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

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.

Season Of The Witch

by Solomon Tate

 

Things were getting weird. Something strange was going on with my wife. She’d been lighting candles.At first it was just one or two small candles at twilight which she believed was helping to keep the planet green, and as she explained, the candles  helped her to relax. But then it spiraled out of control. She was lighting so many candles that the house was lit up like Mass at St. Peter’s. We were awash with candles. There were tall ones and short ones. There were candles in glass jars and candles in pewter holders. There were holiday candles, tapered candles, and scented candles. They were everywhere. She was lighting them day and night, closing the curtains and turning off the lights in order to obtain just the right effect. And while she found it soothing, we were all concerned. She had become a candle junkie.

She developed a fondness for candle shopping, seeking them out where ever she went. She was finding them everywhere, bringing them home home from stores, and ordering them on line. She waited with anxious delight for the deliveries to arrive, and was overjoyed when the packages finally came. There was great anticipation wondering just which of the candles had arrived. She looked at them carefully, examining them methodically as she searched for any damage or flaw. Once certain that they were exactly what she wanted, she carried them to the bedroom and kit them, losing herself in the orange glow of their rather insignificant flames. I tried to warn her of the fire hazard but she  assured me that she was always extremely careful. She positioned them in very specific and precise arrangements, and made it clear to all of us that they were not to be moved.

One of my daughters began to question her mother’s motives for this new found interest in candle lighting. She suspected that my wife may be a witch. It was not a new supposition, but the multitude of candles being lit at any given time had only served to heighten the concern. “She could be practicing witchcraft.”, my daughter stated. “Sometimes I hear her mumbling in there.”

“Its not likely.”, I remind her. “You’re mother rarely feels the need to practice. anything. If she’s doing witch stuff, she’s probably already turned pro.”

She was particularly partial to those little tea candles which she purchased at Ikea, and the citrus scented ones that come in little glass jars that she said would be use to hold spices once the candles were spent. It was a well thought out scheme, although I did let her know that we could purchase small spice jars at Ikea as well. She balked at the idea, reminding me that she liked the candle light.

“Wasn’t there an aunt or someone who was a witch?”, my daughter asked. Indeed there was. A great aunt, who was believed to have put a curse on her husband and turned him into a zombie. There are numerous stories about curses and hexes she had placed on several people over the years that served to make her the scourge of the family and allowed her to wield great power over her mere mortal family. Everyone was afraid of her. Everyone, except my wife.  I had met this woman on two occasions, and for weeks after I regularly inspected my boxers just in case the story of her turning a neighbors genitals into a pretty useless sock puppet was true.

Aunt Layla was quite old when I first met her, and she also had a fondness for candles and had amassed a rather festive collection in her home. We visited her home just one time, and found her husband sitting in a chair, neither blinking nor talking, surrounded by an array of tapered candles of assorted sizes that appeared to have been used often. I had been warned by other family members  not to accept any food or drink Aunt Layla may offer as this was her preferred method of getting someone to ingest any one of hundreds of potions. They said her husband simply drank some mint tea, and within hours had become a zombie. He stayed that way for over thirty years. My kids, who know the stories of the family’s witches, have advised me to keep a close eye on my wife, and not to eat or drink anything she prepares.

And as the candle lighting continued flooding the house with the warm glow of yellow and orange, we all kept our eyes wide open. We sought out professional help, but my wife was unwilling to participate. We considered an intervention, but worried about the consequences if she really were a witch. If she was casting spells or reaching out to her long deceased Aunt Layla to increase her powers, we were all pretty much screwed already.

My daughter has pointed out that I appear significantly shorter than I once was, and while I thought it was due to aging, it could very well be my wife’s handy work. She was always resentful that she was so much shorter than I. My daughter continues to watch her mother like a hawk. She just can’t seem to relax and let it go. “Have you seen her stirring her cauldron in the morning?”, she asks.

“She’s making oatmeal.”, I reply.

“Really?”, she questions. “Are you sure?” I would like to believe that I am pretty sure. It’s unlikely that she’s cooking up eye of newt, and toe of frog. But in the meantime, the candles keep burning, my wife keeps chanting, and the rest of us, well, we regularly roam the house searching for wool of bat and tongue of dog and any signs of a pentagram drawn on the floor. So far, its all good.

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.

The Son Of The Mouse In My House

 

There’s no way you’re ever going to believe it. Hell, I have a hard time believing I myself. But ts true. Over a year since I last heard about it, my wife spotted another mouse in the house. Not just in the house, but actually in our bedroom. She saw it run in and dash behind a dresser.

“That’s it.”, She said. “We’re moving.”

“We’re not moving.”, I told her.

“Well I’m not sleeping in here.*, She continued. “Not with that thing in here.”

“Just relax.”, I reassured her, “We’ll catch it.” As I began to move the furniture in our room away from the walls, my wife put on her calf high rain boots and stepped up on the bed. “Seriously?”, I asked. “I could use some help.”

“I’m not moving until its out of here.”, she informed me. I pulled out the dresser, and nothing. I moved the wall unit, the end tables, and the stationary bike which had sat not only stationary but solitary for the past eighteen months. “There it goes.”, she shouted, pointing to a far corner of the room. Its in my closet.Get my shoes off the floor. I don’t want it in my shoes.”

“Relax.”, I pleaded as I slowly opened the closet door, adding to the suspense. I began moving her shoes off of the floor as she announced the movements of the rodent.

“It went to the left side of the closet.”, she reported, so I focused my search on the identified area. “It went back to the right side.”, she continued. The mouse shot out of the closet like a rocket amid her screams and squeals. “It went behind the book case.”, she told me frantically.

“You know”, I said as I headed back to the bookcase, “I wouldn’t mind hearing that kind of stuff when we’re having sex.”

“If you don’t find that mouse”, she advised me, “we probably won’t be having sex again. And besides, I make a lot of noise.”

“Yes you do.”, I agreed. “But ‘hang on the remote is digging into my ass’ is not the kind of noise I’m talking about.”

“There it goes.”, she shouted pointing at the path of the mouse along the southern wall of our bedroom. “It’s behind the bed.”

One of my daughters entered our room, and seeing my wife standing on the bed in her red and black flannel pajama pants tucked into a pair of knee high rubber rain boots that were at least a size too big, and a khaki colored rain slicker with the hood up, holding a tennis racket was too much for her to bear. She burst into uproarious laughter. “What the hell are you dressed for?”, she asked my wife.

“Safety.”, my wife replied. “There’s a mouse roaming around somewhere in here.”

“Are you trying to catch it or kill it with laughter?”, my daughter asked.

“You’re going to have to get off of the bed if you want me to move it.”, I said.

“Are you crazy?”, my wife remarked. “I’m not getting off the bed until the mouse is gone.”

“I don’t know what you’re worrying about.”, I said. “You’re in your hazmat suit. You have to get off the bed.” I had never seen her move so quickly, jumping directly from the bed to the floor with one bounce, sticking the landing close to the door in one precise move which, had I been judging would have scored her a 9 out of 10, and then running out of the room, closing the door behind her. After a careful search, there was no mouse under the bed. There was no mouse anywhere. I opened the bedroom door and informed my wife that the mouse had left the scene of the crime.

“Are you sure?”, she asked.

“Well its not in here.”, I answered. “I don’t know what else I can do.” My wife climbed back on the bed, still dressed in her mousing attire. “I have to go to sleep.”, I added.

She leaned forward and began scouring the room with her eyes darting back and forth, looking for any movement, any trace of a mouse still lingering in the room. “I don’t think I can sleep.”, she informed me. “Not in here.”

I sat down on the edge of the bed. “What do you want me to do?”, I asked her.

“Just stay here and watch for it.”, she said. “Maybe if its still in here, it will leave while I’m asleep.”

“You want me to sit up all night and  be on the lookout for a  mouse that may or may not be in here?”, I inquired.

“Yes.”, she said. “You’re the man.”

“What does that have to do with anything.”, I asked.

“It just does.”, she reminded me, “Now, I’m going to try to get some sleep.”

“Dressed like that?”, I asked.

“Well I’m not taking it off.”, she stated. “What if it jumps up on the bed?”

And so, I spent that night on the edge of the bed, dozing off for a bit every now and again, but never for very long. The night seemed to go on forever, and I kept myself awake with nicotine, caffeine and Benzedrine. I did not see the mouse in our room again that night. In the morning my wife contacted a pest control company, who attended our home later in the day and placed bait traps in a few select places. I hiked over to the hardware store and picked up more sticky traps, snap traps and some kind of electronic gadget that claimed to emit a sound that would keep the mice at bay.

I have no idea what happened to the mouse that had invaded our bedroom that night, but I assume it eventually left, sitting around a camp fire with its colony sharing a hunk of usurped cheese,  laughing hysterically at the story of a strange woman who spent the night dressed as if she were planning to survive nuclear fallout.  I check the traps several times a day, and so far, I have caught nothing. I can’t be sure if I even saw the mouse in our room that night. Maybe it was never there. Maybe my wife had merely imagined that she had seen a mouse. Either way, I thought it best to cancel the surprise anniversary trip to Disney World. I just don’t think that she would have been able to handle the giant mouse that roams the Magic Kingdom at will, without all of her mousing gear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Of The Dog

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

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

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

“Why.”, I asked her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you buying?”, I asked.

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

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

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

“So you’re buying then?”, I  again.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

It Was Tuesday, But It Wasn’t Belgium

by Solomon Tate

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

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

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

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

“So does he.”, I told her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feeding The Baby

 

 

My wife was always an exceptional mother. I would watch in amazement as she exercised her maternal prowess. With 5 kids, there was always changings, and feedings, and trips to doctors, and a host of car pool events for the older ones.I helped as much as she would allow, relegated me to the chores and tasks she felt didn’t require a mother’s touch. I changed diapers, and gave kids bottles when they were done nursing. The responsibility for the nursing of the children was entirely hers. Except for that one evening in 1996.

The baby was crying, my wife was exhausted, and it was 2 in the morning. “I’ll go get her and bring her in here.”, I said.

I picked the baby up from her crib, and cradling her in my arms began the walk back to my wife. Suddenly I felt a sharp pain, and looked down to see the baby firmly attached to my nipple. Now I don’t know what the protocols are in a situation like this, but I began tugging, and pulling, and tugging some more, but she just wouldn’t let go. I screamed. Really, I screamed. My wife came running to find me sitting on the floor, trying to pry this monster off my nipple. “You have to break the seal.”, she said, laughingly.

“Get this thing off of me.”, I shouted, as the baby began sucking harder and harder. My wife inserted one of her fingers into the side of the baby’s mouth and I don’t know what happened, but the baby fell off. I was free. I passed the baby to my wife, and went into the bathroom to examine the damage. It was sore, and red, and I think I saw my life flash before me. “I think its swollen.”, I told my wife. “Do you think I should see the doctor?”

“You’ll be fine.”, she said.

“What the hell is wrong with that kid?”, I asked, still massaging my swollen, painful nipple.

“There’s nothing wrong with her.”, I was informed. “She was just hungry.”

It took a few days, but things got back to normal, as the swelling went down, and the pain subsided. Following that fateful night, I have never picked up a baby without wearing a shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had always gone out of my wife to help my wife take care of the kids when they were younger. I clothed them, fed them, changed them, took them for walks, took them to the park, took them everywhere really, and just always tried to be involved. So when my youngest was a baby, and in her crib crying, I decided that I would go get her and bring her down to my wife. I lifted her out of her crib, and cuddled her against my chest, and began the treacherous walk down two flights of stairs to where my wife was waiting.

 

 

sima latching o to y nipple…

The Clown Of Fenlon Falls

 

by Fielding Goodfellow

I met Neanne sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but I can’t be certain of anything any longer.  I was caught somewhere between the excessive drugs and a a chronic reluctance to accept and adapt to the bullshit that was falling around me in the guise of manna from heaven. When both  joy and despair  danced around my head like Fred & Ginger, tugging at my sanity to a degree that would make any bipolar disorder envious. The effects of the copious amounts of hallucinogenics I had been dabbling in were wonderfully bizarre. Every now and again there would be a flying burrito doing figure eights above the kitchen sink,  or the chameleon who lived next door would bring home a penguin he had recently started dating. And when it all seemed about to implode, she wandered into my world.  She was tall, blonde, and exactly what I needed at the time.

Neanne came from a small town north of the city, and she was a prostitute trying to get out of the life. She was the perfect distraction at a time when I longed to be distracted. We became friends, and when she left the business a short time later, we began a relationship based entirely on each one of us getting their needs met. She needed someone to love her, and I needed someone to keep me safe from the Blue Meanies. She turned me on to all kinds of weird ass sex, and I got her into all kinds of weird ass drugs. Our entire existence as a couple revolved around sex and drugs. In retrospect we were the Sid and Nancy of the bagel crowd. We were either getting high or getting laid, or more often than naught, getting both.

I was working for a small, local record label in those days, working on projects with some larger Independent labels, scouring the land for marketable talent. Neanne went with me to a small community just North East of the big smoke, where we rented a cottage on the lake. We traveled around the area, catching shows at various bars while insanely stoned, and returned to our rented rooms to engage in coitus stupendous. On the third day of our talent search, we ran into an older gentleman, dressed in a suit, looking like a lawyer, or perhaps a bank employee. And while neither Neanne nor I had any idea of who he was, he was certain that he knew Neanne. It seems that during one of his sojourns to the big city, he had enlisted the services of a sex trade worker, and he was sure it was Neanne. Before long, the entire bar was looking over at her, and she was being propositioned by most of the men present, with the server delivering notes and drinks to her. It was becoming overwhelming for her. I on the other hand, was devising a plan to send the giant lizard men who were standing by the car in to eat the little bastards. “I want to leave.”, she told me.

“Okay.”, I said.

As we drove back to the cottage, she had asked if I would take her to her parent’s home, about an hour or so away. I agreed. She talked the entire time, relaying tales of how this sort of thing happens regularly. There was always an ex client who recognized or remembered her and was seeking something now. She had had enough of it, and wasn’t sure if she could stay around the city. Even out here, in cottage country, she was being recognized. I felt bad for her, but man did I want to take her now. It occurred to me that I was getting for free what everyone else had to pay for, and that seemed pretty cool, with a cloud of opium sifting through my brain.

We spent 24 hours at her parents’ home, giving Neanne time to settle down, talk with her parents, and try to come up with a plan to move on with her life. She had decided, with the help of her father, who went off to work each day with a lunch pail in on hand, and a bible in the other, that she was going to find God, and devout her life to helping others. A noble quest, indeed. But the only thing my drug soaked brain could focus on was how would this interfere in my getting laid.

I understood her need to find something more. I myself, had traveled down that road on more than one occasion, seeking God, or a reasonable facsimile. I searched everywhere I could think of, at the beach, in the mountains, at the bottom of a box of Fruit Loops, but found nothing. But Neanne was determined, and I was certain her father had the address to some secret location where God could indeed be found.

I stayed with Neanne until she figured out that she wanted to be a  clown. “Are you serious?”, I asked her.

“Yes,”, she said. “Its perfect. I would make people happy.”

“It seems to me that your previous occupation made people happy too.”, I replied.

“I can’t do that anymore.”, she said. “It didn’t make me happy. And besides, I think I love you.”

The sarcastic laughter and comments from the giant lizard men sitting in the back seat of the car, startled me at first. “I really need to stay straight long enough to know what the hell I’m doing.”, I thought.

We parted ways shortly after, I mean I didn’t love her. I loved the sex. And while, at the time, I didn’t know there was a difference, I figured it out. Neanne did indeed venture into the world of clowning. She got pretty good at it, and eventually started her own business providing floppy shoes, baggy pants, and big, red noses, to parties, school events, and children’s hospital visits. I saw her a few years later, and she was happy. I was happy for her. I traveled on, discovering new ways to antagonize the universe, and simplify my life.  I moved on to new worlds, discovering that while there was no need to search any longer, it was still wonderfully exciting to look for the prize in the box of Fruit Loops.

 

 

Power & Control

 

I had sneaked into the bedroom. After being awake for 3 hours, while my wife slept, I went to retrieve a cigarette. I moved as quietly as humanly possible, maneuvering around a chair, a lamp, and assorted collectibles. Just as I reached the pack that sat atop the dresser, she spoke. “Did you have coffee already?”

“Ya.”, I replied. “I’ve been up since 2 o’clock.”

“Did you make me any?”, she asked.

“No.”, I told her. “You were asleep.”

“I’m awake now.”, she stated.

“Would you like me to make you coffee?”, I asked.

“No.”, she said. “Its okay. I’m awake now. I can do it myself.”

“Then why are we having this conversation?, I replied.

“I was just asking.”, she stated.

“Its quite aggravating.”, I informed her.

“I know.”, she replied. “But its my job.”

“I wish you’d find another line of work.”, I responded.

“No you don’t.”, she said. “You wouldn’t know what to do with yourself without me aggravating you.”

“I suppose you’re right.”, I told her. “All of these years of having a pain in my ass, I suppose I would miss it if it were gone.”

“Oh, don’t start that sweet talking now.”, she stated. “Its far too early, Let me at least have my coffee first.”

I remember the way things used to be. I don’t know what happened to change it all, but it was different. It had been for over 20 years. Somewhere along this long, strange trip, everything shifted. It was like a parallel universe, with things reversed.

“I used to be in charge.”, I told her, although it sounded a lot more like a question than a statement of fact.

“Yes you were.”, she replied.

“Well.”, I continued, “When did all of that change?”

“It never changed.”, she replied.

“Well. it seems to me”, I added, “that I have very little input into things that go on here.”

“That’s because that’s the way you want it.”, she responded.

“That’s not what I want.”, I told her.

“Sit down.”, she said. “We need to talk.”

“Listen carefully.”, she told me. “And please don’t get upset. You were never really in charge.”

“No , I was.”, I said. I remember making every decision.”

“Well”, she continued. “You really didn’t. You felt that you were in charge because I wanted you to feel that you were in charge.”

“What are you talking about?”, I asked,

“Ah, honey”, she said as she moved the hair off of my forehead. “You never stood a chance. None of you do. Everything that has gone on in our lives was because I was in charge. And look where we are today? Beautiful children, and a  happy marriage. What more could you have wanted?”

“The children, while beautiful, are out of their fucking minds.”, I replied. “And as for a happy marriage, we’re not happy, you’re happy. There’s a difference.”

“Is there?”, she asked. “Could you be happy if I was unhappy?”

“Well, no.”, I said.

“And why is that?”, she asked.

“Because I love you?”, I guessed.

“Hell no.”, she answered. “We both know its because I wouldn’t let you.”

“You tricked me.”, I said. She stood up and sat beside me, hugging me as she rubbed my shoulders.

“What can I do to make it better for you?”, she asked. “Whatever you want.”

“I’d like sex .”, I said.

“Okay.”, she said. “Anything else?”

“Do you think you could make me that brisket again?”, I queried. “The one with the roasted potatoes and carrots?”

“Of course.”, she replied.

“Great.”, I said. “That would be great.”

“Is there anything else?”, she asked, as she stood up.

“No I think that covers it.”, I told her.

“I’m glad.”, she remarked. “And honey.”, she said as I began to walk away. “I like it when you put your foot down and try to take control.”

“I know.”, I said. “That’s why you fell in love with me. Right?”

“No.”, she answered. “But don’t stop. Its really very cute.”

She was good. She was very good. She had confused and confounded me, again. It was precisely at that moment that I realized that she was right. I was never really in charge, and I never would be. But it  didn’t matter anyway. The brisket was good, the sex was even better, and I didn’t really want anything else.