From Here To Uncertainty

 

by Solomon Tate

In the film, ‘Prozac Nation’,  the character Elizabeth Wurtzel states “You wake up one morning afraid you’re going to live.” And that’s exactly what it was like. For 2 years my life was no longer in my control as I spent my days consumed with overwhelming dread, and my nights, which seemed to go on forever, in horror that I was going to have to make it through another day. It settled in like a New England fog, without warning,  but with a darkness that was frightfully unsettling, leaving me cold and alone, until it had totally enveloped me. It occupied all of my waking hours, with relief found only in sleep. I was swallowed by an all encompassing fear that had settled in my head like an unwanted house guest that just never seemed to leave. With every passing moment the walls moved in closer and closer, encasing me in a prison that I couldn’t seem to escape.

Its easy to look back and try to sort it all out, but at that time, when I lived my life in quiet desperation, wallowing in the anguish that filled my thoughts, it was impossible to tell the difference between light and dark, although it really didn’t matter. I felt detached from the universe, a singular being drifting through time and space, battling demons that brought me to the brink of a madness that I both detested and feared. Most of all, I was afraid of being afraid. It was completely paralyzing, bringing only a constant, heightened sense of total and complete helplessness. Not knowing what the hell was going on, but certain that absolutely nothing could save me, I wandered around the house hoping to find something I could hold on to before I was swept away by the fear. It wasn’t always like this, though. As far as I remember my childhood was relatively normal, as I lived my typically suburban, middle class life filled with assorted superheros and nondescript cowboys. Outside of the crazy, old woman who lived across the street and threatened to have us arrested every time we played ball hockey on the road, nothing really bothered me. And yet, there I was, almost 20 years later, showing up at Emergency rooms,  on a revolving basis, at every hospital in the downtown core, and each time, sent home in perfect health. Even that never provided any reassurance. The feeling of impending doom that hung over me like a black cloud, continued to tighten its grip on my life. I shut off from the rest of the world, disappearing into my torment. I stopped eating and I stopped working, uncertain how much longer I would be able or willing to carry this burden, often staying in bed for days afraid to get up lest the terror should find me.

In the impending madness I discovered, contrary to popular belief, that it was not darkest before the dawn. It was darkest at twilight, when the fear & loathing ran rampant through my mind, dancing around my head, sending me spiraling down the rabbit hole of despair, knowing that I would have to relive this again tomorrow. It was like living a nightmare, the kind that seems so real. A constant, chronic nightmare with all of the scariest shit right there when I was awake. Every moment of every day I felt the hot, sticky breath of disaster on my neck. I was so aware of it, so tuned in that it became a part of me. At times it felt like I was the only one on the planet who had been doomed to live in this hell on earth, and I was certain that everyone could tell. I excommunicated myself from everyone, embarrassed and ashamed of what I was sure was weakness and failure. The isolation compounded the incessant fear and dread, driving me further and further into the abyss that had taken up permanent residency in my mind.

When I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I felt a sense of relief. It was recommended that I get my hands on the book ‘Hope & Help For Your Nerves’ by Claire Weekes. I read this over and over again, looking for something, anything that I could hang on to in order to deal with the panic that had taken over my life. Over the next few weeks, the clouds began to dissipate, allowing me to see the sunlight for the first time in 2 years. I learned how to deal with the worry and the panic. I learned how to stop fighting the dread that was trying to consume me, how to accept it and to let it run its course until, much to my surprise and delight, it just simply went away. I found myself back in control of what was going on in my head. I learned that I was not alone in the darkness and that there was indeed hope and help. I learned that fear can be all consuming if it is allowed to. It thrives on the fight, growing stronger each time it is challenged. It cannot beaten in combat, but dies when offered acceptance and a willingness to let it pass on its own. I learned to ‘float’ through it, to sail along with it like a boat in the waves, and to live in the present, and stay the hell out of the future.

Decades have passed since those years of emotional insanity, and I continue to float through the eddies and currents of whatever life brings. I gave up the shame of being unwell, and wear my disorder with pride in the knowledge that I have not just survived, but have won the battle for control of my life. It is said that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, and I suspect that the strength I developed all of those years ago prepared me for the trials and tribulations that I have subsequently had to deal with. In the end though, the years have brought me peace and happiness, and that is really what life is about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Politics of Dancing

by Fielding Goodfellow

There was a time, not so very long ago, when I was certain that the path we walked was not the path of my choosing. Fraught with warnings and danger signs that were ignored, we had marched in headfirst with nothing but nerves of steel, a pocketful of pharmaceuticals, and $20 worth of peyote, spiraling totally out of control. As graduate students we spent an inordinate amount of time pondering right versus wrong, light versus dark, and lager versus ale through the early morning hours, nestled in College bars and private rooms in Asian massage parlors, as if it was all just a masturbatory fantasy, only to find that the crisis had now reached critical levels.

We were the artists, the philosophers, and the poets. We were the dreamers who had watched in disbelief as the separation of politics and religion became impossible to discern. We attended demonstrations with nouveau socialist, topless women who believed that there was nothing in a pair of tits that anyone should be ashamed or afraid of. We agreed. We protested our leaders’ promises of eternal salvation in exchange for one’s very soul at enormous public funded rallies designed to stir up hatred and distrust, each with a smirk glued on their face, created by their ever present army of aides whose noses were wedged deep into their backsides, while the mass of onlookers were blinded, mesmerized by their heavenly glow,  unable to see that these charlatans really didn’t give a shit. None of them, in their inherent idiocy could see that what was being offered was the same parcel of bullshit that was proposed years ago. It just had a nicer ribbon. And when the leaders spoke,  the followers in attendance erupted in cheers,  just as he shuddered in a thunderous orgasm brought on by the blind adoration of the chanting neanderthals, and left to be cleaned up by the millions of mindless shells who watched this in silence from living room sofas on big screen, high definition televisions, with a handful of pork rinds being funneled into their gaping mouths.

Harley Stokes showed up out of nowhere, arriving with a bible in one hand and a Parker-Hale M82 sniper’s rifle in the other. He portrayed himself as the second coming and had managed to convince much of the populous that it was true. He was, in reality, a far right, bible thumping, fascist, evangelist straight out of the Stalin School of Interpretive Dance. He claimed that he spoke on behalf of The Holy Spirit. He was a liar and a swindler, a con man, travelling the country to garner support for his impetuous attempt at entering the political arena. Stokes knew that timing was everything, and he had managed to pick the exact moment in time when he could swoop down, and promise the people everything that he had convinced them they had been clamoring for. As if on a beam of divine light, Harley Stokes had in fact, become their only hope for salvation, and was now about to embark on another in an almost endless series of ‘Save Your Soul for $100’ orgasmatronic rallies.

The politics of faith was quite disconcerting, as single celled life forms rose to power, driven by their own fragile egos and self induced wet dreams. It was a slow and painful ballet in which politics and religion were intertwined in the customary pas de deux, as they bum fuck their way through plies, releves, and the ever seductive arabesque. Strangely enough, although unnoticed by the fans of such nonsensical drivel, the dancers did not really move at all. It was all just smoke and mirrors. It was a cheap magician’s trick.

We protested the event, marching to the venue in a failed attempt to disrupt the rally. We were greeting by strong arm tactics from muscled orangutans who stood at the perimeter of the arena to ensure such nonsensical political activism would not disrupt the enlightening of the tens of thousands of people in attendance, and detract in any way from the communal cumming that occurred at the conclusion of every one of Harley Stokes events. His fire and brimstone approach worked the crowd into a frenzy, and through the power of suggestion, they were, as a group, able to experience a mind blowing, spiritual orgasm. I have no idea what that felt like, but the orgasm I experience with assorted women in hotel rooms is as close to religion as I will ever get.

I spent the night in jail for my attempt at violating Harley Stoke’s right to free speech. “There’s only one solution.”, Doc, my cell mate who, as it turned out. was a member of a popular motorcycle gang informed me. “You have to have the mother fucker disappear. Before its too late.” Killing was nothing new to him. Killing crazy mother fuckers wasn’t new to him either. Doc had been involved in many a disappearance. He offered to help, but we would have to wait 3 to 5 years for him to be available.

Very few of us were surprised that Harley Stokes went on to become President. This was a necessary step for his ultimate goal as Lord & Master. The streets were no longer paved with gold, but rather consisted of hatred, derision, and fear. Everything was falling apart, but Stokes’ supporters continued to defend his character and his intentions. And therein lies the dilemma. It is only a fool who cannot admit his mistakes and seek to correct it. An idiot will continue to believe what has already been disproved, as they view being wrong as evidence of their stupidity. Oh, hell they know they’re idiots, they just don’t want anyone else to know. So they lie, ignore evidence, change statistics and grab hold of their bibles and rifles, as that is where their strength comes from. The word of God in one hand, and a means to force their beliefs on everyone else in the other. Indeed, God is a bullet. Have mercy on us, everyone.

Day Of The Dog

There was going to be a party. Not just any party. There was going to be a birthday party at my son’s home. It was an hours drive, deep into the suburbs north of the city. There was going to be food, fancy food created by a chef. Everyone was attending. They had been talking about it for weeks. It was a thoroughly planned party. My mother-in-law and my sister-in- law, were coming in from out of town. It was apparently a party that was not to be missed. Some of the family members were discussing gifts, text messaging photos of items they were considering purchasing for the guest of honor. Everyone was bringing a gift. My wife wanted to know what I wanted to take as a gift.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”, I stated.

“No.”, she said. “We have to take to take something.”

“Why.”, I asked her.

“Because that’s what you do for a birthday.”, she advised.

“You know”, I told her, “He doesn’t know its his birthday.”

“It doesn’t matter.”, she replied. “We have to take a gift.”

“The question really is why do we have to go at all.”, I said.

“Because its the right thing to do.”, she said. “Its his birthday.”

“You know”, I said, “you know he’s a dog, right?” Right. Everyone knew he was a dog. But he had always been my wife’s dog.

The party itself was a gala event. The living room was decorated with banners embossed with sentiments suggesting that the dog have a happy day. There were dog cupcakes, and a candle was put in one as my family burst into a rousing rendition of happy birthday for a dog who had long ago left and went to sleep in another room. He was carried out to hear the song and to eat a cupcake, and then returned to another room to go back to sleep.

The gifts were unwrapped without his presence. There was a sweater, a basketball jersey, some assorted chew toys, dog treats, and a certificate for a dog spa day.

“Someone should have got him a girl.”, I said.

“What?”, my wife asked, wondering if she heard me correctly.

“Someone should have got him a bitch.”, I said, “You know, a female dog that jumped out of a cake or something.”

“What the hell is he going to do with a bitch?”, my wife asked me. “He’s been fixed.”

“So have I.”, I reminded her. “But I’ve still got a bitch.” She smiled ever so slightly, not wanting me to know that she found it funny.

“Well”, she said, “The difference is you’ve still got your balls.”

“Really?”, I queried. “I’m pretty sure that you’ve had them for the last 25 years or so.” I went back to sit in the lounge chair only to find the birthday dog and his little sister laying down across it.

The chit chat emanating from this group was loud and diverse, There were several different conversations occurring at the same time, each one slightly louder than the other, in order that each participant in each conversation could hear and be heard. There was talk of synthetic proteins to aid in muscle building, shoulder surgery, and healthy eating. There was one conversation which raised the concern of the poor and the homeless. I was bored, and I wanted to leave. No one was speaking about music, or drugs, although my mother in law did raise the issue of now taking statins. There were no philosophical debates, and no questions regarding intelligent life in the universe. What the hell had happened to my family? The lot of them were turning into protein drinking, vegan gym rats. I had never felt so alone in my life. It was clear to me, at that moment that I must be the alien. As for intelligent life in the universe, I was certain that it wasn’t in that room on that day.

I suppose it was a good party, I mean its always great to see all of the kids and their partners together. It was nice to see the dogs too, although in all of the years I have known my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, neither of them has ever come into town for one of my birthdays, and there have been many significant ones. I have never received a gift from them either, although my wife informed me that I already had the greatest gift they could have given to anyone, and that of course, was her. I remind her that the return policy had always been very one sided, with no opportunity for a refund or at least an exchange. She let me know that she is irreplaceable, and at best, I would wind up with a a very inferior replacement. And as for the refund, well, apparently there just wasn’t enough money to cover her value. Sadly, she was right.

“This better not become an annual event.”, I told her on the long drive home. “I’m not doing this again.”

“We’ll see.”, she said. “Since we’re in the area, do you feel like grabbing a veal sandwich from Nino D’Aversa?”

“Are you buying?”, I asked.

“Do you have any money on you?”, she questioned.

“Not a dime.”, I answered. “You don’t let me have any.”

“Well.”, she told me, “That’s because you keep losing it.”

“So you’re buying then?”, I  again.

“I always do.”, she replied. “And this is why I can never be returned.”

“Ya.”, I said. “Because you have all of my money.”

“Its our money.”, she advised me. “And yes I do.”

 

 

 

 

It Was Tuesday, But It Wasn’t Belgium

by Solomon Tate

Sandy met me at Ben Gurion Airport. She was a family friend I had known most of my life. We grew up together, although she was a few years older, doing all of that family crap that family friends did back then. There were barbecues, picnics, and outings to an array of local attractions filled with animals, and non stop photographs that many years later were passed around, with that ‘weren’t they cute?’ precursor. There were drive ins and there were family vacations. It was on one such vacation that Sandy and I became close in the lane way behind the Red & White store in Jackson’s Point. We were young, we were foolish, and we were horny little shits. And now,  years later, I was staying in her Tel Aviv apartment, as she showed me around her adopted country. It was weeks of incredible scenery, centuries old artifacts, beaches, booze, banging and blow jobs.

I have no idea how I got there, but  that was nothing new. The mixing of Canadian whiskey and percocet usually had that kind of effect on me. Rivaled only by tequilla and peyote, there were many times that I had absolutely no idea how I got where I was. And now, I was in Tel Aviv, backpack at my side, passport in my jacket, and a pocket full of U.S. dollar traveler’s checks. There was an American weirdo in black tights and a cape who had been wandering through the airport, thinking he was some sort of super hero. I was certain that he was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been off his chlorpromazine for several days. He was apparently a regular at the airport, and as security whisked him away, he left without incident,  promising  that he would return to save us all from the evil doers hiding in the shadows.

Sandy was marginally fabulous,  with her 5 foot long legs crammed into a pair of skin tight jeans that, if I had to guess, were painted on. I wasn’t the only one who thought so. There always seemed to be testosterone saturated men gawking in amazement, with mouths opened and tongues hanging out like dogs in the summer heat, transfixed by what was not left to the imagination. She was insanely hot, usually drawing as big a crowd as nude jello wrestling. She worked for a tour company, leading visitors through the  historical and religious treasures, and once I was settled in the apartment, we began our journey.

We ventured to Bograshov Street, where she took me for what she claimed was the best falafel in town. To be fair, it was pretty damn good. We headed off to the beach, with Sandy leading the way, and me lagging behind, stopping to look at almost every bikinied body in my path. My eyes were darting back and forth, totally immersed in the tanned, beauty that lay before me like a beach blanket buffet. Sandy located a spot on the beach to lay down. She put down her towel and bag, and removed her street clothes, revealing that body that I had the pleasure of visiting years before. I had a brief conversation with my penis, asking it to keep sleeping, at least for the time being. Sandy went for a swim in the blue waters of The Mediterranean, and when she came out of the water, it was like watching Honey Ryder emerging from the sea in Dr. No. Ironically, I was silently praying that this would be a yes, as my penis had suddenly betrayed me,  having woken up and was now standing at attention. “Well, I hope that’s for me.”, Sandy said as she arrived at our spot on the beach.

“So does he.”, I told her.

“Damn, Tate”, she said. “I see you’ve still got your mind in the gutter.”

“It seems to be the only place I’m truly comfortable.”, I informed her as I watched beads of sweat roll down into her cleavage, while little kids roamed the beach selling popsicles out of boxes, and soldiers with weapons locked and loaded wandered around just about everywhere. It was often unsettling, but it was the way of life.

Sandy took me across the country, from Haifa to Eilat, from The Dead Sea to Ashkelon. We saw the Western Wall and Masada, visited Rosh HaNikra and Ein Gedi, and stood atop Mount Zion. The country was insanely beautiful, and I was particularly fond of the Old City of Jerusalem, Jaffa  and of course, Sandy’s Queen size bed, and couch, and kitchen table. I was comfortable there, and seemed to be at ease. The thought of remaining, of not returning home was bouncing around my head on a regular basis.

One night we went to see a movie, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest’. Interestingly enough, the film was shown with Hebrew subtitles, while the patrons in the theatre spoke during the entire film, leaving me, with my limited Hebrew to try and make out what the hell was going on. Following the movie, Sandy and I went to meet some of her friends at a cafe in Jerusalem. It was a good night, and I am pretty sure Sandy got drunk. As she was the one driving, and I was somewhat shitfaced, we were forced to spend the night in Jerusalem. We got a room in The King David Hotel, and were woken by an explosion that seemed not so far away. In the morning, Police and soldiers were all over the streets, and barricades were up blocking passage past the blast site. It seemed that our little cafe from the night before stood no more. Gone. Just like that. In the blink of an eye, what was once a building, was now merely rubble. Luckily no one was hurt, but I was a little scared. Alright, I was quite scared. My decision was made. While I was deeply moved just being there, I didn’t think I could live like that. Sandy told me that you get used to it after a while and that it just becomes part of life there. You don’t think about it, and you don’t worry about it. You just go about your life. That was all well and good, but this Canadian guy, who had finally grown accustomed to raccoons rummaging through the garbage cans at night, and the pigeons that attacked without fear, found it just a bit too overwhelming to come home one day and find my apartment had been blown into several neighboring communities. I just couldn’t do it. Several years later My wife and I and our children, inquired about making Aliyah, but were informed by the Israeli government that due to my daughter’s physical disabilities she would not be able to receive health coverage. My wife was worried about the kids going into the army at age 18. I told her I thought it would do some of them some good, but in the end, we stayed put.

I haven’t seen Sandy since then, about 40 years ago, and I couldn’t even be certain that she was still alive and well. We corresponded for a while, but as happens with old friends and lovers, you just lose touch. Time passes, people move, and I suppose, most of all, you just don’t care enough to look for them. I do miss her, I mean, I had known forever.

While I waited at the airport for my flight out of Tel Aviv the caped crime fighter emerged from the bathroom. As he raced through the terminal looking for a crime to fight, he was chased by security who again caught him, and escorted him into a room. My thoughts were that he was taken to a plane bound for the U.S., strapped in, sedated and sent about his way. Either that, or he was admitted to a psychiatric facility for observation and assessment. Either way, he didn’t come out of that room while I was waiting for my flight. I have not returned to Israel since that time many, many years ago and to be honest, with my advancing age, I think I have become afraid to fly. Well, its not flying that scares me, but rather being blown up in mid air or crashing into the ocean is what I wish to avoid. My grandfather, in his infinite wisdom had once told me that while he was unable to ever go to Israel, he did spend his winters in Florida, and it was pretty damn close to the same thing. And now I am currently considering a slow, leisurely drive down to Fort Lauderdale.

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian Beaver

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

Every year, just before the sweltering summer heat enveloped the city, when the beaver emerge from their rural homes, and take up positions near the water’s edge, the frenzy for outdoor living permeates the collective mind of the Canadian middle class, and the pilgrimage to distant camp sites begins in earnest.

I had been seeing a woman, a bisexual, former professional escort who enjoyed such outdoor tomfoolery, and had requested that I attend a week long expedition into the wilderness with some mutual friends.  Despite my displeasure at being tossed in a canvass bag like a body found on the side of the train tracks, and the sordid tales of man eating, giant raccoons with machetes and gangster bears dressed in zoot suits carrying chain saws, the promise of as much sun, sex, and drugs as my aging mind and body could handle, I reluctantly agreed, and headed off with Wendy, Ray, and Kat to Lake Buckhorn.

We parked the cars near the boat rental and Ray, the self appointed expedition leader, rented us a boat. He was a weird little guy, with his Paul Bunyan utility belt strapped around his waist housing everything and anything he thought we might need at some point in time on our journey, but he had obviously done this sort of thing before. We headed off across the lake in search of an island paradise suitable for habitation. The clouds had lifted, and the heat from the sun was becoming intense, creating a mist on the water’s surface just ahead of us that sent an array of colored light dancing across the lake. And there, just beyond the mist, was an island. The island of all islands.

We tied up and unloaded the boat, and began the task of settling in to our new home away from home. Ray built a fire pit, while Wendy, Kat and I tackled the tents. Once completed, the 3 of us sat back and admired our handiwork as we enjoyed a hearty dose of peyote. I suspect it was the effects of the hallucinogenic, but there were swarms of black flies the size of geese, capable of carrying off a small child deep into the dense woodland that lined the shores of the lake, and there were mosquitoes wearing kamikaze helmets, as eager to drain my blood as the nurse at my doctor’s office, buzzing around like starving vampires.

As Ray finished with the fire pit, we secured the food, and listened to him explain the bathroom protocols. Apparently, there were no bathrooms, but there were shovels.  Ass wiping was courtesy of mother nature. Grab some leaves, and go to it. Be careful not to use poison ivy or poison oak. “But how do you know if its poison ivy or poison oak, Scout Master Ray?”, someone asked.  Some pictures were drawn in the sand identifying the leaves we were to avoid at all costs. Despite the effects of the hallucinogenics, I was acutely reminded as to why I did not participate in these kind of outdoor activities.

“So, nobody brought toilet paper?”, Kat asked. No they did not, we were informed. And so, with the toileting issue explained in more detail than I cared for, Ray and I went out in the boat to try and catch some fish. It was hot as hell out there on the lake in the blazing sun. The fish seemed reluctant to participate in our adventure, and  Ray popped opened the cooler and passed me a beer. In the time it took me to finish one, he had downed 5 or 6. He was a notorious drinker and had been known to empty a 12 pack on his own. “I think I’ve got something.”, Ray shouted as he grabbed hold of his fishing rod.

“Most likely liver disease.”, I proposed, as he struggled to reel in what he believed was one incredibly large fish. The battle waged for several minutes, back and forth, man versus fish. There was an inordinate amount of grunting and groaning, and when it was over, the drunken scout master had caught one hell of a big turtle. Tired, hot and unsuccessful in our attempts at outsmarting the fish, we headed back to the sanctuary of our island paradise.

Kat had managed to get a fire going, and adequately assessing our ability to catch some fish, had put hotdogs on the grill. I made a pot of mushroom tea, and we sat around the campfire, watching the flaming chorus line resurrect West Side Story. Kat brought out her guitar, and sat down on a rock near the fire pit and began one of those Kumbaya events, playing renditions of ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’ and ‘Blowing In The Wind’. Despite my almost uncontrollable urge to toss that fucking guitar into the fire, I drank another cup of tea and set my focus on the fire chorus as they belted out ‘The Jet Song’.

I woke in the morning to find Ray, somewhat hung over, slaving over the fire, making bacon and eggs for us all. It was eerily quiet on the lake, and I thought I heard banjo music off in the distance. “I have to go to the marina.”, he told me. “I found some animal tracks around the food. We’ll have to get it off the ground and up in a tree. I need to get some rope.”

“Won’t the animals just climb the tree?”, I asked.

“Bears don’t climb.”, he answered.

“There are bears on this island?”, I asked him.

“I don’t know.”, he replied. “And I don’t want to find out. So we’ll put the food in the trees.” Ray left us to clean up after breakfast and disappeared on the lake, while I heated up the mushroom tea. Wendy, Kat and I sat by the water’s edge, totally messed up, watching the clouds turn into caricature’s of semi famous British rock stars. It had become hot and Kat pulled her top off, revealing two of the most  incredible breasts I had ever been fortunate enough to meet.

“I hope you don’t mind.”, she said, “but I’m so fucking hot. And besides, its no big deal. They’re only boobs.” As an outside observer, I can attest to the fact that, despite being just boobs, they were indeed a big deal.

“You’ve got great tits.”, Wendy stated as she pulled off her top as well. Not to be outdone, I removed my tee shirt. Kat & Wendy decided to strip and jump into the water. “Why don’t you come in and join us?”, Wendy asked as she and Kat stood in the water and began fondling each other’s breasts.

“You have no idea how much I would like to.”, I replied. “But there are turtles in there that could quite possibly cause irreparable damage. So, I think I’m going to have to pass.”

As I sat there, surrounded by the titty sisters, watching the girl on girl action unfolding, I was not the only one who realized that I was now fully locked and loaded.

“Someone’s excited.”, Kat stated, as she stared at bulge in my shorts evident from the water.

“Oh, he’s always excited.”, Wendy replied. “I think he needs a hand.”

“I’m sure we can offer more than just a hand.”, Kat answered.

They emerged from the lake, beautifully naked, moving in slow motion, as if time had stopped. Every step caused their breasts to heave, ever so slightly, and the water dripping down from their chests was following the curves of their bodies, and running down their thighs. As they arrived at my single gun salute they wasted no time in getting me naked, and we were rolling around on the towels we had placed on the beach like high school freshmen. Wendy’s talents were devastatingly exquisite, and Kat, well, she brought a whole new dimension to our sexcapades.

It started raining late that afternoon, and the temperature dropped significantly. I was cold and I was wet, and I fucking hated camping. When I woke the following morning, it was still cold, it was still raining, and I still hated camping. I had enough. I informed the others that I would be leaving, and Ray had agreed to take me back to where we left the cars. Wendy and I packed up our stuff, and in the driving rain, we headed out back across the lake. Wendy and Kat sat huddled under a tarp as we made the daring trip back to civilization, while I continued to absorb the brunt of the storm. The lake was choppy, and the small boat struggled to remain on course and conquer the swells. When we finally arrived at the car, I had had it. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”, I said.

“I think we should stop at that small hotel on the highway we saw when we came in.”, Wendy said. “I could really use a shower. And a bathroom.”

“Why not.”, I replied. “We’ve got nowhere else to go.”

“Thanks for giving it a shot.”, she said. “I appreciate it.”

“I only came for the sex.”, I reminded her.

“I know.”, she replied. “I hope it was worth it.”

“So far.”, I told her. “We’ll see what happens at the hotel. We’ve got 5 more days to go, and I’ve got enough mushrooms here to last twice that long.”

“So, what are you waiting for?”, she asked. “Let’s go get totally fucked.” And we did. Over and over again.

I never saw Ray and Kat again, which was a shame, really, I mean she was wonderfully fearless. I stopped seeing Wendy sometime that fall. To be honest, I don’t think I ever really had feelings for her. She was just a wonderful diversion in an attempt to expand my hedonistic boundaries. As for camping, well, I have not been since those 2 days I spent on Lake Buckhorn stalking wild Canadian Beaver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crazy, Old Woman

 

Every time she came to visit, my brothers and I would hide out in the basement, barricaded behind boxes and musty suitcases, terrified that crazy Aunt Fay would somehow find us. For years we lived in fear that during one of her monthly visits to our home my grandmother’s spinster sister would find us. She was kind enough, always bringing us candy and gifts, but she smelled weird. Everything she touched carried the scent. It made me want to throw up. Years later, I was able to identify the pungent aroma as moth balls.

I was asked to go to her home and transport her to a medical appointment. She was ailing, and I suppose that my sense of obligation got the best of me, and I agreed to go. I had planned that she would meet me outside, and then I would assist her into the back seat of the car, purely for safety reasons, and whisk her to the doctor’s, windows open in order to avoid the toxic fallout that regularly seeped out from her pores and enveloped everyone within a 100 foot radius. But, as often happens, the best laid plans get all mucked up.

I arrived and had to go into the house to assist her in getting ready. The entire house was filled with the stench of poison. There were moth balls everywhere, strategically placed in every cupboard, closet and drawer. They were placed in candy dishes and ashtrays scattered about the house, and left loose atop the television and hi-fi. Aunt Fay loved music, and as I rummaged through her collection of assorted alphabetized jazz albums, I found moth balls hidden every few letters. It appeared that this crazy old woman was anticipating some kind of invasion from The Moth People. If she was right, she was clearly well prepared. On the other hand, if she was wrong, then clearly, she was out of her mind.

By the time I got her into the car, after politely refusing her repeated offerings of candies from the mothball laden dishes, I was beginning to experience the effects of exposure to the toxic fumes. I was stomach sick, and my eyes were burning, but it seemed to have no effect on Aunt Fay, who by the way, insisted on sitting in the front seat, claiming she became car sick riding in the back, all the way to the doctor’s office.

She spoke to me about her life and though I have no idea if what she told me was true or just the ramblings of a crazy, old woman, it was an interesting life. She was born in Russia and just as the Bolsheviks mounted their horses, the family fled, and settled in North America. She was a secretary by trade but would  frequent jazz clubs where she appeared as a singer, and claimed to have known Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong. She told me that she also painted, had met a man, got engaged, but unfortunately, he was killed fighting the Nazis in France. And yet, despite her talents and celebrity acquaintances, she had no money, and no current friends to speak of. I felt sorry for her in a way, but I couldn’t be certain that the sympathy was real, and not just the effects of the brain disease I was sure I had developed from inhaling the scent that emanated from her clothing.

Following the appointment, of which she didn’t speak during the ride home, I dropped her off, and we went our separate ways. I didn’t see her again until 6 months later. She had passed away, and at her funeral my brothers and I were asked to be pallbearers. I swear I could smell the moth balls rising up through the sealed casket, burning holes in my head. We all suspected that she died from toxic poisoning, but apparently it was an aneurysm. Interestingly enough, and I suppose it was after I took her to the doctor, she had bequeathed me her jazz albums. It was pretty cool, actually. I still have them all, and on occasion I do listen to those old recordings. I am particularly fond of the 1957 Verve Records recording of Billie Holiday’s ‘Songs For Distingue Lovers’ which, to my surprised is autographed by Ms. Holiday. Or perhaps not. I have often considered the possibility that this crazy, old woman forged the signature herself. It doesn’t really matter though. In the end, she turned out to be okay.