The Doctor Is Out…

by Fielding Goodfellow

I am at that age when shit happens. Not just to me, but to people I have involved in my life. It was sad to learn that the doctor was sick. He was by his own admission, really sick. He had been diagnosed with cancer some time ago and despite beating it back with his love of life and the usual regimen of assorted treatments, it had returned with a vengeance. And anger. It seemed so very angry this time. And while he continued to fight back, he recently discovered that the battle was lost. He began preparing for the end by doing his best to enjoy whatever time he had left. He was like that though. He had survived a stint in the army, a truck load of ex wives, and years of relentless hallucinogen use with a laugh and a story to tell. He said he was okay with it now, and I was certain he was, but it was hard for me to get my head around the fact that the doctor of debauchery and depravity was on his way out.

I called him my friend, but we were really kindred spirits, enjoying life in the theater of the absurd, and travelling across time and space to worlds that existed only in our own minds. We met somewhere on the Oregon trail, balls deep in female loggers, peyote buttons, and a polka music playing drummer who joined us on our journey of paradoxical pandemonium, all in an attempt to rewrite history as we imagined it. We shared our own life stories, our love of science fiction, books, beaver hunting, and music. We traded barbs and snappy retorts, wrapped in sarcasm and irony, and laughed until we forgot what the hell we were laughing about.

I had planned on visiting the good doctor, several times, but it seems I left it too late. Its a shame really, I mean I would have liked to have smuggled the Italian French-Canadian hybrid into Comerica Park and stuffed him full of hot dogs and beer as we watched the Tigers blow a two run lead in the top of the ninth to the Jays. But shit happens. At least we were able to boldly go where no man has gone before. For that I am eternally grateful, but man I hate having to look for a new doctor.

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The 17th Floor

by Fielding Goodfellow

I have wandered through this life travelling the roads less traveled, more often traveled, and, at times, the road that hasn’t been traveled at all. In the haze brought on by years of semi fabulous addiction, I have confronted my demons and come out on the other side of the madness relatively unscathed, with the knowledge that the choices I made would forever be my cross to bear. For those, who through no fault of their own, find themselves drowning in a world they can neither control nor understand, there is little hope that the faint aroma of sanity that lingers in the air while they stumble around in the darkness, will provide any relief for their tortured minds. There were times when I found myself tasting clarity and hope, and there were times when all I could swallow was the confusion and fear. I paid it very little mind however, as I sailed through an imaginary world housed in a sky of blue and a sea of green, that I created with the help of psychedelic hallucinogens.

But the kid is not having it so easy. Unable to out run the unrelenting darkness that often controls her thoughts and envelops her mind like a coastal fog, she has lost her way. Sometimes it just gets too overwhelming, like a thousand voices speaking at once, overloading her senses until the sound is indiscernible. It just becomes noise. That’s how she explains it. That’s what she lives with everyday. So, she sits in an off white and gray room on the 17th floor of St. Michael’s Hospital,  as they seduce her with a variety of psychotropic medications in an attempt to stifle the sounds in her head. She tells me that there are four thousand, three hundred and sixty-two dots on the ceiling tiles, which she has counted several times, and I believe her. She is for now, free of the overwhelming thought that her life is not worth living.

The problem, aside from the shit that’s going on in the kid’s head, is the system itself. It is completely fucked. In the name of progress, which is peculiarly subjective, it has become nothing more than a catch and release program, sending those who have wandered in dark circles out into the light armed only with a pharmaceutical cocktail that leaves them confused and bewildered. She is on the wait list for psychotherapy, and could possibly be waiting for twelve to eighteen months for someone to sit down with her and help work through the disoriented thought processes that have led her to the precipice.  In the meantime she attends groups on mindfulness and goal setting and continues to scarf down handfuls of assorted pills designed to combat her anxiety and depression.  There’s nothing else to do. The unit is bland, and the boredom and desperation that drifts through the corridors is enough to fill anyone with despair. You think that they would try to bring some life and laughter into this circus. A clown or two, or perhaps a couple of puppies would certainly brighten the disturbing melancholy. But the residents of the 17th floor at St. Michael’s Hospital have little else to do other than wander up and down the hallways sharing their stories of depression, anxiety, and angst with each other.

The issue, as I see it, is to discover the cause of those feelings. This is not a new problem. The kid has been on anti-depressants for years, and has been involved in therapy for the customary eight session regimen with no improvement. After almost a decade of suffering she had finally had enough, and stepped out into oncoming traffic. She said that she couldn’t resist the overwhelming urge to do it, but once out on the road, facing the oncoming traffic, she suddenly realized that she didn’t really want to die. Not then, anyway. She continues to ponder taking her own life, as the fear and uncertainty that she must combat daily, continues to strengthen, leaving her very little energy to practice her mindfulness. I continue to visit her, hiding my fear, and anxiety, and guilt. There is an awful lot of guilt, floundering around in all of the what I should have dones and what I could have dones, overshadowed only by the fear that she may try something like this again. I know that she will be released at some point in the near future, and it scares the shit out of me. I don’t know how to keep her safe. and I don’t even know how to talk to her anymore. She just seems so fucking unhappy all of the time. I am afraid that the system will fail her, like it has failed so many others and I am fearful that I won’t be able to fix  the systemic problem that permeates mental health treatment. There is no clarity. The waters have become murky as we devolved in the name of  positive change that should be of benefit to all, yet the cost of that change is so often far beyond the reach of those who would benefit the most.

I wait with very little patience, trying desperately not to shout “wake the fuck up” to the pod of psychiatrists that, while amiable enough as they swim by, are just fucking dickheads. The kid has begged me not to speak with the doctors or nurses for fear that I might embarrass her when I tell them what I really think. I sit quietly, profoundly concerned that she won’t to talk to me, as she works on a ‘feelings’ crossword puzzle. I imagine that she thinks that I’m ashamed or angry. I am neither. In fact I am surprisingly proud of the kid for realizing that she needed help. It took a great deal of strength, and a significant amount of courage to admit it to herself. I think I’ll tell her, and despite the Interns and nurses who seem to spend most of their time tripping the light orgasmic in the storage closet, I think she’ll be alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saddles & Spurs

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

William Temple had been called Billy T since second grade when that shithead Billy Kramer showed up at Rockford Road Public School. Pretty soon everybody was calling him Billy T, including his family, despite the fact that he hated it. But as far back as any of us could remember, he had always been Billy T. Every now and then he would hang around with us on our path of self destruction and spectacular feats of daring. We were, after all anti heroes, protectors of all that was good and right with a dark side, willing to bend or break whatever  stood in our way.

Billy T  was just a little guy who dreamed of being a jockey, although we regularly suggested that he would have made a great midget wrestler. In the days when the world was kept safe by a flying squirrel and a moose, and hipster douches kept their man buns hidden behind closed doors and drawn curtains, I had convinced myself that I had become a gunslinger, hanging around the Ok Coral, fighting off the Clantons, and then encouraging and enticing Billy’s sister, Veronica, to ride me off into the sunset.

It went back to the days of watching westerns with the old man, catching glimpses of Linda Evans in ‘The Big Valley’, and Raquel Welch in ‘100 Rifles’. I was a big fan of westerns, but even then I was more interested in tits and ass than I was in guns and horses. With a head full of pharmaceuticals that took me up and down like an escalator, I was captivated by every movement of Veronica’s body. Particularly the subtle ones, and with her tight jeans, cowboy boots, and white t shirt  that I was certain had been painted on, with the words ‘I LOVE TO RIDE’ printed across her chest, she not only stirred my loins, but whipped and beat them into a state of frenzied excitement. As she rode past, with tits heaving in rhythmic harmony to the horse’s gait and thighs tightly clamped around the mare, the salute in my pants stood at full attention.

“Interested in a ride today?”, she asked as she passed.

“Only if you’re the guide.”, I replied.

“Think you can handle one with an attitude?”, she questioned.

“Are we talking about the horse or the guide?”, I inquired.

“You’re funny.”, she told me. And while Billy T, Farberman, and Tate stood by the fence that circled the coral, Veronica and I headed into the stable to saddle up some horses.

Billy T was the first one out of the barn and man could he ride. He was almost standing with his feet firmly in the stirrups with no weight on the animal’s back. He said that it gave him more control and it was easier on the horse to ride that way but it didn’t appeal to me. Not one bit. I preferred to ride with the reckless abandon of the Spaghetti Western, to simply jump on and ride like fuck. The horses never really seemed to mind. Old cowboy tunes started playing in my head as Veronica led us through the ravine and across the creek. It happened every time I got on a horse. This time it was Gene Autry’s ‘Back In The Saddle Again’ and ‘I’ve Got Spurs’ melding together to create one somewhat indiscernible song, although I suppose it could have simply been the pills.  Not that it mattered. The sun was up, the air was clean and sweet, and Veronica was galloping towards me with her long, dark hair flowing in the breeze, and her wonderful tits bouncing up and down like balloons riding a wave, hypnotizing me into a state of total submission.

“Billy T’s hurt.”, she shouted as she raced past. “I gotta get help.” Tate , Farberman and I headed off to where we had last seen Billy T, and there he was, laying on the ground just a few feet from the embankment with his leg all bent and twisted, his riding crop still in his hand.

“You okay?”, Farberman asked.

“Do I look okay?”, Billy T responded, motioning to his leg.

“What the hell happened?”, Tate inquired.

“I don’t know.”, Billy T told us. “It was weird. All of a sudden the horse just reared up and I went flying across the field. It was like he got spooked or something. I think there’s something down in the ravine.”

Help arrived in the form of two ranch hands who loaded Billy T onto a flatbed and transported him to the hospital. Tate and Farberman headed down into the ravine in search of whatever might be down there, while Veronica and I followed the makeshift ambulance to the hospital. She was beautiful when she was worried, and despite the fact that Billy T was probably going to lose a leg, all I could think about was introducing her to the hard on I had been carrying around for most of the day. We sat in silence for a while, with me thinking about taking the official tour of her body, and Veronica probably thinking about her brother’s mangled leg, until the conversation unexpectedly took a turn that I never saw coming. “How come you’ve never hit on me?”, she asked.

“What do you mean?”, I asked her.

“Well”, she continued, “you never make comments about my body or make any rude remarks about what you want to do to me. Don’t you like me?”

“Are you kidding me?”, I asked. “Of course I like you. All day long I’ve been walking around with a hard on. Just looking at you makes me hot as hell.”

“I can take care of that for you.”, she assured me.

“Now?”, I inquired.

“Why not?”, she replied. “We’re here, we’re alone, and you’re certainly ready.”, she continued as she rubbed her hand across my crotch. We popped some Benzedrine and jumping into the back seat of the car set off on a journey of rowdy, western sex complete with the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, and some of the dirtiest talk I had ever heard as she rode me off into a glorious sunset. By the time we reached the hospital, Billy T had his leg immobilized and stabilized, and was scheduled for surgery the next day.

Tate and Farberman found nothing in the ravine other than poison ivy or poison oak. Either way, their arms were red, swollen and itchy. Billy T. had a metal rod and several pins inserted in his leg, making it relatively useless, and ending his dream of being a jockey. He never rode again, but he wound up designing some kind of safety device to protect jockeys from falls, and is still very much involved in the horse racing industry. Tate went on to become a writer, publishing several books, and moved in with an artist named Ramona. Farberman continued with his scientific interests and found work with the government until his untimely and suspicious disappearance. Veronica continued leading trail rides at Rocking Horse Ranch, and started dating one of the ranch hands. We never slept together again, and to be honest, I was already beginning to lose interest in her. I suppose that it all just disappeared like a puff of smoke. She was an insanely fun ride, but she really had nothing else to offer me. She was somewhat of an idiot. I saw her once or twice more in passing, and while we were cordial, I had no interest in talking to her. I would have continued banging the hell out of her if she would have let me, but she was taking her new found relationship with Festus or Cleetus or whatever the ranch hand’s name was quite seriously. Years later I heard that she had joined some traveling rodeo show and had come out of the closet as a card carrying member of the League Of Lesbians. I continued my life as a gun slinging anti hero, travelling a path of self destruction while engaging in spectacular feats of daring for many years, and often times find myself inadvertently walking that path again. I’m not surprised really, I mean, we always seem to go back to what we know and who we are. The rest is all just pretense and make believe, and at this stage of my life I have no time for that shit.

The Road To Sedation

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

She liked to tease me by sitting on the arm rest of the couch wearing one of my shirts and nothing else, with her legs spread slightly apart, just enough for me to see the prize that lay there. I liked it too. That was just her kind of foreplay, a little game of ‘look what I have for you, later’ that never ended the way she had imagined it would. Despite a feigned struggle to defend her virtue which had long since been lost, later arrived much sooner than she had planned.

I suppose that I should start at the beginning. Gabrielle was a graduate student majoring in contemporary English literature who asked if she could interview me as part of her thesis even though I was not English or contemporary. I was merely a drug infused scribbler of fables and foibles, which I was certain she would quickly uncover. Twenty minutes into an interview that took place at The Blue Parrot, she asked me why I became a writer. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “I have a lot of pens.”,

“Are you ever serious?”, she asked.

“I’m always serious.”, I told her.  “That’s not humor you’re hearing. That’s sarcasm.”

“Are you always sarcastic?”, she queried.

“As often as possible.”, I informed her. She laughed, we drank, and I took her home. We sailed through the Sea of Space and the Sea of Time that night, most likely a direct result of the peyote we had consumed in the cab and now, faced with the delightful task of traveling through her seemingly endless desires, I took up residence in the paradise between her thighs while she took up permanent residence in my one bedroom apartment. Not that I minded, I mean she was wickedly improvisational in bed, and wonderfully astute at keeping up with my constantly derailing train of thought.

“I think I think I’d like to be a nihilist.”, she blurted out one evening.

“Not likely.”, I replied. “I don’t believe nihilists enjoy sex.”

“Really?”, she asked.

“I think one would be hard pressed to find a couple of nihilists who thought there was any point to it.”, I replied. “And I’m not sure they’d have the energy. Its a lot of hard work to maintain that level of pessimism and skepticism. Now, if you put a bunch of naked hedonists in a room, well, then you’d have an orgy of epic proportions.”

“We should try it.”, she said.

“I thought we just did.”, I responded.

“I mean we should have an orgy.”, she clarified.

“Generally speaking, I’m not comfortable getting naked around other men.”, I told her.

“Me either.”, she replied. “I was thinking more of a couple of other women.” There have been very few moments when I have felt like jumping into the air and screaming with joy. This was one of those times. “That would still be an orgy, right?”, she asked.

“The best kind.”, I advised. And that was just how it was. Everything just seemed to be that easy.

Sometimes we would wander down Yonge Street and sifted through the bins at A & A’s and Sam The Record Man, or wandered through Yorkville, stopping to sit on a stoop somewhere near where The Riverboat or The Penny Farthing once stood where you would have been able to listen to the flower children sitting cross legged across the road singing songs about peace and contentment, The music filled the street back then, and sitting there under the shadows of the high priced hotels and high end retailers, and under the influence of drugs that made us larger and smaller and opened our minds and eyes, Gabrielle put her head on my shoulder, and clasped her hands around my forearm. We were living in our own time of sex, and drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.  As we drifted away on a drug induced calm we could sit there for hours, still amazed by Sergeant Pepper, Pet Sounds, and The Yes Album.  We remained silent for as long as we could, but sometimes shit just happens.

“I think I want to have a baby.”, she whispered.

“A baby what?”, I asked.

“A baby.”, she continued, “Our baby. You know, a kid.” Thoughts were racing around my head, too fast for me to grab hold of any one of them. I knew I wasn’t ready for this, and I had always been certain that I had no real emotional attachment to Gabrielle. It was all just about the sex really, the wonderfully perverse, sweaty sex. I didn’t love her. She was merely a joyride in the road trip that had been my life. I struggled to find anything to say. Nothing seemed appropriate.

“I’m not ready for this, Gabbi.”, I told her.

“Well I suppose I can wait until you;re ready”, she said.  A shot went off in my head like a rocket exploding, and I realized that I had no choice but to tell her what I had always hoped I would never have to say.

“Here’s the thing”, I began.. “I probably should have said something a long time ago, but I don’t love you. I just don’t have those kind of feelings for you.”

“What?”, she asked. “All this time I’ve been falling in love with you, planning a life with you and you didn’t think it was important to let me know that you have no feelings for me!”

“I don’t know what you want me to say”, I told her.

“I don’t want you to say anything. You’re such an asshole.”, she said as she stood up and walked away.

I sat on that stoop for a long time, trying to sort it all out. When I returned to the apartment, all of her things were gone. I looked for her at the University, I suppose to apologize for what she saw as leading her on, but her friends informed me that she had left school and moved back home, although no one seemed to know exactly where that was. I never saw or spoke to her again and, while I had managed to leave it all somewhere in the psychedelic sedation of the hallucinogens I would routinely abuse every now and then, when I hear ‘Perpetual Change’ I thank God that I was such an asshole and let her walk away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feet First

by Solomon Tate

“I think my body’s starting to get old.”, my wife informed me.

“No way.”, I told her. “It looks fine to me.”

“I’m glad you think so.”, she said. “But stuff’s starting to drop and sag. At least my feet are still perfect.”, she added. “Look at how cute they are.”

“They’re adorable.”, I responded.

“No, really.”, she went on, sensing my sarcasm. ” Each toe is perfectly spaced from the one before.They’re absolutely perfect.”

“Well I know it thrills the shit out of me. Do you want some tea?”, I asked as I headed into the kitchen.

“No thanks.”, she replied. “I think I’m going to have to measure them to make sure they’re perfect.”

My wife has always had a thing about her feet. Me, well, not so much. I am not a foot person. But in the lifetime I have spent with this woman, I have feigned an appreciation for them, with particular emphasis on her toes. “It’s amazing.”, she said as I returned to the bedroom to see her holding a tape measure against her foot. “My toes are perfectly spaced.”

“I always thought so.”, I stated.

“You have to see this.”, she insisted as she measured the height of each toe. “See. They’re perfectly proportional.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”, I said. “I’m really not a foot person. If you want me to examine your thighs, I could be enticed to give it a whirl.”,

“I know you would.”, she acknowledged. “And I appreciate the gesture. But we’re talking about my feet.”

“Perhaps you should become a foot model.”, I advised her.

“Maybe I should.”, she said.

“You’d have to get them insured first.”, I suggested. “Like Jennifer Lopez’s ass, or Heidi Klum’s legs.”

“Really? I can do that?”, she asked.

“If they are cute and perfect enough to be modeled, they’re gonna be worth millions.”, I informed her. “What would happen if you developed Athlete’s Feet, or lost a few toes in a wood chipper? Ten toes should be worth about ten million dollars if they were no longer so cute and perfect.”

“I don’t think my feet are worth much.”, she informed me. “Not yet anyway. I’ll look into it if I start to get a lot of work.”

And then, without any notice, she decided to do it. I should have anticipated it, I mean, she gets like that. She immersed herself in learning everything she could about becoming a foot model. She contacted several agencies, and managed to secure an agent. A shoot was arranged to build a portfolio that could be submitted to potential advertising agencies that involved three and half hours of photographing her feet in various foot wear and nail polish. Comments were made about just how perfect her feet were. They were so perfect, that there were even some nudes taken of her feet, which I assumed were to be used in the adult foot industry. Not long after, she was offered a job to model a line of toe nail polish. She was excited as hell, and I suppose, I was proud of her.

A few days before the shoot there was a crisis. The unimaginable happened. It was catastrophic. “Look at this!”, she shouted.

“What?”, I asked.

“My big toe.”, she explained as she pointed. “What the hell is that on my toe?”

“Shit.”, I said. “I think its a callous.”

“How the hell did I get a callous?”, she asked. “What am I supposed to do now?”

“There’s not much you can do until you get it scrapped off.” I said. “I think its a pretty simple procedure.”

“I can’t have a scar.”, she advised. “No one wants a foot model with big scar on her foot.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.”, I said. “I don’t think there’s any scaring. The doctor just shaves it down. See what the doctor has to say.”

“The shoot is in two days.”, she reminded me.

“I know.”, I said with as much support as I could muster.

It turns out the callous was not a callous. It was a bunion. It could not be treated in the two days left before the shoot. My wife was forced to decline the job offer. The bunion was treated, but she received no further offers. It appears that she was blacklisted due to foot problems. It seems that having foot problems is not conducive to being a foot model no matter how perfect or cute your feet are. The dream was over. “I should have taken out the foot insurance.”, she told me.

She retired her feet, but still sits on our bed, in the wee hours of the night, and talks to me about her feet. She continues to measure them on a regular basis to ensure that they remain cute and perfect. I nod and grunt in agreement, patiently waiting for her to notice just how perfect her thighs are.

Cheating Death

 

by Solomon Tate

I lost one of my peers a while ago. While vacationing in Mexico with his wife, children and grandchildren, death swooped in as Jack was on his way to  a family dinner, and took his life as he collapsed on the hotel room floor. And now, another one was now gone. Another one of my peers had been snatched away to meet his maker. Graham woke in the morning, sat up in bed, clutched his chest, and that was it. There was nothing else. His wife did all she could to save him, performing CPR, calling 911, but it was of no use. He was gone before EMS arrived. Franklin, a writer friend, met a similar fate earlier this year, suffering a massive coronary as he sat at his desk typing. They all must have been aware that death had come for them, and as they futilely tried to cling on to life, if only for a second, the crushing fear of the unknown arrived, leaving them lost and alone in the anguish.

And that is, as I have come to discover, how death works. It does not come with an invitation to a sporting game of chess, but instead creeps up when you least expect it, with hooded cape and scythe in hand. There have been times when I have found myself obsessed with it. Times when I was so afraid of death, that I became too frightened to live my life. And as my friends and colleagues begin to shed their mortal coil, I can’t help but wonder why death can’t arrive peacefully and perhaps just a little more personably.

It would be a lot less unnerving if death arrived as an amiable, elderly man dressed in a pair of jeans and a tie-dyed tee shirt, looking like Bernie Sanders and sounding like Billy Connolly, willing to take his chances on a few hands of winner take all Texas Hold ‘Em or a few rounds of Hungry Hungry Hippo, while I sit at the kitchen table, with aces and marbles shoved up my sleeves, with no qualms about cheating death. Or perhaps we could sit by the television, drinking magic mushroom tea and watching a short film entitled ‘So, What Happens Now?’, directed by Ed Wood and starring The Marx Brothers.

If death is to arrive with maliciousness and malevolence, my friends would have been better off passing away in their sleep, ignorant of its arrival and spared from the fear that hangs heavy at one’s demise. Death is heartlessly cruel and perhaps that is why we spend most of our time here doing anything and everything we can to avoid it. As I question my own mortality, I am pretty sure that I don’t want to know the fear. I don’t want to know when death decides to pay me a visit, and under no circumstances will I be opening the door. I will be peering through the peephole in my front door, completely silent, with the hope that he will simply go away. If not, I can only hope that I am so messed up on peyote that it doesn’t really matter anyway. Given half a chance, I’m sure that Jack, and Graham, and Franklin would have preferred to go out that way as well.

 

 

Dream On…

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

I had a dream. It wasn’t one of those profoundly, visionary dreams about social justice or the salvation of humanity, but it was still worthy of a heavenly chorus of angels. No, it was better than that. It deserved a ‘Be My Baby’ chorus of The Ronettes. It was an epic dream. I carried it with me for years and years, despite the many times that life had kicked me in the nuts without a second thought as I dragged my tired ass out of Madame Lee’s Pleasure Dome where you could get the one hour Pussy Cat Special and a raging case of genital warts for one hundred dollars, all while listening to synthetic 60s cover tunes by The Pervasive Taoist Orchestra or The Shanghai Swing Quartet.

Emily stood by a door, appearing dazed and confused by what was going on around her. It was obvious that she really didn’t want to be where she was. We connected from the first time we spoke. She had the heart of a poet, and was a self proclaimed environmentalist, vegetarian, and feminist, even though none of it was fashionable at the time. Her tortured soul and the sordid secrets she had been keeping propelled her into the world found at the bottom of an alcohol saturated rabbit hole filled with assorted drugs and Cheshire cats. We were floating back then without really going anywhere, circling fields of white rabbits and Mad Hatters and the occasional caterpillar armed with a hookah, though none of it really seemed to make any sense to either of us.

We spent a lot of time together, wandering around the Fish Hatchery and the small water fall nearby, but Emily was most comfortable just hanging out and getting high while we listened to Yes, or The Beatles. She was a fun high, all smiles and giggles but interested in everything. We talked for hours on end and neither of us ever seemed to grow tired of it. She was insanely hot, and while I toyed with thoughts of depravity and debauchery, quite surprisingly and totally out of character, I was more interested in her friendship than the amusement park that lay nestled between her thighs. We were, it appeared to me, kindred spirits. I had lived many lives, and I had played many roles. I had been many things to many people. I had, much like Sinatra, been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. I had played each of these parts in the only manner I could, and I had no doubt that they all served to take me exactly to where I was supposed to be.  I was sure that it was with Emily at that time and place, and I was just as certain that she would remain a part of my life forever.

She had an edge about her though, an anger that she carried deep within, masking it with smiles and laughter and I suspect getting high. She never told me much about her past, but it seemed like she was always trying to forget something. The sixty days we spent together were some of the best times of my life, and when we went our separate ways, we promised to keep in touch. We did for a while. I visited her in her home town a couple of times, and she came up to see me a few times as well. In between there was some letter writing and an occasional phone call until she moved overseas and, as inevitably happens, we lost touch. I tried to find her, but after thirty-five years or so had passed, I pretty much had given up. More than anything, I wanted to see her again. I wanted to know that she was alright, that she had beaten her demons and that she was happy and at peace. And that was my dream, just to be sure that she was finally okay.

A few years ago, she found me, and we reconnected. We talked as if we had spoken everyday for thirty-five years. She told me her secret and I understood the anger. I wished I had known back then. I wish I could have helped her, but I suppose she just wasn’t ready to deal with it then. We talk often, although not as much as I would like to, and she is happy and at peace. She is married to a great guy, and together they have a busload of kids scattered across two continents, and a van load of grandchildren. She is still interested in everything, and continues to amaze me with her involvement in service to others. There is a plan for her to come for a visit sometime soon, and I really hope it happens. If not, well that will be okay I mean that dream of mine from all of those years ago came true. And that is certainly more than enough.

 

Brunch At The Constellation Hotel

 

by Solomon Tate

The old man loved the brunch at The Constellation Hotel although I really don’t know why. It was over priced and only moderately edible, but every Sunday morning, for almost a year, he could be found in the dining room eating waffles. I had recently returned from another year of Bohemian adventures in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Paris, wasted on mind altering drugs, while hanging out in cafes drinking incredibly strong coffee, smoking French cigarettes, and talking philosophy and literature, while waiting for night fall to dive balls deep into divas and debutantes. I had returned with my hair longer than it had ever been, and a full beard. It was a far cry from sitting at a table in The Constellation Hotel dining room high as fuck, waiting for waffles with my family. My mother upon seeing me for the first time in twelve months proclaimed “Oh, look. Jesus has come back from the dead.” My brother had a very different perception.

“You just can’t spend all of your time getting high and getting laid.”,  he informed me.

“Ah, Hell”, I replied. “I’m pretty sure I can.”

“What about the future?”, he pressed.

“Well”, I said, “there will probably be different drugs and different women”, but I suppose it will pretty much deliver the same result.”

The young, blonde server with a wonderful pair of tits arrived at the table and was busily pouring coffee as she looked over and smiled at me. I smiled back, She left the table and returned a few moments later and placed a large glass of orange juice and placing it in front of me, brushed her boobs across my upper arm. “I thought you might like some juice. Its on the house.”, she informed me as she smiled. “If there’s anything else you want, just let me know,”, she said.

“How about your phone number.”, I replied.

“I was hoping you’d ask.”, she said as she wrote something on a piece of paper, folded it, and after handing it to me walked off.

“What the hell was that?”, my sister-in-law asked. “That girl is all over him.”

The conversation at the table, as it always did, turned to politics. The old man believed he was a liberal but there was a significant conservative bent. He supported social services, but only for those who didn’t really seem to need them. We argued about this regularly, and it drove him close to madness that I was a such a social democrat. He had, in the past, referred to me as a Socialist, a Communist and a Marxist. I did not however prescribe to any political ideology. My beliefs were simply that people, regardless of their beliefs, should take care of each other. I had toyed with the idea of having a tattoo of Harpo Marx etched into my left butt cheek and as I sat silently listening to the banter around the table, with all of them spewing out obtuse factoids that they believed would illustrate their points of view which, not surprisingly, were identical to the old man’s, I decided to go through with it. Just because.  It was a wonderfully bizarre and surreal trip down the road to insanity as they affirmed an uncanny fascist belief system coupled with the need for socialized health care, and I suppose being so messed up on peyote made it seemed like I was watching one of those  propaganda films made by the government that were so poular in the public school system in the 1950s and 1960s.

The note the young blonde server with the wonderful tits had given me contained her phone number and an invitation to join her in the coat room on the mezzanine level.  “Well”, I thought, “The coat room it is.” There was a door that led into the room, which she advised was never used in the summer. She took my hand and led me in and, as we sat down on some folding chairs, she put her tongue down my throat. I caressed her cheek and her hair, while she took off her shirt and fell in front of me on her knees.

The old man was furious when I returned to the table. “Where’s that waitress?”, he asked. “Is she working here or not?” She reappeared just as he finished talking with waffles for everyone, incessantly smiling at me. “There’s something wrong with that girl.”, the old man stated. “What the hell is she always smiling about?”

“She’s smiling at your son.”, my sister-in-law informed him. “She’s got the hots for our Jesus.”

“Well perhaps he should give her the tip.”, the old man said.

“I’m sure he’s already given her more than just the tip”, my brother answered.

“Indeed.”, I replied. “And judging by the smile on her face, I’m pretty sure I’ll be giving it to her again.”

“You’re such a pig.”, my sister-in-law declared.

“I know.”, I told her.

When they were ready to leave, I said my goodbyes to the family, and set off to play another round of carnal coat room with the young, blonde waitress with the wonderful tits. I saw her a few more times after that day, but once she wanted to meet me outside of the coat room at The Constellation Hotel, I lost interest. I continued to see my family off and on for the next 40 years or so and I occasionally cut my hair and shaved, if only to appease my mother. Once my parents had passed, everything sort of went to shit. I don’t really know who’s to blame, but I don’t think it makes any difference anyway. Shit just happens. The Constellation Hotel which saw its heyday come and go, was closed and demolished in 2012 and on the site sits an empty lot. In a way its really quite sad, I mean, the old man loved the brunches there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What About The Kids?

 

“What about the kids?”, my wife asked.

“What kids?”, I replied.

“Your kids.”, she told me. “Our kids. Remember them?”

“Uh huh.”, I answered. “What about them?”

“I’m not sure we can go away and leave them here alone?”

“Well, there’s no way I’m taking them with.”, I informed her.

“What if they burn the house down?”, she asked. And there it was, her obsessive fear of the house burning down. It was almost impossible to overcome. It was her belief that a fire would start in the kitchen as a result of the misuse of the kitchen appliances. Therefore, it stood to reason that if we were home, or if at least one of us was at home, the house would be saved from destruction. She had established very strict rules regarding the use of the kitchen appliances, which she routinely enforced by patrolling the kitchen like a a game warden, keeping a watchful eye for perpetrators and those she suspected were about to violate her rules.

She regularly ventures into the kitchen just to check what temperature the oven is set on, and if it is higher than three hundred and fifty degrees, she turns it down. It means nothing to her that the directions clearly stated to cook at four hundred and twenty five. It is not permitted. The choices are to cook it thirty to forty minutes longer, or eat it under cooked. And every fifteen minutes, like clockwork, she makes the obligatory trip back to the kitchen, opens the oven door and checks on the status of the food inside, lest it be burning, and in the process aggravates and agitates anyone who is cooking at the time.

The broiler is completely off limits. It has been deemed too dangerous for us to use as she fears the five hundred degree temperature it cooks at the most. Stove top cooking is only permissible if the burner is set at no more than a number six. Frying is permitted depending on her level of paranoia, and had been very close to being outlawed altogether. There was an incident. Nothing significant, but for my wife it was confirmation of the impending doom that can result from unauthorized cooking.

“Is somebody cooking something?”, she asked late one evening.

“I don’t know.”, I answered.

“Well”, she continued, “I smell something burning.”

“You always smell something’s burning.” It was uncanny really. She could smell something burning before it actually started burning. It was one of her many gifts, a sort of ‘something’s burning’ savant. “Nothing’s burning.”, I told her. “No one’s home except the two of us.”

“I have to go check.”, she stated as she got up out of bed.

“Well?”, I asked as she returned from her trip to the kitchen.

“You have to check that you turn the burner off!”, she exclaimed. “You dropped something in the bottom and left it on. At number eight! Its never to go above six. We’ve been over this. Five would be better, but I’m trying to be reasonable. The entire kitchen is filled with smoke. Next time you might just burn the whole place down.”

“I hope not.”, I replied. “I don’t think I’ll live long enough to hear all of the lectures.”

“This is why we can’t go away.”, she continued. “None of you pay attention to what you’re doing. The kids are too lazy to check and you, well, you just can’t remember what you’re doing anymore.”

“Well then”, I suggested. “We’ll just have to order in.” I went into the kitchen to check the extensive smoke damaged created by a crumb sitting under a hot burner. It was not filled with smoke. I was hard pressed to find any smoke at all. There was however, to my wife’s credit, the faint odor of something having been burnt, and in the bottom of the burner, there was, oh hell no, a solitary penne noodle. It was burnt. It was badly burnt. I gave it last rites, the best funeral I could, with full military honors and a burial at sea.

We can still fry, despite her misgivings, however she did implement a buddy system. There must be two people in the kitchen at all times, with one of them assigned to ensuring the temperature settings are within limits, and that everything is turned off when completed.

“I think she needs help.”, one of my daughters disclosed as she stood there as my cooking buddy while I made chicken parmigiana.

“She’ll be alright.”, I told her. “She just worries about safety.”

“She’s out of her mind.”, she explained. “Its an electric oven. There’s no flame or fire. Does she think that the food is going to spontaneously combust?” It was hard to argue with that, and I agreed to speak with my wife.

“I need to talk to you about something.”, I said as I entered the bedroom.

“Are you done in the kitchen?”, she asked anxiously.

“It will take thirty minutes to cook, and the oven is set at three hundred.”, I said. “Its under control. Are you alright with that?”

“For the time being.”, she replied.

“Good. I think you need to relax the cooking rules a little.”, I advised. “Its making everyone a nervous wreck.”

“I can’t help it.”, she said.

“I know.”, I reminded her. “But we really are pretty careful. I just don’t think we can ever meet the expectations you’v e set for us. We’re going to make mistakes, but in all of the years we’ve been cooking, there has never been a fire.”

“That’s because I’m always running into the kitchen and checking on everything.”, she informed me.

“No.”, I replied. “Its because we really do know what we’re doing. I just think you can let up a little.”

“How?”, she asked.

“Well, for one, stop running into the kitchen to check on everything all of the time. You can go in the kitchen to make a tea or something and check on stuff, you know, make it less obvious. And stop telling the kids what to do and how to do it. They’re not little kids. They’re all grown up.”

“So, the kids are complaining?”, she inquired.

“Ya, they are.”, I answered.

“And what about you?”, she questioned.

“Well you can check on me as often as you need to, and you can give me shit whenever you feel like it. Just like its been since the day we got married. Can you live with that?”

“I suppose.”, she said. “But the broiler is still off limits.”

“Agreed.”, I replied.

“Don’t you think you should go and check the chicken you left in the oven?”, she asked.

“On my way.”, I told her. She was surprisingly calm, and I hoped that she would be okay. Over dinner I brought up the weekend trip again.

“Alright.”, she said. “We’ll go to Niagara On The Lake for the weekend.” I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised.

“I’m glad.”, I told her. “And I think it will be good for you.”

“Well”, she continued, “It took some work and some planning but, my mother will come and stay with the kids until we get back.”

“Okay.”, I replied. “That’s sounds like a plan.”

“Ya, and they will be ordering in all weekend.”, she advised me.

“Really?”, I inquired.

“Ya.”, she went on to explain. “We will be removing the circuit for the oven when we leave. They won’t be able to cook with it all weekend.”

“Well its nice to see that you have overcome your fear of the house burning down.”, I told her as sarcastically as I could.

“Ya”, she stated, “It wasn’t really as difficult as I thought it would be.”

 

Mr. Lewis & The Garden Gnomes

by Fielding Goodfellow

Mr. Lewis stood on his front lawn looking at the weird gnomes spread out across the front garden . I never really paid much attention to them as a kid, but visiting the neighborhood years later, messed up on peyote, mushrooms, or some other hallucinogenic, I noticed the little bastards standing there, glaring at me with insidious grins, trying to hide behind the plants and flowers. There was something about those little shits that I didn’t like and I suppose they scared the hell out of me. They all had those weird little eyes that seemed to follow me wherever I went.

Mr. Lewis had been the neighborhood Homeland Security expert for years. He had fought off Nazis, fire ants, raccoons and had orchestrated the successful campaign to repel the field mouse invasion of ’65. I was pretty sure that he knew what he was talking about, despite his breakdown in ’68 in which he put his mind aside for just a minute and when he went to retrieve it, it was gone.

“I hate those little shits.”, he said. Since his breakdown Mr. Lewis had become a little histrionic in his paranoia, and as we stood there on his lawn, he shared his theory that the gnomes that had sprouted up in gardens up and down the street were involved in some sort of diabolical plot to takeover the neighborhood for reasons still unknown, with the ultimate goal of conquering the planet. Or alternately, they were used by the government to spy on all of us, a sort of Big Brother is watching scenario. Either way,  Mr. Lewis was deeply concerned. “We have to do something about it now?”, he stated.

“Like what?”, I asked.

“We have to take these fuckers out.”, he explained. “Every single one of them. We must rid ourselves of the disease.”  He was certain that they would soon be everywhere, watching our every move from gardens up and down the painfully dull suburban street, replacing all of the pink flamingos and lawn jockeys that had graced the lawns so proudly when I was growing up. And though I was still under the influence of the drugs I had taken, Mr. Lewis clearly had still not found his missing mind. But he did come up with a plan. “I’m gonna set the little bastards on fire and incinerate them into nothingness.

“Stop filling his head with your crazy ideas.”, the over sexed and under satisfied Becky Lewis shouted at him as she stepped out of the garden wearing nothing but a flimsy nightgown. It had been a while since I had visited her suburban paradise and I had almost forgotten just how hot she really was.

“Go put some clothes on.”, Mr. Lewis shouted back. “Can’t you see there’s someone here?”

“I’m sure there’s nothing I have that he hasn’t seen before.”, she replied. It was true. Over the years I had spent many days and the occasional night parked between those milky white thighs. She was the first of the neighbor mothers I had ventured into. It had always been a simple and amicable arrangement, I mean there was no bullshit, no drama, and no uneasiness. Everything had always been pretty straight forward. I brought the drugs and the wood, and she provided everything else. Despite the years that had passed, she still had the same coy smile and ‘fuck me’ eyes.

The early morning calm was shattered by an explosion so loud that it echoed through the usually amiable neighborhood driving the locals out of their homes and into the street. Becky Lewis was standing on her driveway with her hands covering her mouth. “Look.”, she shouted. “Look.” A cloud of smoke billowed up from the ground at the end of the street, as the sound of the sirens in the distance grew louder. And every single gnome had been removed from the lawns and gardens.

“The crazy bastard did it.”, I thought.  “Where’s Mr. Lewis?”, I asked Becky.

“I don’t know.”, she replied. “He went out last night, and I don’t think he came home.”

“Well this is getting way too weird to handle straight.”, I said.

“Ya, I wouldn’t mind getting wasted.”, she agreed.

I have no idea just how much peyote we did, but the evolving nightmare of the garden gnomes no longer seemed to be as interesting as Mrs. Edberg’s cat who, although I had never noticed before, had a head on each end of his body or the coyote who seemed to be suffering from ADHD and bore a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia, that was busy trying to paint a false tunnel on the Malkin’s garage door.

The Police had roped off the street making it impossible for any of us to wander down to the fire scene and were now on the street talking to everyone in an attempt to uncover what the hell went on here. I was a little concerned that I may be hauled away based on what I was holding, but thanks to Becky’s semi covered tits and ass, they didn’t even know I was there. “My husband is missing.”, Becky informed the police. “And so is his car. Did they find anything at the fire?” The police were unable to answer any of her questions, and merely reported that the fire department had the fire under control and an investigation was under way.

I was sitting on the sidewalk in front of Becky’s house when the police returned to speak with her. Mr. Lewis’ car had indeed been found at the scene, and was most likely the source of the explosion we had heard earlier in the day. It was destroyed. There were human remains found inside the car, which they would be unable to identify without an autopsy and forensics. “This is all that survived the fire.”, an officer stated as he pulled a partially singed gnome out of a bag. “Have you seen this before?”, he asked us.

“It looks just like Richard!”, she exclaimed. “My husband.” It really did resemble Mr. Lewis, albeit without a left arm and one partially melted foot.

The investigation revealed that fire was intentionally set. Gasoline was used to ignite the fire inside the vehicle, which set off the ensuing explosion. The body found inside was identified as Richard Lewis through dental records. His death was ruled a suicide, although they were unable to explain all of the melted gnomes in the car.

Becky was allowed to keep the sole remaining gnome, that looked so much like her husband, and shortly after the funeral she put the house up for sale. When she moved, she left the gnome in the front garden, buried up to its knees, hiding behind the plants and flowers, in an attempt to ward off any other extraterrestrial garden decorations. It was probably a good idea to leave Richard there, I mean, all he ever wanted to do was to do was to protect the neighborhood. I never saw Becky Lewis again, but several years later when I returned to the neighborhood to settle my parents’ estate, I found the garden gnome that looked like Mr. Lewis still standing at attention, watching over the street that he loved. I still have no idea if he was right or not, but he was willing to give his life for a cause he believed in. Crazy or not, a man just can’t be any better than that.