Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tiny Love - Part II

“Pops,” she said, gently squeezing his hand and searching his eyes. “Hey Pops, it’s me, Angela.” Slowly she saw recognition starting to form in his eyes, and it changed his entire face. He was still smiling, but it became a different smile. It became less intense; almost sweeter. “Angela,” he said. “I was wondering if you were ever going to come see me. ‘Bout time,” he chuckled.

She just sat there holding his hand. She didn’t know what to say. It was about time. It was pointless to ask him about his health or how he was feeling. He was dying, and they both knew it. She tried to come up with something deep, something she should have said a long time ago, but didn’t, and struggled to find it. Surely, he knew she loved him, didn’t he? “I love you,” she said, squeezing his hand gently. There was a small, almost imperceptible change in his eyes, one that she couldn’t put her finger on. “I love you too,” he said, after a moment. “What time is it, is Jeopardy on yet?” he asked. Linda is supposed to wake me up when it comes on, that damn woman,” he said, chuckling again. “She keeps trying to get me to eat, she knows damn well I can’t eat anything, but she keeps trying.”

Something changed in his eyes again, and he looked around the room conspiratorially. “There’s some people in here that don’t have any damn business in here,” he said softly. Angela looked around at the dresser, full of medication, the humidifier, a basket of clean, folded linens. There wasn’t anyone else in the room. “What people?” she asked him. He struggled to sit up, the look in his eyes becoming one of alarm. “These damn little people, always showin’ up. Look at her, she wants to fuck me. Keep telling ‘em to get the hell out of here, but they keep coming. Help!” He started yelling in alarm, and Linda came rushing into the room wiping her plump hands on her apron. “Oh Lord,” he’s having those hallucinations again,” she said. She grabbed a bottle of liquid medicine from the  dresser, poured some into a little dosing cup, and, rushing over to him, she tried to soothe him with soft words, stroking his brow. Quickly, she poured the medicine into his mouth, past clenched teeth, and tipped his head back. His eyes, locked on hers, leaked tears of terror. She stroked his head and cooed soothing words, for what seemed like a very long time, and before Angela knew it, he had fallen asleep, holding Linda’s hand tightly.

Without realizing she had risen, Angela, standing by the door, burst into tears. Linda waddled over and grabbed her in a tight hug, and the two of them stood there hugging and crying. “He’s going to be all right, darling” Linda said, after a minute. “He is right with God. He lived a rough life, and committed many sins, but he is right with God. He can go home now knowing that he has been saved,” Linda said earnestly, wiping Angela’s cheek with a plump hand that smelled like soup. “I knows it, ‘cause I was there, I took him there,” she said, and Angela could see that she was becoming the Linda that she didn’t like very much, so she broke away and grabbed her purse. “I need to leave now, but let me know if there’s anything you need from me,” she told Linda. “I can take off work with just a little notice, if you need me, and I’ll be back over tomorrow after work.” “I will let you know if we need anything,” said Linda, leading Angela to the door with her sweaty little arm linked through Angela’s.

Angela walked quickly to her car, and once she was in and locked the door she burst into a fresh bout of tears. This was horrible. He was dying, and losing his mind simultaneously, and she wasn’t there to help. In fact, she had never been there. This little zealot who apparently loves him is there taking care of him all by herself, and, she realized with a surge of guilt, she was happy to let her do so. She watched Linda’s silhouette through the curtains as she stood by Pop’s bed, saw her turn and then the room went dark.

At home later in her bedroom, Angela couldn’t get to sleep. Finally, after the 2nd glass of wine she drifted off into a fitful night of terrifying dreams. She heard a nasty, putrid little giggle, and glancing to the side of her bed, she saw a doll-sized, naked dwarf standing by the side of her bed. Naked, the dwarf was morbidly obese, with oversized, bullet-shaped breasts pointing downward. The thing was using one hand to stifle her giggles, and the other to pleasure herself. Angela was disgusted, but couldn’t move or talk, only her eyes seemed to work, and she saw another dwarf, this one male, standing by her closet with a pair of her soiled underwear clasped in a hideous little hand, pressed to his nose, sporting an oversized erection. His eyes met hers, and he snorted and spit in her direction. She tried to scream, and there was a huge clanging sound, and she couldn’t stop it. As she lay there, in helpless terror, the noise got louder, while the little monsters began to fade, and as the fog lifted she realized that her bedside phone was ringing. It was still dark, but the room had the quality of light of a dawning day. Snapping out of her heavy sleep she grabbed the receiver. “Angela, he’s gone,” Linda sobbed.

It was four days after the funeral. She and Angela had just about everything boxed up, donated or disposed of, and she was finally tackling his bedroom. Going through his home office had been the most difficult things she had ever done. A locked file cabinet revealed file after file of naked teen-aged girls, posing in adult positions for his wicked camera. One file revealed pictures of her best friend in Junior High, posing seductively with braces and acne. File after file contained naked photos of his of old girlfriends, even pictures of her own mother. She had broken the shredder, there was so much filth. She had banned Linda from the office while she was going through all this, and when she would come out with trash bags of shredded material, Linda would give her a haughty, knowing look and a sniff. It was humiliating, and she wished she didn’t have this task. Her memory of him was tainted; poisoned. She wasn’t sure she could even stand him.

In his bedroom she finished throwing away underwear. She headed to the closet to start boxing up suits and jackets, her plan was to take everything that was in good condition to Goodwill. She grabbed a black leather jacket and pulled it off the hanger. She recognized it, he wore it all the time when he was out at night clubs. His black leather coat and a cowboy hat were his uniform of the night. She held the jacket up in front of her, checking its condition, when she noticed something on the collar that glistened. Taking a closer look, she saw what appeared to be women’s lipstick, but….no. It was a perfectly formed lip print, no bigger than the nail of her pinky, an opened-mouthed, seductive kiss-print. And it was still wet. She shook her head and looked around the room – yes, she was awake, this wasn’t a dream, this was happening.

Linda came bustling into the room suddenly. “Oh, I was looking for that,” she said, and snatched the coat out of Angela’s hand. “I promised it to my son,” she said nervously, and rushed out, looking back at Angela with a strange look.

Angela stood there, weighing what she had seen, then locked it away in her mind, never to be exposed again, except for late at night, in feverish dreams.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Desiccated Green Beans

A couple of weeks ago I was heading out, and stopped in the vegetable garden to take a peek at what was ripening. The green bean bushes were heavy with tasty beans, so I plucked a handful and stuck them in my jeans pocket, with the intention of including them in that’s night’s dinner salad. I jumped in the car and ran my errand, and at some point I remembered the green beans in my pocket. Pulling them out, I scanned the car for something to put them in, and opening the glove box I spotted a folded yellow cloth.

The cloth was a “Sham Wow” I had put in the glove box with the intention of using it to dry the windows the next time I went to the car wash, but I had forgotten about it. If you don’t know what a “Sham Wow” is, it’s a sort of man-made chamois, with super absorbency qualities. On the commercials, you will see them soaking up entire glasses of spilled water.  I hadn’t yet used my “Sham Wow,” so I thought, well, it’s clean, so just put the green beans in it and remember it when you get out of the car.

Well, I didn’t. Fast forward two weeks later. I’m going in the glove box to retrieve something else, and there’s the yellow folded cloth. When I grab it, something inside crunched. I opened it, and had to stare for a full minute until I realized what was once in there.

The green beans had been mummified. They had been desiccated. They were ancient, 75-year-old green beans left in a blazing desert. The very essence of what they had once been was somehow removed. I have never seen anything so dry in my life.

Well, the “Sham Wow” people have proven themselves to me. Their product works. In fact, it’s in my purse now. If I ever need to dry the very essence out of something, I will be using my handy, bright yellow square of cloth, my “Sham Wow.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tiny Love (Part I)

Angela received the call the previous night, about the impending death of her stepfather, Pops. She hadn’t seen him in six years, and had ambivalent feelings about seeing him now.

Even though they were living in the same town, it was difficult for her to see him. She didn’t like the crowd he kept – needy, slimy people who seemed to have some kind of agenda. His house was always full of them. The last time she had seen him, at a barbeque he threw, the place was full of his friends, stuffing their faces with food like it was their last meal, and tossing back top-shelf liquor like tap water. There were at least four women fussing around the kitchen like they were in charge; it was hard to tell which one, if any, he had been involved with then. It just wasn’t the kind of behavior becoming of a man in his late sixties, it was the reason she spent less and less time with him.

She had received the phone call the day before, from his girlfriend Linda, who had come into his life two years before, after his prostate cancer took a turn for the worse. She had re-introduced him to church, weaned him from the bottle, and apparently had been taking care of him for the past several months. Because her calls to him had become less and less frequent, she hadn’t known that he had been in and out of the hospital in the past few weeks. Linda had called to let her know that her time to make amends was now.

As she parked in front of his house she noticed that the grass was long and unkempt, the garage door was askew and there trash on the sidewalk. It was obvious that this was the home of someone who wasn’t taking care of things anymore.

Short, plump and graying Linda answered her knock. Linda had moved in to take care of Pops after he had come home from the hospital. She had taken a leave of absence from her job as a nurse and was working with the Hospice at Home people to make his transition as smooth as possible. Sitting down with Angela in the living room, she gave a grim update. Pops had a few more weeks to live, at most. He was still eating and drinking, still getting around and watching his favorite television shows, but he was showing signs of a failing mind in addition to a failing body. The cancer had spread to his liver and stomach; possibly his brain.

Linda was an enthusiastic Christian and lived her life according to the Gospel. She had taken Pops back to church two years ago, urged him to stop drinking and carousing, and get baptized. She took a great deal of pride in that, as Angela could see by her self-righteous expression as she said all of this. Something about it made Angela’s skin crawl just a little bit. It wasn’t the idea of being a Christian, which Angela had no objection to, though she didn’t believe in any of that stuff herself. It was the “self-righteousness” of it, the whole sort of “see what I did!” that was annoying. It just didn’t seem sincere, as if she were putting on a show. “Can I see him now,” Angela gently interrupted. She could see that this could last all night, and she really just wanted to spend some time with Pops.

Her relationship with Pops was complicated. He had married her mother when she was only 8 years, old, two years after her father’s untimely death. Pops had adopted her and raised her as his own, and she was his only child. She had been a late gift in the life of her parents. She had two siblings who had been away in college when her mother re-married. She loved him, but her first loyalty was to her mother, and her second to her father’s memory. He seemed to understand that he could never replace her father, which was good, but he never really knew how to parent. His idea of being a father was to provide for, but he didn’t know how to give a hug or have a heart to heart. He failed miserably in filling the void that her father’s death left, so she grew up calling him Pops and showing him the respect due a parent, but it wasn’t like having a father. When she had married and was at home with a young child of her own, she learned that her mother was divorcing him. It turned out that he had been having affairs for years, and she had just had enough. Angela supported her decision and helped her mother sell her house and move to Florida.

Once her Mom left she tried to maintain a relationship with Pops, but it was tough with all the partying and hangers-on. He had retired from a really good job; however she knew that he didn’t have enough money to maintain that kind of lifestyle. Somehow, he always seemed to have more than enough. There were always women – younger, older, Black, White, Asian, everyone was represented. His younger friend Joe, drunk, sleazy and leering, was always there too, eyeing Angela openly. She didn’t like going to his get-togethers, but that was the only time she was invited over. If he wasn’t entertaining, he was in the bars. All day, all night.

As she entered his room, he was propped up in bed, listlessly watching a game show on his big screen television. She sat in the chair next to his bed, grabbed his hand and said, “hey Pops. How ya’ feeling?” As he turned to face her, slowly, he started to grin and she didn’t recognize the look she saw in his eyes. “Hey, how are YOU doing,” he asked, grinning broadly, and, with a little start she realized that he didn’t recognize her. He thought she was someone else, and he was openly flirting with her.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Sometimes, while driving along a busy street on a sunny, Sunday afternoon, the plastic toy crocodile laying in the road is just a plastic toy crocodile.

And sometimes it isn't that at all. Somehimes, it's something else entirely. Hmmmmm....

See, if I hadn't been paying attention, if I had been just driving along, like I always do, sleepdriving, I would have missed this most interesting thing in the road completely. There's a story behind it, there has to be. I'm going to have to find it.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Clara's eyes snapped open suddenly, and she lay there in the dark, not moving, listening intently. A few minutes ticked by, and she was starting to doze off again when she heard the sound: a shrill scream, followed immediately by a series of yapping barks, until they became a simultaneous chorus. Then they stopped, then started again; stopped, started.
This was the third night of this phenomena, and she was REALLY getting curious now. The first morning it happened, John had talked her out of stumbling out of bed and dialing 911. "That doesn't sound like a scream for help, it's just some kid playing with his dog," he reasoned. Still, there were too many questions. Why did it happen in the pre-dawn hours? Weren't there any parents around? Why didn't they stop the noise? She rolled over to look at John in the pre-dawn glow coming in from the window over their bed, and watched him for a while, breathing deeply as he slumbered. The sound was also coming in from that window, and seemed as if it were quite close. Not able to fall back to sleep, she got up, jumped in the shower and prepared for her day, with the strange song playing over and over in her head, starting up again during her 11:00 sales presentation, again during yoga, dinner, and finally, just before she drifted off to sleep the next night, with a plan of action forming itself in her half-asleep brain.

Saturday, day four, and Clara woke up with a start, far earlier than normal. She glanced at the clock and was relieved to see that it was only 4:30 AM. The weird sounds hadn’t started before 5:00 in the past few days, so that gave her plenty of time. She jumped out of bed and threw on a sweat suit over her pajamas, then donned heavy socks, boots and a hooded parka. She glanced down at John, whose sleeping face was illuminated by the moonlight filtering in the window over their bed, to make sure that he was sleeping soundly. She wasn’t going to answer any questions, and she didn’t feel like arguing with him about irrational behavior and butting out. Dammit, she had to know. Slipping down the stairs and out the front door, she closed it as quietly as she could, hoping that XiuXiu wouldn’t wake up and come sniffing over to investigate.

She had the house pinpointed. She knew that Wayne was next door, and the strange sound HAD to be coming from the house next to his. She had never seen the husband, but the woman who lived there, pale and thin but muscular, with luminous brown eyes and long flowing black hair, was very mysterious. She had spoken to her on several occasions and was met with a mistrustful, almost hostile, glare. Bitch.

She slipped through the front yard and quietly unlatched the gate leading into the strange woman’s back yard. Crouching low, she came around the corner of the house and poised beneath the first window. Slowly, she raised herself up to eye level to peer in. The room was illuminated by the same moonlight that shone down on John, and she saw a huge 4-poster bed with a woman sleeping soundly on top of the covers. Her long black hair was spread out like a halo around her face. At her feet lay the large black German Shepherd dog that lived in that house. She was familiar with the dog, having seen the woman and dog out walking on many occasions while she was out with XiuXiu. Nothing unusual here. Crouching again, she slipped over to the next window, and slowly raised herself to eye level.  The room was decorated for young children, with nightlights and colorful murals painted on the walls. There were identical cribs on either side of the room, and in each one, a small occupant slept. Now that’s weird, thought Clara, who had didn’t remember ever seeing children before. Why didn’t she ever see them outside? She found herself hypnotized by the scene, and gazing around the room, took in every detail. The murals depicted joyous childish scenes of duck ponds, carnivals, picnics and trees. Balloons danced across the ceiling. The room was so enchanting that Clara could feel herself slipping back into her days of innocence, until she could actually hear the tinkling sounds of children’s laughter.

She was so lost in daydreaming that it was a minute before she realized that one of the children had sat up. She could make out the form of one tiny had rubbing an eye, while another one gripped the crib rail. The child stood up in the crib and looked around. A tiny girl with long dark hair and pale skin. She could see her dark eyes scanning the room, and the child’s head raised slightly as if she were sniffing the air. Suddenly, the girl lifted her head and screamed. Loud and shrill. Clara jumped but continued to watch as the bundle in the second crib stirred, then bolted upright. She wasn’t sure what she was seeing, it couldn’t have been, but here it was. It could have been a little girl with long black hair, but she had sharp pointed ears sticking straight up out of the hair. Long muzzle with a dark shiny nose at the tip. Big, luminous brown eyes that were every bit as bright as the other child’s. As this child righted itself onto its furry legs, steadied by what appeared to be paw-feet, it let out a sharp bark. Scream, bark. Clara watched. At this point she wasn’t sure if she were really witnessing this or whether or not she were still home snug in her bed having a nightmare, so she decided to ride it out. Suddenly there was a light under the door, and it opened, and in swept the mysterious dark woman. Opening her robe, she grabbed one child with each arm and settled into an oversized rocker. One tiny pink mouth, and one black-lipped furry muzzle each attached themselves to a nipple. The big German Shepherd padded into the room, and sat before the woman and her offspring, panting lightly, watching them. The woman smiled at him with a look that Clara knew well. It was a look of intimacy. It was a look of love and adoration, one reserved for the person you love and share your life with. The dog affectionately licked the woman’s leg, and Clara snapped. As reality hit, Clara said out loud, “Holy Shit!” As the woman and big dog’s eyes darted to the window, she took off running, ran out the yard slamming the gate, and as fast as she could she ran across Wayne’s yard and her own, scrambling for her house key. She let herself in, locked the door and felt the tears roll down her cheeks. Running up the stairs, she shed her sweat suit and dropped it on the floor, then crawled back into bed and quietly sobbed herself back to sleep.

When Clara woke up again and looked at the clock, it was 9:30 AM. Late. She could smell coffee brewing and bacon frying. She lay there for a little while, staring at the ceiling fan twirling lazily over their bed. Her logical mind told her that she had experienced a whopper of a nightmare, and of course, that’s exactly what had happened. Of course. As she convinced herself of this, she gathered her confidence together and jumped out of bed. She went straight to the shower, brushed her teeth and felt refreshed and well-rested as she came out of the bathroom and headed over to make the bed. A black bundle at the foot of the bed caught her eye, and she bent down to pick it up – a sweat suit. A clanging alarm set off in her head, which she quickly extinguished. She had had a nightmare. She justified it to herself by saying that she had set the sweat suit out on the foot of her bed to wear today, and had kicked it off in the night. She slipped into it and padded downstairs to have breakfast with John. XiuXiu sidled over to her, tail wagging furiously, for her morning cuddling, and as John handed her a mug of steaming coffee she allowed herself to erase all traces of the nightmare from her head.

Weeks went by, and with the first signs of Spring came Clara’s urge to dig in the dirt. She cleaned the leaves out of her flowerbeds and started digging around and spreading fertilizer. The nightmare that had happened two months ago was but a tiny dot lurking in the back of her mind, that would pulse bigger from time to time for reasons unknown, but she always managed to quickly squish it back. One Saturday afternoon while she was filling the whiskey-barrel planter in the front with huge yellow marigolds, XiuXiu padded to the screen door and, looking out at her, gave a little whine of boredom. The sun was just starting to set, and Clara agreed with XiuXiu that they had just enough time for a leisurely evening stroll before dusk set in. “Okay girl,” she said, standing up and shedding her gardening gloves. She put all her stuff away and grabbed the leash, and yelled at John, who was on the back deck with a magazine and a beer, that they would be back in a while. They headed quickly down the hill with XiuXiu stopping at every tree and signpost, pulling her slightly. Clara was enjoying the light breeze and the feeling of her legs stretching out to meet the dog’s steps, when that tiny dot started pulsing and the images started coming back to her. Scenes of picnics, carnivals and tiny boats on lakes. In each scene, two tiny black dogs romped gleefully. One in a tiny yellow dress, one in a tiny blue dress. No. As Clara and XiuXiu approached the grassy area where they would linger before heading back up the hill, a movement at the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned to her right, and saw her pale neighbor, black hair flowing around her wiry shoulders, sauntering along holding a red lead that held the big black German shepherd. Clara stopped to let XiuXiu sniff intently at something, and met the woman’s gaze straight on. A shudder passed through Clara as understanding passed quietly but materially between them. She met the dog’s eyes and felt the same sensation. They knew. She knew; at least a part of her knew. They also knew that THAT part of her would never be allowed the light of day. Clara’s sanity was at stake. She smiled at the woman and said pleasantly, “Hi.” The woman smiled and nodded. The dog appeared to smile. Clara and her neighbors parted, and went in their opposite directions. Bitch.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Sometimes a dog is just a dog looking over a fence. But what if a dog is capable of, say, levitating? I'm just saying...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ahh, The Indignities of Being Beautiful (a rant against the Brazilian Wax)

This morning on “The View” the ladies were discussing a proposed ban on Brazilian Waxes in New Jersey. For the uninitiated, a Brazilian Wax is a sadistic procedure in which hot wax is smeared on the mons pubis and other delicate areas, then the hair is quickly ripped out by the roots. The New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology is considering a ban after two women were hospitalized for infections, and one woman has filed a lawsuit.

Even if you don’t develop infections, there are uncomfortable consequences from having a smooth, child-like mons. Pubic hair is curly, and tends to curl into the skin, so ingrown hairs are common. Ingrown hairs itch.

A friend of mine swears by it. She says it makes sex better; that you develop more “sensitivities.” In my mind (because I wouldn’t subject myself to such cruelties; I’m just imagining) it compares to the female version of male circumcism. A male friend who has not been “cut” told me once that he had to work on his “staying power” once he became sexually active. He explained that because his member is covered up all the time, when it is unsheathed it is super sensitive, where circumcised men are used to being unsheathed and experiencing everyday touches. He feels fortunate that he was never clipped, and that his sexual experiences are most likely superior to those who have their most sensitive areas exposed all of the time.

With a Brazilian Wax those delicate lady parts that are usually covered in a protective pad of hair are suddenly exposed all of the time, touching panties, jeans, and cool breezes. I would imagine that you walk around for a couple of weeks enjoying those new sensations, because they are new, and then they quickly become the norm.

I will admit to a seasonal trim for the sake of wearing a swimming suit. However, for me, a Brazilian Wax is just too extreme. Some of the women on The View stated that they are good because “guys like them.” Personally, I wouldn’t want to date a man like that. I would find that fellow creepy. I have to take the side of Whoopie Goldberg who said that she waited too long to become a woman (I’m assuming she feels like she has earned her hairs). Guest Host Chris Cuomo said that there’s a market for it, but that he doesn’t care for it because he is the parent of a 9-year-old girl. That says it all for me.