Something’s Different

by Solomon Tate

 

It was an auspicious event, filled with the kind of tension that lives in the pages of a Raymond Chandler novel. It was the christening of my son’s new gas grill and while I was pretty excited about it I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Well, not wrong really, but different. Something had definitely changed, and for days I just couldn’t figure out what it was. We headed into the desolate wilderness of the suburbs, maneuvering our way through men in cargo shorts tinkering with lawn mowers and lawn sprinklers, and their wives who gathered on driveways in yoga pants to watch. “What the hell are we doing here?” I asked.

“Making your son happy.” my wife said. “Its important to him so please try to behave yourself.”

“I always do.” I said. I really didn’t, I mean sometimes it was just fun to rattle their brains about a little, and other times I suppose that I just didn’t give a shit. This time though, I had all intentions of trying my very best.

Despite the phone calls and inter family memos, one of my sons and his wife arrived fifteen minutes late. My son’s girlfriend had this five minute window either way, and anything else was early or late. Neither was acceptable to her, and both result in a significant brow beating that addresses common courtesy and respect. She slipped into one of her emotional convulsions and the show that accompanied every family dinner since she moved in with my son began. “What time did I tell you to come?” she asked.

“Four o’clock.” he said.

“What time is it now?”

“I don’t know.” he said. “I guess a little after four.”

“Fifteen minutes after four.” she said. “Five minutes is a little past. Fifteen minutes is late.”

“Do you think she’s gonna say it?” I asked my wife.

“Be quiet.” she said. “I don’t want to miss it if she does.”

“I just don’t understand why you think its okay to be so self-centered and disrespectful.” she continued.“Its just common courtesy to be on time. You may as well have not bothered to come at all.” And there it was. Common courtesy. We had all heard it from her a million times and she always seemed to place the emphasis on the word common, and not courtesy. To be honest, we all found it a little strange.

“Why do you talk like that?” my daughter in law asked.

“Are you questioning me?” she said. “I am a teacher.”

“You’re a Phys. Ed. teacher.” one of my daughter’s stated. “That really doesn’t count.”

“Well that was weird.” my daughter-in-law whispered to me.

“Not really.” I said. “That’s actually pretty normal for her. She’s fucking insane.”

That nagging feeling that something was amiss kept hovering over me. It was my wife. There was something different about her. Something had changed and I knew that my not knowing was somehow going to bite me in the ass.

“Something’s different” I said to my wife..

“With what?” she asked.

“I’m not sure, but I feel like something’s changed.”

“I don’t feel anything.” she said. “Maybe you’re just old and losing your mind.”

“It could be.” I said. “It would explain a lot of shit. Did you cut your hair?”

“Does it look shorter?” she replied.

“I don’t know.” I said, “but you did something different.”

“I didn’t do anything. I stopped coloring my hair months ago. I can’t believe you’re just noticing now.”

“Well, to be fair” I said, “I’m generally too busy looking at your eyes. They’re actually quite beautiful. Sometimes I just get lost in there. But now that you’ve pointed it out, your hair looks good. I like it”  She didn’t say a wood. For the first time since this theme park ride with her began she had absolutely nothing to say and  I was pretty sure that I stood a very good chance of getting laid  that night.

“He’s very good.” my daughter-in-law said.

“Ya, but she’s no slouch, herself.” my son told her.

“Well ” my wife said to the kids, “we’re gonna say goodbye now as I’d like to be alone with your father.”

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.

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.

FIVE MINUTES

by  Solomon Tate

 

Farberman died on the table. It was just a routine appendectomy, but something went wrong. By the time they brought him back he had been dead for almost five minutes, well five minutes in this world. On the other side of the bright light there was no time. He said that he had met his maker. I wasn’t sure if I believed him at first, but he was convinced that he had spoken to God.

He said that he had floated down a long hallway into a white light and arriving on the other side, found himself standing in a conference room. There were four angels seated at a table mulling over the contents of a pile of file folders. “Name?”, one of them asked.

“Martin Farberman.”, he answered. A bell chimed, and the angels stood as the door opened. An older man who appeared to be in his seventies entered the room. He was dressed in a tie dyed tee shirt with a peace symbol emblazoned on it, faded blue jeans, and sandals. He sat at the head of the table.

“Martin Farberman, sir.”, one of the angels announced.

“Farberman, eh?”, the  man repeated as he flipped through a folder handed to him by one of the angels. “Sit down, Mr. Farberman.”

“Where am I?”, Farberman asked as he sat across from the old man.

“Funny story.”, the man began. “It seems there has been some sort of mix up on our end.”

“It was Julius’ mistake.”, one of the angels shouted out.

“Yes.”, the man continued. “A mistake has been made. Who made it is irrelevant. What is important is how we are going to correct it.”

“A mistake?”, Farberman asked.

“Yes.”, the old man repeated, “a mistake has been made. We were expecting Marvin Faberman, and well to our surprise, we got Martin Farberman. Pretty funny, don’t you think?”

“I’m not so sure.”, Farberman replied. “You still haven’t told me where I am.”

“Oh?”, the old man questioned. “Haven’t you figured that out?”

“I’m not sure.”, Farberman responded.

“Well, let’s see.”, the man said. “You came via the tunnel. There was a bright light. You’re in a room with angels, and then there’s me. Where do you think you are?”

“Who are you?”, Farberman asked.

“I am God.”, the old man said. “Now to our problem.”

“Hold on a minute.”, Farberman interjected. “God is supposed to be wearing a long, flowing white robe.”

“Says who?”, God asked.

“But it’s so 1960s!”, Farberman exclaimed.

“Ya”, God explained. “The 1960s. That was some of my best work. Peace, love, great music, and some wonderful drugs. Not a bad decade at all. I thought you would have kept it going, but you threw it away on discos balls and cocaine.”

“Am I dead, then.”, Farberman asked.

“Well”, God replied, “that’s precisely the problem. “You are, but you are not supposed to be. You’re not quite deceased. You’re preceased. A premature passing. Sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes death arrives at the wrong address and sometimes an angel gets a little over zealous and poof, we have a problem. But I’m pretty sure we can correct it.”

“I hope so.”, Farberman said. “I didn’t know God made mistakes.”

“Really?”, God replied. “And why not? It gets pretty intense around here. The 1980s was a mistake. The banjo and kale, also mistakes. I don’t know what I was thinking, but we’ll have your problem fixed up in a jiffy. In the meantime”, God continued, “if you’re hungry the Ten Disciples Diner makes an exceptional spinach and feta omelet.”

“Aren’t there twelve disciples?”, Farberman commented.

“Well.”, God answered, “There was an incident some years ago, and we lost two. Bartholomew and Phillip, I think. We traded them to Asgard for Thor. We had to beef up our Rugby team for the playoffs.”

” And we needed an Allen key.”, Julius said.

“Right.”, God continued. “We had just received the new desks, and needed an Allen key to assemble them. There’s another mistake, the Allen key. Anyway, the two disciples are no longer with us.”

“Can I ask you something?”, Farberman queried.

“Of course.”, God answered. “Anything.”

“So many people are so unhappy.”, Farberman asked. “Is there some kind of secret to being happy?”

“You are a very confused species.”, God told him. “You spend so much time and energy moving around, looking for something that might make you happy, and all the while you just keep moving farther and farther away from it. You want to know the secret, its very simple. Do what makes you happy. Stop living your life with pretense and lies. Be the kind of person you want to be, but be kind and generous to others. And be nice to animals. All animals. And maybe get yourself a dog.”

“That’s it?”, Farberman asked. “That’s all there is to it?”

“Its never easy for your species to do. As simple as it is, you always seem to want to complicate everything. Its no wonder the other species want nothing to do with you?”

“Are there really other life forms out there?”, Farberman asked.

“Everywhere,”, God replied. “But you’re not ready for them.”

“Almost ready here, sir.”, Julius called out.

“Good. Good.”, God said. “Ok Martin, are you ready?”

“I guess so.”, Farberman said. “Is there anything I should do to make life better?”

“Listen to Motown and The Beatles.”, God said. “And spend time at the beach sitting in the sun and listening to the waves.”

The next thing Farberman saw were the faces of the surgical team leaning over him and looking quite relieved that he was back. He would tell that story over and over again, right up until the day he disappeared in the Portlands. I have no idea if he really saw what he said he saw, but I would like to believe it. Since he first told the story, I have consistently listened to Motown and The Beatles, and regularly headed down to the beach. I am hoping to prolong my trip to the other side of the bright light but when I do arrive I think I would like to try out for the rugby team.

 

They’re Back

by Solomon Tate

They’re back. Just when I was beginning to think it was safe to roam around the house, it’s happened. The ghosts have returned, or so my wife has reported. This time however, she’s not just seeing them. Hell, she;’s now feeling them. The spirits of the departed are now sharing information with my wife. She says that they are communicating with her. Spiritually. Metaphysically. She doesn’t hear them, but she says she can sense the information.

Last month she asked about a friend of mine who was quite ill and near death. She asked me if he had passed yet. I told her I didn’t know. “I think you should check..”, she said. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like something’s happened.”  The next morning I looked into it, and discovered that he had passed away the evening before. She’s rarely wrong.

She likes to talk about it a lot. She likes to share everything about their comings and goings with me, thinking that I would like to know.  I wouldn’t.  I tell her that I do not share her exuberance about these apparitions but truth be told, the whole thing scares the shit out of me.  “Why?”, she has asked me.

“Because they’re ghosts.”, I explained.

“They’re always here, you know.”, she continued. “Sometimes they just don’t say or do anything.”

“That doesn’t make me feel any better.”, I said.

“Well it should.”, she advised. “There’s nothing bad about them.”

I suspect that my wife is like a lighthouse for the spirit world. A conduit and a beacon for those wishes to return from the other side. She told me that she recently had a supernatural experience. Someone who had passed came to her in a dream and informed her that he would be calling my daughter to let her know that everything is okay. The next day my daughter came home and told my wife that while at work, a particular favorite song came on the radio. Just then the phone rang and when she answered it, no one was there. Coincidence? My wife is sure it isn’t. She says it was his spirit.

She says that some of them have come for me. She says that every time I feel like someone is tugging at my short, or if I sense that someone is in the room but no one is there, its them. “Who?”, I ask.

“I’m not sure.”, she answers. “Could be one of your parents or your grandfather, or maybe one of your friends. They’re just trying to let you knew that they’re around.”

She found a bobby pin on the floor in the hallway. She was convinced that her grandmother had left it for her to find. “I’m not an expert”, I said, “but do spirits need bobby pins?” She told me that they didn’t, and that it was just a sign. Her grandmother used bobby pins. All of the time. It was a sign that she was nearby. I have never had an other worldly experience of my own, but seem to endure them vicariously through her homing signal that seems to penetrate the other side. They come to her, and even though though I ask her not to open the door, she willingly lets them in so that they can fly around my house just to tell me something I’m not certain I want to know. She insists that if I just open up to them, they will communicate with me. I remind her that I would still prefer a postcard, unless of course they are willing to give me the winning lottery numbers. Spiritually. Metaphysically.

 

 

Spiritually. Metaphysically.

 

Generations

by Solomon Tate

 

They said that I was starting to lose my mind. They had been talking about it among themselves, and had come to the conclusion that I should not be left alone. Their case was rather flimsy, filled with speculation and circumstantial evidence. I admit that I have, on occasion, roamed the house with no apparent purpose and have often wandered into rooms without knowing why but, as I have assured them, I am fine.

One of my daughters reminds me far too often that while putting away groceries, I placed a cucumber in a kitchen drawer that is reserved for parchment paper, lunch bags, and aluminum foil. In my defense, there is no reason to believe that the cucumber could not be placed in that drawer, nor do I believe that the lunch bags, parchment paper or aluminum foil have any legal claim to the drawer in question. “But there’s more.”, my daughter offers in support of their case.

It is suggested that  I have forgotten food in the oven so many times that my wife has found it necessary to purchase a timer which I refuse to use as the resulting sound is so inaudible, that unless I am in the kitchen when it goes off, it can’t be heard. It seems that I have left my mobile phone in various places around the house, and I have poured liquid egg white into my coffee thinking it was milk. As a point of explanation I would like to point out that it was two in the morning, and the cartons look very much alike. I have, on more than one occasion they advise me, gone to the store to purchase bagels and returned with toilet paper. Interestingly enough, no one ever complains when one of my daughters shouts “We’re out of toilet paper.”, and my wife reminds her that there are three jumbo packs in the closet. I should have returned all of it and let them wipe their asses with the damn bagels. In their haste to have me declared feeble minded, they have started buying me cardigan sweaters and saying things like “Aw, Daddy”.

To be fair, I rather like the cardigans, as I do seem to feel cold most of the time, but there is no need for the condescension I hear every time they speak to me. “Do you need some help with the buttons?”, someone asks as they get up and walk towards me.

“Don’t you come over here!”, I bark.

I am reminded that I have been getting angry lately which, as my daughter who studied Geriatrics professes, is common in dementia patients. In my defense, if they stopped pissing me off, I would have nothing to be angry about. “When the hell are they gonna move out?”, I ask my wife.

“We can’t leave you two alone.”, someone says. “You can’t take care of yourselves.”

“We’re fine.”, my wife replies. “We take care of each other.”

“You’re worse than he is.”, another child offers. “Someone has to be here to make sure you don’t kill yourselves. I don’t what kind of damage you did with all of those drugs you old hippies were taking, but I’m surprised you’ve managed to survive this long.”

“For your information”, I informed them, “it’s been the flashbacks from the drug use that have enabled use to survive.”

“That and the sex.”, my wife added.

“You two probably don’t even remember how.”, someone added.

“Maybe not.”, I answered. “But we watch a lot of porn and that seems to be quite helpful.”

“You two are so weird.”, the middle one said. “You need to start taking this seriously.”

“I worry about you too.”, I told her. “Maybe its best if you just take things a little less seriously. You’re so wound up all of the time.”

“Why wouldn’t I be.”, she asked. “You’re so difficult. Will you at least go and see a doctor?”

“I was there last month.”, I reassured her.

“And what did he say.”, she asked.

“Drop your pants, and bend over.”, I replied.

“We’re out of here.”, she said. “You’re so frustrating.”

“It’s about time.”, I informed her. “I think our kids need to be medicated.”, I told my wife once they had all gone out.

“They’re alright.”, she said walking towards the bedroom. “But we’re alone now, so why not put on some porn and if we can figure out what to do we can have some wild sex.”

“I’m right behind you.”, I said.

“Well”, she told me. “I’m looking forward to it.”

 

 

Last Call

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

The Algonquin Hotel hadn’t really been a hotel since it served as an oasis for travelers journeying up Yonge Street from Toronto to Richmond Hill, and points beyond, in the early nineteen hundreds. It had simply become a  nondescript local pub until the nineteen seventies when it was reborn as a nudie bar, rising from the ashes with watered down drinks and a wagon load of Eastern European tits and ass that were displayed and offered, for a handful of rubles, to easily excited working men who seemed to be in no hurry to go home.

Every work day. after spending eight hours behind a desk adding numbers and calculating risk for The Great North Life And Casualty Company, Arnold Perlmutter pulled into the parking lot of The Algonquin Hotel.  At precisely five twenty-five, he walked in, sat at his usual seat at the bar and ordered a beer. It was always beer. He was tired of his job, but it was more than just being an actuary. Arnold Perlmutter had grown tired of his life. . “I had dreams.”, he announced to the man sitting next to him. “Big dreams. It never occurred to me that my life would turn out like this.”  Life for Arnold had become so tediously predictable, that he was uncertain just how much longer he would be able to endure it.

Despite his malaise, he had never sampled even a little taste of Kiev. He came for the peace he found in the anonymity that the bar offered him. It was just a place to go where he didn’t have to feel like Arnold Perlmutter. Without fail, every evening at six thirty, he could be found at the kitchen table of the three bedroom bungalow he had shared with his wife, Connie, for the past thirty years or so, and joined her for dinner. It was one of the few things still brought him joy. He believed that there had been two great ideas, two completely spontaneous thoughts that had changed his life. He had tried acid, and he married Connie. Both, not coincidentally, occurred on the same weekend at a summer cottage party in Sundridge, Ontario. He loved her. He knew he did, and he was reasonably sure that he had always loved her.  He just didn’t care anymore. One morning he woke up and just didn’t seem to give a shit about life

He was on his second beer when Suzie Swallows shimmied across the stage to chants of “shake those tits” from reputed Irish mobsters Liam and Sean Halloran as ‘Brother Louie’ played through the amazingly inadequate sound system. Arnold kept checking his watch, well aware that Connie would start worrying at six thirty-three if he wasn’t home. “Looks like you’ve got somewhere you’re supposed to be.”, the man sitting next to him remarked.

“Not really?”, Arnold replied.

“Well.”, the man continued,  “you’ve got the look.”

“What look?”, Arnold asked..

“Like a bird in a cage.”, the man said. “I’ve seen it before. Its in the eyes. My name is Farberman, and I just might be able to help you. If your interested.”

Arnold listened as Farberman explained his work in cellular reconfiguration. According to him, it was possible for three dimensional life forms to exist in a two dimensional world. It was simply a matter of converting the life form into pure energy and then re-configuring it into living matter within another dimension. “I’ve done it myself.”, Farberman informed him. “I’ve spent almost ten years living inside a French painting. Anywhere you want to be”, he continued, “you just bring me a picture, and in go. That’s all there is to it, really. There’s one catch though. You have to go alone.” Arnold was taking it all in. He was indeed, interested, but he was also pretty sure that this guy sitting next to him at The Algonquin Hotel was out of his fucking mind.

Arnold was quieter than usual that night at dinner. As Connie talked about rising hydro rates and the opening of a Supercentre not far from home, he couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of a new life. He kept staring at his wife, trying to come up with a reason to leave her, and despite the thirty years of listening to her incessant chatter about discounted shoes and her sister’s diabetes, he just couldn’t seem to find one. As Connie slept that night, Arnold made the third great decision of his life.

It was ten-forty-five in the morning when Arnold Perlmutter pulled into the parking lot of the Algonquin Hotel. He sat in his car waiting for the bar to open.  He felt different today. The universe felt different today. It seemed that a celebration was in order. Earlier that morning he had gone into the office of the Branch Manager of The Great North Life & Casualty Company handed in his ID card and office keys, and quit his job. It was as if a dark cloud that had been over him had vanished. For the first time in years, Arnold could feel the sun beating down on him. At eleven o’clock, he walked into the hotel and, taking his usual seat at the bar, ordered a beer. Pinky Beavers took to the stage, gyrating to ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ as she disrobed, seductively tossing her clothing towards two old men seated at a table near the stage. She was incredibly pretty, and Arnold noticed, for the first time, how amazingly perfect her tits were. He was transfixed by her every move, and he felt himself getting hard as she bent over and exposed herself to the patrons.

Connie was pleasantly surprised when Arnold raced in the front door and took her upstairs. “I’ve made some decisions.”, he told her as they lay together in their bed. They talked for a long time. They talked about everything, and when they were done, Connie and Arnold agreed to put the house up for sale, purchase an RV, and get the hell out of there. Neither of them were sure where they would go, but it didn’t matter. Arnold just wanted to go where there was sunshine and a beach. He was tired of living his life like a bird in a cage, as the crazy bastard at The Algonquin Hotel had called it. He had missed so much over the years, and he just didn’t want to miss any more.

Not surprisingly, and almost instinctively, Arnold Perlmutter and his wife, Connie, found themselves sitting on lawn chairs outside of their RV in a park in Sundridge, Ontario. The sun was setting, painting the lake with patches of orange and red, as it gently rolled into the shore.  “This is perfect.”, Connie said.

“Almost.”, Arnold replied. “All we need now is to find some acid.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cant take wife. must go alone.. wife can come after but no guarantee your coordinates will be the same. could wind up in a different stage of the paintings completion. or frame of reference. Art is subjective.

 

 

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.

Brunch At The Constellation Hotel

 

by Solomon Tate

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

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

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

“What about the future?”, he pressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I know.”, I told her.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Night Of The Living Pez

by Fielding Goodfellow

 

Tate and I had just begun day three of our proposed week long journey into psychedelic surrealism, wandering around a psilocybin paradise, carousing with alcoholic, fire breathing dragons, and the flying lizard mariachi band that performed in my living room three or four nights a week. We watched in wonder as the walls melted and dissolved into Irish Middle Earth, where drunken, angry leprechauns cascaded across the hills and dales singing  ‘Danny Boy’ in three part harmony, as they searched for their missing gold.  We drifted in and out of ‘The Completion Backwards Principle’, tackling deep philosophical dilemmas such as how do mermaids open their legs, and do vegans willingly participate in oral sex.

As the hallucinogenics kicked in big time something weirdly Rod Serling unfolded before our eyes. The Pez dispensers that had sat silently on a series of shelves in the spare room for years, began singing the soundtrack from ‘Bye Bye Birdie’. Sad, but true, the DC superheroes couldn’t carry a tune in a Three Stooges lunch box.  Those privileged, pretty boys in their colorful tights and flowing capes were thankfully saved by the Disney Princesses who seemed to be eyeing the apartment with the intent to redecorate it in that neo art deco shit that they seemed to like so much. Snow White nailed her solo in the title theme song and, after leaving her seven diminutive friends with hopes of jumping on that bulge in Superman’s tights, wandered off to see first hand if he really was the man of steel. Pez pandemonium broke out as Grumpy and Sneezy, in the name of retributive justice, attempted to set fire to the hero’s indestructible cape with the assistance of Iron Man, who was desperate for some friction on his own metal. The ensuing dispute ended only when the Chinese Food that neither Tate nor I remembered ordering arrived, “And that”, as Tate succinctly put it, “is the cause of the Dc vs Marvel rivalry.”

As we dug in to Moo Shu pork, Kung Po Chicken and Shanghai Noodles, the leprechauns were standing on the edge of the meadow, peering into the living room. “I suspect Scrooge McDuck is behind the great leprechaun gold heist.”, Tate blurted out. Several of the dwarfs concurred, professing that they had seen the miserly mallard up to his beak in gold coins. The Kung Po was not nearly spicy enough, and the Pezcapades had begun to wind down, with the entire cast preparing for the reprise of the opening theme song. Snow White returned to her place, front and centre, exuberant and energized, seemingly satisfied by what Superman had to offer her. When the music rolled in, there was a rousing cheer from the Hanna-Barbera group, as Snow White stepped up to the microphone. Once the song ended and the final note dissipated, leaving the room in silence, the Pez dispensers returned to their rightful places. “Well, that was weird.”, Tate stated.

“Not really.”, I replied. “You should be here last Wednesday night when they did ‘The Music Man. Now that was weird.”

“You mean this has happened before?”, Tate asked.

“Uh huh.”, I informed him. “Although the performance tonight was a little flat, much like the Kung Po, but it was nice to finally see Snow White smile.” As the drugs began to wear off and the dragons and lizards disappeared, as the leprechauns gathered up their gold and settled in for a good night’s sleep, Tate passed out on the couch, and I allowed my mind to wander back and consider just how a mermaid opens her legs, and whether or not vegans are willing participants in oral sex while I cleaned up the mess from the night’s edition of Pezcapades, and prepared for what I hoped would be a stellar performance of ‘West Side Story’, with the Universal classic monsters as the Jets, and the Hanna-Barbera gang as the Sharks. I had invited Tate back for this must see extravaganza, and me, well I’m rooting for the monsters because “When you’re a Jet, you’re a jet all the way.”