The Talking Dead

 

There is weird, and there’s spending an afternoon at the cemetery with my wife. There’s no particular reason for it, she just likes to go. She says its the only place she can go where she can get any peace. She says that its the only place she can go where spirits aren’t constantly whispering in her ear. I always thought that spirits would be all over a cemetery, but apparently I have always been mistaken. She says that the spirits leave the bodies and make their way to the other side long before burial. Even when they come back, they never return to where the body is interred. Sometimes she says that we should pack a lunch and eat at either of the two nearby cemeteries. Sometimes I wish that I could talk her out of going in the first place. Its not that I mind if she does her thing, but it all just gives me the willies.

The sky was insanely blue and the sun shone brighter than I thought it had a right to, and the universe seemed to have lined up all of the ducks into a single row and managed to create a fucking, spectacular day for us to picnic at the Necropolis. We sat on a bench eating veal on a bun as we gazed at the grave sides of Capt. John Andrew McRae and his beloved wife, Catherine. “If you listen closely” my wife said, “you won’t hear a thing.”

“I expected nothing less.” I said. “After all, it is a cemetery.” But she was right. If you really listened, there wasn’t any sound. There was no wind rustling through the trees, and there were chirping birds. There was nothing, and it was pretty fucking weird. We walked along the pathways that wound through the myriad of headstones that often seemed untended and occasionally illegible.  She said that sometimes she could pick up latent energy from the graves. She said that this was often a message indicating a troubled spirit who was unable to rest. She said that sometimes these restless souls get angry. I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, but I was pretty sure that I wanted no part of any of it.  Suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks. The color seemed to drain out of her face, and she burst into tears. Right in front of the final resting place of William Tyrell. Now I had spent a great deal of my life traversing space and time and as I wandered through assorted dimensions I discovered that while life races past at warp speed returning us full circle to where we began, its the attractions that make it all worthwhile, and not the journey itself. Sooner or later the lights of this amusement park will go out and I had always tried not to miss a single ride. This was not, however one of the attractions that I had any interest in riding. Sometimes you just have to pass.

She stood there crying for what seemed like forever, unable to speak. I held her until she stopped. She told me that she had been overcome with an intense feeling of sadness. She said that it enveloped her like a blanket and she just couldn’t seem to get it off. She was shaking. “I think we should go.” I said.

“Not yet.” she said. “I can’t explain it, but I feel like something’s here.” For me, that was the sign that it was time to leave, but for my wife, well she had yet to meet a ghost she wouldn’t want to talk with.  She stood there for a long time waiting, although I have no idea what she was waiting for, while I smoked and  polished off her iced tea.

“We should go now.” she said as she turned and started walking quickly across the cemetery grounds. She seemed afraid or worried, or both, and I followed close behind. She didn’t stop until we walked out the front gate, and stood on the sidewalk.

“What the hell is going on?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” she said. “Something was there. I don’t know what it was but it wasn’t good.”

“Are you alright?” I asked.

“I’ll be okay.” she said. “But that was pretty weird. I wish you could have felt it.” She could never understand just how happy I was that I couldn’t.

“I’m not doing this again.” I said.

“I know.” she said. “But I have to. Sometimes they talk to me. Sometimes they need my help.”

“Can we just go home?” I asked.

“Soon.” she said.

“I just want to go, now.” I repeated.

“In a minute.” she shouted back. “I thought we’d get a soft serve from the ice cream truck over there. Do you want one.”

“Ya. I suppose.” I said. “Medium chocolate vanilla swirl.”

“Ok.” she said. “You just sit here and rest. I’ll be right back. And then if you’re up to it,  I think you’re about to get incredibly lucky.”

 

Advertisements

A Night At The Roxy

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

Every Friday night the Roxy Theater screened a double feature, and every Friday night we were there. It was a ritual. It was always packed with the usual cast of suburban rebels and renegades who crammed into the theatre and quickly disappeared into the clouds of burning weed that billowed up to the rafters. We preferred to sit in the back, feeding our heads mushroom after mushroom, until we were no longer able to tell if it was art imitating life, or life imitating art. It didn’t take long for the weird shit to begin as the Oompa Loompas started singing and dancing their way across the silver screen, and the Canada Goose ushers wandered the aisles trying to sell their used AMC Gremlin. Somewhere between ‘Dirty Little Billy’ and ‘Fearless Vampire Killers’, I came face to face with God himself, working at the concession counter .

“Well, we haven’t spoken in a long time.” he said.

“Ya.” I answered. “I’ve had a lot going on.”

“I get it.” he said. “There always seems to be something that has to be dealt with.”

“You too?” I asked. “But you’re God.”

“That’s true.” he said, “Nevertheless, shit happens.”

“I guess it does.” I said. “So, do you work here?”

“No, no.” he said. “I just came here to see you. There’s something I’d like you to do.”

“You need me?”, I asked. “What can I do?”

“Well” he said, ” I need you to stop being such an ass. I need you to be  considerate and kind to people.”

“But they piss me off so much.” I said.

“I know. Me too.” he replied. “But you’re life will change one day soon, and if you aren’t ready for it, it will all just pass you by.”

“How can I change who I am?” I asked.

“That’s not who you are.” he said. “Its what you’ve chosen to be. Get high and let who you are come out. That’s when the real you can actually see. Just be patient and compassionate towards people all of the time. Trust me on this.” He handed me a large bag of popcorn. “Now go back and watch the movie. You’re gonna love ‘Fearless Vampire Killers’.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“Did you want something more?” he replied.

“Well some butter on the popcorn would be nice.” I said.

“I don’t think so.” he said. “I’ll tell you something. Stay the hell away from butter. And red meat. And fried foods. Definitely stay away from fried foods. One day down the road you’ll thank me for  this too. Now go and enjoy yourself.”

I left him at the counter and returned to watch the movie. He was right, ‘Fearless Vampire Killers’ was one hell of a movie. On the way out, I stopped by the concession counter, but he was gone. There was a pimply faced teenage girl working there who had never seen a man working there that evening, so I just chalked it all up to another drug induced hallucination. Either way it didn’t matter. Whatever did or didn’t happen that night at The Roxy Theatre has stuck with me, and has driven me to be a better person. There have been times though, when I wish that I would have at least asked him for the winning lottery numbers.

 

 

The Finger Of God

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

When the blonde woman from The Weather Network who looked a lot like Connie Stevens announced the impending storm of all storms, my wife was quite excited. She had always been that way. I however, was somewhat indifferent. She was ecstatic, dancing around the house with the joyful exuberance of a school girl, waiting with gleeful anticipation of the impending downpour. She said that thunderstorms stirred up the spirit world and set the forces of the other side n motion. She said it was destined to be one scary night. The storm arrived late in the evening. She stood by the open window watching the lightening illuminate the night sky like fireworks on Canada Day, and listening to the thunder claps that shook her nerves and rattled her brain. The gale force winds howled, causing her to close her eyes every now and again as it blew the cool spring rain onto her face. She said she couldn’t sleep, not with Mother Nature being so exquisite, so I went to bed, leaving her to revel in the euphoria of nature’s unyielding power. Sometime during the deluge  I awoke to find her sitting on the edge of the bed nudging me. “You’re not going to believe this.” she said. “Someone was just in here.”

“Ah, hell.” I said. “There’s always someone in here.”

“I’m talking about someone from the other side.” she replied.

“I know.” I said. “They’re the only ones you ever let in.”

She said that the experience was weird, even by her standards, and she needed to talk about it.  I hated those conversations and did my best to avoid them at all costs. She was well aware of my feelings, but just couldn’t seem to stop herself from dragging me into her other worldly world. I had seen a lot of weird things over the years. With the assistance of an inordinate amount of hallucinogens and pharmaceuticals that I had religiously introduced to my brain, I have seen flying lizards, talking dragons, and miniature Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles performing ‘Dancing Queen’ in my kitchen sink, but to be honest, the whole spirit, and ghost thing just simply freaked me out. To my wife however, it was commonplace. It had become a recurring part of her life. This time though,she said it was different.

“It was really weird.” she said. “I was just standing at the window, smoking, and someone just came up beside me and stuck a finger in my ear.”

“You mean like a wet Willie?” I asked.

“Ya.” She said. “ But it wasn’t wet.”

“Of course not.” I said. “I don’t suppose spirits would have saliva. Maybe it was just the wind.”

“Are you listening to me?” she asked. “It was a finger.” She leaned over and inserted one of her fingers in my ear. “That’s what it felt like, a finger.”

“It doesn’t always have to be from the other side.” I said.  “Maybe it was from another universe. Maybe it was an alien probe. According to the Enquirer, they’re really quite common.”

“Do they usually probe your ear?” she questioned.

“I don’t think so.” I said. “But its possible you got a trainee.”

She thought that I was trying to be funny, and wanted me to take it far more seriously than I apparently was. I swear I was trying. She was spinning her wheels, stuck in trying to understand what the hell had just happened to  her. I struggled to help, trying to find some sort of reasonable explanation but sadly, I arrived at none. We carefully considered the possibility of her having been dreaming, but she was adamant that she was wide awake, standing at the window and smoking. Everyone else at home was sound asleep, and she claims to have not been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, although I have encouraged her to give it a try on several occasions,

“I suppose it could have been the finger of God.” I said.

“The finger of God?” she questioned.

“The finger of God.” I repeated.  “The same finger that brought the plagues to Egypt and etched the commandments into the tablets Moses brought down from Sinai.”

“What would God want with me?” she asked.

“I don’t know.” I answered. “But I’m sure you’re not the first one to ask that. I’m sure that everyone God has reached out to has asked ‘why me’? I don’t suppose it really matters though, I mean its God.”

“That’s a little nerve racking.” she said. “God has never visited me before.”

“Then I guess you’re due.” I said.

I sat beside her on the edge of the bed and I rubbed her back. The joy of the storm of all storms was gone.

“Just come to bed.” I said. “Its getting late.”

“How can I sleep?” she asked. “This is just so weird.”

“I’ll protect you.” I told her.

“Really? What are you gonna do?” she asked. I was surprised that I had to reminded her that I had spoken to God on more than one occasion, and that sometime in the mid 1970s I had firsthand experience with alien probing while completely messed up on a small bag full of peyote.

“Why don’t you just lay down and relax” I said, “and leave everything to me.”

“What are you thinking of doing?” she asked.

“Nothing, really.” I replied. “Just trying to help. I thought that if we recreated an alien probe, you might be able to tell if that’s what happened to you.”

“In my ear?” she questioned.

“No” I said. “I think we need to go the more traditional route. I think its worth a try.”

“Of course you do.” she said. “But I suppose we’ve really got nothing to lose.”

“Nothing at all. And after the probing” I added, “we can try to rule out the finger of God.”

“How do we do that?” she asked.

“Just leave it to me.” I said.

What Do You Think

by Fielding Goodfellow

It was one of those oppressively hot summer days that sent the heat waves dancing across the road, making him think that he might just be having another flashback. They had been driving for an insanely long time, or at least it felt that way, and his wife hadn’t stopped complaining about the fact that her ass was sticking to the seat. “My God.” he thought. “Will this nightmare never end?”

“What’s that supposed to mean.” she asked. He wasn’t sure what she was referring to, but he prayed that those words didn’t really come out of his mouth. He was pretty sure that he didn’t make a sound, but he had learned a long time ago never to underestimate her super powers. With her he knew that he couldn’t really be sure about anything.

“I didn’t say a word.” he said.

“It doesn’t matter.” she told him. “I can hear what you’re thinking.” At first he didn’t believe it. He was pretty sure that if she could really hear what was going on in his head, he would have been dead a long time ago. As far as he could tell, this was just another round of the game that she liked to play with him whenever he was quiet and she was bored. A part of him knew that he had been wrong about her many times before, but this time, this time he was almost certain that he was safe. He was however, about to find out that he was mistaken.

“The only reason you’re not already dead” she told him, “is that I have way too much fun tormenting you.”  He leaned over and turned on the radio. “That isn’t going to help.” she said.

The truth was he had to try to silence the residual thoughts that continuously swam laps around his brain. He thought he had found some relief with The Tubes when ‘Talk To Ya Later’ came out of the car radio, but as he sang along, he just couldn’t stop himself from wondering how long she been able to hear what he was thinking, and why she had never mentioned it before.

“Its been years and years.” she said. “And letting you know about it wouldn’t really have changed anything.”

“No, I suppose not.” he said as he turned the radio off. “So you pretty much know everything I’ve been thinking about?”

“No, not really.” she said. “It doesn’t work like that. There are some limitations. Sometimes I can’t hear a thing. Sometimes I pick up so much that I can’t figure out anything. Its all just a jumbled mess, like listening to a bunch of songs at the same time. Its hard to isolate them and hear just one.”

“Well, I’m not sure that I like the idea of you nosing around in my head.” he said.

“There’s nothing to worry about.” she said.

“That may be.” he said, “but still, it would be appreciated if you could knock first and let me know you’re there.”

“Do you want to find a place to stop?” she asked.

“Why”.” he asked. “Are you gonna tell me I have to pee?”

“We both know you have to.” she said, “but I’d like to stretch my legs, if I can pry my ass off of the seat.”

It was a little concerning to him that she was sure that he needed to use the bathroom, but hell, she was right. All of a sudden he needed to pee. “I think I’d better find a place to pull over.” he said.

“If you think so.” she said.

He pulled into a small rest stop just off of the highway, fully equipped with a gas station, a restaurant, and a small motel. She got out of the car and stood in front of the restaurant giving it the once over as he walked towards it. “Did you want to eat something?” she asked.

“If you want.” he said, as he headed inside.

She wasn’t in the restaurant when he came out of the bathroom. He checked outside and she wasn’t by the car either.  “She went over to the motel.” some pimply faced kid in coveralls sitting outside at the gas bar told him.

He found her in the motel office, seemingly waiting for him to arrive. “I got us a room.” she said.

“Really.” he said.

“Uh huh.” she replied. “For the last half hour or so all I could hear from you was ‘fuck her’, so here we are.” She handed him the key as they walked towards the room. “You don’t mind me hearing what you’re thinking now, do you?” she asked.

“Not at all.” he said as he opened the door to the room.

“I didn’t think so.” she said as she walked in and lay on the bed. He supposed that there could have been a myriad of things she could do that would be far worse than knowing what he was thinking. And perhaps, if he thought real loud, he wouldn’t have to say a word. He tested his theory that evening in room 5 of the Crown Motel, and he decided then and there to never question or challenge her thought reading again.

All You Need Is Love

by Fielding Goodfellow

There was nothing we could have done about it. Even if there was, I’m not sure that any of it would have turned out differently. The truth has always been indifferent,  a purely subjective interpretation of  what we believed was going on around us. We were all just living a lie, really. Floating in a cesspool filled with symbols and slogans, and horrors and heroes created to convince us that we were sliding down a rainbow into the proverbial pot of gold. It all seemed a bit psychotic, really, but I don’t suppose there was ever any other choice. It didn’t matter what we believed. It never really did. We had been held captive for so long by a history that kept repeating itself over and over again, that no one noticed someone had left a window open.

It was a time when the White Anglo Saxon Protestant scourge choked the very life out of the city. When the violations of basic human rights perpetrated in the name of morality and God went unpunished.  It was a time of raids on bath houses and gay clubs, and gay bashing, which seemed to be an almost daily occurrence was usually ignored or dismissed. George Wohlinski was gay.  Not that I minded really, but he was the first gay guy I was ever friends with. He was surprisingly brave, openly reveling in his sexuality  when being gay was not only sinful and shameful, but also illegal.  George and I managed record stores for a small national chain, and we became friends. He introduced me to Husker Du, Japan, and The Cocteau Twins, while I offered him The Tubes, Sparks, and The Psychedelic Furs. Several times a week we would hang out at the place he shared with his partner, Paul in The Junction, listening to music and getting totally fucked up on one kind of hallucinogen or another. Paul was all right. but I suspect that he would have been much happier as an accountant. He was quiet, somewhat aloof, and eccentrically anxious.

We weathered the storm of the Madonna ‘True Blue’ release, when hoards of acne riddled, semi pubescent, pseudo adolescent mutant Madonista’s anxiously waited in line for hours, overwhelmed by the promise of getting their grubby little hands on a copy of the overplayed “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Live To Tell”. We sold out that day, and after closing, we met at The Imperial for beer and food, and then made our way to George and Paul’s place for peyote and a listen or two of the new Eurythmics album.

Along for the ride was George’s friend, Andrew, who was a little boisterous and exuberant in his presentation. He was what was referred to back then as a flamer. He was over the top with a need for constant attention,  but he was harmless really, posing a danger only to himself. We were pretty messed up, when Paul became concerned over the impending giant pigeon attack that was evolving on the balcony. Andrew was dressed to kill in a pleated, silk little black dress with translucent cap sleeves that made him look exactly like Grace Kelly in ‘Rear Window’. “He’s a transvestite.” George said. “I guess I should have mentioned it before.”

“That’s okay.” I said. “But hell, he looks like Grace Kelly.”

“I know.” George agreed. “They could be sisters.”

“How do I look?” Andrew asked as he twirled around the living room.

“Sensational.”, Paul said. He was right. The guy in drag was beautiful. Andrew left as Andrea, heading out into the city streets in the hopes of meeting someone who would make him feel pretty while Paul, George and I continued to get wasted and turned our attention to Echo And The Bunnymen, As the peyote began to take hold, we all drifted into different worlds, sailing across dimensions and landing back on the couch in George and Paul’s living room to the sound of the telephone ringing. It was George who answered the phone, making his way past the gargoyles and the plant people who had invaded the apartment when we weren’t looking. Andrew had been hurt. He had been attacked on the sidewalk in front of The Selby Hotel, brutally beaten by a bunch of men who discovered that Andrea was really an Andrew. No one bothered to help him. He suffered serious injuries and needed emergency surgery.  We took off like rockets to Toronto General and were greeted by several Police Officers who informed us that despite the small crowd that had been waiting in front of the Selby, there were no witnesses and there had no suspects. “It figures.” George said. “You have to get a license to hunt deer, but  its open season on gays in this city.” George was right.

Andrew spent a few weeks in hospital and a stint in rehab but seemed to recover from his injuries although he had lost the sight in his left eye and now walked with a limp. He was scared a lot of the time, and felt uneasy going out unless one of his friends accompanied him. George became active in the Gay Rights movement and suffered his fair share of beatings. He was determined to continue the fight, and with the help of his family, he returned to school and obtained a law degree. He ran for office and acted as a City Councilman for several years while taking the battle through the courts and exacting many of the changes that enabled the gay community to live in peace and safety.

We remained friends for many, many years, and he continued to teach me tolerance, acceptance and compassion until he passed away from AIDS in 1994. Paul remained at his side until the end, and then moved to Key West a few years later and opened a small restaurant. Andrew spent several years in psychotherapy, and  still works as a counselor at the Gay Men’s Resource Center that George helped to established. And me, well, I now live just blocks away from the gay village and have spent most of my adult life providing treatment and counseling to adolescents who have been the victims of abuse. I walk past the Resource Center several times a week, and each time I swear I can hear George’s voice reminding me that there is no greater sin than to deny a man the right to be loved.

In Sickness & In Health

by Solomon Tate

 

My wife has been sick. Its nothing too serious, just a sinus cold accompanied by a very sore throat and a nagging dry cough, but it has been lingering for almost a week. I have done my best to nurse her back to health, but the other night, while I slept, the microbes of death and destruction that had been breeding in her system made their way to my side of the bed and like squatters took up residence in my system. I woke up sick. Together we lay in bed with dripping eyes and running noses, coughing and sneezing, while we try to figure out who’s going to make us soup as my kids roam around the house providing no useful service to us at all.

“I don’t have the energy to get up and get anything.” she says. “In a few days we could starve to death.”

“Unlikely.” I remind her. “We can always order in.”

“Who’s going to go to the door?” she asks. I had no answer for her. I only knew that it wasn’t going to be me.

I asked one of my daughters who has been going out all weekend to bring us something back. “Can you bring me a milk shake or something?” I asked. “My throat is killing me.”

“No.” she said. “I don’t know when I’ll be home and I don’t want to carry it around.”

“It doesn’t weigh very much.” I said. “You can just pick it up on your way home.”

“Its out of the way.” she informed me. “I have some Pepsi in the fridge you can have. But only take one can.”

“I told you.” my wife said. “We’re going to die in here.” I suppose it was a possibility, but I was not prepared to surrender. I headed out into the rain and returned with soup, bread, tea, and honey.

“I think I pulled a muscle in my chest from all  the coughing.”, I said. “This is brutal.”

“You’ll start to feel better soon.”, she said.

“You think so?”

“No” she said, “but one of us has to take care of us and I’m pretty sure it won’t be me. I’m sick.”

“In case you haven’t noticed” I said, “I’m pretty sick too.”

“I know.” she said. “But you’ve already gone out in the rain and everything, and there’s no point in both of us getting worse.” Her logic, as always, was irrefutable. There was no sense in both of us getting worse. I just wasn’t sure why it always had to be me.

By the next day, I had developed a fever to add to the assortment of symptoms already plaguing me, and my head felt like it was in a vice, slowly being tightened bit by bit. It was almost impossible to get out of bed. “Well” I told her, “I’m definitely worse.” She just smiled and headed off to the kitchen, returning with a cup of tea and honey.

“Here” she said, “this should make your throat feel a bit better.”

“Thanks.”, I told her. “Its good to know that you’ll take care of me.”

“Of course.”, she said. “I need you better by tomorrow. The garbage has to go out.”

The Rescue

by Solomon Tate

 

The kids were asking how their mother and I met. It wasn’t the first time and I couldn’t understand why it was so important that they hear it again. But it was. “Go ahead and tell them.” my wife said. “Just make something up. It will be fun.” And with that I shared the story of how I met their mother.

It was spring I think, and it was raining. It was the kind of April rain that went on for days and left you scratching your head in the garage wondering just how big of a boat you were going to have to build. I had just returned from Alberta, working on a case involving a missing mime. Despite the lack of assistance from numerous witnesses who just wouldn’t talk, I managed to locate the artist who had inadvertently trapped himself in some kind of box. Upon my return, a friend of mine asked if I would assist in locating a friend of his sister’s who had disappeared while vacationing in The Bahamas. It seemed that she had walked out of her hotel room to spend the day swimming with dolphins, and no one had seen or heard from her in three days. As a favor to my friend, I headed down to Nassau to try to find the missing woman.

It was hot as hell in Nassau. I checked out the hotel first, and after showing her picture around, one of the desk clerks remembered seeing her leave the hotel around nine in the morning dressed in beachwear, just as he was beginning his shift. She was alone. She had neither received or made any phone calls from her room. I headed over to the dolphin enclosure, where a few of the staff recognized her from the photo, but none of them could be certain what time she arrived or departed the attraction.  A local kid selling shells on the beach claimed that he had seen her head into the water with a few of the dolphins a little after nine o’clock, but couldn’t remember her coming back. I checked in with the local police to find that their investigation into the disappearance had yielded no significant leads. As far as they were concerned, the young woman had simply drowned while swimming with dolphins. Their plan was to wait until the body washed up onto the beach which they almost always did. I had done some reading on the flight down about dolphins and I knew that they would never have let her drown. That night I returned to the dolphin enclosure. I knew that they were intelligent beings, and I was sure that they knew something. The truth was, I needed their help.

I sat on the pier armed with a bucket of mackerel, hoping to entice them to talk. I can’t be sure if it was the smell of the fish or the light from my lantern, but before long I was face to face with an entire pod of whistling, clicking and squeaking dolphins. One in particular who bore a striking resemblance to Henry Limpitt, He was quite vocal and seemed to be trying to get my attention. I fed him some of the mackerel and asked what he knew of the missing woman. Now, I know this will be hard to believe, hell, I still have a hard time understanding how it happened, but the dolphin answered me. The sounds he made somehow became recognizable words to me, as if he were speaking English. His name was Jasper, and he knew where the missing woman was. He told me that some renegade killer whales had taken her and had made her their queen. They had been harboring her in a underwater cave nearby. Using the fish as a bargaining chip, he agreed to bring her to me, despite the obvious danger the dolphins would face. It took about an hour, but the dolphins returned, carrying the woman with them. Sadly, Jasper had lost his life in the battle to set the whale queen free. I brought the woman ashore, and she hugged me so tight, I thought I felt a rib or two crack. I wrapped my jacket around her and we headed toward the police station. She said she was hungry, so we stopped for something to eat. She devoured everything in sight, but I couldn’t help notice how incredibly beautiful she was. She had these incredibly dark eyes that seemed to sparkle in the light of the candle burning on the table, and a smile that lit up the rest of the room. Hell, I wanted her right there and then. But I was on a case.

The police didn’t seem to believe the tale we told, but they agreed to close the case nonetheless and allow us to leave the island. On the flight home I asked her to go out with me. She seemed a little reluctant at first, but she agreed. “Just so we’re clear” she said, “there will be no sex on the first date.”

“Well” I replied, “then I guess there will have to be a second date.” And as luck would have it, we were both true to our word. There was no sex on the first date, but we successfully went out on a second date. “That’s the best version yet.” my wife said.

“Its bullshit.” my son informed his wife. “He just makes this shit up as he goes along.”

“But its one hell of a story.” my daughter’s boyfriend said.

“The story changes every time.” one of my daughters said.

“Who is Henry Limpitt?” another daughter asked.

Despite what the kids thought, my wife and I have been together ever since, through calm and stormy seas, although sometimes its just like that first date all over again.

Reunion

by Fielding Goodfellow

It was a long time ago, but it has lingered with me forever. In a rather juvenile attempt to find ourselves, we wound up finding each other. The three of us. We were inseparable that summer, feeding each other’s minds and souls and saving each other from the impending madness that was attempting to engulf us. We never thought about it, really, but we instinctively knew exactly what each of us needed. We needed each other. A lifetime has passed since the three of us were together, but when I walked into that hotel lobby, it was as if it had all happened yesterday.

I had no idea what to expect, and there was some trepidation in even attending the pseudo reunion that had been in the works for months. We lived in three different countries and had little contact with each other over the years. We could have all changed over the forty years of separation, but as soon as Jess and I saw each other, we were exactly where we were in 1974, when she stood at my cabin in the great Canadian north, with Marcie at her side, and asked if I had a cigarette.  We had lived our lives, raised our families been through hell and back several times, but we hadn’t really changed. We were still the same hippie misfits, talking about writing, and music, and listening to Yessongs in its entirety.

They seemed happy, having found wonderful partners in the two kind and generous men who loved them dearly. I was happy for them. We all wandered around my city, laughing, eating, talking, and remembering that summer so long ago. Interestingly enough, Jess had said that she had spent over thirty years trying to locate me, and I, well, I had never stopped trying to find her either. I wish they could have stayed longer. I wished we could have returned to the north, hung out at the waterfall, and the fish hatchery. I wish we could have trekked over to the General Store in Ullswater. But perhaps it’s only the sentimentality that seems to have emerged in full force during the dessert course of my life. They say that you can’t go back, but it appears that we never really left the summer camp that we met at all those years ago. Nothing has really changed. Oh, we are certainly older and I hope much wiser, but our souls continue to soar above the mundane and the meaningless.

I don’t believe that our meeting was purely by chance. I never did. We needed each other then, and I’m sure that we still need each other now. I hope that we will keep in touch, I mean, as weird as it seems, I was closer to these women than I was to anyone else from my past. And as hard as it sometimes is for me to say, I love them both, and I’m certain I always will.

The Brothers Glick

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

The funeral of Miriam Glick was a somber event, with almost everyone I remembered from the old neighborhood shocked and saddened by her sudden departure from our lives.I sat in the back row wondering where the past forty years had gone with mixed emotions, considering that I had spent the better part of my youth banging the recently deceased on a regular basis.We were both much younger then. It was a secret that we both swore to take to our graves. Miriam belonged to the same neighborhood Gossip Gang, which masqueraded as a suburban Mah Jong group, as my mother. Every Monday she would arrive at my house with the other gang members for rumor mongering and tile play. Our illicit affair was never talked about, but she would smile and ask me to come over and help her move some boxes in the basement the following day. I knew what she meant, but not a word of it was ever mentioned. It had been forty years since I last helped move those boxes, ever since that summer morning when her husband was found dead floating in Lake Wilcox. As I sat there listening to her life being summarized with the traditional, bland greeting card sentiments, I wandered back to those years I spent between the thighs of Miriam Glick.

The Glicks were one of the last families to move into the development and Jason and Jordan Glick  joined our group of merry misfits and desperadoes. We became friends, but I spent more time in their house when neither one of them was home than I did when they were around. We would spend our days hanging out at Rockford Park, smoking cigarettes and drinking the Canadian Club that they nicked from their father’s liquor cabinet. We spent half the day smoking and drinking, and the other half throwing up. I don’t know if it was the cigarettes or the whiskey, or both, but we usually wound up getting pretty sick. Jordan was the more serious of the two and he was always worried about one thing or another. He was a nervous wreck, pacing back and forth, picking at his skin, and chewing on his fingernails as if they were barbecued ribs. If anybody needed a bit of pharmacological intervention, it was Jordan Glick. Jason, on the other hand, didn’t seem to give a shit about anything. He was in it for the fun of it, and he was always up for anything. Jordan constantly warned his brother not to take the booze from Ivan Glick’s stash, but Jason just didn’t care. Eventually, Ivan caught them and Jason took the heat and the beating, but it had very little impact on him. “The old man is just a drunken asshole.” He said. “I’ll get even one day.” And so, when they found the body of Ivan Glick floating face done near the shore of Lake Wilcox, the merry misfits were pretty sure that Jason had killed him. Well, most likely he probably arranged for someone else to kill him. We figured it would have been the Black Star Riders whose clubhouse stood on the edge of our little neighborhood. I suppose that’s just another one of the many secrets that will be taken to the grave, although I’m pretty sure that Jordan knew exactly what had happened. Jordan went on to Law School, and became one of the top criminal lawyers in the country, which was quite fortuitous as he spent most of his career trying to keep his brother out of prison. Jason didn’t fare as well in adulthood, squandering away his share of Ivan’s life insurance proceeds, falling victim to addiction, and dabbling in the sale of stolen property and drugs.

Following the rites and rituals of the funeral and internment, I really didn’t have anything to say to either of them other than the customary Hallmark condolences. I suppose it could have been the pangs of guilt that seemed to consumed me, so I returned to the old neighborhood. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the Glick’s house I could still hear Ivan Glick shouting. I was sure everyone on the street could hear it too. The neighborhood had changed a lot over the years, but the route from my old house to Miriam’s bedroom was carved deep in the fabric of space and time. During those years of make believe, it was the map to a buried treasure that I would spend a lifetime looking for. I suppose in some strange way she meant more to me than I ever wanted to admit.

 

ELEANOR

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

I would like to believe that this actually happened although my friend, Solomon Tate believes that its just another one of my peyote induced hallucinations. I’m not sure Tate is right, I mean, this story involves neither flying lizards or dinosaurs. Nevertheless, there was an old man with a long, white beard sitting on a bench in Riverdale Park feeding girl guide cookies to the scurry of squirrels that had congregated at his feet. He had a scar that ran the length of his right forearm to his hand which seemed to make throwing the cookies somewhat difficult. I stopped to watch them when a small, gray squirrel ran out of the cemetery, climbed up on the bench and perched on his left shoulder. It sat there for a moment, and rubbed its face up against the old man’s ear. The old man didn’t seem surprised at all, and he presented the small, gray squirrel with a cookie. While this was certainly  the strangest thing I had seen all day, it seemed that this was quite common place for him and the squirrel.

“That’s one hell of a trick.”, I said.

“Its not a trick.”, he replied.

“Well, its not everyday a squirrel will jump up on your shoulder and sit there.”, I stated. “How do you manage to get him to do that? ”

“You wouldn’t believe it.”, he said.

“You’d be amazed at what I believe.”, I replied. The old man took a long, hard look at me, and began his story.

He had been married for fifty seven years when his wife, Eleanor passed away three years ago. She had cancer, but it was discovered too late. She died within weeks of the diagnosis. It was a wonderful love affair that lasted right up until she passed. Every morning, for fifty seven years, Eleanor would come up behind him, lean over his left shoulder and kiss him on the ear, as she playfully snatched a piece of food off of his plate.. Every morning for fifty seven  years he pretended not to notice. Just before she passed, she told him that she would always be there with him, and that she would never leave him alone. She was sick and delirious when she died, and he never really understood exactly what she was trying to tell him.

When she died, she was interred in the Toronto Necropolis, as she had requested. Every Saturday the old man would visit the cemetery and leave a few girl guide cookies on Eleanor’s grave. “They were always her favorites.”, he said. After the visits, as he sat across the street on a bench in Riverdale Park, he noticed that squirrels would race to her site and run off with the cookies. After a while, the squirrels seemed to understand that the old man was an integral part of their food delivery system, and they began to follow him around the cemetery and the park. The old man set up shop in the park in an attempt to keep the squirrels off of Eleanor’s grave, and away from the cookies he left for her.

“She was quite fond of them, actually.”, he informed me.

One Saturday, some weather related issue had kept the Necropolis closed, so the old man, with nothing much else to do, sat in the park and fed the squirrels the girl guide cookies he had brought for his wife. Across the street, he could see a small, gray squirrel race out of the cemetery and head towards him. He thought nothing of it. It was just another squirrel looking for the cookies he had always left for Eleanor, he thought, until it jumped up on the bench and crawled up to his left shoulder. It sat there for a moment, and then leaned over to his ear and attempting to kiss his ear, tried to sneak a cookie out of his hand. “Eleanor?”, he asked. There was no answer, but the small, gray squirrel brushed its face against his ear again. The old man gave the squirrel a cookie, which it ate perched on his left shoulder. He said that he had given his wife a gold locket on their fiftieth anniversary and there, on the chest of this small gray squirrel was a patch of white fur in the shape of a heart.  He was certain that this squirrel was in fact his wife and that she had made good on her promise not to leave him alone and, as crazy as it sounded, I was beginning to think that he was right.

That was three years ago, and since then, he came to the park every Saturday to spend time with her. He began calling the small, gray squirrel Eleanor, and he had started talking to her. He was certain that she understood. The fact of the matter was, he did not feel alone. They would often sit there for hours, long after the supply of cookies and the other squirrels had gone. While he never actually heard her speak, he believed that she was able to communicate with him, just as they did when she was alive. I left the old man with the long, white beard on the park bench, talking with Eleanor who was still perched on his shoulder. I had been back to Riverdale Park many times, and on Saturdays, he could always be found on that bench with a scurry of squirrels at his feet, and the small, gray squirrel with a heart shaped patch of white fur on its chest sitting on his left shoulder. He seemed happy, and I suppose that’s what was really important.

I returned to the park just over a month ago, and there was no sign of the old man with the long, white beard anywhere. There was no scurry of squirrels congregating in front of the bench which was deserted, except for a small, gray squirrel with a heart shaped patch of white fur on its chest looking over the left shoulder of a larger squirrel with a scar down its right front leg leading to its paw, nuzzling on its left ear.