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

Snow

Ended up with 7-8 inches in my neighborhood. I’ve never experienced the kind of winter weather as we have had this winter. January was almost spring-like, and then February had consistently freezing temps. Usually it’s the other way around. The official snow total for my city is 14 inches (all told, not actual accumulation), which is a decades-old record breaker. As pretty as it is, the high winds, sub-freezing temps, and impassable roads otherwise dull my enthusiasm. It’s as close as I want to know what it is like to live in Alaska this time of year or the Rockies during the spring thaw.

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

LD Rose, Class of ’43

I was the one to sort through my parent’s papers and files after their deaths. Among my father’s various papers—drafts of short stories, travel essays, random thoughts and highlights from his career as a City Manager—were his military service records in the Merchant Marines and later in the Naval Reserve. The first piece of paper in the first file was a simple half-sheet form titled, “Employment Severance Notice from Douglas Aircraft,” which read,

I, LD Rose, hereby state that I am terminating, on my own volition, my employment with the Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc., on this 3rd day of April 1942 for the reason hereinbelow set forth: Military Service—Voluntary Enlistment.

On the back of the form was a note written in my father’s hand:

I know that I shall never be the same as I was the days that have past. It is something numb and bursting inside, like nothing within the compass of words. It is bitterly sad and jubilant and aches for a night and complete stillness it shall never know. A sad, thin, stretching voice. A face that is a stranger to the day.

My father was 21 when war was declared on Japan. Unlike so many of his peers, including his good friends, my father did not rush to join up. So, what inspired him to finally do so? I doubt it was at his parent’s behest. From the little I was told about them, I would guess them to be Isolationists. He might have been swayed working for Douglas Aircraft (later McDonald Douglas). He would have been surrounded by a lot of pro-war propaganda working for a company like that. Who knows. Whether he was spurred on by a guilty conscience, or a late-arriving sense of patriotic duty, he never said.

Jammed in the back of the files I found a small journal. It was wrapped in a plastic bag that used to contain Palmolive soap bars. The front and back hard-bound covers were ripped away, leaving the clusters of pages precariously clinging to dangling strings that once held them to the biding, and it was badly burned at the top where fire had once threatened to destroy it. I was confident the singed top was the result of a house fire when I was a child. It was a thrill to discover the journal survived.

From the first page, starting from just under the charred top:

…if I were about to take the most decisive step of my life I hesitate upon these words. For indeed, I have taken a decisive step, perhaps a monumental one, and the need for words of monument is impressive. I am, on this date, aboard my first ship, the Phillip Livingston…We are tied up at a smelter, discharging nitrates from Chile, Peru and Ecuador. Oh, the fascination of the far-sounding names!
I fight the death of youth, fight the becoming a man, wanting neither to the exclusion of the other.
I took the helm for the first time today while we moved to another dock. It was a magnificent sensation of importance and responsibility…
Gray ship, gray day…frantic bouncing of the gulls in the wind, a boiling, brutal wind sprawling on the face of the sea-top. We depart Bellingham at 6am and the adventure commences.

In the 1990s, my father was interviewed for a book—though I do not think it was ever published—about the Cadet Midshipmen of the US Merchant Marines during World War II. It was then that all the stories of his three or so years of service came pouring out, exactly as if a faucet inside him was turned to the open position. The interview inspired him to write it all down. I have a photocopy of one of his drafts, somewhere. For all his efforts at writing the perfect short story, opinion piece for the local paper or essay of my parent’s traveling years after retirement, his memoir of his war service was his very best work.

Kingspoint, USMM Academy, class of 1943 or 44.
b.May 1920-d.April 2011

The only time I saw my father sob uncontrollably was during a televised Memorial Day ceremony. Though he did not know combat as those who served in the other branches of the military, he carried very close to his heart the ultimate sacrifice so many of his generation made. He was profoundly proud of his service and honored to be called a Merchant Marine.

Snow Day #2

Snowy park trail
The last snow day around here, photo taken on a park trail near my home.

The first snow day of the year is always about getting out for a walk in the winter wonderland. Because this sort of thing happens only every so often, it’s always a treat.

However, this time, because of the terrible cold (in the 20s and teens) and the high winds with gale-force gusts up to 50 mph, going outside for a lovely stroll was not recommended. The conditions prompted the first “frozen spray warning” I’ve ever heard in the weather forecast for those crazy enough to be out on a boat. When I took the trash/recycling out, the experience was the closest I want to know what it must be like to live in Alaska this time of year. So, I stayed inside watching movies, napping, puttering around with this and that, started a new novel, and watched another movie before calling it an early night.

Cars piled up on slippery downhill road
Even a little snow on the streets on my hill is an issue. (Photo from a twitter feed)

Day #2 is clear and sunny, and the wind is gone, but that’s about it. It’s still in the 20s; the sun only expected to warm things up to a relative balmy 35-degrees. There’s still no getting out of my hill-y neighborhood, as sanding our steep roads is not my city’s priority. It’s another day stuck indoors.

So, Day #2 will be about writing. Stay tuned. 😉

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.