Some Mothers and Sons

Two! Two prompt weeks in one post! The prompts are: 1) everything, except the last thing, 2) it’s tragic, 3) rows and rows, 4) outside, 5) just ice, 6) Hi, Mom.
Got all but one in. That is, unless you consider its implication and/or its opposite connotation.


“Hi Mom”

“Jack?”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry, kiddo. I didn’t recognize the number.”

“I, ah, borrowed a friend’s phone.”

“OK. So, what’s up?”

“Nothin’. Just, standing here, looking at the tulips. It made me think of you, so I thought I’d call.”

“How nice!” Darlene said as casually as she could, trying to mask her mother’s gut reaction that something was wrong. Her mind quickly picked through the incongruities of everything Jack said, especially the last bit. Calling wasn’t his thing. She typically called him.

“Yeah, like, it’s really amazing. There’s rows and rows of them. And, like they are all one color. Like, each field is, like, red, and then yellow, and then pink, ya know? Not, like all mixed up. You’d love it.”

A surprising thought hit her. “Are you in Skagit? At the Tulip Festival?”

“Yeah.”

“OK.”

The very picture of her son—who dressed perpetually in black and combat boots, colored his long hair a deep blue tint, wore black liner around his eyes, signed his name ‘JX’, and played bass in a Death Metal band called Sux Offal—doing anything ‘outdoorsy’ was one thing, never mind in the midst of every retired suburban grandmother in the state that went by the busload to the Skagit every year to meander around the tulip fields and shop in the nearby towns’ tourist shops. It was almost more than she could process.

“Hey! Don’t get all tragic on me!” Jack scolded, sensing his mother’s confusion.

“I’m not! It’s just… well, you don’t … OK, right? I’m confused! Are you OK? HA! Yes, I asked, OK?”

Darlene heard Jack chuckle. It made her heart practically soar. Her mind flashed to a memory of playful boy of six rolling on the living room floor in a fit of giggles.

“Mom, chills it, OK? So, like, I’m here with a friend. Her name,” Jack said with particular emphasis, “is Betty.” Darlene heard a girl’s voice in the background. “OK, it’s not actually ‘Betty,’ OK? The name her parents gave her is Ashley, but she hates that. She goes with Betty.”

Before Darlene could respond, the young woman’s voice she heard in the background said hello. Darlene paused just a moment and then said, “You got Jack to go to the Tulip Festival?”

She could hear girl’s smile from the other end of the phone. “I did.” the girld replied, with every bit of cheerful confidence Darlene needed to hear.

“Brava, my girl. Brava.”


https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/03/24/olwg-95-never-mailed/

Obsessed Savior

I opened the door slowly and called out.

“Hello?”

No answer. I stepped into her bedroom and took a sharp breath in. My heart was racing. Her room wasn’t anything as I imagined, but it was everything I thought it would be. Large, with an unmade king size bed, unkempt with clothes and shoes and crap strewn everywhere, but beautifully appointed.

I couldn’t believe I had made it all the way through the house unnoticed. Just another party crasher, I suppose. She and her posse must be used to the casual attention of strangers vying to be part of their scene. And now here I was standing in the middle of her bedroom.

As I looked around, I recalled all the times I fantasized about meeting her, being near her, the instant spark that would ignite between us, the times we would spend together, the love we would share. I felt light, almost ethereal. Time moved in and out of the present, past and the future I knew was to be ours.

I walked farther into the room, carefully taking in every detail. My eyes fixed on several bras and panties on the floor. I stared at them for a while, wondering why so much of her underwear was clustered together on the floor, when the thought came to me: She wanted to be ready. She wanted to be just right for the moment. I felt my palms sweat and a stirring in my groin. I reached down to touch the delicate lace of one bra when laughter exploded from the staircase. A man’s laugh followed by a woman’s laugh. Her laugh. Then silence.

I moved quickly to the closet, but strangely, the doors were locked. I panicked. I listened for something, anything, that indicated where they were. Nothing. I considered the bed, but saw it was set on a solid platform. Then I heard soft murmurs and movement. I made a quick move for the bathroom and hid behind the opened door.

The unmistakable sounds of kissing and soft groans increased in volume as they entered the bedroom. I recognized the sounds of clothes coming off; the creak of the platform on which her bed was set. It was excruciating. I wanted to scream! Then the sounds stopped and they started to talk. At first in low voices, but as their conversation continued, their voices grew in volume. I recognized his voice. That asshole!

He’d ruin her. He didn’t, definitely couldn’t love her. I had to act! My mind raced. The talking stopped and the kissing resumed. I carefully stepped out from behind the bathroom door. They both were lying down, eyes closed. I shuddered with horror at seeing her naked body lying with his. I looked down at the floor and quickly tiptoed to the door. Neither of them heard or saw me. I stepped out into the hall and bent over, putting my head between my knees, and took in a deep breath.

“Oh…I…ah…oh…oh, god…”

I snapped to attention. No, no, no! I whipped around and took two bold steps to the door and knocked.

They scrambled. “What the hell” I heard him say.

I knocked again, opened the door and stepped in. “Oh! I’m, so…sorry. Shit! Sorry! Should I come back later?”


I’ve had “one of those weeks,” but here it is, a Saturday, and, as the saying goes, life goes on. So I thought I’d give this week’s prompts a go. They are: Should I come back later?; The closet was locked; Time becomes elastic. https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/olwg-93-abasdarhon/

The Alternative to the Alternative Life

Louisellie – named for both grandmothers, Louise and Ellie – was brought up to always strive for originality. Her parents had a single-minded passion for living life as uniquely and alternatively as possible. Alternative to what, Louise (as she preferred to be called), was never entirely sure.

Louise was typical of children born to parents with firmly held beliefs: She did not want to be anything like them. So, where her parents embraced a freeform life, Louise craved routine and discipline. Where her parents vacillated between one school of thought or religion and another, selecting only those insights and edicts that suited their particular view of life, Louise sought a singular dogma to guide her. She chose Christianity. Afterall, what could be so wrong about it? If it was good enough for the grandmothers for whom she was named, she reasoned, it ought to be fine for her.

Her older brother Albertodd (you guessed it. Named for their grandfathers) often chided her for being contrary. “Just go with the flow,” he’d say. Louise hated the phrase. It was all she ever was expected to do.

“I want to go to the public high school,” she announced one day. “I want to live in the world, and make friends, and be normal.” Her parents tried to dissuade her with their usual arguments about propaganda and hedonistic commercialism and the subjection of the simple man by the government’s industrial complex. Albertodd agreed with their parents. “The world is just a place. Nothin’ special.” Louise found her brother’s attitude ironic.

Albertodd was expert at sneaking off the family compound to get away from their parents and explore the world outside their cloistered life. He would disappear for hours, even days at a time, and come home with stories of the places and people they weren’t allowed to know. Her brother’s stories enthralled Louise.

Three summers ago, Albertodd met a boy his age who lived a vastly different life than theirs. By the end of that summer, the boy made Albertodd a tempting offer: the boy would pay Albertodd to attend high school in his place. Albertodd accepted, and since then, he had been attending high school as Robert Templeton. He kept his nose down, his grades up, and never attended Parent Teacher Night (which was a snap, since the actual Robert Templeton’s parents never attended, either).

Louise and Albertodd’s parents were as clueless as the Templetons about the situation. Every evening, Albertodd would surround himself with the library of school books he parents deemed appropriate for their children’s home school education, all the while instead doing homework from the high school. Then, each morning, he announced he needed to go on a long walk-about to process his homeschool work from the night before. His parents thought nothing of it.

“So, why is it OK for you to go to high school, but not me?” Louise confronted her brother. He only shrugged.

Louise was desperate to do as she wished, but she didn’t want to sneak around like her brother. So, on her 13th birthday, she announced she would start attending the public high school the following fall, even if it meant walking out the front door on the first day of school, leaving the family compound, and walking down the road and all the way into town, asking people she came by if they could point her in the right direction.

Her parents ultimately conceded and felt a formal ceremony was necessary to mark the occasion. They wrote a formal proclamation, read aloud by her father in full voice at the intersection of the road that lead to their homestead and the main boulevard that lead into town. As confused drivers and the occasional passersby looked on at the family standing in the middle of the median, Louise’s father declared that, on the 5th day of September, 2020, Louisellie Bradán Bláth Liptonadams, would leave the sacred home of her beloved parents and enter the world of fear, destitution and degradation.

Her brother chucked her on the shoulder. “My way’s easier.”


Oh, man! The prompts this week had me on a wild goose chase. Have you ever had a perfect picture of what your story will be, but when pen is put to paper (or key strokes to monitor), nothing you envisioned is rendered?

The prompts this week are entirely implied in my story. They are: my outfit is entirely vegan; it had to come to this; unique isn’t always useful.

https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/03/03/olwg-92-anniversary-blues

A Future, Past

“It’s Mama. She’s in the hospital”

When Laticia saw her brother’s number on caller-ID, she knew it wasn’t good news. Dwayne never called just to call.  

“What happened? Where’s Papa?”

“With her. She had a stroke, they think.”

“They think? Don’t they know?”

“That’s what Papa said they said.”

“OK, well, do you need me to come home?”

“’s’up to you, I guess.”

“Do you or don’t you need me there, Dwayne? Just answer the question!”

“Stay put for all I care. But Papa might like to see you, ya know?”

Laticia struggled to know what to say. “For how long, do you think?”

“Jesus, girl, it’s your Mama we’re talking about here! She had a stroke. These things are usually pretty bad. What you want to know, for how long?”

“I can, of course, come home, but, work, OK? I can’t just say I’ll be back whenever. And what am I supposed to do about Terrance?”

“That’s your business. Look, I called, and now you know. Make up your own damn mind.” Dwayne hung up.

Laticia stared blankly in front of her. Strokes are bad. Long recoveries. Many trips to the doctor and physical therapy. She couldn’t see her father being up to the ordeal, let alone Dwayne being anything other than the pain-in-the-ass he’d always been.

Would she be expected to move back home to help out? After all this time? Did they think she’d just give up all she worked for; the comfortable home and life she finally had made for she and her son? She’d have to bring Terrance with her. No way she’d leave him with his father, what with his crazy schedule these days driving a cab. The man hardly had time to see his son as it was.

Laticia hated herself for thinking this way. It would be bad, really bad, not to go home. She couldn’t subject her parents to the shame she knew they’d feel if she wasn’t there for them when they needed her. Her aunties and uncles would remind her of it, too, laying on the worst kind of guilt trips. They had their own troubles. And, as much as she felt like it was Dwayne’s fate to have to care for them, after all the years of living off their parents’ inability to cut him off, she knew it was a pointless argument. Dwayne might be sober now, but he was never able to manage his way out of a paper bag, regardless.

The thought of moving home to help care for her mother gave Laticia a sudden desperate sense of loss. She knew all too well what life in that godforsaken backwater of her childhood was like. Just the thought of the place, worse, of living there again, made her anxious and uneasy. It would be a tremendous set-back from which she feared she might not ever return. The future for her and her son, far away from that place, and one that seemed so solid just five minutes before, was already beginning to fade.


I incorporated the prompts a bit more indirectly this week. This week’s prompts are: A gypsy cab glided to the curb; It’s a shame about your future; She knows too much.
https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/olwg-91-friendly-skies/

Watch Out Boys, She’ll Chew You Up

“You know the sort of girl I’m talking about,” Jason admonished his son, David. “The devil in a blue dress. Man eaters. All of them. I won’t have a son of mine breaking the glass for a woman like that.”

“She’s anything but a run-around-Sue, Dad. Tiffany is a very good person. You will like her, I swear.”

“I didn’t raise you to run off and marry some goy!”

“She wants to convert.”

“You are not listening to me!”

“No! I’m not! You know why? Because I’m sick of the constant lecture about how I’m supposed to marry a nice Jewish girl, settled down nearby you and Mom, start a family, be a lawyer, doctor or whatever you think is brag worthy these days! It’s all a bunch of useless, white noise, Dad!”

David took a moment to gauge his father’s reaction.

“Look,” he continued, “Tiffany is smart, really smart! She’s pretty, and funny, and she likes to get out and do stuff, not just sit around glued to her phone or just go clubbing. And, you know what? She loves me. Me! And I love her.

“I mean, what’ya expect me say to her, huh? ‘Sorry, Tiff, I should have thought about this before, but since you weren’t born Jewish, and regardless the fact we’re crazy about each other, I am gonna have to break up with you and find me a Jewish girl so my parents can stop harassing me about dating a goy because they can’t wait to move on to bitch about all the other things I do in life that makes them so damn disappointed in me!’ “

Jason sighed and placed a hand on David’s shoulder. “You are not disappointment to me or your mother. We are very proud of you, David. Yes? Now, you say she’s a looker, your girl? Smart, too?”

David nodded. “Might even give Mom a run for her money.”

“Oooo…ouch! Don’t ever say that, even in jest! It’s going to be hard enough getting your Mom to accept the situation. You say…what’s her name? Tiffany? What sort of name is that, anyway? Never-mind. You say she’s willing to convert?”

David nodded again.

“Well, that’s something, I suppose.”


This week’s prompts are: Man Eater; White noise; Just break the glass

The View From Here

The line zig-zagged up and down Harold’s long driveway. People came from as far away as South America to see what the news media dubbed “a window to the stars;” a phenomenally clear view of the Milky Way from Harold’s back deck.

Harold was used to seeing the famous galaxy star cluster from his home, but on this occasion, because he was so impressed with the camera on his new phone, he took a video to show off its impressive function. His post went viral within hours. By the next evening, Harold, his wife and kids got calls, texts and emails from just about everyone they knew asking if they could pop by to get a look at the Milky Way. By midnight, Harold’s street was jammed with people from all around the county cruising by in their cars to see if they could catch a glimpse of the view.

The following night, Harold stood at the end of his driveway and invited people to park their cars and walk around his house to his back deck. He simply wanted to keep his street clear so as to keep from angering his neighbors with all the traffic. Still unaccustomed to the power of social media, Harold did not anticipate that people would tweet and post and text that Harold’s back deck was open for viewing the Milky Way. Then came the news media, and before Harold and his family really knew what was happening, they were playing host to hundreds of curious onlookers.

That was 10 days ago. Harold had figured a few things out in the meantime, and believe it or not, things seemed to be going pretty smoothly. A couple of local boy scout troops volunteered their time with traffic and crowd control, the local cops made routine drive-bys, a few neighbors popped by from time to time to lend a helping hand or to act as security guards, just in case someone in the crowd got the wrong idea. Mostly, though, people were kind and grateful.

Harold wandered away from the long lines of people to a cluster of trees in his front yard. The solitude felt as refreshing as a cold beer on a hot day. He leaned back against the largest evergreen and lit a cigarette, drawing in a deep and letting it out very slowly. It was the first time since it all began that he actually stopped to take in the strange sight of all these people cycling through his property.

As Harold stood silently in the shadows, he reflected on not only the events of the past week, but what had come from it. For the first time ever, his family was happily working together on a common goal. Neighbors he never spoke to gladly joined in to help out. Visitors thanked Harold and his family for the generosity of opening their home so others could see for themselves the spectacular view. When they did this, Harold would shrug and smile and say it was no bother. He was just happy to share the experience.

And Harold genuinely meant what he said. Opening his home to strangers was the right thing to do. All who wanted to could see the Milky Way, up close and personal, as if they were looking through a telescope. Just because the view happened to be from his private property did not mean he owned the rights to it.

But, at the end of each night, as the rising sun turned the black skies to a dull grey and the people left, Harold would take the box he constructed to solicit cash donations (because, who wouldn’t ask for a couple dollars to offset the wear and tear on his property) and empty it onto the dining room table. Half way through his count, his wife would call out the total contributions made to the online account she had set up.

So, as altruistic as Harold’s invitation seemed for all the world to come on over and take a look at the Milky Way from his back deck, as it turns out, sharing this wonderful experience was also a lucrative endeavor. As Harold snuffed out his cigarette butt, he said a little prayer that the skies would remain clear for just a few more days.


The UnOLWG prompts this week: He leaned back and lit a cigarette; Window to the stars; Ulterior altruism

To ‘re’ or not to ‘re’

“What do you have against theatres?”

“Not ‘theatres’, I don’t have anything against theatre or theaters. Just the spelling. ‘re’ versus ‘er’. Makes me nuts.”

“Why? Both are correct, right?”

“Technically, yes. Lots of words have a couple of acceptable spellings. That’s not my point.”

“And that is…”

(sigh) “I know the common use is with an ‘re,’ but I think that should only be used when speaking of the art. ‘Er’ should only refer to the building.”

“Kind-of a pointy-toed logic you got there, but I get it.”

“I know, sorry. I’m a total nerd like that. Anyway, you were saying you want to see that new Mexican film?”

“Yeah! Veinticinco Ovejas por El Pastor Jesus. It’s playing at the Guild 45th Movie Theater. They even spell it with an ‘er’ “


Prompts this week are: veinticinco; pointy toes; what do you have against theatres?

It’s all fun and games until you piss off Me-mah

As Boyd lay on his side, trying to keep his head from spinning, and from up-chucking another time, he realized Daniel had no idea he had fallen down the ravine. If Daniel had seen him fall, he’d be calling out for him. There wasn’t a sound except the icy wind passing through the giant evergreens and the occasional thump of accumulated wet snow falling off the limbs as the trees swayed. Asshole must have kept skiing, Boyd thought. Fuck!

How long had it been since he fell? Boyd thought it must have been a while. His fingers and nose burned with the freezing cold. Shouldn’t he be hearing Ski Patrol by now? It didn’t take that long to get down the back country, and grab the shuttle that takes skiers back to the lifts. Daniel would have waited a few minutes for him, but if he waited until the shuttle came back from the lifts, he would have known Boyd was in trouble, right? Fuck! Boyd brought his arm up to read his watch. As he did, the pain in his legs and back shot through him like an electric volt. He shouted as he fought off another wave of nausea.

Boyd called out for help, but his screams were completely absorbed by the snow. Exhausted, he had to fight losing consciousness. He needed to listen for someone, anyone, to come along the rim above. He knew anyone who came by needed to hear him, but with his face half buried in snow, it was impossible to be heard. With all the concentration he could summon, he beared down and, screaming through the acute pain, rolled over on his back. He then screamed as loud as he could: FUCK THIS! FUUUUUUCK!! MOTHER FUUUCK! HELP ME!…HEEEELP!….THE FUUUUCK…AAAAHHHH!

The tears started in earnest. Water poured from his eyes, snot streamed out his nose, and the metallic taste of blood in his mouth turned to a thick sludge. Boyd panicked and spat, repeatedly, afraid he’d choke on all his mucus and blood. His tears turned to heaving sobs, and regardless the pain the heaving caused, he could not stop crying.

“Boyd! BOYD! Now, that is EE – NOUGH!!”

Shocked, Boyd opened his eyes. Standing above him was his grandmother, just as if she hadn’t been dead these past four years.

“Nobody likes a bawl-baby! Quit that goddamned HOLLERING! “

Boyd ignored his confusion. “But, I…fell, Me-mah.” He meekly pointed to the ridge high above him. “I…fell…it fucking hurts!”

“Think you’re the first boy in the whole wide world take a tumble?! Huh? Out here, you and Daniel goofing around, not paying no attention! Serves you right, dammit! Now, get the hell up and let’s get you seen to. Up, I said! UP! NOW!”

Boyd started to push himself up on his arms when, instead of his grandmother, he saw his mother, father and Daniel, in his face, all shouting at once. “Whoa, whoa bud! You just take it easy! Lie back! Don’t move!”

Boyd blinked a couple of times. It was bright and very white, but unmistakably, he was in a hospital room.

“It’s sure good as all hell to see you awake, son,” Boyd’s father said.

Boyd’s mother started to cry and his father, clearly just as distressed, hugged her tight. Daniel, a big grin spread from ear to ear, smirked, “Shit, man. Holy fuck,” and gave Boyd a gentle chuck on his good shoulder, just as the duty nurse walked in.

“He’s awake!” Boyd’s parents exclaimed, as if Boyd was an infant who had just taken his very first steps.

“Where’s…uh…” Boyd started to ask.

“What, honey?” Boyd’s mother replied.

“Me-mah. I saw Me-mah. She was pissed.”

Boyd’s father laughed out loud, “I bet she was! Ha!”


This week’s UnOLWG prompts are: Plucked it out; Daniel has no idea; I can’t do this.

The Kennel

As Mark pulled up to the large ranch house, a woman stepped out onto the porch. He stopped his truck and cut the engine. The concoughany of dogs barking was something else. It sounded like hundreds of them. Mark now understood why the kennel was so far out in the country. It was the only property around for at least five miles.

The woman walked up to the driver’s side and gave a little wave.

“Hi,” he said, offering a hand as he stepped out of the cab, “Mark Jefferies. I called you about the puppies.”

The woman shook his hand. “Erin Eschelbach. That momma?”

Mark turned around to look at his dog, who looked pitifully forlorn. “Yes. That’s her, Agatha Christie, and…” he walked to the back of the truck and opened the hatch, “this is her litter. Minus three. Found homes for three of them.”

Agatha Christie jumped from the cab into the back of the truck and proceeded to tend to her pups.

Erin shook her head, a wry, crooked smile on her face. “Well, at least they’re weaned. You spay her yet?”

Mark nodded. “Soon.”

Erin started again to shake her head, but caught herself and quickly asked, “Why Agatha Christie?”

“The name, you mean?” Mark asked. “When we got her, she would spend hours snooping and sniffing around and she has this uncanny ability to find things. Like, stuff we thought we lost. Spiders under the couch, trash in the bushes. Dead animals. Loves to bring us dead animals.”

“Cute.”

Mark thought Erin meant her remark as a genuine compliment, but her disappointment about the puppies was as plain as day in her expression. How many litters had this woman taken into her refuge over the years? From the look on her face, it was clear she considered him part of a never-ending battle.

“The vet said we weren’t supposed to fix her until after her first heat,” Mark offered as an apology. “Said that’s healthier. You know, decreases the risk of cancer and whatever.”

“No offence, Mr. Jefferies, but I got a kennel full of what the vet says. Problem is, for the casual pet owner, the vet don’t ever clearly say what a bitch in heat is to a male that ain’t been neutered. Mighty strong impulses on both their parts that make them do things they don’t normally do, like climb fences and the like.”

“Yeah, well, if it’s any consolation, we feel really bad about this.”

Erin placed her hand on Mark’s arm. He suddenly wished she would give him a hug.

“No worries. We’ll get them settled. They look great. You obviously took good care of them. You’d be horrified what I normally get dropped at my door. Now, from the looks of momma, best you carry the puppies up to the kennel. She trusts you. Keep her in the truck, though. But before we go, let’s let her get one last look at them.”


Prompts this week are: She smiled crookedly; at least a hundred; dogs are barking.

What Once Was: Jerome, Charlese, Ellie & Philip

JEROME
By the time Jerome reached 40 years of age, he had achieved all he wanted in life: A great marriage, children, the best group of friends a guy could ever have, vacations to just about anywhere he could imagine, tickets to every game in town, membership on a couple of high-profile charity Board of Directors, and a very, very lucrative and satisfying career. He was absolutely a success, by anybody’s standard.

The only thing was, Jerome was not the incredibly attractive, athletic man he once was. Women no longer perpetually smiled when speaking to him, nor did gay men linger a minute too long in his company. No one ever remarked, as they did so often in his youth, that he “must” be a fashion model. These days, Jerome was a regular customer of the Big and Tall shops. What little hair was left on his head, he had, at long last, decided to shave off, finally embracing his baldness. And, the “old football injury” gave him a pronounced limp. Orthopedics were all his crippled feet could tolerate. Though his wife protested he had not lost his appeal, Jerome missed making people feel, well, sexy.

So, when a new young clerk at the grocery store asked to see his I.D. before scanning the bottle of wine in his cart, Jerome had to chuckle. He knew it was the gesture of an incorrigible flirt, but secretly, he felt it like an unselfish act of random kindness. It absolutely made his day.


CHARLESE
As a child, Charlese and her sister were terrified of their grandfather. He was a deeply bitter and angry man, hardened by every misfortune life could dish out. The girls dreaded weekly Sunday dinners at his home. The rule was to never raise your voice, and to stay out of the way. So, the sisters played outside when the weather was good, and huddled silently in a corner of the living room when the weather was wet and dreary with a couple of books.

On one such wet and dreary Sunday, Charlese and her sister were startled to find their grandfather asleep on the living room couch. Neither had ever seen the man in such a state of repose.

Despite their fear he would wake and yell at them, intense curiosity tempted the sisters to tip-toe over to him, just so they could get a close look. With his eyes closed and every line on his face fallen away; his brow unknit and his scowl slackened, he looked completely different. Almost unrecognizable.

Fifteen years later, at his funeral, as Charlese looked at him in his casket, she thought of that Sunday. He looked very much as he did that day. And though Charlese knew he could not suddenly wake and yell at her, the fear he would was as visceral as when she was a little girl.


ELLIE & PHILIP
Boxes and crates, on top of more boxes and crates, on top of even more boxes and crates filled the large storage unit, all of them stacked nearly to the ceiling, with each filled with expensive and priceless items of a life defined by grandeur and wealth: Statuesque hand carved ivory figurines, Swiss mantel clocks made of mahogany and intricate brass, gold and silver details. Cloisonné vases from China and France. Giant hand loomed Turkish tapestries. Gold plated snuff boxes. Hand embroidered lace and table linens, multiple sets of ornate fine china for a seating of 20 or more, cut crystal bowls and stemware, sterling flatware and serveware, sterling silver and gold-plated candle sticks of all shapes and sizes, and five 3-foot
tall Waterford crystal centerpiece candelabras. To Ellie and her husband Philip, opening a box or crate was like unearthing vast riches of a Pharaoh’s tomb.

Ellie held up a sheet of newsprint used to wrap many of the items: It read, New York, April 15, 1930.

“This stuff has been in storage all this time?”

“I guess,” Philip replied. “My great-great grandparents were the ones who made the family fortune. Probably the ones who accumulated all this stuff.” Philip sliced open a cardboard box and rummaged around.

“According to Dad,” he continued, “his grandfather did everything he could to maintain the family’s wealth, but, he said that’s the same time the federal
income and inheritance tax was, like, made a law. A lot of wealthy families had to sell off and close up shop. Even if some were able to hold on, it didn’t matter, because they ended up getting hit by the Depression. Anyway, that’s what Dad said happened.”

“And, all this stuff, just, what…sat around?” Ellie asked. “You’d think they’d have sold it off if they needed the cash, or whatever.”

“Yeah, well,” Philip held up a large sterling service tray to inspect it. “I guess, but not my family, apparently. Found all this shit in chests and crates in the basement of some cousin’s home after they died, just after World War Two. Dad said Grandpa Bill claimed it, and a judge agreed it was his. For whatever reason, it’s been moved around, ever since.”

“And, you are sure nobody in your family wants any of it?”

“Too bad, right?” Philip said, as held up an even larger sterling silver platter. “I mean, with a little work and polish, all this could be restored, good as new.”

Ellie examined the facets of a cut crystal champagne coupe. “I guess, but, seriously, these days? People only keep stuff like this for sentimental reasons. Maybe that’s why nobody sold it in the first place. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I saw an old fashioned champagne glass like this.”

“Oh, we’re not gonna keep any of it. We should sell it. Somebody will want this stuff. A collector. Museum. Maybe a Hollywood production shop, something.”

Ellie nodded. “But, it’s weird, ya know?” she said. “Standing here, all this amazing stuff, talking about how to get rid of it? I mean, having expensive things like this was such a statement of, I don’t know, whatever. Wealth! and class! Seriously, I can hear your great-great grandparents turning in their grave.”


Fun with vignettes this week! Prompts are: need to see an ID; Some of them, with work and polish, can regain their former shine; when your eyes are closed (https://aooga.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/olwg-85-nigh-on-noon/)