. You didn’t see that did you? Him beating up Yaddeau? You two always together and all, I figured. Yeah. Yeah, No, of course not. Not you. He ever put a whupping on you? Oh, sorry.

Just a few more minutes. You’re being a great help. My editor, Teddy, he wants all this background stuff and he’ll cuss me out something fierce if I don’t come up with something. Hate to lose my job over just a conversation between two guys, couple of poor kids who grew up with some rough guys around our family. Ya know?

Thanks, I appreciate it. Now, you say you were around when Loyal put that whuppin’ on Yaddeau? Uh huh. What about the time he got caught joy-riding in your dad’s Chevy? Oh? You tried to stop him? Rode with him so he wouldn’t get in any more trouble. Your a good friend, Jason. Sorry, can I call you Jason? You can call me John. How’s that?

I guess having the under-sheriff as an uncle helps in times like that. Oh, no, I wasn’t saying that. Of course not. That’s just how my silly mind works. No filter, as they say. Just BLURGH, out it comes. Sorry.

So you and Loyal were caught joyriding in your dad’s car. Glad he didn’t press charges. Woulda been a terrible thing. Family and all. And I know how families are, believe me. You can be going along your whole life like brothers, even closer, and BANG something happens between you two and it’s over. Happened to me and my brother. Don’t speak anymore.

I’m not prying or anything, you know, but were you and Loyal still on speaking terms lately? Just as background, mind you. My editor Teddy will be asking how credible my source is. And who could be more credible than the cousin and one-time best friend of the deceased.

Oh, I’m truly, truly sorry. Did I say deceased? I meant missing person. I’m sorry, you’ve been a great help to me for the story, talking to me all the way from Watertown and all. You moved away after your grandfather died, right? About six months ago? Was that when you and Loyal had your falling out? Man, I know how those tough guys can be about personal stuff like that. Emotions always close to the surface. Sorry for your loss, Jason. I’ll bet you were your grandpa’s favorite weren’t you. The good grandson.

Oh? Go figure. You two being his only living kin and all. I figured, you know, that balance thing again.

Oh, yeah, I’m sorry, taking up so much of your time. I really really thank you. My editor will skin me with a pica ruler if I don’t get a couple more facts. I promise.

Anyway, I’ve got this friend over in the probate court. You know how it is, young reporter from the Big City, Albany, and a sweet girl originally from Rouses Point. Sweet girl. Yeah. Anyway, she told me that your grandpa left most of his estate to Loyal, with you as secondary heir. That can’t be right, can it? I didn’t believe that.

No, no, strictly on deep background. Just so I understand how Loyal ticked. A bad kid who connived his way into his grandfather’s good graces, an Eddie Haskell-type sucking up to his elders while being a creep to the younger kids. You ever see Leave It To Beaver? Sorry if the analogy is… Oh, you knew about that. No Kidding. Must’ve been a real ball breaker, you’ll pardon my French.

Anyway, I want to thank you for your time, Jason, Mr. Lafleur. You’ve been a big help. My editor will only have to skin me from the waist down now, ya know? Heh…

So thanks again. You have a….

Oh, one more thing. I’m so freaking stupid. You said you saw Loyal at your grandfather’s wake, right? Oh, you didn’t? I would have sworn you did. Must have been that funeral guy I talked to from Brown’s. Said he saw you guys in the parking lot that night. All those Elks and Knights Pythias herding around, I don’t know how he could, but there ya go.

Said you two were having words, but he coulda been mistaken. Coulda been an Elk and a Knight or a Rotarian arguing about the Habs or Democrats or something like that.

So I want to thank you for your time. I’ve gotta make another call to get a second source. Yeah that’s the rules around here. Yeah, ain’t rules a bitch. No, I won’t use your name in this story. Not today, nope. Hey, and you have a great day, okay? If I hear anything from the troopers or sheriff I’ll be sure to give you a call if you like. No? Okay, you’ve been a great help anyhow. My editor… Yeah. Yeah. You too. Yeah, have a great…

Ouch. That was a loud one. Must’ve hung up with a baseball bat.

Hey, Ted! You might want to look at my notes here, but first I got one more call to make. Yeah, troopers. Want to go over my notes with them, too. Think I might be able to wrap this story up for ya with a big bow by 10:00. Just hold another seven inches on A-1. No, I’m not shitting you. No. Then come on over while I call Troop G.

Sheesh. What a grouch. Wish he’d stop calling me Li’l J-Bird. Demeaning shit. Oh, hi, sorry, good afternoon. This is John Berdar from the Press-Republican. Hah, Republican Press. Never heard that one before. Anyway, I’d like to speak to inspector Gallo? Yeah about the Loyal Lafleur murder. I got some new questions, shouldn’t take more than a couple of… Sure I can hold, but tell him I’m on deadline.

Story #7 of Story-A-Day may. One week in the bag. Wouldn’t you know it, the day after I wrote a story using practically all dialog, the prompt from Julie Duffy is for a story written…you guessed it. All dialog. So I decided to write one that’s all-dialog, just only with the reader hearing one side of it. I hope it works. Drew from my nascent reporter days for the setting and character(s). This is, as are all of my Story-A-Day postings, a first draft. It’ll change quite a bit should I decide to revise it into something more palatable for editors and discerning readers.

The Gift

3-28 FWF

As I recall, it started at that Christmas party. I was the guest of Angela, a new girl I’d met in the food court during breaks at the mall. She said she worked at the toy store. And believe me, this chick looked like the angel you’d want perched on the tippy-top of your Christmas tree,

“Try some of our wassail, David,” said Mr. Caligari, who Angie ID’d as her manager. Now, I’m usually a Miller Light guy, but hey, it was the holidays and I was his guest and all. Plus, with a chick as fine as Angie, I needed a little extra courage.

After a couple of those spicy punches—okay, six—was when a spinning sensation hit me. There was a flash of light and then…nothing. Not black nor darkness. Nothing.

Some time later, the tickle and chill of cold crystals upon my face brought some hazy lucidity back to me. I saw a pair of black boots walk by me, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they were walking up the cold wall upon which I was resting. That was when I discovered my point of view was skewed by ninety degrees. I lifted myself off the snow-dusted sidewalk to get a better view of where I was and who belonged to those lovely limbs stuffed into clicking-along black leather.

Once on my feet, I staggered with the wooziness of a landlubber his first time at sea and I couldn’t quite catch my bearings. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the snow cast this neighborhood in a twinkling cloud, a disguise behind which I couldn’t tell if I was in Albany or Albania, Arbor Hill or Ann Arbor.

I felt a little steadier on my feet, so I peered through the snow at what appeared to be Angie, my angel with the seriously articulating architecture, striding sinuously up the street. The girl moved like she was on rails. I recognized those boots, but then split my gaze from the mesmerizing seesaw of her denim-hugged seat and the hypnotically spinning umbrella she carried on her shoulder.

My uncertainty with the surroundings and hazy grasp on everything in general urged my feet to take chase after Angela, follow her tracks and get some idea if a truck had hit me or some of her boss’ wassail.

But my feet wouldn’t work. Well, that’s not exactly true. I could spin them like crazy but I could move forward only a foot or two, like I was treading water.

“Angela,” I called, “What the heck’s going on? Where are we?”

But she just kept walking, but not walking. Her feet moved, but she wasn’t going too far, either, despite the footprints that trailed her like my once-hungry-now-frightened eyes.

It was just about that time I felt the ground rise up under me, and the light got brighter. The entire neighborhood started spinning and quaking like Magnitude 7 or 8 SoCal temblor. Then everything stopped. Just like that. Well except for the snow, which was swirling a blizzard, even though I couldn’t feel all that much cold nor wind.

“Angela,” I called once more. “Where the hell are we?” Then I heard it. A ratcheting metallic sound, then chimes, followed by a muffled voice.

“Oh, Mommy, it’s the beautifullest snow globe ever!” the voice said.

That’s when I looked up and saw this little girl’s face in the clouds.

This story’s based on that picture at the top of the story and this scenario from my friend Kellie Elmore: “You suddenly find yourself standing alone on an unknown sidewalk in an unknown place. It’s night and snowing and the only other person around is walking away from you….”

Only had the chance to hit it at lunch, but here you are, Kell. No time for edits and it kinda got away from me.

I Been There

passport

I been to South Bend and North Troy,
Boston and Houston, too.
I been in a city where I found a street
by that name, only they pronounce it House-ton.

But it was never home,
‘cause, you know…

I been to London—the little one in England, New,
and the famous one in England, Olde.
I been lost in the Sierras and Adirondacks,
Montreal and Jersey, too.

But they was never home,
‘cause, you know…

And I been in your head and you in mine,
peeked through the windows of our souls,
bounced upon each other’s hearts
like beds in the lonely dark.

And I thought they was gonna be home,
‘cause, you know…

A rambling lunchtime piece about a rambling (and lost , from the looks of it) poet guy. poet and guy.

Enraptured ~ A Story

lace_black_02

lace_black_02 (Photo credit: queenBlingerie)

“While I’m in the shower,” Elise said over her shoulder to Glenn, her date this hot July night, “would you be a love and pick out a set of undies from the fridge for me…whatever strikes your fancy.”

As he pulled a sandwich bag – a sandwich bag! – full of black lace from the vegetable crisper, the open refrigerator  couldn’t cool the burning on Glenn’s face, nor the burning question others asked of whether he’d bitten off more than he chew in asking out Elise.

He couldn’t think of anything but Elise since she came to the firm’s Cincinnatti office from Columbus, a law school buddy of Glenn’s supervisor, and how he finally got up the courage to ask this edgy, cerebral beauty out.

Over the sound of the shower, feeling the chilled bra strap between his warm fingers and along a gelid lightning bolt from his right shoulder to his navel, Glenn heard Elise sweetly call, “Just leave them on the bed or dresser, Glenn…I promise not to keep you waiting long.”

Glenn was about to place the underwear on the long dark dresser when he noticed two gold bands and a diamond ring sitting in a blue dish; he blinked, stared at his reflection in the mirror, then shrugged at the familiar-looking guy goofily grinning there, and sat softly on the bed.

A flash of Five Sentence Fiction today, based on the word Enrapture from Lillie McFerrin.

Born to the Blues ~ A Story

Resonator guitar

A Five Sentence Fiction

The pimply music store clerk leaned against the counter and watched as the unshaven 50-something in a suit so threadbare its fabric glowed like it was under a black light put his ear to and clumsily pluck the strings of the vintage National Reso-Phonic guitar on the wall and he thought, Oh, jeez, another one.

“She’s a beauty, isn’t she,” he said as he startled the morose figure beneath a bunged-up fedora who had just left four greasy smudges from remarkably well-groomed fingertips on the guitar’s shiny metal body, “and a steal at, ya know, just 5,800 bucks.”

The mournful face turned toward the clerk and replied in a rasp about twenty years older, “She’s my Holy Grail since I realized the Blues in my DNA, the preeminent color in the fabric of my fuggin’ life….uh, man.”

“Sure, dude, gotcha, but we’d, ya know, appreciate it if you’d, like, ya know, not touch the piece unless you’ve, ya know, got the dough and the chops to, ya know, like actually play her?”

The man stepped away from the guitar on the wall, stared down at his $900 Bally slip-ons and mumbled the rap the clerk had heard in one form or another about half a dozen times from other such blues men: “’Course…sorry…shoulda known…no damn good no way…my damn life in a nutshell…ya take ‘Merican Express Black…uh, man?”

This week’s Lillie McFerrin Five Sentence Fiction is brought to you by the prompt word FABRIC and this writer’s desire to use it a couple of different ways in the same story.

No Sense to It

Sunlight in the Bedroom 3

Sunlight in the Bedroom 3 (Photo credit: AMD5150)

The dun wanna is upon him again,
sapping his heart’s autonomic urge
to keep expressing blood and words.
You have to burn with The Urge
in order to be one of Us,
the voices of the blue angel chorus
hissed from shoulder-left. Burn.

Better you should just burn altogether,
for all this is worth, said the fallen
angel posing as fickle muse to starboard.
He sighed and thought to throw the wanna on
his unlit pyre pillow of kindling woven of
other broken wannas and those heavy haftas
that he had no fire left to ignite.

Instead, he sighed, dipped it in milk,
rolled over and wrote a note on his sheets.
It said, Can’t do it no more. None of it.
He closed his eyes and lost the fight to dawn.

The Man in Black ~ An Albany Story

Stunning small snapshot of interior of a pub

Stunning small snapshot of interior of a pub (Photo credit: whatsthatpicture)

From time to time, I post short stories I’m fretting over. Really, until I let them go to some unsuspecting journal, they’re all Works in Progress. And, after their editors reject them, they still are!

This story is my Albany-centric twist on the Hemingway classic “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”

It’s a little more than 1,700 words, but hang in and I hope you like it. My fiction group colleagues did. They know me as more storyteller than a poet.

The story’s working title is…

The Man in Black

Beams of morning sunlight with squared corners ran through the window and onto the floor of Pauly’s Tavern on Central Avenue. The morning crowd never noticed the specks of dust floating in the box-shaped ray crawling closer to the window as the sun rose in the sky. They only noticed mahogany and glass as drinks sank to the bottom of their mugs and tumblers.

The college kids called Pauly’s an old man’s bar, and in truth, the morning crowd skewed closer to Social Security age than 21. Thorough checking IDs for the age of patrons was not Phil Papandrea’s problem, working daytime as he did. 

Barely a head raised when the scraped and scratched wood and glass door opened and the shadow of the old regular called Johnny stretched across the worn oak floor. Phil looked up, though, and noticed it looked like Johnny already had a head start on the other patrons.

Johnny ambled on long, unsteady legs to a stool at the far end of the bar, upon which the morning Times Union lay. Phil always left it there to save Johnny’s spot, one as sacrosanct in Pauly’s as the place on the shelf behind Phil where they kept the cognac no one ever ordered.

“Morning, Johnny, how we doing today?” Phil said.

“Ummph,” Johnny said, as Phil reached into the cooler beneath the bar and pulled out a green can of Genesee Cream Ale, popped the top and poured it into a glass.

“Here you go, champ,” Phil said, sliding the glass in front of Johnny.

Phil then walked down to the sunny end of the bar where a new member of the morning crowd was nursing a boilermaker and the New York Times crossword.

“Hey, Phil,” Ed Burley whispered, “what’s with the cans for the old guy? You’ve got Genny on tap.

“Aw, it’s just something we do for old Johnny. He buys his own beer up at Oliver’s Beverage store and we keep it cold for him here. Otherwise, I don’t think he could drink here.”

“Yeah, but…um…why?”

“Because he’s Johnny No-Cash. Can’t you see?” Phil said, in no way explaining other than to point out the jet-black toupee and black shirt and pants Johnny wore that gave him the look of a cartoon version of the iconic American singer.

“We let Johnny slide because the boss loves him. He lets him live upstairs and helps clean the place up at closing,” Phil said. “He’s pretty harmless unless you hassle him. Most of the college guys think he’s a hoot.”

“They don’t bother him?”

“Not too much. In fact, some of the Siena boys took such a shine to him they brought him golfing with them. Let him ride in the cart and caddy for them,” the bartender explained.

“I heard the other day he had problems. I mean besides what you keep under the bar,” Burley said.

“You mean trying to kill himself?”

“Yeah, well, that was something different. He’d been in here drinking all day and afternoon and some punks came in from St. Rose. I was off by then. They thought it would be fun to play with his hair,” Phil said, and jerked his thumb toward Johnny.

“It didn’t end well. He was so drunk and angry chasing his hair while they played keep-away, he fell and pissed himself. Johnny is anything if not fastidious about how he looks. A bunch of regulars stepped in, but Johnny was embarrassed and had to be carried upstairs crying like a baby.”

“Nasty punks,” Burley said. “Was that when he did it?”

“No, when Pauly closed he went upstairs and found Johnny passed out in his bed. Checked on him and he seemed okay. When I got here in the morning, cops and EMTs were already out front.”

“Who found him?”

“Believe it or not, his niece. Found him in the bathroom with a rope around his neck. Pulled down the ceiling lamp. She keeps tabs on him since he’s got no one else after his daughter died,” Phil said.

“Aw, man. really? Man, what happened to her?”

“OD’d. Right down on Judson Street. It’s said Johnny was in fair shape then, had a real job and real money, but that just drove him off the edge.”

“Phil!” Johnny boomed from the other end of the bar, rapping his empty glass on the mahogany.

“Keep your shirt on, champ. I’m coming.”

“Instead of playing slap and tickle with that guy, you might want to see if you can serve the drinking customers?” Johnny said.

Phil took Johnny’s glass and filled a new one with another can of Genny.

“You slept at all, champ?” Phil asked Johnny. “Been going all night?”

The man in black either did not hear him or just flat out ignored the bartender.

“Pauly told me to look out for you. I don’t need the boss getting pissed at me if you decide to keel over.”

“Fuck you. Go check on 39-Across down there,” Johnny mumbled into his glass.

“Careful, champ. No one’s bothering you. No need to get testy.”

Johnny stared ahead at nothing and silently sipped his beer.

Phil returned to Burley, poured him another boilermaker and wiped the bar.

“You say he had a real job?” Burley said.

“Yeah. Was a manager type with Price Chopper, I heard. But the thirst was in him and then his daughter…”

The sun had mopped itself from the floor and the bar glowed in the reflection of the light on buildings across the street and flashed from the windows of each passing car and bus.

“Woe Ho, Philip!” came the greeting from Frankie Noonan, the beer delivery guy, several cases of long necks piled on his cart in the doorway. “Comin’ through, gents.”

As Frankie reached the end of the bar, where it hinged upward allowing bar staff and deliveries entry, Johnny banged his glass again.

“Phil!” he roared.

“Easy, Johnny. I’m coming. Would you mind scooting over a couple stools while Frankie delivers his goods and hauls out the empties?”

“I would,” came the cold reply.

“No, seriously, Johnny, you gotta move so we can get our delivery.”

“Yeah, c’mon, buddy. I’ve got eight more stops to make today. I won’t be long,” Frankie said.

“Told you, no. Phil, where’s my beer?”

“Unless you move over, Johnny, I ain’t serving you any more. You’re being a nuisance keeping me from taking care of business here.”

“What’s the problem, old dude? I’m just trying to do my job. I won’t take long. Promise,” Frankie said.

“Go round,” Johnny said. “Phil, you want me tell Pauly you’re pissing off paying customers? You think he’d like that?”

“I don’t think he’d mind me kicking your ass out of here while his beer’s getting warm and undelivered,” Phil said.

“Another Genny, now,” Johnny said.

“That’s it, you’re outta here. I’ll let the boss settle with you when he gets here. Until then you’re not going to be my problem anymore.”

Phil slid over the top of the bar and grasped Johnny’s shoulder and pushed him to the door, the old man resisting, but unable to overcome the bartender’s strength.

“Just you wait, punk. If I was 20 years younger….”

“Yeah, and about 20 beers lighter. Out,” Phil said and pushed Johnny out into the bright sun on Central Avenue.

After Frankie made his delivery, Phil went back to talking to Burley, who was beginning to show his liquor, too.

“Which way did he go?” Phil asked Burley.

“Down Central.”

“He didn’t go ’round the corner here?” Phil asked.

“Nope. Headed that-away.” Burley pointed east.

“Okay, he didn’t go back upstairs then. Fuck.”

“What’s a matter?” Burley said.

“Aw, Pauly just has a thing about the old guy. Worries for some reason. Doesn’t want him going to some ghetto joint for his hooch. Or drinking himself to death on the street. Guess he reckons it’s better the old bastard does it in a neat place like his.”

“Yeah, but he can buy his Genny at some store and find a quiet place to drink in the neighborhood,” Burley said. “He’ll be okay on a nice day like this.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Phil said. “It’s just that the boss worries.”

“Sure,” Burley said, “he’s got a nice old-fashioned place here. Not too many around anymore. I guess Pauly figures he needs a crazy old drunk as part of the decor.”

“Must be.”

“I guess I’ll be headed out,” Burley said with a grunt, slipping off his stool. “Thanks for the entertainment, Phil. You really should get a band in here during days, though. These passion plays don’t play so well with this crowd.” He pointed to the quietly buzzing mid-day drunks.

“Yeah,” the bartender said.

“Look, you know as well as I do that God looks out for the likes of Johnny No-Cash. Else why would he still be coasting up and down the Avenue and will more than likely be darkening your door tomorrow. I’ll bet he’s back right after you go off shift.”

“You know, you’re probably right. I’ll tell Pauly when he gets in. Let him worry about his old mascot,” Phil nodded.

“Sure, see ya tomorrow, Philip, my boy,” Burley said, oozing out into Central Avenue.

He looked west up Central and then down in the direction he last saw Johnny. Burley smoothed the narrow old tie onto the front of his shirt. He crossed Central and walked south on Quail Street, stopping in a bodega run by a Pakistani guy for a six-pack of Genesee Cream Ale.

“Thanks, my friend! Have a lovely afternoon and evening,” Burley said.

He walked two more blocks south, sweating through his dark suit just as the cold cans of Genny sweat through the paper bag in which he carried them.

Burley stopped at the park on the corner of Madison Avenue and found an empty bench in the shade. The light was good and the shade was cool. Over on the basketball court young black men were running up and down in a loud shirts-and-skins game of run-and-gun.

Burley, pulled a can from the pack, popped the top and took a long, cool draught of ale. Cops would be by to hassle him about drinking in a public park, but not before the black kids got into his face over why an old white dude was sucking down beers watching them play hoops.

Until then, though, he hummed and occasionally quietly sang “Because you’re mine, I walk hmm..mmm…” 

 
©Joseph Hesch 2013

Charmed, I’m Sure

A Five Sentence Fiction

“Don’t you think he’s charming?” my wife Elizabeth asked as she watched walk away handsome Father Lucas Bender, who had just concluded a five-minute heart-to-pitter-pattering-heart bit of small talk with her.

“He’s okay, I guess, but I still don’t buy his phony schtick,” I said, my mouth full of a cube of provolone and a slice of pepperoni I’d grabbed from the buffet during St. Michael’s Church’s open house for the parish’s volunteer workers.

“What do you mean, Brian…haven’t you noticed how much larger the crowd is at Sunday Mass since he arrived?” Elizabeth hissed.

At the sound of Father Bender’s boyish laugh, every woman in the place looked up, their eyes zeroed in on the far corner of the room, and blinked – I swear I could hear them all blink — to see their 40-something pastor brush his fingers along the upper arm of 23-year old parish secretary, Zoe Calabrese, who giggled a little girl giggle and rested her fingertips upon his chest.

“Ohhh,” Elizabeth oozed, her hooded eyes returning from that little tableau to stare dully into her drink, “how…charming.”

Whipped up in response to Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt, “Charmed.”

Purple Awakening

Purple Clouds

Purple Clouds (Photo credit: amandabhslater)

Purple clouds daub the eastern sky,
bruising reminders of this,
my abusive relationship with winter
and dawn. I traverse the slippery slope
of driveway, highway, my way,
to get this body where it is scheduled to be.
So, with two left feet on the gas,
I lock myself in this well-rehearsed,
one-track commute to and from
everyday butt whoopings.
But whoopings are what I learned
(somewhere) someone’s got to take
for the team, and it’s not right for
just anyone to be that someone.
No one can do it so well as I.
That’s how I got these garlands
of that purple I wear hidden
from dawn to sunset…
and from you and often even me.