I See Live Cows
Will and Pete sat by the nurses’ station looking out the window next to the emergency exit door discussing farm animals in the field. Some they knew by name and one had a calf not too long ago. “See that calf over there”, Pete asked one of the nurses passing by. “A calf? Where is it?” “Over under those trees”, he said. “That’s a parking lot Pete. There aren’t any cows out there”, she snapped in a stern voice and stomped on past. Will just looked at him and shook his head. “She has no faith.” Pete rose from his chair. “I’ll go stretch my legs and check on that calf.” Will gave him a nod. There were no nurses at the desk so no one saw him walk out the exit.
Lillie had been passing by on the way to her room and overheard their conversation. She asked about the calf and how many cows were out there. She knew a little bit about farming herself.
A few minutes later I walked past her room and noticed Lillie was closing her curtains. It was still mid-afternoon and the sun was shining brilliantly. I asked why and she said, “I don’t want those cows looking in my window.” I walked over to her window and looked outside. “You see cows?” “Will and Pete do and they know about these things. I’m going to listen to them.” I nodded sighing quietly. “Sounds good. Lillie, you go right ahead if it makes you feel better”, and I continued on making rounds.
I was visiting with another resident when I heard a ruckus, nurses with raised voices and the dull clank of metal. “I’ll be right back Mabel. I need to see what’s going on.” “Hurry. Then come back and tell me.” I hurried out of the room toward the nurses’ station. The charge nurse was flabbergasted. She wanted to reprimand Pete for going outside but couldn’t get over what he’d placed on the desk counter. It was a pail of warm milk.
Will turned to Pete grinning elbowing him to look out the window again. “Look at that calf kicking up her heels!”
Wasn’t it supposed to be pods that had people growing inside them and somehow we died? I wish I remembered more details of what was clearly meant as a warning we took as thrills, chills and entertainment to help with what’s happening now. Seeds signified new growth, but there are so many seeds and as many vines growing from them that wrap us in cocoons dragging us to somewhere no one’s managed to escape from yet. Unlike Little Shop of Horrors nothing’s contained, and there’s no cry of “feed me” giving us that choice of us or them. How can we save ourselves?
Or can’t we?
She Would Have Been 114 Tomorrow
“Here, here” she said in approval. It’d finally arrived. (It was about time.) She stood at the table clinking her glass, “Hear ye, hear ye”. All around her burst into laughter. They knew she had a surprise. They didn’t know how they knew, they just knew. Silence fell in anticipation.
“Lovely dining room Captain”, a guest raised his glass as a toast. “I’m not our Captain” she smiled. “You’re no longer on the ship. There was an explosion but we brought you and your wife safely to shore.” “But, this isn’t a shore.” “No, that’s an expression like Michael rowed the boat ashore.” “Halleluiah” his wife hummed. The others looked at each other. “We brought all of you to shore.” Everyone looked around. “Hey, that’s right” another guest said. “This isn’t the dining room.” A child walked up to her. She picked him up in her arms. “You didn’t even know what happened it was so sudden.” He smiled up at her and began to glow. “Can I open it?” “You sure can.”
As the child opened the box the room was filled with a light so brilliant it would have melted sunglasses right off your face, but no one needed sunglasses in this place. There was no choir of angels as legend had told. It was beautiful, so peaceful with a banquet that never ends. As they delighted in the light the child drifted back to his parents’ arms. Looking around they found all their friends and family from long ago.
“This is heaven! This is great!” No tears needed to flow.
Break Time’s Over
“Break’s over” they shout and students head back. Reminds me of a bad joke.
Someone went to hell. Some days it feels I’m there, anyway, not without a certain amount of propriety, it’s hell granted but people are civil nonetheless. Should’ve been more that way in their lifetime. But, the man in charge takes the person around who’d just arrived through corridors and chambers. “We let you choose”, he says.
Cursed free will – good or evil – should’ve made better decisions in their lifetime.
So, the person looks, sees one horror after another, suffering, torture and more suffering until finally they came across a room. “Different”, the person thinks. It echoes throughout corridors like a clanging gong but he doesn’t know that. No secrets here. People were knee-deep in feces remnant of what they gave during life like the chains Ebeneezer Scrooge forged and would wear for eternity if he didn’t change his ways. They should’ve changed their ways. Anyway, they wore knee-high boots. “More like purgatory, compassion in hell?” They were naked. “A glitch?” Depends on your point of view.
Should’ve had a better outlook about things in their lifetime.
The kicker was they were sitting at bistro tables drinking coffee. “Maybe it’s for people who weren’t that bad in life.
Should’ve led a better life and made better decisions, had more compassion, if I could do it all again.”
He chose this room.
As he walked through the door he found himself naked in rubber boots. One of the people there brought him a hot cup of Joe. He sat down with a few others and took his first big mouthful. He’d never tasted anything so good.
Suddenly the cups disappeared, chairs and tables were gone. There was an announcement. Not from the clouds, none down here, “Break time’s over. Everyone back on your heads.”
Students have break here twice a day, no bells. An administrator shouts, “Break time’s over!” I suppress my grin, just a sub for a day. Not sure who I could share this with, so silent I’ll stay.
When Darkness Falls
“It took but 90 minutes! Her face was aghast. Is that supposed to be quick? Are you certain there wasn’t some kind of alarm? Witnesses?” Henry laughed. “Most alarms notify police immediately. Besides, I know for a fact he didn’t thanks to Joe. He was the only one the guy trusted. No one else ever came in or out.
“It just doesn’t feel right.”
“It will when I publish his books. Did you really expect me to ignore he’d just completed a novel plus whatever else unfinished he might’ve had on his desktop? I downloaded all of it may he rest in peace.”
Lest Ye Entertain Angels
Skye was in the boutique trying on clothing made of fabric from India, you know, that gauzy stuff. The sales clerk offered an espresso or bottled water as enhancement for her shopping experience. As she moved around the store, she noticed a strikingly handsome man near the dresses rack watching her. She didn’t dare imagine why, but then again “maybe he wears dresses” deliciously crossed her mind. “Would he like to make that permanent?” He nodded, “now that’s timing” she grinned but not at him, and made his way in her direction, smiled charmingly and grabbed for her purse. The sales clerk saw, hit the silent alarm and ran in Skye’s direction. “No One’s ever tried to pull me close that way” Skye smiled back stalling him just long enough. They tumbled him to the floor as the police entered. “What kind of demented behavior you call that” Skye exhaled as she and the sales girl both watched him manhandled into the squad car.
The police car pulled into the station and both got out to escort him in case he gave them trouble. “OK, let’s…” As she stepped out she caught her reflection in the window. “What did you do”, she screamed. “What did you do!”
“She got beat-up.”
“Merle held her by the neck pounding away.”
“What a joy I’d say
To see Risa pay!”
“Did nothing to help.
Deserved what she got.”
“Wish I had seen!”
“Her mom buys her pot,
And cigarettes too.”
She dropped out of school!”
“She quit her job.”
“She’s a slob!”
A stiff breeze blew knocking them from their perch. Cackling, hitting the ground. They stood, shook their heads, gasped at each other’s array. “Your body!” “Mine? Yours!” They clucked in dismay. Couldn’t fly or sing. Scratching each step they wandered away.
Blackbirds no more they will stay.
PRECIOUS GEM: DAWN
What happened that night is they’d both failed to take out the trash.
It was late when they’d pulled into the drive having decided not to stay at one of the hotels near the airport. “Let’s just go home”, she’d said. “You up to it? I can drive.” “No, I’m ok.” Joe got behind the wheel.
The plastic burst when the pan hit the trash and oozed liquid green like an emerald. It didn’t matter. Nothing’d splashed anywhere but stayed where it was supposed to. They were both approaching deliriously tired and stumbled up the stairs to bed.
“It’ll keep.” She yawned a nod.
By the time she rose trash, floor, table, the lower part of the stove, almost everything in the kitchen was on its way to being covered-coated in what looked like emerald moss. “Joe! Come look at this.” He clomped down the stairs yawning. “Glad we’re not wor…” was as far as he got as he stood in his kitchen doorway stumped by the sight. “Dani, should you be standing there?”
“No worries. I have full intention of throwing out my house shoes. Could use a new pair anyway.”
“I think you should walk toward me.”
As Dani walked toward Joe he spoke in a whispering rasp as if wary of being overheard. “Your hands. Look at your hands. When you were running your fingers up my back I thought…” Buzz-kill became a paralyzing emotion. “Your hands!”
The palms of Dani’s hands had a moss on them soft like skin. Staring at them aghast as to how, she collided with Joe. He raised his arms to steady her but she spun him pulling up the back of his shirt.
He twisted to face her but his feet were stuck. She leaned forward to take a step but couldn’t move. They wrapped their arms around each other looking into each other’s eyes.
They were deep green like emeralds.
It’d turned green in their absence. She’d told him to wrap it up and throw it into the fridge and he’d said yes, but it was left on the kitchen table and after a month’s time was deep green like an emerald.
She’d gone into the kitchen after dropping their bags in the hallway and spotted it. The plastic had expanded taut with condensation. She wasn’t about to lift it. “Feel like a piece of cake Joe?” He bounded down the stairs realizing, “It’s still…” was as far as he got. “Oh.” She tossed pan and all into the trash.
Miggs couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Like a dream come true the white horses were galloping. Not a couple of them but a herd. She was transported back to childhood and fantasies of pure white horses, long flowing manes and tails, but then it changed. There he was, the one she desired, the black stallion Pegasus. The others darted back to make room for the majestic animal. “Should I dare?” Miggs approached him slowly. “May I?” He genuflected. She mounted, patting his glistening coat.
She looked back at the white horses getting smaller and smaller grazing in the moonlight.
BOYS & THEIR TOYS
He spent more time with that thing than he did with her. When he wasn’t detailing it his head was under the hood, and she was tired of car shows. This year he wanted to take her to the Indianapolis 500. “Indianapolis 500, right. How many ‘smokin’ hot rides’ will I be in competition with there?” She’d had enough.
Jill packed her bag and grabbed his key. “A little detailing before I go?” She pulled its velvet tarp back impulsively kicking the tire. “Please don’t.” It was a weak voice. “What?” “Somebody help me.”
Jill came-to on the garage floor.
She came-to on the couch. All Natalie could remember was getting drowsy from the wine. Agon was in the armchair facing her. “How do you feel?” As she turned toward him, he pointed a remote that made a buzzing-click. Why did her skin feel so dry? It began to harden.
Elizabeth’s skin was as sleek as marble. Jackson was pleased with the transformation but Elizabeth’s eyes were wide in horror as she tried to cry out. Her lips weren’t sealed shut but hardened unmovable and she could see but not blink. Tears formed and slid down her cold, smooth cheeks. Jackson brushed a solution over her eyelids that allowed her some movement. “Don’t look at me like that, silly, there’s nothing to worry about. You’re not alone.” He smiled as he wheeled what Elizabeth thought was a statue nearer. “Elizabeth, this is my girlfriend Angel, Angel, Elizabeth.” Both women stared.
She sat there peeling bits of skin. For the most part she kept it in check. It’d happened abroad. Her fingertip was almost turning itself inside out so Christine and 2 soldiers in her unit, friends, went to a pharmacy. The medicine healed it in less than 24 hours. Now home it’d come back.
“Special mission. What was on that cylinder?” “It’s your choice Chrissy.” She remembered the Lieutenant’s sneer.
Nothing here could help it.
Rachel’s luggage was overweight. “I’m leaving so everything has to come. What do I owe you?” In appreciation of her willingness to pay without arguing, maybe not but for whatever reason, she was given a discount. At the window where she paid there were smiles and well wishes for a pleasant flight.
Still stunned, Rachel settled into her first-class seat. Joseph had escaped the police. “How?” They both were still at risk even with Bethany being transferred to an ICU at Tripler. “Let him try to kidnap her from there. Six months. I can’t imagine.” She wanted to be as far away from the area as possible. “We’ll be taking off…” The male voice was all too familiar. Rachel snapped around groping at the small window. “Miss!” Another attendant stood with him as she focused. “I’m sorry. Your voice.” His smile was familiar. It was uncanny.
The plane reached altitude.
Vincent had moved Starr and Naomi into a garden in his yard. He’d dressed them as goddesses. “It’s a beautiful day. Enjoy each other’s company. I’ll be back later.” He stepped back admiring them, two figures from mythology adding ambience to his surroundings. He turned and left.
Starr’s mind raced as she looked around figuring a way to escape. “If I could only move.” She looked at Naomi startled. Her arm had lowered. “The sun!”
Percy came home with an awning tent, the kind a small revival could be held in, as protection for his statues. “To keep the sun off you. Comfortable?” He looked at them for a moment, turned and left again. Ruby saw Allison’s head was tilted slightly lower. “He didn’t notice.”
Damian’s girlfriend disappeared after their breakup. Devastated he’d left town. At least that’s what everyone’d said. He was a glassblower by trade, a novice chemist owning an assortment of beakers, pipettes, cylinders and Bunsen burners, and a collector. He wasn’t interested in airplanes, car models or to-scale buildings. His tastes spanned a different horizon.
Busy concocting chemicals, Damian’d spotted a spider scurrying across his worktable. He snatched a dropper, filled it with liquid that’d been bubbling, and keeping pace released drop by drop until it slowed and stopped. He tapped at it gently, placed it on the palm of his hand and smiling to himself carried it to a corner hutch to add to his unique collection. He turned and grabbed a Maestro 2, some liquid, and walked over to a scale likeness of his ex-girlfriend, smoothing a dry area. “You can never leave me,” he breathed. “We are forever.”